Is the condition of truly not giving a shit the pinnacle or the nadir of human existence?  Is it the ultimate in aspiration, or a true sign of failing beyond any likelihood of redemption?

For no reason I can presently conjure, I was thinking about “The Matrix” at work the other day.  Maybe someone referenced it offhandedly in conversation.  I don’t remember exactly.  “The Matrix” isn’t a very hip or now thing to talk about these days, and one wonders if it will ever become cool to talk about it again, but at the end of the first movie (which is the only one I saw, so I don’t know how much this concept was expanded upon in later installments) handsome man and multifaceted performer Keanu Reeves only hits his superpowers stride when he seemingly stops paying attention and just stands there like a doof, flopping his arms around and obliterating everyone without putting any thought or effort into it.  The movie is really little more than an excuse to check out some cool special effects and some interesting fights between people who in reality could fight no one under even the least demanding of circumstances, and I find it hard to believe that the Wiggywoggy Brothers meant it as anything other than that, but I do like the idea that after all that money spent and ponderous pontification flung, the end message of this megabudget late ’90s filmic footnote-to-be is “Stop trying”.

There are a number of ways to take that.  “Stop trying”.  Okay!  I’ll stop going to work and lie around watching cartoons all day.  End result is my landlord kicks me out if I don’t starve to death first.  My wife leaves me, if she’s smart, and at this point my parents would probably be kind enough to take me in and shovel food in my mouth until I die of old age or bedsores, if that’s possible, or they put me in some kind of home, which would be expensive, so that would probably only last so long.  Then I end up outside, a homeless person.  One of those people I pass briskly on the street while pretending to be intent on reaching a landmark in the near distance, clenching my sphincter and tensing my jaw all the while, my stomach ready to ache at the inevitable “hey buddy”.  But if I truly am not trying here, then rather than galumphing around town I would simply lie down in the driveway of the hospice I’ve been booted from until someone, probably an orderly or a policeman, forcibly drags me away, or takes me to prison.  The thing is, how long are people going to carry you if you refuse to move?  If I stopped moving, where would I end up?  Is that exciting or horrible or what?

Either that or “stop trying” means “don’t worry about it”.  Go through your day and do your thing, giving little thought to how others are processing your words and actions.  I think this probably defines “success”, or at any rate could certainly serve as a viable path to same.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my entire life alternately seeking and repelling the approval of others, working mightily to get people interested while working even harder to make it appear as though I could take them or leave them.  Butting heads with a far less productive incarnation of myself, and all in the interest of people who have their own problems and aren’t terribly affected by my doings either way.  I hate everything I’m writing here but the fact remains that every day I fuck myself over in some small way, and where you’re all human like me you’re all doing the same thing from time to time.  If I took anything valuable away from my time spent flipping languidly through the Bible, it’s that we’re all made of the same shit.  (I believe that’s a direct quote from Leviticus).  We can buy different shirts at different stores and base our hairdos on different magazine shots but deep down we’re all manic depressive redneck movie star genius baby angel rapists, and, until a flaming boulder falls out of space and incinerates us all, we have to deal with ourselves, and much of the time we don’t seem to be properly equipped to do all that fantastic a job of it.

I don’t want this to come across as complaining.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut back on the bitching.  It can be an enjoyable, cathartic, and shamefully addictive pastime, but at best it’s the verbal equivalent of walking on a treadmill set to the lowest speed: It’s repetitive, uninteresting, accomplishes nothing, and it makes you look pathetic and stupid.  I do, however, feel that complaining in groups is, to some extent, a positive activity.  It can bring people together, and it can bring realizations to light that might take the edge off whatever’s getting everybody’s goat.  But someone just sitting around, sadly spouting or typing grievances and utterances of hopelessness is somehow more pathetic than, say, hitting yourself in the head with a rock until you die.  At least the guy hitting himself in the head with a rock is doing something about it.  Good form, guy hitting himself in the head with a rock.  That’s a bona fide means to an end, by cracky.

If you’re gonna complain, at the very least be funny about it.  For frequent good examples of this, please click on the “Devil May Care” link to the right of this entry.  My old friend Joe never laments a folly without somehow forming it into a ludicrous yuk.  A good portion of my time with Joe over the years was spent crying into our googolplex-proof drinks over one damn thing or another.  I bet if we were treated to a videotaped montage of these conversations, we’d start puking and crying and beating the shit out of each other.  This would end very badly for me; Joe is in much better physical condition than I am, and is good at fighting.  In any event, take a look at his blog if you haven’t already been doing so.  There’s a lot to look at.  You’re not doing anything right now anyway.

Does anyone in their thirties ever think that coming of age during the early nineties was a nice lesson in devaluing and underestimating yourself, others, and practically everything around you?  If blame can truly be placed on anything when it comes to quality of life, it feels to me like environment is a reasonable enough culprit, if not infallible.  The early 90s culture was rooted in not caring.  But not the potentially productive “like it or lump it” type of not caring.  The “nothing matters and everyone hates me so I’m locking myself in my room and listening to Alice in Chains all weekend” type of not caring.  I like Alice in Chains as much as the next guy (who I’m told likes them pretty well but has to be in the mood for them), I’m just co-opting them to make a point about the early 90’s seeming cool at the time but actually probably being pretty destructive for a lot of kids stuck in them.  It all seems to revolve around the music.  Does the country’s collective youth personality always have to be dictated by whatever songs by whatever bands have managed to fight their way into our radios, TVs, and computers?  I’m sure it’s not this way with all countries.  What shapes the kids of the countries who don’t live and die by bands and singers?  I hate the music I grew up with as much as I like it.  What else can I say that about?  McDonald’s.  Alcohol.  TV.  All very mood-altering things.  Being controlled is both liberating and stifling, opposing forces that can make you feel like nothing is happening and you’re that nothing.  The best course of action at that point is to watch “The Last Boy Scout” and take from that excellent film the best advice you’ll ever get from anyone: dance a jig!

Now here’s the part where I deflate all the preceding comments by using a lot of exclamation points and pretending to wonder where THAT came from, then showing a picture of a sheep watching CNN!


I am looking within myself for the secret!  I’ll keep you posted!  In other news, we’re probably going to some yard sales tomorrow, if the pickins look good.  I have some pictures of some yard sale trip stuff from a month or two ago that I keep meaning to post, so let’s do that now before it never happens.  Take a gander!


Check it out, we saw a gol’ dahn deer on someone’s lawn while driving away from a yard sale where I bought a book about hobos and a documentary about a retarded guy who really likes football.  This deer didn’t give a rat’s ass about anything.  He was walking through people’s yards without so much as a by your leave.  I learned from our encounter that deer don’t pay attention when you whistle or when you loudly intone the word “deer!” at them.  They probably don’t even know they’re deer.  I did find out, though, that fart noises catch their attention immediately.  You are looking at a picture of a deer trying to figure out who just farted.  This is not a deer that will tolerate crassness.  He may look in its direction with marked interest but he will not join in.  This deer thinks that farts are smelly and disrespectful.  He may have a point.  We’ll leave him to his lichens.


Church rummage sales are currently tickling our fancy moreso than the lowly yard sales.  There’s usually more stuff, the interaction between seller and vendor is way less awkward, reasonably priced baked goods and coffee are virtually guaranteed to be offered, and you get to experience the sure to be intriguing interior of a church you otherwise would never have entered.  It always smells weird and there’s always at least one person walking around that freaks you out.  Church rummage sales are the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, and the shoat’s lower intestine all rolled into one fascinating animal.


Yeah!  You won’t find this at Target, ladies and gents!  I didn’t want to buy one solitary item on that table, but I did want to take a picture of it.


Just a storage container full of golden tumblers that caught my eye, familiar from the cupboards of older relatives who have passed on.


We bought a jacket (a great one), a Umaine shirt that bears the look and feel of 1983, and a mug that says “Florida” on it in enjoyable colors and fonts (we’re half-assedly collecting mugs from every state).  I think this woman said something funny but it couldn’t have been that great since I can’t remember it at all.  Work on your material, crone!


On to the next one.  It’s amazing how horrible power lines and traffic lights look.  Looks like they just threw a bunch of wires in the air, then all shielded their heads with their arms, hoping against hope that everything would catch on something.  It’s an electrical fire-induced 18-car pile-up waiting to happen.  The precipice of disaster: what better locale for a place of worship?  Anyway, there was stuff to buy in here.  What would it be?


Why, this.  The “Super Max”.  My best guess is this is a blowdryer/comb combo.  Comb combo.  Comb combo.  Whoa.  For women with eighteen pounds of hair who can’t be bothered to split drying and combing into two separate tasks, the Super Max is probably not such a bum deal, but I myself did not care to exchange monies for it.


The general goings-on.  “Rummage” is definitely the word.  Just piles of stuff everywhere.  Root through it and toss it down wherever.  Painted on the wall is a timeline detailing the history of this particular church, which I think is kind of a classy way to keep track of how a building came to be and what it’s had in it.   The idea of the act of painting the timeline of a building on its basement wall is extremely relaxing to me.  It would be nice and cool throughout, you wouldn’t have to concern yourself with creativity or inspiration, and it would be very gratifying to stand back and look at the results when you were done, regardless of how well it came out.


On to another one in Hampden.  There were a lot of home-taped VHS there for purchase, mostly with stuff taped off 1988-era HBO.  I bought several.  I did not buy this one because somewhere I already own these films in other, better-quality formats, but the tape’s content was so solid I had to photograph it.  In the likely event that you can’t read the label, it’s “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”, “Crocodile Dundee 2”, and “Twins”.  Can’t beat that with a stick.


A piano with a bunch of shoes on it is my kind of commerce.


Not sure what we were thinking when we passed up this four-star deal.  What home would be complete without a scalped mariner nestled in a tiny basket?  I find it hard to believe I did not have enough money to buy this.  My past self enrages me once again.


Well, looks like this little old lady’s going home, and I am as well, home being bed.  Goodnight everybody, and thank you for reading my disjointed blog entry.  I think it’s supposed to be nice out tomorrow.  You should think about buying an ice cream cone.


11 Responses to “BLATHER AND SALES”

  1. ballzoutdixie Says:

    Even though I’m sure i wouldn’t be able to presently, i’d like to get together and have a good cry again someday. Those sniveling, faggidyanne, crying fits were always an outstanding good time (well perhaps not ‘always’ in the moment, but they bloomed nicely after-the-fact)… honestly, I wish i had something good to cry about anymore! Somehow the shameful act of it got inverted by our (or at least my) eccentric, queer-ass, doublethink into something resembling true blue pridefulness. I think about those days often … It was a neat trick and i’d like to see it done again.

    So yeah, thanks! Oh, one more thing: you own ‘Crocodile Dundee 2’? That’s fantastic! Glad to see you’ve finally had a change of heart for that all around excellent sequel.

    Actually, no, yet one more thing: my god damn subscription to your blog here still isn’t working … I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but it’s just fucking irritating. I’m going to try and fix it right now. If it doesn’t work i’ll be back for more bitching soon.

  2. butthorn Says:

    It has been too long since we drank and wept, there can be no doubt about that. I feel in good faith that we’ll remedy this before summer’s end. That seems an accomplishable and worthy feat. As for the faulty subscription efforts, well, I don’t know what to tell you other than my attempts to figure it out were 100% fruitless; in short, subscribe to my blog in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.

    CD2 is all right in my book and I hereby retract my past insulting comments. It’s the kind of movie you have to take your time with.

  3. butthorn Says:

    Also I feel a strange mixture of delight and shame that at the end of this entry WordPress automatically provides a link to how hurtful the word “retard” is to people.

  4. ballzoutdixie Says:

    you should probably chill out on the tards … unrelated; am loving the nice bruce lee pic, what a great looking man!

  5. butthorn Says:

    Agreed! I have never been happier with my blog’s appearance. Bruce takes the cake. Part of me (a very small part) can’t help but wonder what it must have felt like to be kicked or punched by him. I can’t imagine that guy in that picture survived that kick.

  6. I saw this great video on YouTube that was a pitch video for a syndication package of the 60s Batman and Green Hornet TV shows, and one of the selling points was that Bruce Lee had a higher Q rating (meaning more public recognition) than Paul McCartney, Leonard Nimoy, or Larry Hagman.

    So, to sum up: Bruce Lee – not only can he kick your head clean off, but he’s more popular than J.R. Ewing.

  7. ballzoutdixie Says:

    Follow-up: turd hand took an early and unpleasant lead, but in the end subscription took it! Whew, at last!

  8. butthorn Says:

    Bill – I like Bruce better than all three of those jerks! Why was the public denied a three-on-one fight between these four men? Larry Hagman may not be quick but I bet he could throw a solid haymaker.

    Ballz – Well done! You clearly have a far greater patience than I for navigating technological gobbledygook.

  9. Wow. You could not be more wrong about the Matrix and it’s lessons’ applicability to your life. The reason that Neo is able to wreck everyone at the end is not be cause he “stops trying.” It is because, as is alluded to when he visits the Oracle, he comes to know who he really is (the “Know Thyself” sign in Latin). He realizes that he is the One. He’s not putting zero effort in at the end. It’s just that he realizes how much he is capable of and that those guys aren’t a real challenge to him.

    So if you want to apply the lesson of the Matrix to your life, it would mean to exercise serious self reflection and to find out who you really are and what you are meant to do. When you do that you will be able to hit your “superhero stride” in a sense.

    Now, I say that because you invited the application of the film’s theme. I’m as big a pessimist as the next guy, so take that for what it may be. I’m just a big fan of the movie and I’ve studied it to a certain extent. If you really want to get at it’s philosophy, check out Baudrillard’s Simulacra and the idea of the hyperreality. Otherwise, just spend time getting to know yourself.

  10. I think a Larry Hagman career revival is long overdue, or at least some sort of mass internet PR meme. Chuck Norris is old hat now… when’s it gonna be the Hag’s time to shine?

  11. butthorn Says:

    Jon – Thank you for your response, and for not simply stating “You suck and are stupid”, true as either of those statements may be. I tend to get more blog mileage out of being wildly inaccurate than from intensely examining things for truths, so whether or not I’ll ever truly know myself remains in question, though who knows, it’s early yet. My doctor is encouraging me to practice meditation now that I’ve recently been cursed with crippling migraines. Maybe something interesting will pop up. And while it’s certainly open to all manner of interpretation, I would wager that your take on “The Matrix” is a lot closer to what the filmmakers intended than mine, especially given the fact that I haven’t seen it since 1999. I’ll be honest, your response initially hurt my feelings because it didn’t say “You are hilarious and correct; a crisp $20 is on its way to your mailbox.” but I welcome the dissent and insight. Thank you again!

    Bill – Annie and I got on a brief “Dallas” kick a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed ourself, in no small part to Hagman’s jovially disgusting performance. I still like Chuck Norris because I imagine he finds all that stale Internet crap talking about how he can karate chop clouds with his moustache or whatever just as irritating as you or I do. That being said, you’re on to something in that Hagman is not getting his due at the present time. Maybe we should send him a card.

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