Category Archives: The Stump

The place for airing it out.

Let The Snot-Slinging Begin …..

Well my Dropping aficionados it has started, that wonderful and most predictable annoyance known to humankind — political campaigning. That inescapable barrage of nose-pulling, eye-poking, shrieking-shrillness that permeates our airwaves, front-yards, and vehicle bumpers. It’s bad enough you have to endure painful summer reruns on the networks but then add in the stream of political ads and I for one am about ready to curl up in the corner of my den in a fetal position and suck my thumb. It is pointless to attach blame but what the hell, let’s give it a shot.

Right at the top of the list is of course those remarkable people known as the candidates. I saw a recent poll that had the approval rating of Congress hovering around the 11% mark. I’d say outside of their immediate families these bottom-feeders don’t get too many hugs and kisses. Thankfully the rhetoric has shifted though and the winds of positive change are finally blowing. This time it is going to be different. How do we know? Because the candidates say so. Yea right. Just once I love see a political ad that says it straight up — “Hi I am a totally self-absorbed, self-centered prick and if you elect me, I pledge to be an even bigger self-absorbed, self-centered prick.”  Another favorite of mine, “Are you sick of career politicians, ME TOO! Elect me so in 4 years my opponent can bitch about me being a career politician.”

Who else can we throw under the bus? Well how about the rocket surgeons who mandated the equal time provision rule. I am sure it sounded like a good idea at the time but the reality is the stupid rule simply fills the sinking boat with even more  nose-pulling, eye-poking, shrieking-shrillness all in the piously pronounced interest of fairness. What the hell is fair about a string of moaning and groaning pols? Equal time — really? What we are left with is a lagoon overflowing with painfully odoriferous political advertisements, nothing more elegant than that. After enduring a string of commercials longer than a litany to the Saints, it makes me yearn for the occasional Sham-Wow commercial.

So, what is the solution? I think we need a 24/7 political ad reality channel called — RUN DAMMIT!!!! Why wait until the election cycle?  This channel could run back to back, no holds barred, cage-match, bare-knuckle campaign ads one right after the other — in perpetuity. It is ingenuous really. There are 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour span. At 30 seconds a pop that would yield 2,880 mind-numbing political ads. For crying out loud, I’d even pay a surtax on my cable bill just to help subsidize the venture.  I love democracy and I totally get the need for process but for the love of Pete there has to be a better way of informing the body-politic than this cluster-gaggle. Ya know?

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A Summer Lamentation Dropping

Right about now is when I begin to come to the stark and chilling realization that before we know it, summer will be over. You’re saying, “Geeez man, you are chugging down a half-empty glass of water.” I know, I know. You have to admit though, there is plenty of evidence that the end of summer is a chain reaction of man-made carnage. My first sense of this impending doom is around the end of June when all the temporary flower huts start the 60% sell-off of their remaining plants which by a strange coincidence,  coincides with the annual raising of the fireworks tents. Ahhhh, what a glorious moment, punks buying punks. Then, if only for a day, the grand-daddy of them all, the 4th of July.

Talk about getting screwed, the 4th of July is a holiday moment that can only be savored for 24 hours, primarily after dark and only by specific ordinance outside the city limits.  Would the founding forefathers and foremothers stood for such regulation?  Have you noticed there is a strange lull immediately following the 4th of July?  For a few days just after the 4th you hear the sound of an occasional rogue firecracker pop somewhere in the distance — then eventually the sound of the great nothing.

Still, you buck up, shake it off and get excited knowing that there is still tons of summer, right? Labor Day is light-years away. Then it happens. The portable signs start to pop up to alert us in late July, “Back to School Sale!!”  You do your best to ignore this assault on your summertime-sensibilities. Mid-August comes and you have that inexplicable urge — no, a calling really– to go to Lowe’s because you need a lawn and garden fix, maybe nothing more than to spend a few minutes sitting on that Deere you lust over.

You get out of the truck, stride across the blazing hot asphalt parking lot dressed in your cleanest wife-beater t-shirt and go-to-hell ball cap, through the automatic opening doors and there it is, a display of fully flocked and well adorned Christmas trees — in August.  Frozen in time, mouth fully agape, you sense a pent-up primal scream rattling around somewhere in your head as you take in the sight of this seasonal anomaly. If only that fire-hot emotion could be loosened like the Kraken from Greek mythology — but you know better, so you just sigh and move on.

So it goes my Dropping fanatics and there is little we can do about it. Summer is a spirit, thankfully. Summer is eternal for this fool. Drink it in whilst it lasts.

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If it’s all the same to you ….

Opinions are an interesting quirk of humankind.  From a contemporary vantage point, if you have opposable thumbs, you are carte blanche entitled to an opinion, relevance of opinion playing no role at all in your acquisition process.  That is a good thing and yes, even a lofty notion arguably associated with what is best about democracy. From your perch in the universe you can not only jealously cling to your opinion but you are free to vociferously advocate on behalf of your opinion. Conversely you may rise in total opposition to mine. That’s cool.

I am good with all that as long as you are not screaming at me with veins protruding from your forehead or you are covering me in a shower of spittle while postulating.  My favorite old dead-dude Aristotle noted, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Over the years I have mastered that technique to the point where your perception of me could be charted on an attitudinal continuum somewhere between slight yawning to full-on narcoleptic snoring with your opinion as the dependent variable.  Apathetic? Well, that is your opinion.

I had a colorful paternal grandmother with a fabulous way of turning a phrase about simple things. She was a crusty old smart-ass farm-woman with the nose of a somalie  for discerning non-Shinola from Shinola — if you catch my drift. In today’s vernacular, she would “call you out.”  On a side note she could jump the barbed wire fence down by the barn with two five-gallon buckets of hog-slop and not slosh a single drop. Today, you would need a focus group to figure out how do to that.  I suppose it was her bone-head simple approach to life that demonstrated to me that even the village idiot is capable of grasping the principles of reasoned discourse.  I learned very early on, and have long since held the position, that “it doesn’t take all day to look at a horseshoe.”

Thus, spending time listening to your incessant belly-aching when the blindingly obvious is three-dimensionally apparent, bores me. To be crystal clear, I respect the sacrosanct  idea that you are entitled to your opinions but please, return the favor by understanding that I may not choose to feel a similar burning sense of entitlement. So, if it’s all the same to you, I really don’t care and life is way too short to get wound up in cerebral gear-jamming with you. Nothing personal dude.

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Talking Heads & Chigger Bites

This is my time of year. The sweet smell of spring in the ‘Zarks, bringing warmer temps, folk playing in the park, kids tossing the old frisbee, racking up longer days of sunshine everyday. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about baby.  Makes me straight-up goober giddy. Truth be told, as a board certified village idiot I always reserve the right to make a total ass of myself laughing out loud in public places and spaces, but the fact that spring has finally sprung and so much earlier this year than usual, takes my breath away. Wow, it is killer-gorgeous outside people! I am even thrilled to welcome the chiggers back for the 2010 season. I might throw them party.

Still, I do find myself slack-jawed stupefied at all the negativity that is perpetually swirling in the gene pool. The ad nauseum snot-slinging between our beloved politicians, which is incestuously followed by the 24/7 gaggle of talk-show swivel-heads and their “we’re gonna tell you what they REALLY said” pretentiousness, is enough to choke even the most dignified buzzard off a gut wagon. They couldn’t possibly peg my I-don’t-give-a-rip meter any higher. With any luck some network executive will soon put up a 24/7 cable news channel called — Watching Paint Dry. I’d be all over that.

Do you know what more and more people think is really fun? Racing home from work in time to flip on Fox News or MSNBC, your choice,  pop bag of Orville’s Extra-Butter Microwave popcorn, slam a six-pack of Bud and spend the night screaming at the TV. Please don’t be offended if I choose not to accompany you on your blood-pressure elevating exercise. It’s nothing personal, I’m just not interested. In spite of the herculean effort from that brain-trust to alter the orbit of the universe, life and things have a way of working out, they always do.  In the meantime you are missing a really nice ‘Zarks springtime.

Here’s the teaching point — Carping in perpetuity is a pointless exercise and only serves to galvanize like-minded dim-wits. So do yourself a favor, flip off the tube, literally and figuratively, grab a frisbee and get the hell out in the backyard. Your annoyance threshold will be limited to chigger bites and swatting an occasional horse fly.

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You Cry, You Die (Season 1)

I don’t mean to be insensitive or cynical about this, I really don’t, but can somebody please tell me why for the love of God must every single contestant appearing on every ponderous reality television show feel they are compelled to bawl and blubber on national television? You pick the reality show and straight-up snot-bubbling, shoulder-shaking, boo-hooing is going to roll not long after the floor director cues the talent.  “OK, people, we air in 5-4-3-2-1, roll the theme package, theme up, push camera 1, ready 1, and ….. CRY!”  Hells-bells, out of the gate I struggle with the idea that those appearing on reality shows actually buy into the notion that they are participating, even remotely, with a meaningful real experience, let alone the millions of viewers who set their Tivo’s so as to not miss a single heartbeat of the weekly, 9 pm EST, 8 pm CST, entertainment bonanza.

In fairness some of it I guess I can see. If I was sporting the equivalent ballast of a VW, I might be motivated to call Jillian and Bob, and they might motivate me to bust a move toward the Y,  if they are running a special. Come to think of it for a cool million (500K after taxes) I might flaunt my reality on the network for 13 weeks too. What about reality love? I totally understand ladies who’s love lives might be trending toward the bleak and forlorn auditioning for some couch time with Flavor Flav, right ladies?  Then there is, or was, Jon and Kate plus 8, making a fairly persuasive case for starting a village idiot marriage counseling practice or getting into a mail-order condom business on E-Bay. The Kardashian Family? Who wouldn’t just love to fight over the last drumstick with that DNA experiment? These shows are  just the intellectually blunted tip of the proverbial reality television spear.

Alas, there is Octo-Mom. What sort of reality show might be lurking around that corner? Perhaps the working title could  be “HEY LADY — Your vagina is not a clown car!” Sigh. Clearly reality shows are, well a reality and I can live with it. I am just hoping that some reality producer somewhere will man or woman-up and produce a show called, “You Cry, You Die!” I think you can spit-ball the general  plot direction on your own.

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Lotta Freaks Man!

The Great Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie

Most people probably remember good ole Arlo Guthrie stepping on stage at Woodstock and owning that little gathering of music lovers with his rendition of Coming Into Los Angeles. I loved the song, but more than the song, I vividly remember Arlo looking across the gathering in an awestruck way, grin and proclaim, “Lotta freaks man!” I know, I know, it doesn’t take a rocket-surgeon to figure out what he really meant by that fairly innocuous phrase. It was Woodstock for crying out loud.For me though, that silly phrase struck a strangely resonant cord.  In fact, the 40+ years since that Arlonian revelation I have found countless occasions and reasons to utter it  time and time again. It has great utility both as an outright audible, but most certainly as part of an internal complex discussion I typically have with me, myself, and I. 

Case in point; a simple observation of the cacophonous gaggle of left and right leaning cable news-talk show hosts and their insufferable “spot-on” guests pretty much cause me to almost always exhort, “Lotta freaks man!”  The tedious grid-lock and perpetual bitch- ‘n-moan-fest from the D.C. left and right brain-trust always gets a hearty, “Lotta freaks man!” from yours truly. I don’t know how many times I have mumbled and/or muttered that under my breath during or at the conclusion of a painfully suck-the-essence-of-life-from-you committee meeting, “Lotta freaks man!” Of course you do know that the lowly camel is actually a race horse that was designed by a committee? Ah yes, shopping for groceries late-night at any Wal-Mart will most certainly garner a “Lotta freaks man!”  When you finally hit the checkout counter? Seriously, “Lotta freaks man.”  The moron that cuts you off in traffic just so they can arrive at the stoplight 50 feet ahead of you, or jumps the curb to get that prim-o parking spot at the mall, just grin and yell, “Lotta freaks man!” Last but far from least, listening to someone drone about the raw treatment the latest reality show victim received on last night’s episode of The Bachelor, Project Runway, or Biggest Loser will straight-up make me pull out the mega-phone,  and with some pointed authority suggest, all together now…….”Lotta freaks man!”

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