far too much writing, far too many photos

Yet another bit from the e-mail archives:


10. “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Ungrateful Sons Grow Up To Be Cowboys (When They Could Very Easily Have Just Taken Over The Family Hardware Business That My Own Grandfather Broke His Back To Start And My Father Sweated Over For Years Which Apparently Doesn’t Mean Anything Now That You’re Turning Your Back On Such A Gift)”
9. “You’ve Been Talkin’ Hebrew In Your Sleep Since That New Rabbi Came To Town”
8. “That Shiksa Done Made Off With My Heart Like A Goniff”
7. “My Darlin’s A Schmendrick And I’m All Verklempt”
6. “Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Latkes”
5. “Stand By Your Mensch”
4. “New Bottle Of Whiskey, Same Old Testament”
3. “My Rowdy Friend Elijah’s Comin’ Over Tonight”
2. “I’ve Got My Foot On The Glass, Where Are You?”
1. “I Was One Of The Chosen People (’Til She Chose Somebody Else)”

I continue to go through e-mail archives, coming across some pretty diverting stuff. The following — maybe my favorite of all the e-mail entertainment that’s ever been inflicted on me — made the e-mail rounds in 1997 and can be found on a number of webpages (always without authorial credit):


Cartoon Law I: Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.

– Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over. However, he will not necessarily fall immediately. He may be given the chance to run (on air) back toward the precipice before he begins to accelerate downwards. He usually cannot run fast enough, and starts to fall JUST before his arms can reach the edge. Nor does he necesarily always accelerate at 32 feet per second per second, but often reaches a high velocity instantaneously. Also, this high velocity causes tidal forces such that his arm stretches (while the rest of him falls) long enough to wave bye-bye.

Cartoon Law II: Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly.

– Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outside boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge’s surcease.

Cartoon Law III: Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

– Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.

Cartoon Law IV: The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down 20 flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

– Such an object is inevitably priceless, thus the attempt to capture it will be inevitably unsuccessful.

Cartoon Law V: All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

– Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth’s surface. A spooky noise or an adversary’s signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. A character’s feet when running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.

Cartoon Law VI: As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

– This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character’s head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. Only at manic high speeds, the wacky guy may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

Cartoon Law VII: Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted as tunnel entrances; others cannot.

– This trompe l’oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall’s surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

–Corollary: Portable holes work.

Cartoon Law VIII: Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

– Cartoon cats posses even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self-pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.

– Corollary: A cat will assume the shape of its container.

Cartoon Law IX: Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Cartoon Law X: For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance.

– This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it happen to a duck instead.


A) A sharp object will always propel a character upward.

– When poked (usually in the buttocks) with a sharp object (usually a pin), a character will defy gravity by shooting straight up, with great velocity.

B) The laws of object permanence are nullified for cool characters.

– Characters who are intended to be “cool” can make previously nonexistent objects appear from behind their backs at will. For instance, the Road Runner can materialize signs to express himself without speaking.

C) Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries.

– They merely turn the character black and smoky. It appears that the clothing of the character absorbs the full force of the explosion, protecting the body inside. This results in shredding and tearing of the character’s clothing.

D) Gravity is transmitted by slow-moving waves of large wavelengths.

– Their operation can be witnessed by observing the behavior of a canine suspended over large vertical drop. Its feet will begin to fall first, causing its legs to stretch. As the wave reaches its torso, that part will begin to fall, causing neck to stretch. As the head begins to fall, tension released and the canine will resume its regular proportions until such time it strikes the ground.

E) Dynamite is spontaneously generated in “C-spaces” (spaces in which cartoon laws hold).

– The process is analogous to steady-state theories of the universe which postulated that the tension involved in maintaining a space would cause the creation of hydrogen from nothing. Dynamite quanta are quite large (stick sized) and unstable (lit). Such quanta are attracted to physic forces generated by feeling of distress in “cool” characters (see Amendment B, which may be a special case of this law) who are able to used said quanta to their advantage. One may imagine C-spaces where all matter and energy result from primal masses of dynamite exploding. A big bang indeed.

F) Any bag, sack, purse, etc. possessed by a cool character is a tesseract.

– Any number of objects of any size may be placed in it or removed from it with no change in its outer dimensions.

G) Characters can spin around and change into any set of clothes appropriate to the situation.

H) Rabbits can dig a burrow from here to there in less than 20 seconds and emerge spotlessly clean.

I) Movements are accompanied by funny sound effects.

In going through archived e-mail, I found the following virus warning which I am (in the spirit of prudence) posting here:


If you receive an e-mail entitled “Fighting Canaries,” delete it immediately. Do not open it.

It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer.

It will demagnetize the stripes on ALL of your credit cards.

It will reprogram your ATM access code, screw up the tracking on your VCR and use subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD’s you attempt to play.

It will recalibrate your refrigerator’s coolness settings so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles.

This virus will pour antifreeze into your fish tank.

It will drink all your beer.

It will leave dirty socks on the coffee table when you are expecting company.

Its radioactive emissions will cause your toe jam and bellybutton lint (be honest, you have some) to migrate to behind your ears.

It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine, all while dating your current sweetheart behind your back and billing their hotel rendezvous to your Visa card.

It will cause you to run with scissors (HAW!) and throw things in a way that will only be fun until someone loses an eye.

It will give you Dutch Elm Disease and Tinnitis.

It will rewrite your backup files, changing all your active verbs to passive tense and incorporating undetectable misspellings which will grossly change the interpretations of key sentences.

If the “Fighting Canaries” message is opened in a Windows 95/98 environment, it will leave the toilet seat up and leave your hair dryer plugged dangerously close to a full bathtub.

It will not only remove the forbidden tags from your mattresses and pillows, it will also refill your skim milk with whole milk.

It will replace all your luncheon meat with Spam and cheese logs.

It will molecularly rearrange your cologne or perfume, causing it to smell like dill pickles.

It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

These are just a few signs of infection.


Oops — pardon my whining in that last entry. Yeah, the mercury slumped down into the 20s last night (we’re talking fahrenheit, of course) — I was up briefly about 5 a.m. (aaiiiiiieeeeee!!!!), the temperature was about 28 (aaaiiiiiiieeeeeee!!!!). By early afternoon late spring had returned, the sun shone, birds chirped (at least the ones the local sharp-shinned hawk haven’t already taken out of action chirped), the temperature glided up into the 70s. That’s life — everything changes, sometimes in very goofy ways.

I’m writing far too much about the weather these days. Probably indicating a bona fide lack of stimuli and/or diversion in this little life of mine. Or something. I may have to do something about that.

But not tonight.

I’m writing this around 6 p.m. on Monday, June 3. I just stepped outside to, er, pee (I do that now and then, my hilltop fiefdom being way the hell out in the country with few humans about), and if it weren’t for the blackflies and lilacs and lack of colorful falling leaves, I’d swear autumn had arrived. Feels like it, smells like it. Last night the temperature slid down into the 30s. The killjoys in the weather service say it’ll be down in 20s tonight. Here, anyway. In Madrid, according to the Weather Underground, the low tonight will be around 60. Pleasantly cool, with scattered clouds. That after a lovely day, temperature in the 80s. (The sound you hear is the bitter grinding of my teeth.)


I write far too much about the weather these days. Probably indicates a bona fide lack of stimuli and/or diversion in this little life of mine. Or something. Remedial action of some sort may have to be taken.

But not tonight.

[Going through some old files this morning, I came across the following funny. No author's name was provided when it originally made the internet rounds 3-4 years back -- should someone out there feel like claiming authorship (and can prove it), please give me a chance to provide proper attribution or, alternatively, remove the offending bit of diversion from this webpage before you try to sic an attorney on me. I grovel with appreciation in advance for your thoughtfulness and consideration.]


Jerry: Today we’re going to be talking with Todd. Hi, Todd.

Todd: Hi, Jerry.

Jerry: (Reading from card:) So, Todd, you’re here to tell your girlfriend something. What is it?

Todd: Well, Jerry, my girlfriend Ursula and I have been going out for three years now. We did everything together. We were really inseparable. But then she discovered post-Marxist political and literary theory, and it’s been nothing but fighting ever since.

Jerry: Why is that?

Todd: You see, Jerry, I’m a traditional Cartesian rationalist. I believe that the individual self, the “I” or ego, is the foundation of all metaphysics. She, on the other hand, believes that the contemporary self is a socially constructed, multi-faceted subjectivity reflecting the political and economic realities of late capitalist consumerist discourse.

Crowd: Ooooohhhh!

Todd: I know! I know! Is that infantile or what?

Jerry: So what do you want to tell her today?

Todd: I want to tell her that unless she ditches the post-modernism, we’re through. I just can’t go on having a relationship with a woman who doesn’t believe I exist.

Jerry: Well, you’re going to get your chance. Here’s Ursula!

(Ursula storms onstage and charges up to Todd.)

Ursula: Patriarchal colonizer!

(She slaps him viciously. Todd leaps to his feet, the security guys pull them apart before things can go any further.)

Ursula: Don’t listen to him! Logic is a male hysteria! Rationality equals oppression and the silencing of marginalized voices!

Todd: The classical methodology of rational dialectic is our only road to truth! Don’t try to deny it!

Ursula: You and your dialectic! That’s how it’s been through our whole relationship, Jerry. Mindless repetition of the post-Enlightenment meta-narrative. “You have to start with radical doubt, Ursula.” “Post-structuralism is just classical skeptical thought re-cast in the language of semiotics, Ursula.”

Crowd: Booo! Booo!

Jerry: Well, Ursula, come on. Don’t you agree that the roots of contemporary neo-Leftism simply have to be sought in Enlightenment political philosophy?

Ursula: History is the discourse of powerful centrally-located voices marginalizing and de-scribing the sub-altern!

Todd: See what I have to put up with? Do you know what it’s like living with someone who sees sex as a metaphoric demonstration of the anti-feminist violence implicit in the discourse of the dominant power structure? It’s terrible. She just lies there and thinks of Andrea Dworkin. That’s why we never do it any more.

Crowd: Wooooo!

Ursula: You liar! Why don’t you tell them how you haven’t been able to get it up for the past three months because you couldn’t decide if your penis truly had essential Being or was simply a manifestation of Mind?

Todd: Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

Ursula: It’s true!

Jerry: Well, I don’t think we’re going to solve this one right away. Our next guests are Louis and Tina. And Tina has a little confession to make!

(Louis and Tina come onstage. Todd and Ursula continue bickering in the background.)

Jerry: Tina, you are… (reads cards) …an existentialist, is that right?

Tina: That’s right, Jerry. And Louis is, too.

Jerry: And what did you want to tell Louis today?

Tina: Jerry, today I want to tell him….

Jerry: Talk to Louis. Talk to him.

(Crowd hushes.)

Tina: Louis… I’ve loved you for a long time….

Louis: I love you, too, Tina.

Tina: Louis, you know I agree with you that existence precedes essence, but… well, I just want to tell you I’ve been reading Nietzsche lately, and I don’t think I can agree with your egalitarian politics any more.

Crowd: Wooooo! Woooooo!

Louis: (Shocked and disbelieving:) Tina, this is crazy. You know that Sartre clarified all this way back in the 40’s.

Tina: But he didn’t take into account Nietzsche’s radical critique of democratic morality, Louis. I’m sorry, I can’t ignore the contradiction any longer!

Louis: You got these ideas from Victor, didn’t you? Didn’t you?

Tina: Don’t you bring up Victor! I only turned to him when I found out you were seeing that dominatrix! I needed a real man! An Über-man!

Louis: (Sobbing:) I couldn’t help it. It was my burden of freedom. It was too much!

Jerry: We’ve got someone here who might have something to add. Bring out… Victor!

(Victor enters. He walks up to Louis and sticks a index finger in his face.)

Victor: Louis, you’re a classic post-Christian intellectual. Weak to the core!

Louis: (Through tears:) You can kiss my Marxist ass, Reactionary Boy!

Victor: Herd animal!

Louis: Lackey!

(Louis throws a chair at Victor, they grab each other and wrestle. The crowd goes wild. After a struggle, the security guys pry them apart.)

Jerry: Okay, okay. It’s time for questions from the audience. Go ahead, ma’am.

Audience member: Okay, this is for Tina. I just wanna know how you can call yourself an existentialist and still agree with Nietzsche’s doctrine of the Übermensch. Doesn’t that imply a belief in intrinsic essences that is in direct contradiction with the fundamental principles of existentialism?

Tina: No! No, it doesn’t! We can be equal in potential without being equal in eventual personal quality. It’s a question of Becoming, not Being.

Audience member: That’s just disguised essentialism! You’re no existentialist!

Tina: I am so!

Audience member: You’re no existentialist!

Tina: I am so an existentialist, bitch!

(Ursula stands and interjects.)

Ursula: What does it [bleep] matter? Existentialism is just a cover for late capitalist anti-feminism! Look at how Sartre treated Simone DeBeauvoir!

(Women in the crowd cheer and stomp.)

Tina: [Bleep] you! Fat-ass Foucaultian ho!

Ursula: You only wish you were smart enough to understand Foucault, bitch!

Tina: You the bitch!

Ursula: No, you the bitch!

Tina: Whatever! Whatever!

Jerry: We’ll be right back with a final thought! Stay with us!

(Commercial break for debt-consolidation loans, ITT Technical Institute, and Psychic Alliance Hotline.)

Jerry: Hi! Welcome back. I just want to thank all our guests for being here, and say that I hope you’re able to work through your differences and find happiness, if indeed happiness can be extracted from the dismal miasma of warring primal hormonal impulses we call human relationships.
(Turns to the camera.)
Well, we all think philosophy is just fun and games. Semiotics, deconstruction, Lacanian post-Freudian psychoanalysis, it all seems like good, clean fun. But when the heart gets involved, all our painfully acquired metaphysical insights go right out the window and we’re reduced to battling it out like rutting chimpanzees. It’s not pretty. If you’re in a relationship and differences over the fundamental principles of your respective subjectivities are making things difficult, maybe it’s time to move on. Find someone new, someone who will accept you and the way your laughably limited human intelligence chooses to codify and rationalize the chaos of existence. After all, in the absence of a clear, unquestionable revelation from God, that’s all we’re all doing anyway. So remember to take of yourselves – and each other.

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