Messages from the Dead

Messages from the Dead

I have already started two different Smirks today. I was half way though sharing about an experience I had in my painting class during one of my teachers many “what is art” tangents, when I decided to check my email. Plans with a friend were in the works for tonight and I was waiting to hear where we would be meeting up. The email from my friend was there, it was just that the email right above his was from a dear friend of mine who I had not heard from in some time, mainly because she died a few years ago.

I admit I have seen the occasional ghost hunting show, and I still enjoy watching a Scooby-Doo episode or two when I am hanging out with my niece, but emails from the dead… that is a new one. When I say her name in the From: column, it took me a minute. I struck a pose like a dog that is being given instruction on how to set the clock on a VCR. They know what you are saying is important, but they just can’t make sense of the whole thing. They even tell you so by tilting their head to one side while the still show interest and wag their tail.

It kind of made me want to go on the John Edward’s show and when John asks me why I am there, I could tell him, “Because I received a message from a dearly departed friend… in my Inbox!” It would be one of those stand alone moments in television history, like when JR got shot, or when Bob Barker left the Price is Right, or when Greg was caught smoking, or when Mike and the Bots finally returned to Earth.

Of course I opened the email, how could I not? And I mean that metaphorically and not literally, because I literally know how to not open an email. I mean if I were superstitious, I might think twice about opening up an email sent to me by a dead friend, but since I’m a Capricorn, we’re not superstitious by nature. Turns out it was just some random link, probably to kind of virus. Call me a ethereal buzz kill if you want, but I think it’s a relatively sound rule that when you receive some random link from a friend that’s been dead for a few years, clicking in it is going to create more problems than not.

So logically I figure some lout hacked into her email and started sending a virus link to all the friends on her contact list, which makes me a little sad. However, from a purely illogically point of view, it could mean that the dead have become technologically savvy and are trying to make contact with friends and family to warn them about an evil entity that is hell bend on ruling the afterlife… or something like that. The sad thing is that you know it is only a matter of time until Hollywood steals that plot and decides to make it into a poorly made B-movie that only adolescent teen boys would watch in hopes of seeing high school girls running around in bras, screaming, and getting dismembered by some disgruntled computer generated cloud… because they don’t have the budget to make a whole monster.

Wow, that was an unexpected tangent. Although, is a tangent ever really expected? I mean to the person on the tangent? I have some friends that I know will be going off on a tangent way before they even get to the unexpected tangent. I’m probably one of those friends.

Regardless, there was something good that came from all of this… the memory of a friend. It’s been a while since I’ve thought of her, and even though the email was sent with malicious intent, I did give me some remembrance time, and for that I am grateful.

So, have any of you gotten an email from a dead person?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: you’ve got mail, confused dog, ghost typing, and thinking of you.

New Research Reveals, Dolphins Prefer Nonsmokers

New Research Reveals, Dolphins Prefer Nonsmokers

Now for the record I need to start off by saying that this research is not based in any type of scientific research I’ve come across, or made up for that matter. In fact not a single dolphin was questioned in the gathering of this research, and by research I mean the short conversation I heard while I was standing in line outside a sushi restaurant in Maui.

The sushi restaurant was in our things to do in Maui book. The place had half price appetizers, sushi rolls, and sake after 10 PM, and karaoke! I have many fond memories of karaoke, not so much me singing, but me enjoying the singing and usually attempted singing of others. This was no different; the best performance of the night was, hands down, an old gray-haired Hawaiian with a cane. He was a largish sized man who chose to sing a song by Smokey Robinson and nailed it. It was amazing that a man that size for hit notes that high. And no, the Smokey-like Hawaiian was not part of the research, but definitely deserves some recognition.

The research happened about 9:50 PM, while standing in line waiting for the doors to open. We were the fifth group in line and shortly after getting there a red convertible pulled up and three youngish kids, i.e. barely old enough to legally drink, got out and got in line behind us (two boys and one girl). I don’t think they were bad people, I just think they had a different set of priorities than my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh and I have. As we attempted to talk about our favorite parts of the day and share our excitement about going snorkeling that following morning, this threesome talked in the vibrato of children who are trying to whisper, but haven’t figured out it involves lowering the volume of your speaking voice. Also, their favorite way to begin almost every sentence was with the phrase, “Oh my god.”

Actual example:
Girl to Boy 1: “Oh my god, you look so good in that new shirt.”
Boy 1 to Girl: “Oh my god, really?”
Girl to Boy 1: “Really.”
Boy 1 to Girl: “Oh my god, thanks.”

Boy 1 then announced to everyone in line, while only making eye contact with his friends, that he needed a smoke. So he walked over to his little red convertible (no, sadly it was not a Corvette), opened the trunk, dug through a backpack and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. As he stood next to the trunk of his car and smoked the girl yelled to him, “Oh my god you look so skinny standing next to your car.”

To which he replied, “Oh my god, really?”

Which caused Angela whisper to me, “Why do they have to talk like that?”
“Oh my god, what do you mean?” I whispered back to her.

She hit me.

“Oh my god, ouch!” I said, smiling at her. (It was officially on at that point.)

Now I did not see Boy 1 drop his cigarette on the ground and get back. This was probably due to my threats and taunts of tickles directed toward Angela as she attempted to hit me again. What disrupted this playful exchange was the lady standing in front of. Seconds after Boy 1 got back in line, she walked past us and up to Boy 1, saying, “I just love your car, could I talk to you for a minute?” And she pulled him over to the back of his car for a quick chat.

I’m not sure if it was the acoustics of the parking lot being just so that the conversation carried perfectly to where we were standing, or if it was the fact that she too did not understand the volume differences between a whisper and a normal talking voice, but this is what she said, “Hi, I’m a marine biologist on this island and I know that 95% of all littered cigarettes butts end up in the ocean and are responsible for making dolphins and other life very sick. You need to pick up your cigarette butt and put it in the trash. Thank you so much.” And then back to her place in line without even a “please” or “thank you”.

Boy 1 stood there for a second, looking like he was processing what just happened to him. Then without a word, bent over picked up his cigarette butt, walked it over to the trash can and disposed of it properly. As he walked up to his friends he said, in the quietest his voice had used since we they got there, “I totally understand where she’s coming from.” Then promptly changed the subject.

Angela turned to me with her large eyes full of joy and amazement. “That is the best thing I have seen all day,” adding, “I love that lady!”

A few minutes later we were inside ordering an excessive amount of sushi and giggling at the cigarette incident and then at the tone deaf couple trying to sing some Johnny Cash song and failing at every note.

So what’s the lesson? I guess it’s… well, I mean people are going to smoke if they want to, even if everyone agrees (even smokers) it’s an unhealthy and disgusting addiction. No, I think the point is, throw your cigarette butts in the trash. Because every time you drop a cigarette butt on the ground, a baby dolphin bursts into flames… too much? Ok fine, every time you drop a cigarette butt on the ground, a dolphin has a chance of becoming addicted too. And you can get into a lot of trouble trying to feed Nicorette to dolphins… ahem, I mean, so I’ve heard (whistles innocently). Seriously, if you smoke don’t litter. Actually, just don’t litter period. The dolphins say thanks (yes, for not littering AND for all the fish).

Any no-littering stories you’d care to share?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: dolphins, standing in line, oh my god, cigarette litter, sick dolphin and litter free planet.

Art Class Hallucinations

Art Class Hallucinations

Not too long ago I did a little Smirk about sleep and some of the things we do while we are asleep… like dreaming (I felt that needed conveying for those who have not yet read that piece). However, there was one thing I was reminded as I was writing the piece… the exact opposite of sleep and dreaming. Then again maybe it was awake dreaming. I’m not altogether certain, all I can say for sure is that the only hallucination I’ve ever had in my life was a result of no sleep… for three days straight.

It happened during my senior year of high school. During this phase of my life I had decided that art was my life. I even managed to get the authorization to have three of my seven classes to be art classes. I had even gotten permission to have a ceramics class during 7th period, when no ceramics classes were offered. The teacher would teach her normal beginner art class and I was left alone to play in the ceramics room. It worked very well for me, and you’d be amazed at the number of ceramic thrown bowls I had to give as gifts to friends and family for no reason what so ever.

It was during my senior year that my interest in school began to wane. I did well in school when I would go. It’s just that I wasn’t terribly interested in going, at least going before noon. Staying up late was a bit of a family tradition in my house. Going to bed before midnight was what we called ‘going to bed early.’ Seriously, the lights in our house were almost always on until two a.m. or later, and the last ones to usually go to be… my parents, especially my mom. The woman had more projects than New York, and was always up late trying to get one completed before the new day.

I don’t remember the reason for why I stayed up all night the first night. It might have been for a reason as brilliant as, “Because I could.” Believe me, when you’re 17/18 years old, reasons like that were usually as brilliant as you got. The following day I was amazed at how good and alert I felt. So that evening after dinner was consumed, friends had gone home, and I had made my ‘Sev Run’ (this is what we called going to 7-Eleven) to get 32 ounces of neon colored bubbly sugar water we lovingly called “Dew,” I committed myself to my room for the rest of the evening, knowing that I would be getting tired at some point due to my lack of sleep.

After writing two love poems about girls that would never know how I felt (ah to be a young and suffering artist), I let my imagination dive into a novel a friend gave me to read. When I reached what I considered to be a good stopping point, it was about five in the morning. I only had two hours before I would need to get up and get ready for school. That is when a line from the cinematic genius is ‘Strange Brew’ came to mind. There is a scene where two brothers get a job at a brewery. Once home they decide to celebrate by drinking all of the free beer they had gotten from their new job. As they are carrying cases of beer into the house, one of them says, “… let’s not blow it by being late for our first day on the job…” to which the other brother replies, “Well, why don’t we just stay up all night?”

Why not indeed? Even thought it didn’t work in the movie I was sure I could pull it off. Besides, there was only a little bit of night left, and I saw no point in going to bed. I was even early for school that day, which rarely ever happened to me that year.

Day two of no sleep left me a little more aware that I was missing something that my body and mind were in full support of receiving. The prospect of enjoying some sleep that evening was the key ingredient in getting me through a few nodding off moments during my afternoon classes. Well that and the constant flow of Mountain Dew both in and out of my body, which helped keep me alert and on my toes… mainly because of all the visits I had to make to the rest room.

Sleep would have been eminent had it not been for the gathering of friends that happened right after school. None of us had any homework, which was rare, so we hung out, watched movies, and eventually toilet papered our arch nemesis’s house. Yes we broke all conventional rules for toilet papering a home and did it during a week night. It was a cop’s house, the one that was always giving us a hard time. He would always go home while he was on duty and leave his police car running in his driveway. I think it was so the gas would be used up so on record it appeared he was out patrolling all night. Toilet papering his house was just the kind of spontaneous thing that motivated me to forget all about being tired and filled me with the required amount of adrenaline I needed to make it through another sleepless night. Well that and getting chased around down by the cop after he left his house. Stealthily sneaking back to my house did take a little more time than expected, but was well worth it.

So when four a.m. arrived, about the same time I was getting home, I dipped my cup of reasoning into the endless pool or teenage wit and wisdom, which all teenagers drink from during their time as a teen, and exclaimed, “I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead!” I mean sure it might have sounded cool, and rebellious, and edgy at the time, but it really was quite an erroneous statement. Unfortunately, it was lost on me at the time, so I proceeded to stay up for a third day in a row… more than anything though, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Turns out, I could. What? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was on day three, during my 5th period art class that my REMly challenged mind had had enough and was going to make it quite clear to me that it wanted a break. I was working on a three foot by two foot pencil drawing of a woman in a dress. Her hair was hanging down in front of her face, which was perfect for me because I was still having trouble drawing faces proportionally. The drawing had no face to speak of, just lots and lots of hair. I remember one of her arms was hanging to her side, but it was a sort of side profile drawing so the arm was placed right in front of the dress. It was as I was shading the dress around the arm that it happened.

The entire picture became three dimensional and popped off of the paper. At first I was quite please because this allowed me to grab the lady’s arm and move it out of the way so I could get the shading on the dress right where her arm was hanging. The problem that arose was her arm kept slipping out of my hand and falling back to its original position, and ultimately getting in the way of the shading I was doing. After five minutes of this, with me getting more and more frustrated by the arms interference, one of my class mates broke the silence by asking me, “Are you ok?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He told me that I kept putting my hand on top of the drawing and then would move my hand off of it like I was holding something and putting it down next to the paper. After shading for a few seconds I’d do it all over again. Also, apparently there were a few times that I hunched over the drawing and started scratching at the arm with one hand while I was shading right next to the area I was scratching at. My experience was that I was using my finger to tap her arm to the side while I shaded.

As the realization of what just happened hit me. I said I was fine and as I looked back at my drawing I saw the arm falling back into the paper as a flat two dimensional image. I only had two periods left before the day was over and I could go home, but damn if those two forty-five minute classes didn’t have a two to one special going on that day. For ever one minute that passed, I got a second minute for free. It was an epic hour and a half.

When I finally got home, I went straight to my room, taped a “Sleeping” sign on my door, and climbed into bed. I have no recollection of my head ever hitting the pillow. However, when I woke up fifteen hours later to get ready for school, it was clear by my reflection in the mirror that not only had my head hit the pillow, but that one side of my head had battled against it to gain control of my hair for the night. The pillow had won and the left side of my head had my hair sticking out in every direction but down. I am happy to say that after a shower and a hefty heaping handful of hair gel, my puffed pillowy hairdo deflated. Plus, I was no longer sleep deprived. Otherwise, I probably would have just said, “screw it” and gone to school looking like I was trying to win a Robert Smith lookalike contest where I was the only contestant (again… my junior year was an unfortunate time during my high school years… damn you Robert Smith… damn you The Cure.)

So any sleep deprived stories about your school years you’d care to share?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: art class, writing poetry, drinking mountain dew, toilet papering house, sleep deprived, drawing, and sleeping sign.

Labor Day… the Myth and the Holiday

Labor Day… the Myth and the Holiday

The end of labor is to gain leisure. ~Aristotle

Have you ever wondered about Labor Day? I know I haven’t. It has always been one of those things that I never cared about when I had a job that made me work on the holiday and that I took for granted when I finally had a job that paid me not to come to work on that day.

So I finally did it this year, I looked it up. Turns out Labor Day is a US holiday and is always celebrated on the first Monday of September. Because I’ve never taken the time to learn anything about Labor Day, I always made something up when the topic came up. I decided that it was a holiday for the working class. It is a day to celebrate all those people in the US that have jobs. It came was originated by corporations who traditionally treat their employees like crap. In an attempt to keep the workers calm, corporations would give them a paid day off once a year. This would appease the workers and pacify them enough to keep them organizing and attempting some type of upheaval… Hey it sounded pretty good the first time a made that up to explain what Labor Day was all about.

Having actually looked it up there were a few things about the holiday that I did not know. Things like the holiday being around since 1894. Turns out the true origins of Labor Day have something to do with President Grover Cleveland trying to make things better after a number of works were killed during a strike by police and military. I think the truly amazing thing is that the government was able to rush legislation of making Labor Day a national holiday and having it pass unanimously and become a law in only six days after the strike ended. When was the last time the US government was able to do that? And for the record, that was a rhetorical question.

Upon further reading about the topic, turns out after 100+ years the holiday has adopted a number of additional symbolic meanings. For most people these days, Labor Day marks the end of summer. This helps explain why so many people try to get out into the wild for one last camping weekend before the season changes. Another Labor Day meaning I discovered, the beginning of football season… who knew? I even asked a few of my football watching friends if this was true. They neither confirmed nor denied it, but I did get a few looks. It was the look you give people when they say something that is so obvious that you’re not sure want to get to close to them because you are afraid that some of their lack of obviousness might rub off on you and bring you closer to a live action version of Homer Simpson.

Due to getting this look a lot in my life due to my completely and utter lack of sports knowledge, I’ve learned a trick when this situation occurs. I simply count, in my head, to ten and then say out loud in my best “matter-of-fact” voice, “The Packers rock.” This is either accompanied by nods of agreement or shaking side to side, questioning my choice of team patronage. Still, because I have praised a team in this sporting genre, the people tend forgive and forget my previous sports knowledge blunder. You’d be surprised how many times that little trick has come in handy in my life.

And that’s Labor Day for you. Personally, I like my origin better… and so do the conspiracy theorists.

As for my Labor Day this year I did something I had not done in years… I went on a bit of a weekend holiday… in the town I grew up in! Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Labor Day, end of summer, and Packers.

New Smirk Home

New Smirk Home

Well, its official, Smirk has a new home! What was once a WordPress only site is now an adolescent… ok maybe infantish .com site. I’m sure you’ve noticed not much has changes… and you are correct, at least on the visual side of things. For now I am sticking with what I know and that the look of things is very similar to how everything looked on the old site. Hurray for template downloads.

However, because I changed my host, this means that my e-mail subscriptions host and RSS feed subscriptions have changed as well.

So this is a little public service announcement to remind people who would were subscribed to the old site, that you will need to re-subscribe to the new site.

The groove thing about the email subscriptions is that you will receive an email of each Smirk I post from here on out. It will be sent to your inbox the second after I post any new Smirk. I’ve done this with a few blogs that I follow regularly and it is rather convenient.

Here is a little walk though for those interested in subscribing:
Enter your email address in the Enter your email address: field in the right hand column of this post, and click on the Subscribe button.

A window will pop up asking you to type some text to complete the subscription and click on the Complete Subscription Request button.

The following message will appear:

The email will have a link that you will need to click on to complete the subscription activation.

For those of you that choose to, thanks for re-subscribing, or even subscribing for the first time if that’s the case. I do appreciate it, and I do apologize for this inconvenience.

If you have any suggestion or comments about the new site please email me at: [email protected]. Thanks all. I’ll have a new Smirk ready for you all tomorrow. Cheers!

The Grass is Always Greener

The Grass is Always Greener

I’ve heard this saying for years, and at times I myself have said it to others. As a philosophy, it makes absolutely no sense. I think that if people feel that way about their life it is a result of their own poor choices, which is solely their fault and then need to own that and move past it. If they try to compare their grass to someone else, then that is clearly one of the key problems they suffer from and need to work on.

Today though, I am referring to this saying in a very literal… archaic translation, but literal all the same. Instead of literal, let’s go with a loose translation. I’ll get to that literal portion in a minute. The thing is, I hate yard work, and by hate I mean hate hate. Much in the same way Attila the Hun hated people telling him to use a napkin and utensils when he would eat. Yard work has always been that daunting task that loomed overhead when the weekend rolled around. This included things like weeding, trimming trees, planting flowers, edging, and the always tedious mowing of the lawn.

I don’t mind the outdoors, and I’m always fascinated by the raw beauty of nature. It’s just as a participant there in I usually try my best to stay clear of direct sunlight when I’m experiencing nature due to a skin condition. I believe the Latin’s call it sunburnus alloverus easilus. The invention of SPF enriched goo’s and creams have helped legions of people with the same skin condition exist and interact more in naturesque shade-free areas. I mean what did we have before that? Coconut oil, and all that did was make you smell really good when you would get sun cooked while wearing it, causing those less evolved and nostril motivated to want to eat you.

I know that for some, yard work is the cat’s meow, the marshmallow in your rice crispy treat, or the Bailey’s in your White Russian. It’s like seeing a bear in its natural habitat… a Studebaker. (I watched the Muppet Show recently and have been wanted to use that line ever since.) I for one am very grateful for people like that. Mainly because it allows me to hire someone to do something they love, so that I can avoid doing something I hate. It’s a rather brilliant exchange, one of which I have just started to partake in after all these years of begrudgingly working in the yard. It’s clear my yard knows how I feel about caring for it. It’s clear to everyone on my block, because it’s burned, withered, and tarnished. So believe me when I tell you that in my neighborhood the grass really is quite literally greener on the other side of the fence.

Now some people might consider yard work one of those must dos when they become a home owner. It might even be one of those relationship expectations, commonly expected to be completed bi-weekly by the more masculine in the relationship. Well if that’s the case, I say put a bow in my hair and call me Ethel. Fortunately my cutie-baby-sweetie-pie and I share the intense abrasion toward working on, in, or around our yard. So with our new yard guy it’s amazing how joyous we have become by simply giving that task to someone else who is happy to do it.

It removes any grumbling about mowing the lawn, or “I did it last week, it’s your turn this week” or any pointless petty conversations that can arise because we both feel the same way about yard work. Some might grumble about the cost, but seriously $60 a month for not only peace of mind, but the joy that comes with the knowledge that you don’t have to do it is more than worth it. Besides, the 2+ hours it would take me to work on the lawn is now 2+ hours I can spend working on my book(s), or even writing a weekend Smirk for others to read and get a giggle or two from.

If you hate yard work as much as I do, hire it out, trust me on this. You will be amazed at the joy it can bring into your life, and you’ll thank you, the person you hire will thank you, your partner will thank you, and your lawn will thank you, which is a lot of thanks for a relatively simple and effective solution.

What are you feelings about yard work?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: grass is greener, tan lines, Fozzy in Studebaker, and jumping for joy.