Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy April Cognitively Impaired Day.

Last year I railed against the stupidity of April Fool's Day, using naughty words and angry language. I'm happy to report that I hate it even more this year. Not that anyone pulled any pranks on me, or that I've suffered some tragedy that made me mean. No, I'm just full of hate for stupid things.

Then again, that kind of fury has a tendency to spill over onto other things.

"HELLO, $@&*$@# SUN! HELLO, $*&@)# BIRDS! TIME TO START THE #$&)@(!% DAY!" is how I get out of bed.

"Surely THIS is your April Fool's joke," you say. "Fred, you are so full of sweetness and light, not to mention sunshine and lollipops, that you must be joshing. With jolly japes."

Well, thank you, Imaginary Reader Man, but no, I'm mad mad mad. Why am I so filled with bile?

Oh, I don't know. I feel like I'm surrounded by stupidity, yes. I feel like a goldfish in a bowl that's been completely neglected. You don't notice for a while that the environment is getting worse, until suddenly it's choking you to death. The stupidity is also coupled with an enormous sense of righteousness and entitlement, which makes it much harder to penetrate. I mean, I'm no genius, but at least I'm aware of that, and grateful for the good things in my life (when I'm not being mad).

Still, as a fellow I used to know liked to say, "You spot it, you got it." The things I hate most in others are the things I hate most in myself, in other words.

If that's true, than what I hate most in myself is willful ignorance, pettiness, selfishness, spite, and ingratitude. Mostly I hate using others as mere props to puff up my own ego, then. And I can believe that I possess these qualities in abundance.

So by hating all these people, I'm just projecting my self-hatred. It's an extroversion of my inner disgust. It's not everyone's fault for being disgusting; it's mine for projecting my own grossness.

It's one thing to say "Nobody's perfect" when someone behaves like an ass, but I think we usually don't mean it. We think we're pretty great, and definitely superior for being able to (condescendingly) forgive the ass. It's another to realize just how awful we are. How awful I am.

Not sure that this is reassuring, however. Why, if you people don't have me to set you straight, to provide a design for living by example, how are you ever going to get your acts together?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This dog whines.

I hate to break it to him, but those "microaggressions" he's complaining about are fleas.

By the way, that's not my dog. My dog is not a whiner, a yenta, a schlub, or a noodge. Tralfaz is a mensch. Or whatever a mensch dog would be. A dogsch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A very Flintstones mystery.

Fifty-two years ago yesterday the "Swedish Visitors" episode of The Flintstones first aired on TV.

And therein lies a mystery.

Yumpin' Yimminy.
If you remember the episode, you'll recall that the conflict sprang from the fact that Wilma had rented the family home out to Swedish musicians in Bedrock for a music festival. Fred tries to get them to leave, but ultimately everyone becomes friends, and the episode ends with the Swedes serenading the Flintstones as they speed through Bedrock, one of the happiest moments you'll ever see in a cartoon.

That song, "Wilma," was written by Owe Thörnqvist, a genuine Swede, a musician who had been recording since 1953, and apparently the inspiration for the episode. Or so says the generally reliable Mental Floss (which is like Cracked without so many naughty words), in a 2010 article commemorating the series' 50th anniversary. They write:

The episode entitled "The Swedish Visitors" featured a pair of foreign musicians who bunked at the Flintstone home for a short time. The episode was inspired by a record called "Wilma" released in Sweden by Owe Thörnqvist. The chorus "jabadabadooo" sounded suspiciously like Fred's favorite exclamation, and then there was that whole "Wilma" angle... Hanna-Barbera contacted Thörnqvist who insisted that jabadabadooo was a traditional Viking cry, and everything else was strictly coincidental. The matter was resolved by having the singer record an English version of his tune for use on the show.

There were three Swedish musicians, not two---Ole, Ingmar, and Sven---which makes me suspicious about other assertions here. Owe's song was released in 1962, but beyond that it was hard to find more about it. Why do we even HAVE an Internet, if you can't find information on Swedish pop songs from the early 1960s, dammit?!

YouTube posts the song, with this note: "Owe was contacted by the lawyers from Hanna Barbera Hollywood, the makers of the popular TV series The Flinstones, because they think that the name and some of the lyrics was taken from them. They where ready to go to court for copyright issues around this song. Owe answered that the name Wilma was very common in sweden and the 'jabadabadooo' was an old viking sound when you find a woman so there was no copyright in that. The lawyer at Hanna barbera thought that this man (Owe) was wierd or something, but hanna & barbera find this man very funny and speaked to Owe directly and after some talking the asked him to come over to USA and record this song in English for the The Flintstones show. The show is called Fred Flintstone and his Swedish Cousine"

So there's that. Well, I could find the Swedish lyrics to the song "Wilma." I run them here with the song so you can sing along.

Vi hade kåk i Fredhäll, vi hade frid i vårt käll
Vi hade kaffe med doppa och radio med Thore Skogman
Sen fick vi television, då blev det annan fason
Nu är vår tillvaro fylld av en jublande....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hon har ändrat på perspektivet
och möblemanget i själva livet
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Hon är en ny favorit, hon är en tjej av granit
Så låt oss alla ta efter och valsa i makadamen
Nu är vi grottfolk, hurra! Så ta din käring och dra
långt in i snåret i håret och sjung falle....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, det är toppen av livets grädde
och du är Wilma och jag är Fredde
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Min fru har huggit i sten och hon kan ej komma dän
Nu får jag gnejs-gröt och grus-paj och sandkaka med rabarber
Hon bjöd på lunch häromdan. Det var en stendöd fasan
Och gamla ormar och soppa som smakade ....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, vi har blivit så primitiva
så det går snart inte att beskriva
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Now, through the magic of Google Translate, let's see these lyrics in English:

We had a full house in Fredhäll, we had peace in our source
We had coffee with dipping and radio with Thore Skogman
Then we had television when it became different manners
Now our existence filled with a cheering ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, she has changed the perspective
and the furniture of life itself
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

She is a new favorite, she is a girl of granite
So let's all take after and roll in metalling
Now we are cave dwellers, hurray! So take your crone and pull
far into the thicket of hair and sing Falle ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, it is the peak of life's cream
and you are Wilma and I'm Freddie
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

My wife has hewn in stone and she can not get Dan
Now I get gneiss-porridge and gravel-sand pie and cake with rhubarb
She invited to lunch the other day. There was a stone dead pheasant
And the old snakes and soup that tasted ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, we have become so primitive
so it is soon not describe
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

All righty! So as we can see, this was just a total coincidence, as Owe originally said. Mentions of Fred, primitive living, caves, granite, the Stone Age, television, gravel, gneiss... Pure coincidence. And we do have to agree that Wilma changes the furniture of life itself. But please pull your crone elsewhere.

So I guess it isn't that much of a mystery. But I do have other Flintstone-related questions, such as: 

- Why did it take 27 years for Betty to get a vitamin in the Flintstone vitamins? And why did the Flintstone car have to suffer when she did? 

- Why did Dino talk in one early episode, but never again? 

- Was Bedrock a small town, a big city, a suburb, or what? It seemed to be something different every time. It had an awful lot of TV stations for a small town. And why would Rock Roll write a song about some little nowheresville ("Bedrock Twitch")?

- Why does a grumpy ex-Catholic cartoon-crazed pal of mine get so berserk over mentions of Christ in the comic strip B.C. ("Jesus wasn't born yet in the Stone Age!") while he's never said a peep about Flintstone Christmas episodes and movies?

(Actually, I know the answer to the last one. The thing that bothered him about B.C. was that Johnny Hart meant it. B.C. predated The Flintstones by two years, by the way, if anyone wants to know. Maybe B.C. stood for Before the Cartoon!)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Face-palm Sunday.

As we know, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday bring out the A&P Catholics. Why? We don't know. Maybe because they're getting something for free.

Ashes and palm leaves. Score!

I wonder what everyone else does with their palms. Some people make crosses out of them. Sometimes the crosses are used to adorn grave sites. Some people, like me, just keep them around the house.

Now what do I do with them?
During the Crusades, palmers were poor pilgrims who made their way to the Holy Land as mendicants, carrying palms as their symbol. It's supposed to be where the surname Palmer comes from. I first encountered the term in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, in which a character disguised as a lowly palmer returns to Saxon chief Cedric's home. Maybe I could take my palms and go schlep to the Holy Land.

The thing is, you can't just go pitching palms, or any blessed item. They need to be treated with reverence. For disposal, they must be burned or buried. Traditionally the previous year's palms are burned to make ashes for Ash Wednesday, but our church hasn't been collecting them these last few years. Maybe they had plenty already.

I'll tell you something from my own experience: Even dried out old palm leaves do not burn well. You can take that to the bank. Also, we don't have a fireplace or a fire pit. All we have is a house that could go up like tinder if I keep trying.

So... can I run them through the shredder? No, that would seem to be a violation of the code.

What I did in the past was return them to the earth. I didn't know about the burial thing, so I just ran them over with the lawn mower. Thought that would help speed the decomposition along, you know?

Now you know why the face-palm. And why, unlike my fellow parishioners, I'm not grabbing at the palm leaves as we enter the church today, Palm Sunday. Too much responsibility.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Slow down for tailgating.

Do the speed limit---good & hard.

The thing I hate most about tailgating is that it's just so stinking stupid. Clearly the driver of the red car is a drooling, cursing moron, but he doesn't see it that way. He may think he's being safe for not going around the other car. But as Wikipedia notes, "Tailgating can occur because of a lack of perceived risk in so doing. Thus, it is done unconsciously or negligently, very often by people who consider themselves safe drivers and generally obey the other rules of the road. Evidence shows that more experienced drivers are more likely to be involved in rear-end collisions, possibly because they overestimate their skill and become complacent about allowing sufficient distance to avoid an accident."

When you see two cars locked in like this cruising down a road, don't you suspect that the car in back is being driven by a restless, irritable, ill-tempered egomaniac, the kind who is placidly convinced of the excellence of his driving skills? In other words, the world's worst father-in-law?

Pound sand, tailgate buddy. You may own a piece of the road, but not all of it, and the way you drive you'll eventually be spread over it like a thick jelly.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Letters.

"Love Letters"
By Frederick Key

Joey said “A, Emily,
I’ll B around at eight.”
She said, “I’ll C you later then,
With my friend, D, I’ll wait.”
He thought with E’s he’d motor there
And would, F naught were wrong.
But G, the things that happen make
The heart H like a song.
Em was the apple of his I
Like a J, his heart would soar
But he also liked her sister, K,
Which led to L once more.
He called that night and told her “M,
I’m sad N sorry, see? 
O, I've got such a bellyache,
It hurts me when I P.”
He met Kaye in the casino Q
Where passes R had for free.
Although he felt like a royal S
Kaye looked good in her T.
U can’t two-time, he told himself,
This liaison V must break.
“I’ll W dough at craps,” she said,
“If I may X you for a stake.”
Y did Joe finally call it off?
It’s not too hard to Z.
For Emily’s letters were really sweet,
And Kaye’s numbers brought bankruptcy.