Humor

Filing anything under “Humor” just seems like a bad idea. I mean, if you have to tell people it’s a joke…

  1. Best and Worst Ads of 2016: The Things We Can’t Unsee (Wall Street Journal)
    Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been targeting children with propaganda, and the WSJ thinks that’s just great.
  2. The best and biggest memes of 2016 (The Daily Dot)
    The Romans had bread and circuses; we have pizza and memes.
  3. Top 10 Food and Restaurant Trends of 2016 (Forbes)
    Not bullshit hipster fads like food trucks and artisanal salt, but actual trends.
  4. Best in Beer 2016: Readers’ Choice & Editors’ Picks (Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine)
    Holy hell, people. It’s just beer.
  5. The 20 games you shouldn’t miss in 2016 (Boing Boing)
    I don’t like playing video games, but I love reading about them.
  6. The Listening Chaos: Year-End Chaos, Part V (Indy Metal Vault)
    The five best metal albums of 2016 as chosen by a poet and English professor in Indianapolis.
  7. Best Books of 2016 (Goodreads)
    Some best-of lists stop at 25 or 100. Wimps! Here are the 1,154 best books published in 2016.
  8. The 11 Best Viral Videos of 2016 Out of the 12 I Knew About (Paste)
    “One thing that can be said about 2016 is: It had some viral videos in it.”
  9. The Best (and Worst) New Yorkers of 2016 (Village Voice)
    Subway Dog would’ve made such a great president. Sigh.
  10. Favorite poetry books of 2016: a crowd-sourced compendium (Via Negativa)
    Poetry lovers. We’re here, we’re sincere, get used to it.

fearless tracker

I use Twitter for a bit more than just Morning Porch updates these days. Three weeks of dog-sitting — and especially dog-walking — yielded a few insights, which I shared on Twitter because they weren’t really long enough for blog posts. Canela is an eight- or nine-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever with a very easy-going disposition, boundless energy and an insatiable curiosity. We walked three to four miles every day. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve been writing. (The first and last of these also appeared on The Morning Porch.)

Jan. 2
Dozens of juncos flit through the bushes. The old brown retriever that I’m dog-sitting watches from the porch, her nose quivering.

Jan. 12
Trying to teach sarcasm to the dog.

Before I can stop her, the dog wolfs down a frozen coyote turd.

Just back from a three-mile walk full of fascinating scats and urine samples, the dog falls asleep on her Dora the Explorer blanket.

Before I started dog-sitting, I had no idea how much I talk to myself.

The dog’s sleep is punctuated with sighs and episodes of labored breathing. She snores. She smacks her lips.

She rumbles like an appliance with a bad motor.

Her jaws move as if around recalcitrant syllables of human speech. Then she dry-retches and falls silent.

Jan. 13
I just complimented a dog for taking a dump. This pet thing is insidious.

Jan. 14
The dog appears to have two modes: full-on excitement and sleep. I of course am an Eeyore and an insomniac. What a disappointment I must be.

On a walk in the thawing woods, the dog smells everything. All I smell is dog.

Going out to pee in the moonlight, the dog stands gazing into the shadows.

Jan. 15
Having just circled the field, more than anything the dog want to circle the field.

You can’t circle the same field twice, as Heraclitus might’ve said.

Like a suburban kid getting a “tribal” tattoo, the dog wants desperately to roll in coyote scent.

Straining against the leash that won’t let her catch up to a porcupine, the dog whines and whimpers like a creature in pain.

Jan. 16
Ten minutes after telling our neighbor that the dog never barks, I hear her bark, left alone in the house.

So the dog doesn’t bark at people, other dogs, deer, ruffed grouse, rabbits or porcupines. She barks at the absence of all those things.

Jan. 18
Last night, I gave the dog back to her family. In the morning, two inches of wind-blown snow, and the yard unmarred by a single track.

I couldn’t resist.

  • Deflesh them with bone knives.
  • Let the wolves and ravens deflesh them.
  • Gather them into skin bags and bury them under the hearth.
  • Feed them beer.
  • Dig them up every fall and dance with them.
  • Dig ditches around them so the uninitiated cannot get too close.
  • Build mounds over them so the otherworld can ascend and be closer to us.
  • Organize them by size and type.
  • Rearrange them into new, mash-up texts.
  • Break them so they will not follow us in our dreams.
  • Suck out the marrow so their spirits will protect us in our dreams.
  • Burn them and place them in jars of clay decorated with rows of pits, as from missing teeth.
  • Erect stones around them in a circle so they will remember us who stand in the light.

This is not a review, just as a pipe fallen to the stage is not a pipe. The performer’s open mouth resembles a small asteroid covered in hair. Eventually, everything is thrown into question, such as why we don’t live in flowerpots or buy religion all shrink-wrapped out of vending machines. Have the sun and the moon really been played by the same poorly informed celebrity all this time? Do you remember where you were when you heard about the death of humor? Why don’t owls ever unbutton their vests? Who told your elbows to sing? Words approach as quickly as starved sheep and lower in pitch after they pass, thanks to the Doppler effect. Short films of moss growing on a butler or tractors that won’t start are triggered by a wrong note on a tuba or the audience’s failure to clap. It turns out that people dress up like armies solely in order to march, becoming lost in the middle of a vast square. It turns out that you need a long stick to poke someone who is far away. The lighting crew keep a purple spotlight on the audience, so I take advantage of the extra illumination to write down a one-word recipe for porridge (“porridge”). An avuncular Jah chortles about the beetles he squirreled away in Guatemala. All the Jamaicans from Downton Abbey begin to pray.