With inspiration from “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads, snow, “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, a Christmas ornament, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, a window, “Mario Takes A Walk” by Jesse Cook, music in general, , Aesop’s Fables, and that ass-hat William Shakespeare. Despite what the lunatic author says in the introduction, his essay is actually about how broken the world is, how to fix it, and how funny it is to detach oneself from it, however obscured his meaning may be.
Hi. My name is Marty. My thesis is that I’m going to tell you about me by talking about other stuff. First off, I’m going to tell you about snow. Secondly, I will tell you about a hat. Next, I will talk about a Christmas ornament. Then there’s some other stuff that you can just read for yourself. Finally, I will write a conclusion that you probably wouldn’t read if I didn’t write this sentence but now you feel strangely compelled to read it before you finish reading the rest of my paper.
Moral: Five-paragraph essays are the devil’s work. Burn them at the stake!
Arrr, Captain! My Captain!
I just want to jump out the window. I don’t want to hurt myself. I want to tuck and roll and land in the snow in position to make a snow angel. But I won’t. I’ll make a snow pirate. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but it will probably involve a bandana. Then I’ll throw snowballs at him to show him who’s boss: Tony Danz—er, Captain Scruffbeard, the tubby landlubber who made him. But what good are pirates without a ship? I’ll build a grand galleon from snow and ice blocks, and fire cannonballs at the windows of sleeping students, and someone will become amused (or annoyed) with me and come down to fight (hopefully with snowballs). That’s when my crew will run through the building stealing all their precious booty. Arrr, matey.
Moral: Jump out a window. Just kidding. Do what you want while you still can, because the cannonballs are real. Just kidding. But really, people telling you that you cannot or should not do something are all just figments of your imagination. Just kidding (probably). But you really should do what you want without regard to what others may think of you. Except murder. And rape. And… Well, you get my drift, I think.
“You may ask yourself:
There’s a red angel ornament hanging from the handle on the window. I know it’s for Christmas, and it’s rather cheaply made. And gaudy. But it does have a certain charm to it. It hangs just above the head of whoever sits in the chair beneath it as though guarding over them. Of course, that’s silly, because who knows if angels really exist? It makes me happy at some level, though, to think that something is protecting my friends when I’m not around to. Which I really need, because sometimes I feel like a bad friend if I’m not there for every friend every second.
You see, when most people say the love their friends, they mean it in exactly the same way they do when they say they love a video game, a sandwich, or an occasional quickie in the stockroom at work from that sweet little thing down in Marketing. Boy do people “love” those. Now, when I say I love my friends, I mean it like I do when I say I love my family, my dog, or my supposed Canadian girlfriend (whom I am sure to see far more often if another Republican gets elected president and I move there, like everyone always does after swearing they will).
This makes it very confusing when my friends don’t put nearly as much into our friendships. Perhaps my love is unrequited. It’s hard to tell when I get so many mixed messages – sporadic lapses in communication, or one who tells me she loves me every time she talks to me, and probably even means it, but also seems to avoid spending any time with me. Oh, and a couple girls who keep flirting with me despite their boyfriends; one of them drunkenly bit my nipple at IHOP. That’s got to mean something.
A lot of people don’t understand why men have nipples but it’s really very obvious. Men have nipples for the same reason women do: they’re fun to play with. Don’t give me that “breastfeeding” hooey; fooling around is far more frequent and important than having children. And as if nipples weren’t enough fun, God (or billions of years of complex biochemical processes) created boobs on which to place the nipples! Which brings me to another common wonder: why do gay men and straight women also like them? This is also simple: they make excellent pillows, and as one (flaming) gay friend of mine told me, “They’re fun to play with.” As if I didn’t already have enough competition from straight men.
I mean, really, isn’t it enough that I’ve got no game? I was once told that the higher a person’s IQ, the lower their “EQ”, which is some feel-good crap that means smart people don’t function in society and should just get used to it. After several awkward encounters with girls in middle school and the early years of high school, including one girl who thought I was stalking her (which isn’t to say that I wasn’t, mind you), I still wasn’t “used to” it, in the same way that the human body can never quite get used to bizarre sleep schedules – I came to expect it, but it never really worked for me.
Moral: Haha, I said nipple, five times! That is not a moral, is it? Uh… Do not say you love someone if you do not mean it. Say you like them a lot or something.
A Galapagos Tortoise I
It’s amazing what one can learn from watching cartoons. I learned, at the age of seven, how to express my suicidal depression. Thanks to Ed Bighead from Rocko’s Modern Life, I could say, “I hate my life.” Sure, it meant something different for me than it did for him, but I made it work for me just the same. I added to this a poorly thought out fake suicide – it involved ketchup – and banging my head against the wall frequently and increasingly hard, eventually in a (vain) effort to give myself a concussion. Though at some point these habits came to an end, it wasn’t because my condition had improved in any way.
Moral: Kids should not be acting like this. If they do, drop them off at the loony bin, ASAP! Also, cartoons are good for you.
They’re Like Pants
I loved Pokémon for a few years. There’s actually a kid in the original Pokémon games whose war cry is “I like shorts!” Me too, little guy. Me too.
Moral: Shorts are cool. Also, go around yelling “I like shorts!” and see how people react. It will be funny. I promise.
A Galapagos Tortoise II
Come middle school, though it is hard to recall exactly how I felt, I can guarantee I was still on a downward spiraling roller coaster. (That’s like a normal downward spiral except that I also get motion sick.) It’s not that I had gotten any more depressed – it’s hard to beat suicidal – it’s that my depression was becoming more profound. I had new ways of understanding my depression, new ways of expressing it, and new “reasons” to be depressed. I had only two friends in the sixth and seventh grades, and at least as many enemies. Unlike friends, enemies came easily – I was a social outcast, a Filthy Jew, and the twin brother of someone everybody loved to torment. It didn’t help my cause that I was rather outwardly Jewish. Or that I planted my feet firmly in social outcast territory by making it my mission to be the exact opposite of the stereotypical man. This was the start of a long period during which I was not only the whiny bitch I had always been, but also nearly growing breasts from how unmanly I was making myself. (Though that would be rather convenient.)
Moral: Taking any action that corresponds to a stereotype that applies to you reinforces that stereotype, but doing just the opposite does not de-inforce it, and that kind of sucks. Sorry.
The Nature of Truth
Moral: Believe true things, because they are true.
A Galapagos Tortoise III?
High school is almost too embarrassing to talk about – which of course makes it that much better of a discussion topic. Not that this is a discussion, as I’m the only one talking. Er, writing. Of course, an English teacher (If you’re reading this parenthetical, that probably means you.) might argue otherwise – that this is a discussion and this essay is my turn to speak. Would this still be a discussion if nobody ever responded to my essay? Perhaps, if I prefaced it with:
Martimus, an essayist.
A soapbox in an awkward locale, such as a public restroom or the green of the 18th hole of a prestigious golf course. It is raining, even if the setting is indoors.
Enter Martimus, holding this recursive meta-essay.
and, uh, postfaced it with:
Exeunt omnes. Even though there was only one character in the scene.
It could be considered a soliloquy. I’m not sure if I really want to be responsible for writing a soliloquy. It seems like a lot more work, and I don’t particularly care for them anyway. And what if someone came around and saw me standing alone talking to myself loudly? I would be sent to the Crazy People Family Estate. And I don’t care for that place one bit. Or maybe they’d just think I had one of those Bluetooth headsets. Where was I?
Moral: Do not ever talk about high school; pretend you forgot. Learn proper play script format, just in case you ever have to turn your essay into a recursive meta-essay. Know why you are writing an essay before you write that essay.
I think it makes me smarter.
Today I bought a hat. I really like it. I asked my friends if they liked it. Some of them said yes. A mean girl laughed at me and said I should only wear it around people who already like me. A few people didn’t care. I still don’t know if I should keep it. I could still return it if my mom doesn’t like it. She probably won’t. But maybe I’ll keep it anyway. I really like it.
Moral: If you like the hat you bought and/or think it makes you smarter, you should keep it; it is cool, and it probably does make you smarter.
A Moment in the Life of a Racist Chair
“The orange chair is staring at me. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell that bitch to fuck off, she just sits there and tries to stare me down, like that short, fat bitch could intimidate me. I mean, come on, look at me. I’m taller, leaner, stronger, better looking, and I’ve definitely got a bigger shelf on me. Plus, I’m gray like everyone else. What the fuck race has orange plastic? Is she from South America or another species or something? At least that green rolling chair knows her place.”
Moral: No one is born a racist. Chairs are not born, so they have an excuse. You do not. Don’t be hatin’.
I can tell a lot about people by their looks. I’m talking facial features here, not clothing. And my instincts are usually dead on. Does that make me a facist? And is facism more like racism or fascism? Who cares?
Moral: Embrace your supernatural understanding of the world around you. See auras? Cool. ESP? Neato. Recognize people by the shape of their butt? Creepy, but still useful!
That Which We Call a Jeremiah
I believe that a person’s name is inseparable from his personality. I’m not sure which way the causality goes – a child’s name determines his personality, or a parent’s naming style is related to his parenting style – but there definitely seems to be a correlation. Zachary is arrogant. Stephanie is unique, bordering on strange. Max is a lovable jerk. My research even confirms that last bit:
Marty Rosenberg: Are you a lovable jerk?
Max Kelman: I think so.
And in a second interview:
MR: Are you a lovable jerk?
Max Meltser: I think I have both qualities, but never at the same time.
MR: Can I pretend you just said “yes”?
MM: Umm, sure.
MR: I’m writing about how names carry different personalities with them.
MM: You best not be grouping me with Kelman.
Oops, that’s about to get sort of personal. Let’s move on.
Different nicknames also correspond to different personalities, which complicates things just a bit. Whether Kathryn goes by Kate or Katie, or just remains Kathryn, makes all the difference. It’s a bit sad that the personality a name carries has nothing to do with the name’s literal meaning. For example, “Martin” means “warlike”, but as a (former) Martin myself (I’m a Marty now), I’d say I’m rather peaceful – and that goes for other Martins (and Martys… Marties?) I know.
Spelling doesn’t make a lick of difference, though.
Moral: Judge people based on availability heuristics. Try not to accidentally compare two people who don’t like each other. It does not actually matter if you can spell.
Oh, English! Yes! Yes!
“Philosophy” strikes me as a peculiar word. It sounds to me like it means not, “love of knowledge”, but rather, “knowledge of love”. Perhaps it means both, but I think “love of knowledge” should be “sophophilia”. Of course, “phil” seems to have become purely sexual in English. Apparently Phil is a very sensual man. (And Sophie is quite knowledgeable!)
Moral: If you want to talk dirty in the bedroom, philosophical discussions are probably your best bet.
“You may tell yourself
My name is Mario. I have been walking through the desert for upwards of two months now, I think. I have lost track. At first, it was beautiful in the bored eyes of a suburban boy. The glistening of sand. The vivid cerise of cactus blossoms. The cruel majesty of the scorpions. I forgot that I did not know how I got here; I was so infatuated. I imagined myself among a great Semitic empire. In my ears was the enchanting song of a beautiful, scarfed exotic woman, and trinkets, and textiles at the bazaar on the sand-smoothed tips of my fingers. But soon thereafter, the harsher aspects of the desert forayed into my mental oasis, reminded me that I did not know where I was or how I had gotten there, showed me that at best I did not belong.
Perhaps I was wrong when I called myself a boy. In the culture in which I have spent nearly all of my time – though I dare not say I belong there, either – I would be considered a man. But what have I done to deserve this title? I grew taller, and heavier, and older. But truly, I am still a boy, a child stumbling about the cosmopolis, as my body currently aimlessly roams a dusty ocean with no purpose and nobody and nothing with a spare one to lend me.
But then, what precisely is adulthood. I know I could simply look up the word in a dictionary, but for two things. For one, I am still ostensibly still quite astray in a less-than-hospitable, dictionary-less environment. But perhaps just as importantly – and I mean by this no offense to JRR Tolkien or any other lexicographer – there is never any particularly useful information, or at least never any astute observations, in a dictionary definition. I will refrain from forcing any spoilers upon you, as you may one day be far beyond the normal extremes of boredom and wish to read the Oxford English Dictionary as though it were an incredibly long novel, but those of you who recognize the likelihood that you would die of starvation in the time that would require may wish to look up such indescribable concepts as “love” and, well, any other concept. Good crispy fried lord, am I long-winded.
Moral: Fuck society, live in a wine barrel on the beach with stray dogs, masturbate in the forum, and walk around with a lantern telling people you’re just looking for one good person. Sure, it’s been done before, but plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.
C G Dm C G F C G Dm C G F
“If music be the food of love, play on.” God, Shakespeare was so full of shit. Music not be the food of anything, and that is a terrible metaphor. Music is music. That’s all it is. It’s far too broad to lump it all together as “the food of love”. In fact, if all music were the food of love, I think I would be a philophobe. I think the actual food of love is chocolate cake, but that’s beside the point. Not that I necessarily have a point. Anyway. This is not to say that music can’t be the food of love (or whatever other corny bullshit), but not all music is the same. Hell, music isn’t one of those “universal languages” like it’s supposed to be, either. If you don’t believe me, try caroling in the West Bank; if you come back, be sure to tell me how it went (i.e., that I’m right).
I will admit as an amateur linguist and music enthusiast that music may be language, however. It does have some traditional elements of language – phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics are all present, even – perhaps especially – in instrumental music. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it that way, music is a whole language family, a la Indo-European or Sino-Tibetan. This family is relatively unique, however, in being global. So perhaps it is universal in that it can be found everywhere, but it is not one universal language as the saying goes – it is many. Symphonic Metal has probably millions of speakers in Scandinavia, whereas World music is a rather dysphonic pidgin spoken all over the United States; and I am fairly certain that every school in the United Kingdom teaches Punk Rock as a second language (or perhaps first language).
In terms of phonology, music is far more advanced than human vocalization. Whereas we merely have place and manner of articulation, music allows for an infinite variety of speaking apparatuses (instruments) as well as several possible dimensions of place of articulation (e.g., on a guitar, moving up and down a string, from string to string, or even several strings at once), and several manners of articulation (e.g., strumming or plucking guitar strings).
Sometimes I’m just not sure if I like a song. I hear Bob Dylan on the radio, on occasion. His songs are often brilliant, but I change stations anyway because he can’t sing for the life of him. I wonder how he might be described as a speaker of Folk Rock. Perhaps it could be said that he is beyond fluent, but has a bizarre accent?
Moral: I am a cunning linguist. Okay, that is not actually a moral. The moral is, cover Bob Dylan songs. And learn to speak Nuevo Flamenco – beautiful music.
“Jeff, when do you sleep?”
Sunday. I sleep on Sunday. Every week on Sunday. It’s almost Sunday. It’s Saturday. It’s oh-six-hundred hours on Saturday. My left shoulder and left—er, right eye keep twitching. I can look around and not see anything or think anything and just keep twitching. Some people call clearing the mind meditation. I call it extreme sleep depri-something. I can feel and hear the blood moving around in my head. I can see the internet from here! Where’s my pen? What good is being awake without my pen? Oh there’s my pen. I missed you, pen. Don’t scare me like that. I wonder if “plath” means anything. Why don’t people get snow days in real life? Dude, the fucking holodeck is broken. I saw this pink glass bottle down on 49th earlier. I wonder what was in it. I wonder why it was pink. Wait, where’s 49th? What are you talking about? Hey, hey, there’s this really cute girl at the coffee shop, y’think I should ask her out? I got serious game when common sense ain’t holdin’ me back! Maybe she’ll think I’m on drugs. Maybe she likes drugs. I like drugs. But I don’t need drugs. Sleeplessness is my anti-drug, just like in those old commercials haha! Bibble bibble bibble shpladooga. Man, you should try this gibberish-ing, it’s so fun – I mean, hongalonga tessaboppa kanksitanorg! Ha, haha, it’s like music to my ears.
MR: What is music?
Harry Rosenberg: Sounds arranged in a way that appeals to people.
MR: Is any sequence of sounds that appeals to people music?
HR: I guess so. It’s open to personal interpretation.
MR: So if I cackled like a hyena and someone enjoyed it, it’s music?
HR: I think so. Voices are music. I think it’s the best instrument. Someone saying “blubber” could be music.
Or is it all Greek to me? Greek is the universal music, is that how the saying goes? Stuff makes so much more sense when I can’t understand it. Like, what is the meaning of this? I don’t know! I know! I keep blinking like there’s a damn horse in my eye. What the hell is a horse doing in my eye? Get it out! What is the meaning of what? What was I asking about? Who cares, I just wanna know the meaning of life.
MR: What is the meaning of life?
HR: (He stares at the ceiling.) Uh… (He cracks his neck.) Hm. Good question. Maybe life has no meaning. Whatever you decide it is, it is. If we’re a biological accident, I guess it really has no meaning. If we were put into place by God, maybe it has a meaning to God, but I don’t know what it would be.
I’m shaking my face like a wet dog! Wubba wubba. Wooooo, haha!
MR: What is the meaning of life?
Zax Rosenberg: The meaning of life is to prove the meaninglessness of others’ lives. (MR laughs) Meaning is a loaded word because it implies a predetermined purpose.
MR: Woah, you got all serious on me.
ZR: The meaning of life is to find the meaning of life. Or determine that there isn’t one. The faster you do the latter, the more time you have to drink booze and fuck bimbos. And blow up hamsters.
ZR: You know. Blow up hamsters. Boom!
Where do those voices keep coming from? Ya hear me, voices? Who are you? And thanks for answering my questions! Hm, I don’t remember asking any questions. Hey, nobody let me nod off. I’ve got work to do when I’m done rambling. I’m not even talking about myself anymore. I guess that’s okay. I shouldn’t always be talking about myself anyway. Myself is such a nice guy. I wonder if his name means “Nice Person!” Do you ever feel like drop ceilings are going to collapse on you? I hope they don’t get me before I get me. I don’t want muscle-women to get me either. They’re hella scary. Death by snoo-snoo is still death. I wonder if radical, man-hating feminists are all secretly grizzly bears. They’re usually hairy and angry enough…
Moral: Sleep is for the weak. And the dead. Also, feminists are grizzly bears.
Finally, I am writing this conclusion that you probably wouldn’t be reading if I didn’t write the sentence at the end of the introduction that made you feel strangely compelled to read it before you finished reading the rest of my paper.
Moral: Wait, what?
If you were looking for the conclusion because of the last sentence of the introduction, it’s just previous.
Kelman, Maksim. “A Brief Interview in Search of a Friend’s Essence.” Online interview. 17 Dec. 2009.
Meltser, Maksim. “A Slightly Less Brief Interview in Search of another Friend’s Essence.” Online interview. 17 Dec. 2009.
Rosenberg, Harry. “On the Natures of Music, Flatulence, and Philosophy.” Personal interview. 10-ish Dec. 2009.
Rosenberg, Zachary. “On My Way Out the Door, I Asked My Brother What the Meaning of Life Was.” Personal interview. 10-ish Dec. 2009.
Moral: Even though plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, it is still illegal and unethical.
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