If You Want to be Taken Seriously, Compare Yourself to a Fictional Character Targeted Toward an Audience of Children

The song “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth is a derivative copy of all those other sappy love laments sung in a minor key which would be bad enough by itself. But the real problem with this song is that it is catchy, but it is catchy in the way that a  dying platypus imitating someone who can actually sing crossed with a tone deaf two year old anally raping an aardvark would be catchy if someone recorded it and broadcast it over the radio. And, yet, I would have never even taken note of this cookie cutter garbage if the song did not have a very noticeable idiotic phrase in its lyrics.

The song  opens up with and constantly repeats the chorus that contains the line “Superman’s got nothing on me” as if this line has a deep meaning of its own or a contextual clue to the meaning behind the song, but really the line adds little to a song that contains no other references to this or any other fictional pop-culture icon. If the song was comic book nerd love story or if it somehow took place in the same fictional universe in which Superman resides the the use of this fictional figure would not bother me, but since there is no other mention of Superman or a fictional world, I am left wondering what exactly was the point of including this fictional figure in the first place.

The only reason that I can think of for the inclusion is that whoever wrote this song (This song sucks so bad that it was probably put together by a pannel of corporate idiots trying to recreate past musical successes. Therefore, I do not believe that it was actually written by Charlie Puth.) included the mention to Superman did so was because he, she, or they say a similar mention to a fictional character in the movie Training Day when Denzel Washington shouts “[Donkey Kong] ain’t got shit on me” (Of coarse, Denzel actually references King Kong in the movie, but the mention of King Kong is so inexplicable in that movie that I can not bring myself to repeat it whenever I have the need of repeating the line, and for some reason that need comes up a lot. And Donkey Kong just works better for Denzel’s character because at least Donkey Kong was a villain kidnapping women and trying to kill the hero. King Kong was just some displaced giant ape that was trying to get away from the people who kidnapped and mistreated him). But the reason that such a silly line worked for Denzel was the same reason that Charlie’s silly line about Superman does not work for him:  Denzel is an excellent actor and he was able to bring all of his angst and gravitas into the line that even though it is a silly line you can’t help but feel the power behind it, but Charlie Puth does not have the same soulful presence as Denzel and, therefore, his idiotic reference falls flat.

What does it even mean to say, “Superman’s got nothing on me”? Even if Superman were being treated like he existed in the same world as the singer and the girl he is lamenting, the song states that the singer will be there to save the day (Which in the songs case seems to mean that the singer will dick the girl down if her current boyfriend decides to hurt her), but it also states that the singer is only one call away (The song of coarse is referring to a booty call away.) which is in no way better that Superman. But if the singer were actually talking about the same king of saving of the day Superman would do, what could he actually do that Superman could not?

The singer is a phone call away, so he has to have a phone on him to get his girls distress call, and she has to have access to a phone, herself, and the wherewithal to call and ask for help. The singer would have to get her call, drive to wherever it is that she called from, assess what he can and can’t do to save her and when he decides that he is outmatched he has to call the police and wait for them to arrive before the girl is out of harms way. This in no way sounds any better than what Superman could do. Superman has super hearing, super sight, super speed, super strength and an undefeated record (Not even death could keep him down for long.). Superman would hear the girls call of distress without the need of a phone, he would asses the scene with his super sight long before the villains even new he was on the way, and he would have the girl safe before she even finished telling the singer where she was and what was happening. In fact the only thing that the singer seems to have on Superman is shitty lyrics. You can’t beat Superman’s theme: “Here he comes to save the day/ [Superman] in on the way.”

(OK, fine. That is the Mighty Mouse theme song, but even Mighty Mouse kicks the crap out of Charlie Puth.)

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5 year anniversary?

I just received a 5 year anniversary notice from WordPress, but I have not been even been on here for one year yet. Is WordPress crazy or what?

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was finally working on a post that I had been putting off for days only for my hand to graze the touch pad on my laptop while I was typing in just the right way to cause everything that I had written to be instantly highlighted, erased, and saved as a draft so that when I tried to reload my previous saved draft everything was gone. Luckily, the sinking feeling of all my hard work going up in a puff of smoke drove me to click on the icon (I did not know that this icon was an icon: I clicked on it in a mindless and hopeless fit of rage clicks ) next to the “draft saved a few seconds ago” notification and found out that I actually could go back and recover all the work that I had lost. So at least there is a happy ending to this horror story.

The Friend Zone

Friend Zone.png

( http://jasoncwert.com/the-friend-zone-shows-whats-wrong-with-dating/ )

 

According to Wikipedia, “The friend zone, in popular culture, refers to a platonic relationship wherein one person wishes to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship, while the other does not. It is generally considered to be an undesirable or dreaded situation by the lovelorn person.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friend_zone )

But as I have argued in my previous post “The Dictionary Definition of a Dictionary Definition, (The full blog can be read here: https://therichardbraxton.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/the-dictionary-definition-of-a-dictionary-definition/ ) the full meaning of a word or phrase can never be fully encapsulated within a single definition (or Wikipedia article in this case).

Feminist articles would have you believe that “the friend zone” is a notion that men feel that just being friendly to a woman entitles them to sex. Here is a sampling of such articles:

https://feministsatlarge.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/the-friendzone-is-a-sexist-myth/ http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/time-to-ditch-friendzone-idea/ http://www.salon.com/2013/10/12/6_reasons_the_friend_zone_needs_to_die/

The feminist notion of what “the friend zone” is relies on the assumption that man can not be friends with a woman without wanting to have sex with her. But men are platonic friends with women all the time. The man that talks to you at work and helps you out when you need it, but does not ask you on a date is your friend. The man that lives across from you and asks you about your cat, but never asks you out on a date is your friend. The man that invites you over to the family barbecue to meet his wife but never asks you out on a date is your friend. And whether or not these men have any sexual feelings towards you, they are not in “the friend zone.” The problem here is that they are assuming that “the friend zone” is the same as friendship.

It is easy to make this mistake because the word “friend” is in the name “the friend zone.” In fact, there is nothing friendly about being in “the friend zone.” A more accurate name would be “the taken advantage of zone” because “the friend zone” is not the same as a platonic friendship. “The friend zone” is the zone that the pursuer of a relationship ends up in when the pursued dates the pursuer under false pretenses (In the western world the pursuer is usually a male and the pursued is usually a female so for ease of reference I will refer to the pursuer as the man and the pursued as a woman from this point further). The woman either already has a boyfriend or is otherwise uninterested in having a relationship and is dating the man only to receive the monetary benefits of dating said man for a protracted period of time without allowing the relationship to move further. This is the friend zone that men are talking about when they complain that they are stuck in “the friend zone.” And as you can see, there is no friendship or friendliness in this relationship just the woman with the power taking advantage of the less powerful man. (Notice that the word “sex” is not mentioned in my definition of “the friend zone.” This is because some of the men in “the friend zone” actually do get sex from time to time to keep them around and spending, but they will never be the only man in the woman’s life. And when she does settle down it will never be with a man that she has friend zoned.)

One thing that feminists do get right is the idea that romantic relationships are about power. And when it comes to dating and having sex the woman has all the power.The woman gets to decide whether or not she will go on a date with the man, and she gets to decide whether or not there will be sex after the date, and the fact that the friend zone exists at all in any fashion proves women’s power over men (if only in this area).

The Couch

the couh

She had walked passed him on the couch without her customary greeting and sat down in silence hesitating an awkward moment before she spoke. “I’m hungry.”

He was working the daily crossword puzzle while their son played on hands and knees vroom-vrooming as he pushed his cars across the carpet and over the heater vent in the floor. “What would you like to eat?”

She didn’t respond.

The man glanced up from the paper long enough to see the pinch of tenseness in his wife’s posture. He marked another word on the puzzle and took a deep breath. “The house is full of food.”

“But it’s not our food.”

The man had known this is what it was. It was about his family once again. But he knew better than to engage. He stared straight at the newspaper and tried to focus on the crossword puzzle.

Their son scrambled to his feet and let the car hang loose in his hand as he waddled up to the couch. He set the car on the cushion before he pulled himself up. The boy sat between the man and his wife and cuddled with his father. The man didn’t look away from his puzzle although he was too distracted to figure out another clue. But even without looking the strained tempo of his wife’s breathing let him know that she was staring holes in him.

She breathed a bit longer. Then she stomped into the next room making sure to make her steps audible. Her steps boomed through the empty space under the plywood floor highlighting her unhappiness with the fact that they were living in a trailer, his mother’s house. She sat behind the table and glared at him. He sat and cuddled with his son not taking his eyes from the puzzle for another minute or two. They weren’t out of food. He had just gone to the grocery store with her the night before and watched her spend 150 of their last 200 dollars. She assumed that just because his mother was nice enough to help them out with the rent while he was earning his degree, she was going to keep giving them that money now that he had graduated and couldn’t find a job. She always bragged about her ability to shop on a budget, but just a few months ago she had been told that they only had 20 dollars left in their account and she should spend no more than 10 dollars on diapers and toilet paper. When she came back, she had spent 25 dollars and he was the bad guy because he yelled at her for it. And he got even more shit when they realized that he had made a math error calculating their balance in his head and she had not actually overdrafted their account. But her shopping was something that he had also learned not to complain about.

He put down the crossword puzzle, walked into the kitchen, and opened the pantry door. Their son began to pull cans off the lowest two pantry shelves. He tried to keep his son from making too much of a mess, but his son was just too determined. So the man just stepped around him and looked through the food they had just bought while his son plundered. He listed off two or three easy things that he could cook for her. He hoped that this small gesture might sooth some of her anger.

“Eat that stuff yourself. I’m not hungry.” Her voice was just as tense and clipped as her breathing.

“OK. Tell me. What is it that you are not saying? You know I can’t read your mind.”

“Why are you being such an asshole to me?”

“Because you are pissed off at me and won’t tell me why.”

“I’m not pissed off at you. You are pissed off at me.”

“Well I am not the one that is staring at me and holding my breath till my face turns red.”

“I’m not doing that.”

“This is what you look like.” He stared directly into her eyes for the first time since this exchange began, took a deep breath, and forced the blood to his head until his face was beet red. Their son pulled at his pant leg and whined to be picked up.

“You are an asshole, and I don’t want to be around you.” She stood up from the table and stormed into their bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

She was the good one. She was the woman that he loved. She was the one that he had gone back to church with. She was the wife that he was confident enough to have a child with. And it was times like this when only the thought of his son kept him from walking out the door.

The Family Brand

politicians

These were the days that Senator Johnson really loved his job. He stood in the middle of a packed reception hall. The walls and ceiling were colored an assortment of creams. There was recessed lighting and a large chandelier right in the middle. The thin gauze of the oversized curtains were lit with a soft glow from the landscaping lights outside. Everyone was always impeccably dressed. The men were all in black, and the women’s choice of evening dresses added splashes of color throughout the room. Most were socializing out on the floor, but a handful were camping out at the tables.

“Here’s someone I would like you to meet. I think he’d be enthralled by your ideas.” Senator Monica Sharp led the way across the floor zigzagging around the others. “That’d be right up Mr. Youngblood’s alley. You might call him a small business owner. He’s in the music production business.” The man that he had been introduced to had matched his tux with dark sunglasses and a large gold chain. Johnson hadn’t been star struck by the celebrity guests at these events since his wife had attended these things with him. But she’d quickly grown disenchanted with the city life. The kids had a few fights at school and she packed them up and went back to their country home.

Senator Sharp had walked away after a short round of small talk and Johnson was scanning the room for anyone that he might want to meet. In a room full of politicians picking his favorite was a hard task. Before he realized, Johnson had zeroed in on the roughhewn man surrounded by a gaggle of adoring women. “Mr. Youngblood, have you been introduced to Senator Bing McDougal?” Johnson led the way this time.

The young women seemed confused when Johnson and Youngblood arrived. They looked pulled in different directions. Before long, Youngblood wandered off and the ladies followed. McDougal said, “Thanks for bringing the big money. Now I have to start again from scratch.”

“You can pick up ladies anytime. But nothing beats talking a little policy.”

“That is the real reason we’re here. Isn’t it?”

As they talked, Johnson found Pearlman across the room. Pearlman motioned back. Thumbs up on one hand. Two fingers on the other, which seemed to feel more like a “V” for victory.

 

Senator Johnson sat at his desk jotting down notes on a yellow legal pad. “I think we’re really going to get some work done for our soldiers this time around. We’re not just focusing on the abstract bigger picture. We’ve got ideas for particular changes in veteran’s benefits. Senator Ames has some great ideas for revamping the GI bill. We found space in the budget and we can get the ten year limit on receiving benefits extended. They paid into this stuff they should get something out of it.” He leaned back and took a deep breath. “Shelly, the Judiciary Committee seemed to start off well. What happened after I left?”

She spoke, and he marked in one column on the pad, nodded to Bill, marked another, and to Jim, marked another.

His aids sat across from him. They were shuffling through the notes they’d been taking on their assorted electronic devices. At least, Johnson couldn’t think of a better word than shuffle. He much preferred the textured feel of paper to cold lifeless glass.

“And how did this sway the argument?” He scanned their faces looking for who to hear from first. They continued on discussing the particulars.

A black and white photo of his great-grandmother shaking hands with President Truman hung on the wall behind the desk. He had several pictures of himself and the last two presidents on the opposite wall but didn’t feel like they should be the focal point for anyone walking into his office. He wanted people’s first impression of him to be one of citizenship and patriotism not self-indulgence.

The window on the side wall was in the perfect spot to let in the afternoon sun. When he had a few free minutes he’d bask in the warmth of the rays and look out over the Washington D.C. skyline. He could see the purpled haze of pollution out passed the concrete and glass. It almost reminded him of the lazy sunsets over his riverside home in South Carolina.

During the recent renovations (They were calling them technological upgrades). The standard glass windows were replaced with smart glass that worked like transition lenses only better. They had a computer interface allowing them to be adjusted to individual preferences, but the windows ran off a central control that was operated by the maintenance department. He went through several rounds of emails before they’d sent out a tech. Johnson wanted the old window back. He could control a set of blinds, but they wanted a cleaner, streamlined look. Blinds were out of the question.

The electorate seemed to be looking forward to a representation upgrade.  The polls were favoring the upstart candidate. Four years ago, Bea Tailor had won a surprise victory and rose from obscurity to become governor of South Carolina. This former housewife, in her infinite wisdom, had decided that the Senate was the next logical step in her political career. This was the kind of unorthodox political move that could capture the public’s imagination. Johnson needed a cleaner, streamlined cause if he wanted to keep his seat in congress.

There was a soft beep, and the surface of Johnson’s desk lit up. Displayed on the desk was an IM from his secretary. The projection was distorted over the top of the legal pad. He moved the pad to his lap and tapped the icon on his desk that said Mildred. The message popped up. “Lunch w/ Pearlman in 5.”

Johnson raised a finger and silenced his aids. He shouted through the opened door of the office. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell me? You are right there.”

A new message popped up. “What? And strain my voice?”

He swiped his hand across the desk and the display turned off. “Ok, folks. Condensed versions. We gotta wrap things up.”

Johnson’s aids were jockeying to get in the last point when Senator Pearlman walked through the door. “Hey old man, you still on for lunch? I’m buying.” Pearlman had this way of lighting up any room he entered. Something about his tone of voice, his manner, maybe his genuine smile that could charm an angry gorilla. Although they had spent a lot of time in his presence, Johnson’s aids felt it too. They made polite smiles and a snigger or two at the old tired joke that would have gotten groans were it told by anyone else. The cafeteria, of course, was free for all senators.

“Hey, Isaac.” Johnson grabbed the folded newspaper off the edge of the desk and stuffed it under his arm. He dismissed his aids and met Pearlman at the door. Pearlman was one of Johnson’s oldest and best allies on the senate floor. Johnson wasn’t sure how he did it, but Pearlman was able to turn his name into political gold even though he had the most obvious toupee anyone’d ever seen.

“Not that one. The Times.” Mildred spoke to an intern that Johnson had not yet met. Mildred swept her hand over her desk. This motion was meant to speed up the intern, but it only served to wake up her desktop display. She waved her hand a few times to dismiss the display. The display refused to respond.

The girl pulled the newspaper out of the stack and switched it for the one Johnson had.  She couldn’t have been a year out of high school, but she was already dressed like an old lady.

 

The cafeteria had gone through its technological upgrade as well. The molded plastic tables along the walls had been replaced with the top of the line equivalent to the desk top projector that Mildred had forced on Johnson last Christmas (She had called it a “gift,” but he knew it was punishment for making her work so hard). The InfoGlass tables were the shiny glass top models that showed off fingerprints like a dog’s snotty nose print on a sliding glass door. The short black centerpieces double as an interface for portable electronic devices and as a basket for the condiments and napkin dispensers.

Johnson and Pearlman had arrived after lunch rush so they didn’t have to wait in line. But the InfoGlass tables were full, so Pearlman stood next to the one that was occupied by a rowdy group of interns. The four of them were hunched over the screen. They were so involved with the dogfight simulator that they had left their lunches uneaten on the trays pushed to the side of the table. Johnson walked up beside Pearlman and cleared his throat. The intern Closest to Johnson jumped, and the others looked up sheepishly.

“I’m sorry, Senators,” One of them said. They gathered their trays and picked their way through the late lunch crowd to one of the empty plastic tables to eat their now cold lunches. One of them lagged a little behind. He cleared their bunched up napkins and wiped off the dew rings from their cups. The screen went back to sleep, and the senators sat down at the table.

As they ate, Johnson read a newspaper, and Pearlman fiddled with his smart phone.

Without looking up, Johnson said, “Anything interesting?”

“Nah. The only news is the same old thing you got right there.”

Johnson folded the paper down so he could look Isaac in the eyes. “Not that. I mean, what’s sexy? What does the public want?”

Pearlman lowered his phone to match Johnson’s gaze. “You’re worried about this election? You’re a hard working senator. There’s nothing to worry about.” He swiped at his phone again. “High-tech. High-tech is good. Like right here. This is new.” Pearlman waved his phone above the InfoGlass interface. Johnson slid his tray off the screen and waited for the phone to synch up.

“High-tech is everywhere. It’s like toilet paper. No one has ever won an election on something they could wipe their ass with.”

The table lit up to display The Daily Bulletin web page. He placed his finger on the image, dragged it to his side of the table, and then flipped it to face him. The title read, “Technology Kills.” It was a short article with the top half of a young woman’s face waiting to load. The caption underneath the incomplete image said, Janie Sans Associate Blogger. As the rest of her came into view, Johnson wondered why someone who looked like her would want to have the picture so prominently displayed.

Pearlman said, “Someone just got killed. Says that it has something to do with Artificial Intelligence, but no one’s talking.”

“People are killed all the time. Was this a celebrity or someone important?”

“I am surprised at you, Jerry. Every life is important.”

Johnson just stared at him trying to match his feigned indignation, but the way he held his head back and shoulders stiff looked more like he was feigning indigestion.

“This article was written by Janie Sans. She can sniff out a popular uproar long before it ever happens. She saw the Chinese baby food debacle six months before anyone else. And she was one of the main voices speaking out against fracking leading up to the last bout of pre-election outrage.”

“And how do you know that this is one of the ones that’s going to blow up?”

“I don’t.” Pearlman pulled a business card from his wallet. “But if there’s any reason for this story to blow up, he can find out.”

Johnson took the card. “James Peterson, Private Detective?”

“He can find anything you need to know about this company and all of its employees: company records, company emails, payroll, medical records, bank statements, criminal records, and social security numbers if you want them. If it’s connected to the internet, he’ll get it. Tell him that he’s doing a favor for the CIA and he might even do the work for free.”

“This is the kind of thing that you do?”

“Use it or not. Next time there is a vote, make a motion to start an oversight committee. There is no harm in that. All it takes is the hint of wrongdoing and your name will be all over the place.”

 

Johnson’s first apartment in the city was large and homey, decorated by his wife. This one now was purely functional, but the roasting meat smell from the crockpot made it inviting enough. Johnson was standing in front of the opened fridge listening to his wife cataloguing the events of the day from the speaker phone across the room. He was looking for something that would go along with the chuck roast that he had cooking away. What he didn’t eat tonight would feed him for about a week.

“…And tonight Suzy and the grandbabies came by for dinner.”

“I swear if you weren’t such a good cook we’d never see the kids.” Johnson pulled out a Tupperware bowl of leftover green beans and popped it into the microwave.

“If I cook so good, what are you doing all the way out there?”

“There’s no way you would still love me if we were together every day.” Johnson lifted the lid, and the crockpot let out a cloud of steam. He switched off the pot and started to cut off a chunk of the glistening roast but discarded the knife when his fork sunk effortlessly through and separated tonight’s portion into shreds of meat.

She hesitated for a second thinking. “Oh. You know. I saw them talking about you on the television last night. Can you explain to me why you are going after industry? This isn’t our brand. Restricting industry restricts job growth. This country is nothing without its working people.”

Johnson put down the fork to concentrate on the conversation. “That’s a misrepresentation. You know how attack adds work.”

“You are kidding, right? Governor Tailor’s clueless. No this is straight from your people. A committee against artificial intelligence… I taught you better than that.”

“No, we’re just investigating the industry for wrongdoing.”

“I’ve got it word for word.” The pages flipped audibly over the phone. “It was Senator Springsteen. He said: We are all in lockstep behind Senator Jerimiah Johnson. There’s been a massive information dump on the internet. An anonymous whistle blower has leaked just about every company record and internal memo from Sapient Technologies, the industry leader in the applications of artificial intelligence. We have uncovered several breaches of the public trust, and we are currently looking into the state of the industry at large. We are in desperate need of a much larger debate of the industry.”

“What the hell is Springsteen even talking about? I haven’t read about anything in the papers.”

“God damn it. How many times have I told you to stop relying on the newspapers? Get your ass on the computer. Figure out what’s going on, and get your own voice heard on this subject. You can’t let them speak for you.”

Johnson forgot to say goodbye when he got off the phone. He was going to eat his dinner cold and for breakfast.

 

Johnson called the Peterson private detective office several times without receiving any answer. He had to search out his home number before he get a hold of him. “What is going on Peterson? I told you to let me review this information, so I could decide what should be released if anything.”

“You never got back to me.”

“So you took it upon yourself to release Mr. Nobhoj’s childhood arrest record.”

“I received authorization.”

“Bullshit! You did.”

“You didn’t respond. Pearlman looked it over and gave me the go ahead. He told me that you would ok it.”

“He told you? I told you not to consult with anyone but me.”

“Damn it. I told you that this was time sensitive information. I told you that I couldn’t get anything from their system without them knowing. I had to get it out there before they were able to get a story together to discredit this information. If you didn’t want this stuff out, you should’ve told me. Don’t try to put this shit on me. If information got out that you didn’t want out, it’s your fucking fault.”

 

Johnson wasn’t sure what to do next so he dialed Mildred. She sounded groggy and had trouble following the conversation but denied that she’d been asleep. “I need you to ring up the aides. I sent you an email with links to all the information. Have them review it and start drafting my rebuttal.”

“Rebuttal? Isn’t this your baby?”

“Things have spiraled out of control. Can we even get the interns working on this? I’m not sure what they can do, but this is an emergency.”

 

The office was already busy when Johnson arrived. Everyone had a cup of coffee in front of them and another pot was on the brew. Before he had his jacket off, he called Pearlman’s office.

Pearlman’s secretary answered the phone. “Sorry, Senator Johnson. Senator Pearlman is completely booked. He is even working through lunch. You might be able to catch him in the halls between about 1:30 and 1:45 this afternoon.”

“I’m sorry, but we are going to be meeting much sooner than that.”

“No Senator that will not be possible.

Mildred brought in a cup of coffee. “Have you slept at all? You look terrible.”

“Just leave it on the desk Milly. I’ll be back in a bit.”

“I assume, all our appointments are on hold?”

Johnson was already out the door and did not answer.

 

Pearlman’s secretary looked surprised. “Senator Johnson, he’s booked solid.”

“I’m pretty busy myself.” Johnson talked over her. “He’s going to take some time to talk to me. If this door’s locked, I’m kicking it in.”

The door was not locked. Pearlman and woman that Johnson didn’t know were conferring closely over a stack of legal documents. She was wearing an expensive looking dress, and Pearlman was resting his elbow on a folded up newspaper. Johnson hesitated the slightest second. For some reason he had imagined that Pearlman would be alone in his office hiding in the corner. Johnson said, “What the hell do you think you are doing?”

“Well, you are barging into a meeting, so I can assume that you are not asking about that.” Pearlman stood with palms out. “Senator Johnson, I can see that you are very passionate about something.” He hunched his shoulders in the tiniest shrug. “Mrs. Dickson, I know that your time is very important, but it seems like there has been some kind of emergency.”

“Should I make another appointment with your secretary?”

“Do that just in case, but I think I should be available in a few minutes, if you do not mind waiting.”

Dickson stepped out of the office and Johnson closed the door behind her. “Pearlman I thought you were my friend.”

“Calm down Jerry and take a seat.”

Johnson continued to stand. “How could you go behind my back like that?”

“Listen Jerry, I got a frantic call from Peterson. He said that you had not contacted him and time was running out.”

“But the sealed childhood arrest record, his home address, and family photos?”

“Jerry you let so much time waste. I was not able to vet all of the information. There was some incriminating stuff in there. We had to move before they were able to put together a strong denial, or we would’ve lost everything.”

Johnson lost his aggressive posture. “I guess you have an explanation for Senator Springsteen’s remarks too.”

Pearlman picked up a folded up newspaper from his desk and began to fiddle with it with both hands. “Yes. All we’ve done is what you have asked us to do. Senator Springsteen was speaking out with the blessing of the committee. We got together and nominated him to deal with the press since you, the committee chairman, were unavailable for comment.”

“Won’t you all look silly when I come out with my rebuttal this afternoon?”

“I just told you, this is your committee acting on your orders. If you come out against it, you’ll look like a waffler of the worst sort. You’ll look ineffective and incompetent. And you’ll definitely not get reelected.”

Johnson sighed and finally took the seat he had been offered. “This committee agenda is totally against my politics. If I stick with it, I will definitely not get reelected.”

“That is why you came to me in the first place. Your politics are not going to get you reelected.” He handed the folded up newspaper to Johnson. “Look at the first page. It is obviously you haven’t taken the time to read todays copy of The Times.”

Johnson unfolds the paper. The teaser for the politics section said, Senator Johnson Enlivens Campaign, Takes Criminal Corporation to Task. Page P-1.

Pearlman said, “You’ve got the first page of the politics section. You wanted public attention. You got it.” Pearlman leaned back in his chair and spread his arms out wide. This is your fate Senator Johnson. Accept it.”

Senator Johnson put his head in his hands. He did not know how to explain this to his wife.

Sure, It Sounds Good, But What Does It Mean?

I was reading the blog “Why People Don’t Like Poetry” by Business in Rhyme at. And I was struck by the main topic of the blog: people don’t like poetry because they don’t understand what the poet is trying to say. You can read the blog at: http://businessinrhyme.com/2016/02/29/why-people-dont-like-poetry/

But saying, I don’t like poetry because I don’t know what it means is like saying, I don’t like essays because I can’t hear music in the words. it is helpful to realize that poetry is not a riddle. The poem is to be read and understood as it is and not a mystery to be solved. While some poems can be difficult to understand, difficulty and ambiguity are not prerequisites of the form. Poetry is a painting in words, a photograph of language in action. Poetry is beauty and not a complicated math problem waiting for a solution.

While poetry is not meant as practice of deductive reasoning, there is reasoning behind traditional poetic form. In fact, you recognize poetry on the page by intentional line-breaks and spaces between stanzas. Each line-break denotes a short metric break, and a stanza-break denotes a longer metric break. And the natural rhythm of the words with the breaks together create music for the reader. So poetry is just a rudimentary form of music. And if you are missing the music of poetry in your readings all you need to do is read the poetry aloud.

I have never heard anyone complain that they didn’t listen to music because they could not figure out what it means. And most people that I know have songs that have meanings to them that go far beyond the actual meaning behind the lyrics. People have happy songs that remind them of times of sadness, sad songs that remind them of times of happiness, and all combinations in between (actual song meanings be damned). Poetry is the same way. There is (usually) meaning behind the words, but that is secondary to the music of the language. So just like you do with music, listen to poetry for the beauty of the music and the way it makes you feel, and only worry about the meaning of the words when you and your friends are standing in a circle passing around a joint of your favorite strain of marijuana.