Wing Nut or Phony?

Mannequin Chair Sidewalk

In a culture as deeply superficial as ours it is often difficult to tell the authentic from the false.

It is easy to sympathize with the phonies, poseurs, affected wannabe’s and disingenuous empty vessels passing off pilfered ideas as original, skating past any serious analysis or criticism by others as an ant might slide across a non-stick sauce pan slathered with extra virgin olive oil.

Their dilemma is not unfamiliar. How does one stand out in an atmosphere of mass homogenization where, thanks to the constant recycling of mediocre ideas discarded by others, we are reduced to virtual clones, unable to generate anything original or even recognize originality in others?

With apps ever ready to do the work and thinking for us, today’s Johnny & Jane Lunchbucket simply don’t have the energy or ability to develop attributes sufficient to earn the name “personality”. So what’s a faker to do?

Simple – steal one! This is not as odd as it sounds, indeed, throughout history residents of society’s inner circle – where tedium is sought out and bland banality honored as a virtue – have looked beyond the castle walls for character, creativity, flair, vision and style. Shamelessly pillaging the campsites of society’s least loved minority groups they returned home with loot enough to pretend they were interesting.

And thus, gentle reader, do we arrive at the crux of this tale. You see, crazy is the new cool – and so – these days there are a lot of creeps passing themselves off as wing nuts when in fact they’re square bears in chicken outfits. This leaves the average citizen with the challenge of separating the honest to goodness wing nuts from the phonies.

Keep an ear out for these phrases; they will help you differentiate.

“I’m crazy, man, I’m dangerous, man. I could snap just like that.” Phony

“I am perfectly sane, no need to worry about me!” The Real Thing

“When I walk down the street, children run and hide.” Phony

“I stepped onto a Moebius strip to get to the same side.” The Real Thing

“My thoughts are too advanced for society.” Phony

“Wearing my underwear outside my clothes makes laundry day easier.” The Real Thing

“I hear voices and they all sound like Oprah Winfrey.” Phony

“I hear voices arguing with each other and ignoring me altogether.” The Real Thing

“I drink to forget something I’ve forgotten because I’ve been drinking.” Phony

“The more you drink the more talented I become.” The Real Thing

Hope these help! Be on the lookout, poseurs are everywhere!

Crossing The Stream Of Consciousness

Ferry Small

For all of us, and when I say “us” I refer, of course, to those who society might describe in terms less than entirely flattering, for example, “laughing academy graduates”, “strange rangers”, “those who dance to the beat of a different marsupial”, and of course, “Followers of Lord Whackadoomious”, to cite only the most widely circulated, familiar to schoolchild and senior citizen alike, there comes a time and, speaking from experience I assure you it is a time one remembers as vividly as one’s first blackout, if that’s not oxymoronic, when one realizes with clarity, certainty, brevity, and afternoon tea that what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” is no mere passing fancy, no hobby or experiment, no entertaining divertissement or amble through a funhouse gallery of distortion mirrors but, rather a way of being, not a lifestyle per se but merely a life or, more properly, truly a life, a complete life, which is to say, one will be doing all the things of life, the stuff, the occupations, the challenges, yes, the disappointments and frustrations as well, as a mentally ill person quite distinct from people who, through no fault of their own, are not mentally ill and must raise families, force themselves through meaningless occupations which they call jobs, without even the slightest smidgen of mental illness to make them interesting, and when one has this epiphany, if I may use such a highfalutin word, when a word as unassuming as “realization” would have served just as handily, there is that sinking feeling one experiences upon dropping car keys down a storm drain, that frozen moment of heightened awareness, like the instant before two steam locomotives, accidentally guided onto the same track, collide, colors are more vivid, sounds more intense, even one’s sense of smell is heightened, those keys, frozen in mid-air, no way to reach them, all is gone, all is certain, the die is cast, the cast has dyed, and as the keys descend through the cast iron grill, smiling a mocking, toothy smile broad as the face of a 58 Buick, the knowledge settles in the pit of your pendulum and you make peace, sweet peace, you let go, sweet release, embracing your reality with a brave little smile as you step off the ferry to tread on terra incognito.

Insanity An Unaffordable Luxury

Rochester Psychiatric FacilityV2

According to a study released recently by the American Association of Associated Americans (AAAA), insanity may soon be out of reach for all but the super-rich, if current trends continue.

Chumley Throckmorton, PR Liaison for AAAA, explained the findings at a recent press event.

“America was founded on democratic values,” he began, “our constitution guarantees specific freedoms like speech, religion, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness means different things to different people but one thing is certain, for many of us it means embracing our inner whackadoomian and smiling shamelessly as the cheese drifts slowly off the cracker.

“If one quality has helped to shape this nation more than any other it is the enthusiastic celebration of personal insanity,” he smiled.

“Madness was no mere colorful side road of the American experience, oh no, looneytude carved Main Street out of a hostile wilderness, tied the sky with wire, clogged the air with carbon monoxide and made the racing rivers glisten with mercury. Toxic levels of greed, ambition, and aggression drove a long parade of pathologically disturbed explorers, industrialists, bankers, bookies, assassins and interior decorators to ravage a utopia of incalculable natural wealth and beauty.

“That didn’t just happen,” Throckmorton continued, hammering the podium as the word “happen” arrived, “it took vision, the vision of men and women not afraid to make their demented dreams a reality.

But today,” he looked down, removed his glasses, cleaned them on his assistant’s tie, put them back on his face, and proceeded, “all that is in jeopardy.

“The ever-widening gulf between them what got and them what got not is having a chilling effect on insanity which, in the vast majority of cases, has simply become unaffordable. The result is that our once marvelously wild and obstreperous nation of misfits, malcontents, rabble-rousers, gangsters, and entrepreneurs is becoming whitebread, drab, listless, and dull. If this continues at its current pace it won’t be long before we’re indistinguishable from Belgium…or even Switzerland.

“Nationwide, those who do choose to experiment with insanity today are opting out of the glamour, high-maintenance diseases with force enough to bend rivers and level mountains for disorders that are more annoying than truly pathological. Complaints like triskaidekaphobia, arachnophobia, and phobophobia may qualify as maladies of the mind, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we can build the nation’s future on a foundation of triviality.”

Throckmorton summed up thusly. “If America hopes to be the nation it was once and frequently claims to be now it must first find a way to make insanity universally affordable. The painful irony here is that now it is only the rich that can afford insanity and, typically, they have absolutely no idea what to do with it.”

Searching for Extraterrestrial, Mentally Ill Life

Demented Space Alien

Since slightly before the dawn of time, man has set his gaze on the immensity of space and wondered this – given the billions and billions of tiny dots out there, which are probably quite similar to the thing upon which I reside, circling the sun, or other large objects – and knowing what I do of statistical relationships and relationships of probability, which is to say, the likelihood of events – how could I possibly be alone in this universe?

When you really stop and think, isn’t it far more likely that somewhere, somehow, on one of these lonesome magma clumps there is a form of life – however humble – striving ever upwards along its agonizingly slow evolutionary rise which, ultimately, will lead, over endless millennia of failed experiments, to something resembling me, and when I say me I do so because we must take as our starting point the assumption that humanity is what they refer to as The Crown of Creation and as such is the standard by which all others are measured, assuming there are others to measure, which we are, because frankly that is the point of this exercise.

So let us argue that, given an infinite amount of time to do so, and an infinite amount of government funding to squander, not to mention a rugged little spaceship able to withstand asteroid collisions, exploration would inevitably discover life of one sort or another. According to the legions of marginally employed scientists who have time to untangle these hypothetical quandaries, this is a given. Given, perhaps, but their belief sheds no light whatsoever on the presence, or lack, of mental illness among intelligent aliens.

Since roughly one in ten Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness, it is reasonable to assume that at least one out of every ten extraterrestrials would suffer from some sort of mental health issue, which in itself would not be bad, after all, we cannot allow ourselves to be prejudiced against extraterrestrials any more than we should allow ourselves to be prejudiced against mental illness at home – however, in the interests of practicality, and practicality must be our watchword here, it is necessary to realize that not every extraterrestrial intelligent life form in the entire universe is likely to adhere to the blissfully benign standards of peace, dignity, respect, love, understanding, compassion, tolerance, fairness, and justice we subscribe to here on earth.

This is significant since, in a culture with technology more advanced than ours, the behavior of a mentally ill populace, not to mention its leaders, could be catastrophic. So, if we consider space travel at all, we must be prepared for close encounters with alien civilizations in evolutionary stages of development far different than ours, with tastes and belief systems differing drastically from those we hold dear. Consequently, it behooves us to diagnose and understand alien mental illnesses before we encounter them.

Scientists will quickly point out that it is difficult to study the unknown, which is why we will be forced to take the unpopular option of relying on psychics, faith healers, and social media experts. The time to act is now; before we first encounter mentally ill aliens and wonder what sort of treatment might help them; or protect us from them.

So, as you gaze out upon the limitless pinpoints of light strewn zig zaggedly across the squid ink dark expanse of night, consider this; someone who is not all here may not be all there, either.

Enough Is More Than Enough

Freighter - Great Lakes

Thanksgiving means different things to different groups, all protestations notwithstanding.

For Native Americans it is a reminder that simple acts of generosity can result in the loss of a homeland.

For turkeys it is an opportunity to sacrifice in service to the nation, a sacrifice made freely because among turkeys it is well understood that pleasing humanity is the ultimate responsibility, indeed, the highest calling, for all animals.

Among alcoholics, Thanksgiving is known as the official start of Drinking Season, which does not conclude until the very last play of the Super Bowl.

No matter which disorder, illness, condition, syndrome, or demon nips at your heels, Thanksgiving has much to offer. Take gluttony as an example, flagship of the Thanksgiving neurosis armada. Thanksgiving unapologetically celebrates the American desire to have too much of everything now until it is gone.

It is frequently observed by people who make this observation frequently that one of the great human questions is how to define “enough”. This is especially true when it comes to mental health.

No one can tell us whether we have enough because we get to decide what “enough” means to us. This profoundly empowering concept appears to be lost on the entire American nation of “sane” people since, almost without exception, they seem to never have enough of anything they want. They lead lives of perpetual grasping, like Tantalus; fulfillment is always out of reach.

Americans sitting at the Thanksgiving table resemble the early pioneers who, bristling with a sense of manifest destiny, struck out for parts unknown buoyed by a supreme self-confidence and belief that they were entitled to capture, kill, eat, or at least decorate, anything they found. This atmosphere of Roman indulgence, bordering on an hysterical appetite gratification, is with us even today.

Lost is the notion that Thanksgiving is intended as welcome respite from our endless ego-driven campaigns when we may count our blessings with appropriate humility and gratitude and consider what we might do to deserve them.

And so my fellow Whackadoomians, my fellow residents of Cookoopantsatopolis, we must look upon these tormented individuals and remember that for some of us it is easier to be grateful, for some of us the bar is lower, for some of us the priorities are closer to the ground; for some of us life is both more complex and simpler.

As you know, I usually use this column to give the appearance of making personal observations without actually doing so. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is to say, giving, I will tell you one thing that makes me feel grateful.

I am grateful I was not born in the Middle Ages when people with bipolar disorder were routinely burned at the stake because it was thought they were possessed by Satan.

In the cold church basements with their obligatory coffee machines, battered folding chairs, and nicotine stained posters, we are told to concentrate on what we have, not what we don’t have.

I do not know what “enough” means to you, that is for you to define. Maybe it is just that you are doing a little bit better fighting your battles than you did last year. On this Thanksgiving, I hope that you can look at life and say, today I have enough, and I am grateful for what I have.

Soup To Nuts

Siamese Twins At Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a special time when family members, spread far and wide across this great land of ours, unite under one roof to dine, catch up, and recall exactly why it is they are so careful to avoid one another the rest of the year.

Those of us strangely blessed with mental illnesses of various descriptions are especially vulnerable, since these allegedly cheerful events feel more like crime scene reconstructions where the horrors that sent us running down the path to Cookoopantsatopolis are revisited endlessly.

Seated at the table, any progress made in therapy over the past year seems to magically melt away. Before long we find ourselves reclaiming emotional baggage we’re desperate to abandon. No matter how far we’ve progressed in life, there, seated in front of that defenseless avian carcass, we’re seven again; and it ain’t pretty.

Small wonder so many of us cringe as we witness the approach of Thanksgiving, contemplating the event with a dread one might reserve for dentistry without anesthesia.

If you are faced yet again with this psycho-emotional Armageddon, take heart!

Turn your Thanksgiving dinner table into a payback battlefield with you commanding the tanks! As soon as trouble approaches, apply one of these brass-knuckle gambits certain to turn the tide!

Take Charge Of Thanksgiving Dinner With These Psychological Grenades!

Insist on saying grace before anyone can start eating. Launch into a rambling, incoherent list of wonders that inspire you with a sense of gratitude, including, but not limited to, salt & pepper shakers, lamps, lint removers, self-winding watches and anchovy paste. Do not stop until you can see the vein in your dad’s forehead protruding.

Instead of asking your mom, dad, or sibling to pass the potatoes, say, “Please pass the resentments.”

As your sibling drones on about a recent social triumph, raise your wine glass in their direction and say, “You know, the more I drink the more interesting you become.”

Just when things are settling down, deliver a long, impassioned toast dedicated to, and describing in detail, the imaginary family you wish you’d had. Do not refer to your actual family at all.

Share odd details about turkeys. Say things like, “The fleshy growth from the base of the beak, which is very long on male turkeys and hangs down over it, is called the snood. Sometimes I wish I had a snood.”

As you listen to family members converse, randomly say “Hmmm” and scribble feverishly in a tiny notepad. When one of them asks what you’re doing, patiently explain that you’re observing them and will be reporting back to the authorities soon. If pressed simply say “Hmmmm” a lot.

Bear in mind that these techniques will not heal psychic traumas of youth, nor will they help you outgrow any damage done to you by your family. However, they will provide you with a lot of laughs at your family’s expense, and that’s got to count for something.

Self-Diagnosis With SynAPPS

crazy drawing icon

Sooner or later we are all tormented by that nagging, unnerving question. You know the one. Am I wearing my underwear over my clothes? Is my cheese slipping off the cracker? Am I marching to the beat of a different dumber? Is the diploma in my den from Whassamatta U?

Like a pebble wedged firmly in your shoe the uncertainty refuses to leave, taunting and mocking until thinking of anything else is impossible.

I’ve been troubled by these moments of existential meltdown for decades, which is why I was so excited when my friends at Kronko told me about self-diagnosis with SynAPPS® – the latest in “smart” applications for iPhones, iPads, and ay caramba. Here’s how it works.

As an intelligent application, SynAPPS® records your online activities in order to build, and regularly update, a psychodynamic knowledge base enabling it to gauge your sanity quotient on demand.

On-Line, Real-Time Sanity Checks!

Feeling a little squizzly? Starting to wonder if you’re safe behind the wheel of a front-end loader, steamboat, or roulette table? Simply let SynAPPS®determine your degree of sanity with a flurry of carefully crafted questions designed to slip through your layers of delusion and self-deception for a look at the unvarnished truth.

Below you will find some of the generic, pre-loaded questions; note that questions become more specifically targeted to your individual psychological make-up the longer you useSynAPPS®.

1. Do all people lie? Yes No

2. Do you lie? Yes No

3. Are you lying now? Yes No

4. Are you feeling just a wee bit squizzly? Yes No

5. Are you lying now? Yes No

6. How about now? Yes No

7. Is life just a metaphor for golf? Yes No

8. Is fishing just a way to hide a drinking problem? Yes No

9. Is drinking just a way to hide a fishing problem? Yes No

10.Do you lie about the size of the fish you catch? Yes No

11.Are you the Emperor of France? Yes No

12.Do you enjoy ruling France? Yes No

13.Would this be a good time to lie about ruling France? Yes No

14.When a hoodlum approaches, do you cross the street? Yes No

15.When a hoodlum approaches, does he cross the street? Yes No

16.Is sanity overrated? Yes No

17.Okay, you’re sure you’re the Emperor of France? Yes No

18.Is “reality” just everyone believing the same illusion? Yes No

19.Is squazmogrified pontippelation inexorable? Yes No

20.How about now? Yes No

If you answer just one of these questions incorrectly, SynAPPS®  sends a comical e-card flagging your loopitude potential. Two inaccurate responses generates a warning call to the local police, and three mistakes prompts a power surge strong enough to knock you out until you’re more yourself.

SynAPPS® from Kronko. You’ll never have wonder if you’re whackadoomius again.

Taz Fans Share Fave Mopulisms

 

epigram taz

The enigmatic aphorisms of Taz Mopula are tentatively teased apart and cautiously deciphered from rugged Auchtermuchty to the shores of Bora Bora. Readers, fans, devotees and others wonder if they’re whimsical, whacked, weird, wise, or witty. We cannot say with unquestioned authority. Indeed, only one thing is certain and there is no telling what that might be.

Once unknown to only a small handful of people, Mr. Mopula is now unknown virtually wherever he goes. His signature style has become a household word, like lint. As you might imagine, fan mail pours in on a regular basis. Most of this correspondence expresses gratitude for a specific quote which has proven meaningful, even inspirational, for the writer. A few of these appear below.

“Is the Internet merely a mechanism by which alien life forms can quantify human gullibility and fatuousness?”

”After I read this, Facebook made sense for the first time!” Prunella Entwhistle, Mole Hill, Ohio

“Why pay to exercise in a gym when you can enjoy an exercise in futility for free whenever you like?”

“You helped me understand that, if I don’t exercise my rights, I lose them. The same principle should apply to pounds. Thanks!”  Biggie Schwartz, Gezundt, Minnesota

Laughter is the best medicine; except when it comes to poisonous snakebites, then it’s the second-best medicine.”

“Man! You really straightened me out with this one! When I think about how I laughed my way through that appendectomy!” Cappie Gasaway, Crooked Ankle, Oklahoma

“Whales and polar bears, yes; but you will never find intellectual sloth on the endangered list.”

“Can you imagine? Before I started reading your quotes I thought ‘slow” was the same as ‘stupid’ – now I know that a slow sloth can be smart!” Kiki Scintilla, Peroxide Falls, California

“Think twice before burning bridges; you never know when you might want to jump off one of them.”

“Speaking in terms of motivational quotes, this one is like making love on an elevator – it’s wrong on so many levels.” Zig “Pema” Robbins, Gator Breath, Louisiana

“If I could only give you one piece of advice it would be this: Do not, under any circumstances, take my advice.”

“I reflect upon this like a transparent man reflects upon two funhouse mirrors facing one another. There is no end to the lack of meaning.  Merci!” Jean Paul Insouciance, Ennui, Martinique

To learn less about Taz Mopula click HERE

The Intoxication of Poetry

Scorpions On The Face - Again

Two-time Poet Laureate, Howard Nemerov, and celebrated photographer, Diane Arbus, had a great deal in common. This talented brother and sister act shared what I would call an emotionally brittle nature, and a lifelong battle with depression. Arbus, famously, lost that battle at a young age. Her suicide was no desperate plea for help; she intended to go through with it.

It was 1969; I was a 19-year old freshman punk living la vida loca at Haverford College. My father, Ian, was almost at the zenith of his celebrity, turning up with tiresome regularity in every conceivable media outlet, doing his mad-as-a-March hare environmental activist with a thick Scottish brogue shtick. His base of operations was The Department of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning at The University of Pennsylvania – a department he founded and chaired for decades.

The Professor was completely devoid of parenting skills, but – having written, and published, my first poem at age 6 – even he knew I was an incipient wordflinger. He taught a course entitled Man & Environment. Do not be misled by the apparent hubris of this title; since he did in fact know everything about everything the all-inclusive subject matter posed no problem. Plus, he invited a long string of tweed-jacket wearing, pipe-smoking, degree-wielding intellectual heavy-hitters to help.

In a rare moment of familial camaraderie he called to say Nemerov was giving a guest lecture and if I wanted to meet him I should show up at his office about 11:30.

So here we are, three guys in my father’s office at the U of P. Nemerov is pacing and twitching like a crack addict in a rehab. Finally he says, “Ian, I have got to have a martini.” My dad, enjoying this opportunity to swagger, tells one of his students to go to the bistro across the street, get a pitcher of martinis, and come back. The student points out that this is illegal and impossible for many reasons and my dad starts screaming at him. The terrified student races away – and is back in minutes with a stainless steel pitcher sweating chilly droplets. Nemerov’s eyes twinkle.

So I’m thinking – this is pretty cool – I am going to have a martini with one of the nation’s greatest poets. As this idea is simmering in my mind – Nemerov puts the pitcher to his lips and slowly, easily, drains the entire thing. My father and I look on in wonder, exchanging stunned glances. I will never forget what happened next. Nemerov stopped pacing, talking, twitching, fidgeting, glancing about erratically, and went perfectly calm. I had never seen a veteran, all-in alcoholic in action before; it was hypnotic.

The three of us walked down the corridor and into the lecture hall. Nemerov read his poetry for an hour; he was note-perfect. I doubt there were more than 50 people in the room, and he was a teacher, giving lectures was his bread and butter. It wasn’t about being nervous. Alcoholics get to the point where they need the toxin to be normal.

Sick Girls Await Mentally Ill Barbie

Barbie - The Tragic End

Since her 1959 debut, Barbie has attracted controversy the way bloated state senators attract illegal campaign contributions. Little girls admire her for what she is, but whiners, complainers, gadflies, malcontents, rabble-rousers, muckrakers, agents provocateurs, professional cynics, babies, wimps, liberals, thought policemen, and college professors are more interested in what she is not.

These self-appointed custodians of political correctness, who live to improve the human character against its will right up to the point where it ceases to exist at all, consider Barbie to be the sharp edge of the social engineering ax, mercilessly slicing through the hapless human outliers whose creation, causation, and construction do not coincide with qualities and criteria considered desirable by society.

These TED Talk habitués condemn Barbie with sweeping statements steeped in supercilious sanctimony, Barbie, they say, is not morbidly obese enough; she is too Christian, not gay-enough, ethnic enough, or undocumented enough. To them, Barbie is the hood ornament of an exclusionary, self-satisfied society built upon deeply disturbed values, racism, and questionable fashion choices.

Mattel, makers of Barbie, has been slow to respond to what they refer to, with characteristic insouciance, as, “the cacophonous blather of tweed-clad Prius drivers.” But a storied track record of insensitivity and arrogance will soon be coming to an end as Mattel courts disturbed Americans with “Mentally Ill Barbie”, which it intends to roll out in time for Christmas.

Marketing of Mentally Ill Barbie shows, yet again, why Mattel continues to be an industry juggernaut. You and I have been taught that judging mental illness by physical appearance is highly inappropriate, inaccurate, and mean-spirited. But Mattel, determined to honor the complete palette of emotional and psychological maladies without the added expense inherent in producing multiple molds landed on a brilliant solution as plain as the nose-ring on your face; madness in fashion!

That’s right! With Mentally Ill Barbie, madness is always in fashion and can be easily modified simply by changing outfit and setting! How does it work? – you ask – in that cooperative way of yours. It’s easy; let’s meet a few right now.

Narcissistic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is Narcissistic Barbie.

Anorexic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Anorexic Barbie.

Compulsive Shopper Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Compulsive Shopper Barbie.

Bipolar Barbie – Alternate between tying her to the blade of a ceiling fan and stuffing her under the cushions of a couch and, voila!

Munchausen By Proxy Barbie – Even though Munchausen by Proxy Barbie is very similar to Narcissistic Barbie, she is sold separately.

And that’s just the beginning! This Christmas season, keep an eye out for:

Alcoholic Barbie
Compulsive Gambler Barbie
Tourette’s Syndrome Barbie
Trskaidekaphobia Barbie 
Sex Addict Barbie

And so, gentle reader, the walls of stigma gradually erode as even Barbie admits, “Madness is always in fashion.”