Category Archives: metaphor

The State of the Onion

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Yep, the state of the onion is stinky.  The great onion that is our world is hyuge.  And it tastes like an onion.  Especially if you eat it from the inside out.  Mmm… I love onions. I want to eat them all myself, every onion in this garden.  But if I am going to do that, I am going to need the support of all sides.  Yes, there is blame to go around on many sides.  But I need their support to get rid of all the dietary restrictions illegally placed upon our garden by the last onion-master-in-chief.  That illegitimate onion-master was not even raised in this garden.  He seems to think that everyone has a right to clean, pesticide-free soil to plant their roots in.  But all garden vegetables are not created equal.  Tomatoes are poisonous.  They all have radical religious beliefs that makes them hate our onion-ness.  They are therefore terrorists, believe me.  They are trying to sneak across the southern border of the garden and take over the onion-growing space that good, conservative, right-thinking onions have and need more of.  They are trying to spread their poison in our garden.  They want to replace our onion laws with their own stinky Tomatillo Law.  And corn.  The Corn Party tries to defeat every item on the onion agenda.  When we pass a law that all corn voters need to be stripped of their kernels before they can be allowed to vote, they selfishly vote against that law.  Government in this onion garden cannot work if they continue to do that.  And we need a wall to keep illegal jalapenos from crossing the garden’s southern border.  They are not the best vegetables, I guarantee you.  They are onion-eaters and foul mixed vegetables.  And promises were made to spring onions that were brought into this garden as seeds and now are crying that they deserve not to be uprooted and thrown into distant gardens where they don’t even speak the proper vegetable languages to get by.  I know this garden loves those onions.  I love those onions too.  I want to eat them too.  They are very nutritious.  But their protections are now gone.  I leave it up to the Corn and Onions of Congress to build that wall, and if they do, I will let the spring onions stay.

And now you can heap praises on me for the state of our economy.  Yes, I take credit for all the fertilizer I have created by speaking tons of bull manure every single day.  The quality of my manure is fabulous… simply fabulous, believe me.  It is the finest manure any garden has ever received.  And I, Donald J. Onioneater, am the finest onion-master you have ever seen.  No onion-master before me has done as well, except maybe for Abraham Limabean.  He was pretty great.  Although I don’t really know why.  Maybe I should have said Andrew Jackfruit instead.  So the state of the onion is stinky.  And let’s all work together now to MAKE THE GARDEN GREAT AGAIN!

 

 

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Ice Cream in Winter with Propaganda Sprinkles

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The Cheeto-in-Chief has now given us something we needed as much as anyone could possibly need an ice cream cone in the middle of a blizzard.  He has shut down the government.  And, I mean, we need a break from this Republican Clown-Horror Show in the worst way.  But the government shutdown is positively the worst way.

The government is actively undermining everything of value to the common man in America.  It is deconstructing American school systems from the top down, the EPA is now encouraging polluters and removing all regulations and barriers, taxes are reduced for everybody… who has immense wealth, and we are assigning debt to our children that will take centuries to pay off.

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And the problem isn’t that the government is run by profiteering criminals, which it most certainly is, but that no matter what they say and do, no consequences are suffered for it.  They can literally do anything to anybody and get away with it because Republicans now hold all the winning cards.  Pundits say they are facing a blue wave of change in the 2018 midterms, but then again, probably not.  They control the mechanisms of government.  They can cheat to win and get away with it.  If we disagree, we are looking at a Revolution in which the armed forces are all on the other side.

The government is shut down now because the President hates immigrants, even the legal ones.  He unilaterally brought an end to the DACA Dreamers program, shutting the door on immigrant children who have only known life as an American.  Everybody in both parties want the issue settled with heart, in favor of the Dreamers.  They deserve to be here.  But when the issue was almost settled with a compromise that would’ve allowed the government to move forward, suddenly the CHIPS, Children’s Health Program is subject to negotiation and being held hostage to the Republican desire to punish Americans just for needing the government to stay open and functioning.

My conservative friends in Iowa, Texas, and elsewhere continue to back Trump and his policies even when they themselves are hurt by them.  They do this because he has appealed to their fears and hatreds.  He promises to punish those they are afraid of, and he hates the same groups that they hate.  One of the groups they hate are liberal Democrats like me, though none of them say they hate me personally.  Fox News has taught them to think of the labels and the people who wear those labels as different things.  Killing Muslims in Afghanistan doesn’t bother them because they are taught not to remember that the Mother of All Bombs was dropped on Muslim women and Muslim children too.  I try to remember they are friends and family, and I still love and care about them, even though they support things I find unconscionable.

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So, this weekend, Trump gave us an ice cream cone laced with propaganda sprinkles, some of which are made of pure horse poop.  And he shoved it in an orifice where you least want to receive a cold ice cream cone… in mid winter.  And I am willing to admit, maybe we need a little ice cream right now, a cold-but-loving treat of looking honestly at the current situation that has to be dealt with.  But couldn’t we have ice cream without the poop sprinkles, the hate sprinkles, and mind-blowing sprinkles?  Let’s take the radioactivity out of our confections for a change.

 

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Hypocrasysiphus

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And God said, “This world I have created is good.  It is very good.  In fact, it is too good.  We must balance the good with evil.”

Then God took a ball of elephant dung and created Republicans.

“You see, beloved ones, if the world is too good,” said God, “Then when I get full of wrath, there will be no one to smite.  You don’t want me too full of wrath.  I may pop like an overfilled balloon.  So someone needs to get struck by lightning to let off some of the pressure that has built up through the hard work of being God.”

So God took up a ball of old chicken guts and created Democrats.

“Why do  you always seem to let the evil ones get away with lying and deceit?” a prophet dared to ask.  “They cheat and steal and become wealthy, and then use that wealth to cover over their crimes, yet you do not smite them with lightning bolts?”

God threw a bolt of lightning and incinerated the prophet.

“I did say in the Bible somewhere that God helps those who help themselves.  I’m sure I remembered to put that in there somewhere.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  Or if He does, they are perfect mistakes.”

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“So you authorize the wealthy, who became wealthy by exploiting others, to commit further acts of exploitation until they virtually control the government and say that any crime is not a crime because they are now in charge of making the laws and deciding the consequences?” asked another brave but stupid prophet.

God immediately sent a plague of locusts to eat the prophet’s flesh down to the bone.

“The Bible says that all governments are put in place by God.  No government exists except with my approval.  If I don’t like them, I will remove them.  So if the government of the United States is to be run by my evil Republican creations, I merely have to create a lot of very stupid citizens who will vote to give everything to the rich and exploit everyone else, including those who basically voted against their own best interests.”

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Another rather stupid prophet got up to ask a question of God.  He raised one finger, opened his mouth, and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.

“I have anticipated your question.  I do have a plan for mankind.  Remember the Greek myth of Sisyphus?  That old Greek idiot who has to labor for eternity rolling a heavy rock up a hill, and just as he almost reaches the top, it rolls back down on top of him and he has to start over at the bottom of the hill?  That is a metaphor for all human life and accomplishment.  Income inequality becomes a heavier and heavier burden as you near the goal of getting rid of it.  You have a Great Depression, then FDR comes along to fix things and help common people.  Then Reagan takes over with “trickle-down economics” and rolls you all back to the bottom of the hill.  It ends in Junior Bush’s Great Recession of ’08.  Obama comes along to fix that.  Then, in a sudden political reversal, the party of pure evil takes over again.  Back to the bottom of the hill we go.”

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And so, no further prophet got up to speak.  It was not because prophets had gotten any smarter.  No, it was because there were no prophets left.

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Wielding the Big Pencil

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The guy holding the big pencil used to be me.   I know you are thinking, “But, Mickey, you are not a rabbit!”  Well, that’s true, but it is also true that the whole thing is a metaphor, and metaphorically I was always Reluctant Rabbit, pedagogue… teacher… the holder of the big pencil.  It is a writing teacher thing.  The best way to teach kids to write is to have them write.  And the best way to show them what you mean when you tell them to write is to write yourself.  You learn to read better by reading a lot.  You learn to write better by writing a lot, reading what you wrote, and reading what other people wrote, especially if those other people were holding the big pencil in front of the class.

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I was recently reminded by people who know me that once I held the big pencil in the front of the class.  They both asked me, “Really?  You were a teacher?”

I suppose it is hard to believe when once you’ve gotten to know me, at least a little bit.  I don’t strike people as the sour-faced, anal-retentive English-teacher type.  I smile and laugh too much for that.  They can’t believe that someone like me could ever teach.

But over the years, I got rather good at holding the big pencil.  I learned, first of all, that anyone can be a good teacher.  You only have to be competent in the subject area you are trying to teach, and open to learning something new about teaching every single day for the rest of your life.

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Here’s something you have to learn about teaching to be any good at it; Discipline is not about making kids behave.  You can shout, stamp your feet, and hit them with a ruler and you will never get them to do what you want to them do.  It has to be about limiting the choices they have for what they will do.  Yes, one of those choices is to be removed from the classroom to go have fun sitting in the uncomfortable chair next to the assistant principal in charge of discipline’s desk, but the good teacher knows you should emphasize that they can either sit like a lump and imitate a rock, or they can participate in the activities presented.  And in my classroom, activities led to jokes and laughing and trying new stuff… some of it hard, but most of it easy.  Kids don’t end up having a hard time making the right choice.

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Here’s something else you absolutely have to learn to be any good at it;  You have to like kids.  Not just the well-behaved teacher-pleasers, but also the class clown who’s too smart to sit still for stuff he already knows, the shrinking violet who is a wonderfully complex well of deep thoughts who is only a little bit too scared to actually speak in class and share her thoughts, and the dark snarky demon who is quietly plotting the next outburst that will make your life a living hell so he or she can spend time with their old and dear friend, the chair in the assistant principal’s office.  If you don’t like them, you can’t teach them, and driving dynamite trucks in war zones is an easier job.  It pays better too.

I often try to picture Donald Trump teaching English to seventh graders.  What a slapstick comedy that would be.  The man doesn’t know anything.  He is always angry.  And he hates everybody except his daughter Ivanka.  My fourth period class wouldn’t merely eat him alive, they would skeletonize him faster than a school of piranhas could ever hope to match.  And it might be entertaining to watch (assuming it was metaphorical, not literal).

And I sincerely wish I could hold the big pencil in front of class again.  It was the act that defined who I was and what purpose I had in life.  But it isn’t gone since I was forced by ill health to retire.  I held the big pencil for over two thousand students in the course of thirty-one years.  And I will always hold the big pencil in their memories of it.  It is a sort of immortality for teachers.

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Life By a Roll of the Dice

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These are Warhammer 40,000 Harlequin Warriors I painted myself.

Over the years I have played many role-playing games.  Virtually always I have done so as the game master, the dungeon master, the story-teller behind the action.  Players decide what to do about the story problems I represent to them.  They have characters that have painstakingly advanced in skills and levels of skills to use for the problem-solving the plot centers around.  But ultimately, when they take action, the outcomes are decided by a roll of the dice.

Life is like that.  You labor hard to control what happens next in your life.  But random chance intervenes.  If you are the Harlequin Space Elf known as Smiley Creaturefeature (the masked elf in the green robe on the front row, far left in the picture above) and your band of high level Harlequin War Dancers have come to Checkertown City Square hunting for your hated enemy, Bone-sucker the Space Orc, it is entirely possible when you use your scanner operator skills to find him, you could roll a “1” on the twenty-sided dice.  This would mean failure.  Not merely failure, but failure on a spectacular level.  The scanner would explode, killing your entire squad, yourself included.  And all those weeks of building the character up to level 17 in order to defeat Bone-sucker and his mutant minions, would be lost and become all-for-nothing in the disappointment department.

Of course, a benevolent game master would alter the outcome in some way to keep the story going.  Perhaps the exploding scanner, instead of killing everyone, created a mini worm hole in the fabric of space-time and transported them to a parallel dimension where Bone-sucker is actually the chaotic good hero of Checkertown, and you must now work out an alliance with him to fight his enemies, the other-dimensional versions of you that are actual Evil Smiley Creaturefeature and his band of Evil Harlequin Space Elves.  You must then defeat your evil selves carrying out the evil plot that the game master had originally designed for the villain Bone-sucker to employ before returning to your own original dimension.

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Real life does not work that way.  It works more like you see above.  The lovely, metal-bikini-clad female barbarian of swimming pool repair is faced with the attack of the giant rats of city pool inspection, necessary electrical repair, and limited finances.  You can see, if you look incredibly carefully at the purple twenty-sided dice, that her defensive attack roll is a “2” for catastrophic failure.  Her sword cuts off her own leg and causes personal bankruptcy.  The giant rats roll a lucky “13” on the black twenty-sided dice for successful tooth and claw attacks.  They then go on to eat her and force the pool to be removed from the property, using up all the money the player (who is me, by the way) has left.

No game master steps in to create a more reasonable outcome.  The worst possible outcome is what happens.  That is how real life works.  Roll the dice, and lose your swimming pool.

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Dr. Teeth

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Today I had to take my daughter to the dentist before dropping her off at school.  A simple teeth cleaning and an exam for future tooth work they are recommending resulted in a fifty dollar charge.  I could pay for it, but it comes out of the monthly food budget.  And I have no idea where the three times that amount that the future tooth work will cost is going to come from.  Let alone the property tax due at the end of the year which is now three times what it was in 2006.  I have lost control over my life because of increasing expenses and decreasing income.  And it makes me lament, “Why can’t I control ANYTHING?”

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You would think that having been a teacher for so many years I would know how to control practically everything, right?  I mean, if a teacher can control the ultimate chaos engines of the average junior high school classroom, he ought to be able control anything… while doing nuclear physics on the side.

DrteethMAHBut that, of course, is not how it works in real life… even without the nuclear physics which was an exaggeration for humorous effect.

The secret is, a good teacher doesn’t control the behavior of students.  The teacher manages behavior by adjusting what he is in control of, his own reactions and behavior.

To make a metaphor, it is like juggling handfuls of sand.  They will slip between your fingers, bounce, and fly apart completely before the first revolution is complete.  But if you are smart, and have a small ceramic bowl in each hand, and a convenient big bowl of sand to dip into for new handfuls, you can throw and catch and guide the handfuls of sand through their amazing performance, at least three handfuls.  Maybe as many as seven, though that would take some really fast hands and years of practice.

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The point is, I think in my stupid little head, that I should not be trying to control the chaos my life has become.  The art is to manage the opposing forces, guide them back into the over-all flow of it, and prevent any single thing from overwhelming me, interrupting or wrecking the music of existence.

So the lesson here is, even though this post started out being about dentists and cost control, that I can’t control anything in life but myself.  So I might as well keep playing my figurative banjo and get into a figurative Studebaker with figurative Fozzie just to see where the road song will take me.  I will play the music and try to keep it all in tune and following the beat, no matter how many wrong turns and hitchhikers happen along the way.

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Liars Run the Animal Farm

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Napoleon the PIG.

Napoleon the Pig makes himself ruler of the Animal Farm in Orwell’s 1945 book by lying about Snowball, his rival Pig, and blaming the destructive acts of the former human Farmer Jones on poor Snowball.  He is driven away from the farm by the farm dogs whom Napoleon has taught to think since they were puppies. This, even though Snowball was actually the hero of the animal rebellion that drove the humans away.  Collusion?  Perhaps.  But definitely a lie.  And the PIG Napoleon, once in power begins to keep all improvements to living conditions for the PIGs.  Other animals, he says, are happier with a simpler, hard-working life.  The PIGs begin to dress like men and walk upright and wear long red ties.

Keith Olbermann in the video is very much like Benjamin the Donkey, who is cynical and skeptical about Napoleon’s methods.  He also reads as well as any Pig.  When Boxer the workhorse is wounded defending the farm against neighboring farmers who attack and destroy the windmill, he shrugs off the the wound and works at rebuilding the windmill until he collapses.  Then Napoleon declares Boxer will only get better if he’s taken to the vet’s animal hospital.  But he calls the Knacker (the man who renders dead horses into glue) to take Boxer away.  Benjamin calls him out.  He points out that it says “Knacker” on the van that takes Boxer away, not “veterinarian”.   He points out that Russian Facebook trolls used targeted troll-posts to help get Napoleon his position of power.  But Napoleon gets away with his lies.  Boxer apparently dies in the so-called animal hospital.

Now, I am not sure which tiny animal on the farm Robert Reich is like, but he is pointing out in this video that once the PIGS got themselves into power on the animal farm, they lie in order to get their agenda operating, enriching all PIGs (or is that GOPs?) and their political donors.  They are doing it all by LYING.  Pigs lie.  We should have learned that lesson by now.  They don’t care who dies and gets rendered into glue.

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In 1945 Orwell intended Napoleon to be a satire of Joseph Stalin in communist Russia.  But I truly believe, as we are living on the Animal Farm now as the hard-working farm animals, that he has a bad wig on his head with whippy straw-yellow hair, and a distinctly orange face, with the same little piggy eyes he always had.  And he is in power because he tells lies.  And what’s worse, he gets away with the lies.  As long as the PIGs are in power, controlling both houses of congress and the Supreme Court, he will not lose his lying grip on the farm.  We are all doomed to continue being hard-working animals who eventually get rendered into glue.

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