Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

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The Andyman Comes Around Again

Bobby Picture Pose #2. Nice. A classic.

“Yeah, sure. Hadn’t pulled this one out of the fanny pack in a while.”

No, you mostly stuck to Bobby Picture Pose #1 this tour.

“Glowering with murderous intent.”

Yeah.

“Love that one.”

You’re good at it.

“You bet. So, uh, who’s this guy? He’s talking to me in a non-rando way.”

That’s Andy Cohen.

“The English guy in the hat?”

You’re thinking of Andy Capp.

“Ah.”

Andy Cohen owns Bravo, or something.

“Like, the exclamation?”

No, not the exclamation “Bravo,” the teevee network.

“What do they show on that station?”

Shitty people being shitty to each other shittily.

“Reality teevee?”

Yup.

“I get enough reality in, you know, actual reality. Too much, sometimes. Don’t feel the need to add more via the boob tube.”

I’m with you.

“Sure, sure. Uh, how do my eyes look?”

Like you’ve been a Grateful Dead for 50 years.

“Makes sense.”

Feel A Whole Lot Better When You’re Gone

Hey, Better Care Reconciliation Act. Whatcha doing?

“Dying.”

Yeah.

“‘Yeah?’ That’s it? Where’s your sympathy? What kind of country just leaves a bill to die in the street like this?’

Sorry, buddy, but you had a pre-existing condition.

“This isn’t right! I’m a human being!”

You’re not at all.

“Still, I deserve better than to be abandoned just because I don’t have the political support.”

Not seeing the irony here, huh?

“I’m Republican; we don’t get irony.”

Sure.

“What happens to me now?”

There’s a farm upstate where all failed bills play together all day. The Equal Rights Amendment is up there. You’ll hate her.

“I don’t deserve this.”

No, you deserve worse.

Opinion Time!

What’s the best song with a woman’s name for a title? (There is no use doing this for songs named after men, as the clear winner is Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.)

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: No Dead songs, so Senator Franken might as well not play.

Get Your Stinking Hands Off Her, You Damn Dirty Drummer

The people online calling this adorable don’t understand guitar players or human body language. Trample Amplestample wants to headbutt Fishman and take back the Laser Duck.

Uncle Joe’s Band

Potsdam, do I declare–

STOP IT. STOP THIS RIGHT NOW.

Aw.

You’re a shameful dip.

I thought it was funny.

That’s because you’re a dip, dip.

For Telling Fortunes Better Than They Do

Madame Cazee could tell the future, but not yours. At least, not if you asked her. If someone else came to her for a reading, she might tell them your future. If you went to her, she would tell you someone else’s. For a long time, Little Aleppians believed that the only sure bet in the neighborhood was that whatever Madame Cazee predicted for you couldn’t possibly happen to you. Then one day, she told two clients in a row that they were going to drown in Bell Lake, and they both did within a week. After that, it was universally decided that Madame Cazee’s visions were a math problem that hadn’t been figured out yet, and and that impressed locals even more than the fortune-telling.

Her prognostications were studied by both experts in both Numerology and Number Theory; many chalkboards were filled with equations and the occasional Summoning Sigil. Decades of doctoral theses had been earned analyzing the relationship between the client and the vision. Finally, at an international convention of mathematicians and orthodontists (the convention center had been double-booked), the Math Department of Harper College was ready to reveal the truth behind Madame Cazee.

“We believe that the process is stochastic,” the Math Department of Harper College said.

And all the other colleges’ Math Departments said,

“That’s just a fancy word for random, you asshole!”

And then there was a riot. The orthodontists had no fucking idea what was going on.

Madame Cazee had not paid any of that any mind. School was for scholars, and she was a psychic. She believed in revelation over instruction, the sudden flash over the long grind, and preferred magical books to textbooks. The difference between the two is that if you study a textbook closely enough you will understand it, whereas a close reading of a magical book usually brings about insanity or maybe a runny nose. Her shop was on Sylvester Street next to the Wash-and-Slosh, across from the Wayside Inn; the plate-glass window was opaque from the giant eyeball painted on it. Green like the Verdance in the summer with thick black lashes

There were Tibetan bells attached to the door so that when it was opened it went TINGtingydingBONG, and the magazines in the small waiting room were always about the subject you were least interested in. A teevee in the corner showed Super 8 footage of other families’ vacations. There used to be a rug, but it got dirty too quickly, and now there is not a rug. Checkerboard floor, blue and white. No cat.

The curtains separating the waiting room from Madame Cazee’s sanctuary were batiqued with mandalas, and had stitched-in runes and also an airbrushed portrait of the Christ like you might see on the side of a particularly bitchin’ van. Pentagram, too, and a ≠ marking that denoted Abaddon the Unforgiving. Along the hem were the Shema, which tells O Israel that the Lord is our God and the Lord is One, and the Prophet’s Prayer, which went O inmates of the graves, salaam on you; Allah forgive us and you all; you left first and we will be coming later. The curtain on the left also had a large middle finger rhinestoned into it.

In addition to the curtains, there were hanging beads like in a Chinese restaurant. There was no meaning to them. Madame Cazee enjoyed the clacking noise they made.

And she was there in front of you. Palms on the circular table covered with an embroidered and heavy cloth. Same color eyes as the window. For an extra five bucks, she’d wear her turban with the great big fake ruby pinned to it. Madame Cazee. She was not White. That was obvious, but she was also clearly not Black. Similarly, she was not Asian, and she was the least Mexican-looking woman that Little Aleppo had ever seen. She was some sort of woman from somewhere, and it was no use trying to interrogate her about it, as Madame Cazee enjoyed lying about her past as much as she did telling the truth about the future.

Sometimes she wore saffron robes, and other afternoons she would sit there stark naked. Having psychic powers meant you could make your own dress code. Madame Cazee was wide at the shoulder and full across her hip, and had no wrinkles in her face at all even in places where there should be wrinkles. If you had not paid her the extra five bucks for the turban, then you would see that her hair was long and the same color silver as a freshly-cut key.

Phases. Madame Cazee was like the moon, and she went through phases. Tarot cards for a little while, then she’d dig the crystal ball out of the closet. Fancy stationery and fountain pen for psychography. Chicken bones for augury. She never let the spirit world speak through her, though, as it hurt her throat.

All that bullshit was bullshit, anyway.

Madame Cazee knew. You’d pay her niece Webby in the waiting room and be called from within–DaaaaAAAAAAAAAARRRR-ling! COME!–and you’d pass the batiqued curtains and the Chinese beads into an oval-shaped room with a circular table in the middle, and she would know. Detectives figure shit out, but psychics know.

“Your drug dealer is going to give you twenty dollars worth of dope to set a billboard on fire,” she said to a straight-arrow schoolteacher who had come in asking about his dying mother.

“You’ll save a life that you’ll regret saving,” she told a woman asking about the winning combination for the Mother Mary.

“All positions are still available, even the ones that no longer exist,” Madame Cazee told a father named Heinrich looking to speak to his dead child.

A skull was in a niche in the rounded wall; it had a mauve marble in one eye socket and a spy camera in the other. Tons of mystical crap: Sankara stones, and translucent jewels that would translate text as you peered through them, and a briefcase with a large gentleman’s soul trapped inside. Monkey’s paw throwing up a peace sign. A cup plain enough for a carpenter, and a box with a note on top reading, “Do not open again.”

There was a cat. He was black with white paws, and named Sylvester. Clients thought he was named after the cartoon, but he wasn’t. He was named after the street the shop was on. Places are important in magic.

Madame Cazee had a ring on every finger, two on each index, gaudy and clearly fake. Sometimes, she would deal the tarot deck.

“Fourteen of infidels. This card refers to the insoluble problem of theodicy. Have you recently inquired as to why an all-powerful God would allow evil?”

And the person across the table–who had come in asking whether her husband was cheating–said,

“What now?”

Madame Cazee dealt another card. The Jack of Instance.

“Your mistake is thinking that God is free from time’s fascism. Time and gravity. The Lord made them and is now enslaved by them just as His creations are.”

To which the woman whose husband had been acting suspiciously lately said,

“Seriously: what?”

And Madame Cazee would laugh, she had a low and accusing laugh that sounded like HUHHHhaha. She would laugh because she knew she was right, and also because she had already been paid.

“They’re not as extinct as you’ve been led to believe,” she told Big-Dicked Sheila. Sheila was regular client of Madame Cazee, and Madame Cazee was a regular client of Big-Dicked Sheila’s Hair Salon for Rock Stars and Their Ilk. The two had an arrangement.

Sheila had been beaten by people who should have loved her, and Sheila had seen the universe all at once with total strangers. Her back had been caressed and stabbed. Men had been cruel to her in measures that she could only ascribe to Satan, and she had seen kindness from her fellow man that could only be explained by the Lord. She chose to believe that the extremes of human nature were outside our control, and ruled by spirits and demons and angels and genies. Sheila was in no way the first person to choose to believe this.

“Do you hike?”

“I walk to the bar,” Sheila said.

“The Hills are brimming over with the past. The wilderness is the other, and it is beyond you. Do you understand?”

Sheila had chain-smoked two joints on the walk over to Madame Cazee’s, and so she said,

“Sort of?”

Which was good enough for Madame Cazee, who had been in a slight trance, and now her summer-green eyes focused again on Sheila and she said,

“I love your hair.”

Sheila had dyed her short, spiky hair the color of a summer-blue sky. She reached across the elaborately-illustrated cards on the table to grasp Madame Cazee’s ringed fingers, and she said,

“How good do I look?”

“There are no words.”

“Not to toot my own horn.”

“If you don’t toot, who will?”

It was late in the day, and Sheila’s shop would be getting busy. She kissed one of the gaudy and clearly fake rings on Madame Cazee’s left hand. When she got up from her seat, she put her palms together and bowed, and she backed out of the oval room with a circular table. The Chinese beads made a clacking noise, and then the door out to Sylvester Street made a sound like TINGtingydingBONG. There was a plan, Sheila comforted herself as she fetched a cigarette from her purse and lit it FFT and blew out the smoke PHWOO and thought again: there was a plan. It may be for someone else, someone you’d never meet, but there was plan. Sheila was wearing big, black boots with black laces, too, and she walked west on Sylvester toward the Main Drag, which runs north-south through Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America

Working Undercover With A Black-Glassed Eye

“Jenkins!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Come out of the bathroom.”

“I look ridiculous, sir.”

“You always look ridiculous, Jenkins.”

“Oh, yes. This is a new low for you.”

“Can’t I at least wear sneakers, sir?”

“No room in the budget. Spent everything on the Audioperambulator 3000.”

“Audioperambulator?”

“You can walk around with it!”

“And 3000?’

“Cool-sounding number.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, we’ll have no more boo-hooing. Don’t you boo, boy, and don’t you hoo, hoss. You’re going undercover and that’s final.”

“But, sir, is this really the best way to stop the illegal bootlegging?”

“Of course, Jenkins. You’re going to infiltrate their ranks and take the whole filthy lot of them down at once.”

“Can’t we just keep sending roadies into the crowd to cut wires and break tape machines?”

“Liability issues. Remember that bootlegger that snuck all of his equipment into the arena hidden within a wheelchair?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, the crew started dismantling wheelchairs at random.”

“Oh, that’s not good.”

“No. It turns out that people need those.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m up to my left nut in lawsuits.”

“Just the left?”

“That’s the one that hangs higher! Righty was swamped days ago.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Nope, no more treating the symptoms. We shall attack this problem at its roots.”

“But I don’t look right, sir.”

“Nonsense. You look just like a Deadie.”

“Deadhead.”

“Deadite.”

“Deadhead.”

“Oh, pish and tosh, Jenkins! You know what I mean! Whatever those noodle-dancing snotbags call themselves.”

“But I don’t look like them at all.”

“Of course not!”

“Oh, please don’t say–”

“They’d be expecting that!”

“–that they’d be expecting…sir, no.”

“You’ll be narcing in plain sight.”

“That’s not how it works.”

“Everyone will assume you look so much like a narc, that you couldn’t possibly be a narc. The plan is half-genius.”

“What’s the other half?’

“Core exercises. The Audioperambulator 3000 weighs 55 pounds.”

“Is there any way to quit this job, sir?”

“No.”

“Okay, then.”

Who, Her?

The lead character on a teevee show made for foreign children has been recast, Enthusiasts, and it is news. In fact, I believe that capitalization is in order: it is News. Some have responded with Takes, which have led to Beefs, Clapbacks, and three official Owns. Several people have been upset about this News, but far, far, far more have people are upset at the people who are upset. Mount Kilamanjaro will not have snow on its summit in a very short amount of time, but let’s talk about the genitals of teevee actors.

Doctor Who is now a lady. (Don’t worry: she is still a white lady, but we’ll get to that.) Doctor Who is a British sci-fi serial that has been on the air since the Interregnum. It is neither an anthology, nor an evolving soap; instead, the show has followed the adventures of one character for its entire run. This is accomplished through a particularly clever piece of bullshit: Doctor Who, a time traveling nuisance who insists on putting England in danger via his very presence, can regenerate. (Had I been writing the show, I would have called it “reiterating.”) Actor ages out of the role? Wants to go back to the legitimate theater? Punches a producer? Boom: regenerate him.

Renegotiating your contract has to be hell for a Doctor Who actor. It’s not as if you can threaten to quit.

So Doctor Who is a lady now, which makes all those masculine pronouns I just used retroactively sexist. (I oppose a female Doctor Who for the same reason I opposed a female president. Hiring/electing a woman to the job means when speaking about the group of people known as “the Doctors Who” or “the presidents,” one would be forced to use the awkward but correct “him/her,” or the incorrect but smooth “them.” TotD endorses Male Supremacy on grammatical grounds.)

But should she be? Is changing the gender (or race or ethnicity or sexuality or whatnot) just a cheap stunt, or a sop to the diversity police OR is it a creative and natural evolution of a character? Also: who are the diversity police? Are they like the dream police?

It comes down to Character Essentialism.

Please stop capitalizing words.

I’ll capitalize you.

That doesn’t MEAN ANYTHING.

I capitalized you.

STOP THIS. I’M YELLING AND I DON’T WANT TO BE.

Stop interrupting me.

FINE.

Anyway, Character Essentialism is about what cannot be taken away. I know we’re discussing Doctor Who, but I watched a half-hour of one of the shows when David Tennant was in it, and then I turned it off and never thought about Doctor Who again, so let’s use a different fictional Brit.

The essentials of Sherlock Holmes’ character are:

  • British.
  • The greatest detective in the world, but not a cop.
  • Arrogant, rude, and oblivious of/disrespectful of social mores.
  • Plays the violin.
  • Lives at 221B Baker Street in London. (There’s a dopey teevee show on now where Holmes lives in Los Angeles, and fuck that noise.)
  • A constant companion, a medical doctor named Watson.
  • Brother named Mycroft.
  • Nemesis named Moriarty.

And that’s about it. He doesn’t have to wear a deer-stalker and smoke a calabash. He doesn’t need to live at the tail end of the Victorian era. There’s nothing in that list that specifies race or gender. Certainly, it would be odd to cast a Latina actress in the role if it were set in the original time, but as long as she was British, there’s nothing stopping her from picking up the magnifying glass in a production updated to modern-day.

Conversely, some characters are essentially male, female, white, black, etc. Continuing with the detective theme, Hercule Poirot must be a man because Hercule Poirot must have his silly little mustache. Miss Marple has to be an old lady. But, Sam Spade could just as easily be hard-drinking, good-with-her-fists Samantha Spade.

Captain America–at least the Steve Rogers version–has to be white because he was turned into a superhero by the United States Army in 1944, and that was a segregated organization at the time. Dracula doesn’t have to be white because Dracula is a dracula and can therefore look like whatever he wants to look like. Wonder Woman and Iron Man need to be, respectively, a woman and a man BUT Tony Stark doesn’t have to be a man. Toni Stark, the billionaire inventor, could just as easily invent the suit and call herself Iron Woman. (Wonder Woman’s alter-ego could not be gender-flipped: Diana was made out of clay and magic on a lady-island.)

So: TotD declares the de-testicling of Doctor Who legitimate. You’re welcome.

A Partial Transcript Of CNN’s State Of The Union, 7/16/17

“My guest this morning is a member of President Trump’s legal team, Jay Sekulow. Good morning, Mr. Sekulow.”

“I disagree with your assertion that the morning is good. Hello, Jake.”

“Mr. Sekulow–”

“Jake. this entire farce has been nothing but a witch hunt against the greatest president this nation or any has ever seen. President Trump has been working his fingers to the bone for America, but stymied in his attempts to make America great again by the Democrats and the media.”

“Where is the president now?”

“Watching women’s golf for the third day in a row.”

“Mr. Sekulow, let’s go over the facts.”

“I disagree with those, too.”

“Yes, that seems to be a prerequisite for this administration. Nevertheless, on June 8th of last year, there was a meeting in Trump Tower that I’d like to talk about.”

“A very normal meeting.”

“No, sir.”

“I have never been to a single meeting in my working life that did not contain at least one music promoter and a Russian translator.”

“Right.”

“Regardless of what the lying media wants to say about this meeting, it was completely standard procedure.”

“No, this isn’t standard procedure at all. The email to Donald Trump, Jr., was very specific in the fact that the information to be exchanged in that meeting came from the Russian government.”

“Who reads emails these days?”

“Mr. Sekulow.”

“Jake, you need to remember that things were happening very quickly at that point, and there just wasn’t time to be ethical.”

“What?”

“And let me remind you that Hillary Clinton’s campaign received the questions for one of the debates early.”

“Why is that relevant?”

“Because why are you not questioning her lawyer today?”

“Mr. Sekulow, she’s not the president.”

“Maybe she should have colluded with the Russians. Really helped us out.”

“Are you admitting that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, sir?”

“Sure! Everybody colludes! We’re colluding right now. I colluded with my family this morning. Maybe I’ll collude with my dog later.”

“That’s not what collude means.”

“Collude. Funny sounding word.”

“If we could get on track–”

“James Comey told the president on three separate occasions that he wasn’t being investigated, and I think that about puts an end to it.”

“It doesn’t.”

“Oh, so James Comey was lying? Guess we can’t believe anything else he said and maybe he should be tried for perjury.”

“Perjury? From when?’

“When he colluded with the Senate committee.”

“Mr. Sekulow, what do you think the word ‘collusion’ means?”

“It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just a placeholder word.”

“Not a thing.”

“The fact is that the president had no knowledge of this meeting, even though nothing even slightly illegal or immoral happened in it.”

“But, Mr. Sekulow, if there was nothing wrong with the meeting, then why wouldn’t the president want to know about it?’

“Uhhh.”

“The Secret Service said it was okay.”

“What?”

“The campaign ran the meeting by the Secret Service, and they thoroughly vetted the participants and okayed the meeting.”

“Mr. Sekulow, the producer in my ear is telling me that the Secret Service just tweeted out, and I quote, No we fucking didn’t followed by three…no, four emojis.”

“Which emojis?”

“Laughing-so-hard-its-crying.”

“I stand by my statement. Jake, this is all fake news. The meeting that Donald Trump, Jr,, set up on his own with absolutely no oversight from the president was completely legal. The White House is very proud of Don, Jr., and the meeting that he set up all by himself and the emails he answered on his personal computer without being advised to by the president. Very proud, and if anyone has to go to jail, it should be him. Very proud.”

“Wow.”

“Thanks for having me, Jake. I have 32 other interviews to give this morning.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sekulow.”

My Back Might Need Protection

The back is the least imaginatively named of the body parts. A Greek scientist named Melion of Cantaloupa discovered it somewhere around the 12th century BC; he also invented the waterwheel and the concept of appetizers that day.

“What if we eat something before we eat?”

“This is like that other dumb idea you had. What did you call it? Desert?”

“Dessert. Two S’s. And this is nothing like that.”

“How is it different.”

“It’s before.”

“Dude, you’re real lucky I just invented Stoicism, because otherwise you’d be pissing me off right now.”

And so on.

Melion divided the back into several parts: the backiupsilon, which is the upper part behind the shoulders; the backimedia, which is the middle part that you cannot wash or scratch by yourself; and the backiagonista, which is above the tushee. Melion noted in his great lost work Physiogony that the back contained the spine (which he thought contained something that has alternately been translated as “motion fluid” and “Zeus’ ejaculate”), the rear ribs, and a series of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that were connected to virtually every other part of the body. Melion made these discoveries while lying down on the hardest rock he could find while his wife held his legs aloft as he yelled at her.

“There! Right there! Leave itNO NOT THERE, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, WHOEVER HE IS!”

“Stop yelling at me!”

“Woman, if I could move, I would invent the gun and shoot both of us.”

As Melion shows us, the back is often a source of constant, or recurring, pain for human beings. We can easily discern the reason for this by looking at all the other animals our size who walk uprightohwait there aren’t any. Unlike every other species of megafuana, Homo sapiens rests all its weight and expends all its energy through two limbs instead of four, and all that power and stress and strain goes directly through the back. Add to this the fact that we evolved to walk on ground while barefoot, instead of concrete while wearing flippity-flops or cowboy boots, and you have a perfect recipe for back problems.

Throughout the years, there have been fixes, remedies, tonics, procedures, unguents, balms, salves, stinky poultices, and elaborate exercise routines prescribed for backaches. Machines resembling the medieval rack have been employed, except during the Middle Ages, when people just used the actual rack. Yoga, pilates, tai chi,  fun-shu (that’s a Chinese thing where fat guys whip oranges at your shoulder blades),  toro-bazugo (same thing as fun shu, but the fat guys are Japanese), and plain old calisthenics have been recommended to ameliorate the pain. Opiates have been deployed. Recently, surgeons have begun going in and welding shit together.

One will note the word “cure” was not used in the previous paragraph.

˙uʍop ǝᴉl oƃ puɐ ƃuᴉʇᴉɹʍ doʇS ˙ʎǝH

Who are you?

˙ɥɔʇᴉq ‘pɐd ƃuᴉʇɐǝɥ ʎɯ ǝɯ ƃuᴉɹq

NO. NO, Lower Back. You are not a fucking character in this bullshit!

˙uᴉpoɔᴉʌ ǝɯ pǝǝℲ

NO. Get out of here! Shoo! Get!

That was weird

Who was that?

Lower Back.

Dude. Dude? You need to start dating again.

The world isn’t ready for me.

You’re just, you know, constantly having conversations with concepts.

In my defense, Lower Back started that conversation.

Sure, champ. You all better?

Not all. Not even some.

But you can sit upright?

Yeah.

Goody for everyone. What’s your particular remedy for back pain?

Heating pad and I binge-watched a season of The L Word.

Jesus, why?

You can only feel one pain at a time. The show’s so terrible, I couldn’t feel my back.

Not bad thinking.

I’m an ideas guy.

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