Baptist Outpatient

I had my Religion out this morning.

 

These days it’s an outpatient,

not like ages ago when the king himself

had to forcibly remove it.

 

I couldn’t go to church for six months prior,

they didn’t want me to read my bible for 5 weeks prior,

tithing anywhere was just out of the question

ever since the first doctor’s visit,

wasn’t allowed to pray,

to any specific entity, anyway,

couldn’t say things happen for a reason

without mentioning cause and effect,

had to sign a disclaimer that I understood

I would no longer be seriously considered

for political positions,

but I could keep my church membership

cause church’s have tons of members that don’t practice anyway,

I couldn’t dress nice on Sundays

unless I also dressed nice through the week,

couldn’t give glib responses to complex questions

while donning an all-knowing smile,

had to pick a random foreigner and

start a conversation with them,

had to read the classics,

Plato, Aristotle, Socrates,

and for some reason

even though I was getting my religion out

I had to read books on other religions,

had to read Hitchens, articles on Westboro Baptist,

magazines on war in the Middle East,

lots of reading for some reason,

couldn’t watch Lifetime and had to watch R-rated movies

with dirty words and sex scenes with unmarried people,

had to listen to rock-n-roll and Marylin Manson and John Lennon,

had to drink a six pack over the weekend,

couldn’t participate in any function that contained

interpretive dance,

had to say the phrase, ‘No fucking way!’

in a crowded restaurant loud enough for people

to overhear,

had to spank my kids if they misbehaved

instead of just reasoning with them,

had to watch all the Harry Potter films,

utter the phrase, ‘Protego’ at myself in a mirror

then shake uncontrollably while pretending to have

caused an infinite paradox,

could not tuck my shirt in,

had to surf the Internet for porn,

 

and I had to do all this before they would even consider

taking it out.

 

They said while they were in there they went ahead and

removed what they could of my Guilt.

 

But I know they didn’t get it all

because I sometimes feel like I did a bad thing

by having it out.

 

 

Cosmological Obesity

Corn

 

I recently looked on the back of the microwave popcorn I was eating to check out the nutritional information.  This was more out of sheer boredom than healthy curiosity.  It stated that each 3 tablespoons of unpopped kernels makes about 3 cups of popped popcorn.  It also stated that 3 tablespoons of unpopped popcorn had 170 Calories and that each cup of popped popcorn had 45 calories.  So 3 cups of popped popcorn would be 45 times 3, or 135 calories.

 

The law of conservation of energy states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system can neither be created nor be destroyed: it can be transformed from one form to another or transferred from one place to another.  This is disturbing.

 

The reason.  I have disproved a law of physics.  This will surely eclipse this whole E=MC2 thingy.  And I am certain that I will be asked by collegiate professors, lab people in white coats and funny accents, and people who play with gluons and quarks and things like this, to repeat said experiment.  I can see every household in the world with their TV’s turned to the Cartoon Network (it’s my discovery and I can make history on any channel I damn well please) as my bag of movie theatre, extra butter popcorn swells, and the microwave concludes the epic experiment with a succinct DING! that reverberates through a new universe of chaos, where ‘laws’ of physics no longer apply.

 

Just to make sure you understand that this is 2001 Space Odyssey monolith big, once I get finished popping the popcorn, there are 35 Calories that have been annihilated.  They have met up with an anti-Calorie or something and passed into nothingness.  In the space of 2 minutes, human time, the laws of physics as we know them have broken down.  This is not happening at the quantum level people.  This is occurring right before our eyes.

 

I have contacted the proper authorities numerous times and they assure me that all is well.  I offered to perform the experiment right in front of them and they said ‘No.’  I didn’t take no for an answer.  Some government goons, dressed up like normal cops, came and removed me from the university’s cafeteria.  The fact that they are trying to cover this up only reinforces my theory.  The manufacturers of microwave popcorn are attempting to shrink our universe.

 

I know what you are thinking; the universe is expanding, so maybe shrinking it will balance things out.  Maybe the manufacturers are on our side.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Unsuspecting consumers and movie goers eat 17.3 billion quarts, or 69.2 billion cups of popcorn every year.  If we lose 35 calories for every 3 cups, that’s 807,333,334,500 Calories that are sucked into oblivion.  But it doesn’t just go away.  That’s 807 billion Calories we are carelessly dumping into another universe.  Every year.  Through some sort of miniature black hole in our microwaves, we are contributing to another universe’s obesity by spreading billions of Calories haphazardly throughout their Universe.  We are cosmic enablers.

 

I implore you, dear reader, to stop eating away our universe.  I do my part.  When the imposter at the concession stand offers me a large bag of popcorn, I pull out a large cobb of freshly boiled corn from a Ziploc in my wife’s purse, dripping in butter and still steaming from the pot (I’m looking into a correlation between my use of the microwave and my own weight, so for now I would recommend not using the microwave at all until my studies are complete).  I hold it right up in front of everybody and exclaim, loud enough for all their victims to hear me, “Do not shrink our universe!  Do not contribute to multiverse obesity!  Keep it on the cobb and out of the microwave!”

 

I stare at the undercover concession worker.  I let him know that I know.

 

For further information on how to keep your universe from shrinking, go to http://www.keepitonthekernel/government-archives/area52/shrinking-universe/movie-night.net.

 

 

A Singularity at Moe’s

I finish my nachos, pile everyone’s baskets, napkins, and cups onto the tray, and head to the front of the restaurant.  I get to the trash cans and stand motionless in front of them.  I look back and forth from my pile of trash sitting atop the tray to the opening above the hidden receptacle.  I have stuffed myself, as usual, and I am ready to back up this dump truck to the junkyard and raise the truck bed, letting the entire truckload of culinary rubbish slide as a whole into the depths of obscurity.  I can then waddle sluggishly out the door and find the nearest couch where I can let the fat molecules slowly form.  But I am logistically trapped.

 

My task is to remove my junk from the table after I’m done and deposit it in said receptacle.  I would normally say this is fine because in most restaurants where you bus your own tables, they don’t expect a tip.  At this one, they do.  At the checkout register.  The people serving me are not waiters.  They don’t make $2.18/hr, so they don’t survive by tips alone, although I’m sure this establishment is sticking as close as they can to minimum wage.  So a tip is appreciated, I’m sure.  But aside from trying to improve the stingy wage limits set by restaurants, I’m not sure what the people who have assembled my nachos have accomplished so far to deserve a tip.  I can see contributing to the fellow who added a little extra meat on my nachos (those dipping spoons are so small), but I’m not comfortable with him sharing the tip with the managerial looking guy who I’m sure I caught counting my nacho chips.  I don’t want people who are watching food costs this close, and adhering to corporate propaganda religiously, building my nachos.  I want the disgruntled dishwasher who is angry at the company for not giving him a 50 cents raise to fix my plate.  I want the manager to see the six scoops of meat he’s placed on my nachos and pass out face first into the chips he’s counting.

 

At any rate, I always tip.  And I usually get my two scoops anyway because I have methods for getting my way.  I am an only child, you see, and I must get my way.  Here is a trick, but you can only use it on the same person once every so often.  When they place the single, company-approved scoop onto your chips and look up to ask if you want cheese, just freeze.  Stare at the plate in their hands like they are your child and the nachos are really a test they are presenting you that they have received a ‘D’ on.  Don’t let the disappointment on your face spill over into contempt or condescension.  This is important.  You still love your child after all, don’t you?  You just want them to do better.  They have failed.  They will know this.  Don’t rub it in.

 

Then, with an air of lowered expectations and resignation, tell them to “Um… just go ahead and add another scoop of meat if you would.”  It is important that, while delivering this message, you maintain only intermittent eye contact with them.  After all, it is hard to look them in the face after what they have done.  You are embarrassed for them.  You are causing the child, sorry, I mean employee, to handle a barrage of conflicting emotions all at once.  You have placed them in a state of uncertainty and when things are in this state, anything can happen.  A moment ago, you were smiling and carrying on.  Now they have placed your friendship in question.  Will they add insult to injury by charging you for that extra scoop?  Of course not.  That’s not how friends do friends, no matter how long the friendship might last.  Even if it’s over at the register at the end of the food line.

 

I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t care.  I got my way.  I have my extra scoop and that is all that matters.  It really is.

 

And so I tip.  I am happy and they are happy.  Everyone but the manager who is coming to with broken chips pasted to his face.  It’s ok.  Our minds usually wipe traumatic experiences like this from our minds.  He won’t remember a thing.

 

But I’ve digressed.  In front of me is a small hole.  It appears, although I know it only looks this way because of its relative size with respect to my heap of trash, to be approximately 2mm in diameter.  I am sure it is actually closer to 4 or 5 mm.  I’m sure it’s because they don’t want me to throw away their plastic basket.  My first thought is why don’t they just make the basket larger?  Then they can have a sensible sized opening.  I’m not looking for a manhole size hole; I would just like it to be reasonable.  I grab the corners of the nacho paper and lift them up to form an upside-down, bean and cheese filled parachute.  Then I slide, with much more concentration and precision than should be expected of anyone, the sludgy parachute over the hole.  It sits atop the hole.  It is taunting me.  I’m sure the manager who was chip counting is watching and laughing.

 

For a moment, I contemplate shoving all the baskets into the hole and then breaking the tray over my head before forcing it into the hole as well.  Better judgment prevails and I manipulate this impromptu and mocking filth into the singularity before me.  I have a disgusting amount of crusting cheese on my hand and under my fingernails now (I know I was just using my fingers to shove the same thing into my mouth, but now that I’m done with it, the leftover food has metamorphosed into an abomination).  And since I have just disposed of all my napkins, I have no way to remove this filth.  I place the baskets neatly in a stack on a shelf above the hole.

 

I walk out feeling subjugated.  I am a crusty-handed garbage-man cheese-tool.  I mentally weigh being subjected to complex janitorial work at the end of my meal against getting an extra scoop of meat on my nachos.  I will be back.  I have failed.  They know this.  Don’t rub it in.

 

Firsties

Lab_tweezers

Let me say right off that I generally have no problem with people washing their hands.  There are many cases where cleaning one’s hands is a mandate.  Like the doctor after he gives you a prostate exam.  After a particularly productive sneeze, assuming you use your hands like a human and don’t do that vampire looking thing where you explode into the bend of your arm.  Or after you check the oil or change a tire.  It all makes sense.  As long as you perform this action in a certain order.

You wouldn’t eat your pizza or fried chicken and then think, “I should have washed my hands after changing junior’s diaper.”  You wouldn’t wash your hands to go work in the yard.  There is an order here that makes sense.

That’s why it disturbs me that there appears to be a good many people out there who are washing their hands before they use the bathroom.  It would be easy for you to say at this point, what does it hurt?  I’ll tell you.  My brain.

It is a completely useless action and lacks any ties to reason or prudent judgment.    They are snubbing rationality.  They are obviously confused with respect to the linear flow of time and the very essence of cause and effect.  I question the very soul of any individual performing this flawed and unusual action.  Just to be clear, I would not let a doctor operate on me who washed his hands before using the bathroom.  Why you say?  Someone that confused as to the order of things could possibly sew me up first and then remove my appendix.  They might prescribe me a medicine and then send my blood off to be tested.  I think they do this anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, these people are still washing their hands after they do number one, and I don’t have beef with that.  And if you are laying asphalt for a road crew, I’m not suggesting you run to the Porto-Pottie and wrap molten tar around your gold-member without washing first, but that’s an anomaly.  The people I see doing this are in offices and cubicles.  It seems common sense that blue collar workers, people who pulp wood, work in iron shops, fix cars, and are generally knee deep in the grit and grim of everyday living, would actually be less inclined to OCD tendencies concerning cleanliness than someone who doesn’t know how to check their transmission fluid.  They are less paranoid.  They don’t submerse their arms to the elbows in a bucket of Germ-X just because they walk out of Wal-Mart or pet their dog.  I suppose white collar phobics who sit in front of a computer all day have more time to do, well, what I’m doing now.  Surfing the Internet and reading about germs instead of performing a useful function.  As exampled by any conspiracy theorist, the more information you have about anything, the more paranoid and delusional you will become.  Talk to a person in charge of counterterrorism and you’ll never open a piece of mail or ride a bus again.  Talk to someone at the CDC for a couple of hours and you’ll feel your throat swelling shut every time someone coughs in your vicinity.

But even if being over-informed is to blame for this delusional behavior, that doesn’t explain why they wash their hands first.  I could see scrubbing them after the fact until they turn red and blister, but doing it prior makes no sense.  Germs usually enter the body through openings, hand to mouth in general.  I don’t see someone infecting that body part with bacteria from common office equipment.  I can hear the doctor now.  I’m sorry to have to tell you this Mr. Bailey, but it looks like you have an acute keyboard infection on your penis.

The Mayo Clinic, the CDC, the WHO, they all give the same advice on when to wash your hands.  After using the restroom.  Never do they say before.

I am also concerned that these Firsties will, like all deranged people who are infected with extraneous and afflicted ideas, eventually carry this on to the next level.  I don’t wish to enter the bathroom only to find a colleague scrubbing his junk in the sink like Meryl Streep in Silkwood.  Or perhaps, since urine is acidic and actually kills bacteria, find the same person wetting their hands down thoroughly in front of the urinal.  It has to stop.

I’ll do my part by leaving these conspiracy theorists with some useless and harmless information they can be paranoid about and then misapply to their philosophies with deformed logic.  Some soaps have been shown to cause irritation to the urethra.  This can make it easier for bacteria to get inside your body and proliferate.  Once the bacteria are inside your body, they will multiply at a geometric rate inside your bladder.  These are infectious living things that will be living inside of you.  And the only way a doctor can remove them at this point is with a Q-Tip and a pair of tweezers.

 

Be Selfish

You selfish bastard. 

Do you not want to spend time with your loved ones?

Do you want to leave the house in disarray, dishes unwashed, clothes not ready for tomorrow, nothing cooked for dinner?  Is it too much to drive the kids to their friend’s house or park, so they can get out in the daylight?  Don’t they deserve a little free time too?

You selfish bastard.  Sure, go write your stupid story and don’t take anybody else’s life into account.  Enjoy your stingy time.

This is the disembodied voice I hear sometimes when I decide to go write.  I write at the local Starbucks.  I would write at home, but there are people who need questions immediately answered while I am in mid-sentence.  Questions like: Do I have any clean underwear, I’m getting in the shower?  Can I ride the bus home tomorrow with K. and then get them to take me home after we go to church, mom said to ask you, no she’s on the phone right now, she has to know right now, hold on K., so can I or not, they’ll take me home?  Have you seen the receipt for that – oh, sorry, I forgot you were writing, I was just looking for that receipt from when we bought that fan, I’ll let you write, did you talk to S.?  HEY!  HEY!  Can you get me a towel, I forgot to get one, no I think they’re in the dryer, or should be anyway? etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc…

These auditory hallucinations are the scourge of writers everywhere.  The voice is legion.  It will tell you whatever you want to hear.  It will tell you to take the easy way out, which is to not write at all.  So how do you get rid of these pesky nags?  You can’t.  Sorry, no magical panacea here.  You have to be selfish.  Think Ebenezer Scrooge without the change of heart.  You don’t have to stand up for yourself, you have to stand up to yourself.

Part of the reason that you have to be so cold-hearted is that the better part of that guilt ridden, accusatory voice is you.  Not the little angel that sits on your left shoulder, Animal House style, telling you to do the right thing.  It’s the one on the other shoulder, the one that whispers themes like justification, procrastination, guilt, and fear into your hapless ears.  Maybe Animal House isn’t the right analogy.  I always rooted for the Devil.

The point is that part of the voice may be right, you may be selfish, but you don’t have to carry the excessive emotional baggage that comes with that realization.  If all you want to do is write, then write.  Writing is a solitary adventure.  So you have to make time for yourself.  Selfish is good.  Stop what you are doing and say it with me – Sel – fish is Gooooooood!

If you listen to the whispering prat, you’re going to sit at home and do nothing anyway.  Then later, curse yourself for not writing.  I know this because Tyler knows this.

So the next time your loved one walks into your room while you’re packing the laptop and mumbles something about spending quality time with you, cut them off in mid-sentence, scream at them for not understanding your creative side, and then, only after they express their confusion in tears, do you scream at them, “I’M GOING TO WRITE SOME FUCKING POETRY AND I’LL BE HOME WHEN I DAMN WELL PLEASE!”

Just remember, you’re really screaming at yourself, at that voice, and not them.  And if they don’t understand what happened, you can always explain this later.

“I was yelling at the voices in my head, who are legion, and want me to find people’s underwear.”

They’ll understand.

Faith

Giving Alms

pic credit

 
I'll tell you the problem
with Faith.

Its bias.

No one has faith in something that they don't like.

That they don't agree with.
That they look down on.
That smells.
That makes them uncomfortable.
That they fear and loath.
That doesn't give them hope.
That doesn't promise infinite happiness.
That isn't a reason for everything.
That doesn't love you unconditionally.

If Faith wasn't so biased,
we could have it in our fellow man.

Literary EKG

I was recently reading a blog about sentence length at Divertir Publishing.  It mentioned reading level algorithms which I immediately researched.  I was intrigued because, although I write every chance I get, I’ve never really thought about how it affects the reader.

Some people, like my wife, enjoy quick reads.  If she comes across a really descriptive paragraph that is laying out the environment, she skips ahead.  She wants the meat of the prose only; just the facts, Mam.  Whereas some readers, like myself, can sit down with Proust or Dickens and be happy.  If you want to tell me, in five pages or more, how you put on your pajamas last night, that’s fine.  As long as the language is intoxicating and the words perform their ballet gracefully on the page.  But what makes a quick read a quick read?

Sure, there’s the reader’s interest level.  You love a book and so you stay up all night and finish it at 3:00 am.  But sentence length plays an important role too.  The shorter the sentences, the quicker your inner voice is going to read.  And of course, since there are fewer words to read, it’s a quicker read by default anyway.  Short sentences infer action, and maybe dialog.  It races forward.  Bullies its way along the pages.

Longer sentences command more attention.  You can’t have ADD and read a Proustian sentence to the end.  Once you reach the fourth aside, you start daydreaming and wondering what the first part of the sentence was even talking about to begin with.  Longer sentences infer complexity.  They are for setting scenes, backstories, character’s thoughts, philosophies, and description in general.  They saunter, nonchalant across the page.  They may require more introspection and brain power.  I may read Dickens, but I don’t attempt to do so waiting in a doctor’s office.

So sentence length is important because it can affect how your work is read.  And that means it can determine your audience.  And knowing your audience is compulsory.

The Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level tests are used to determine ease of comprehension and reading difficulty.  They are used by people like the U.S. Department of Defense, included in applications like Microsoft Word, and used as a gauge for certain standards on documents like insurance policies.  And the algorithm used in these tests both use words per sentence as a variable.  The other variable is syllables per word.  The longer the sentences, the more syllables per words, the more complex the work.  At least in general.  Sure, there may be plenty two syllable words you’ll have to look up in a dictionary, and an algorithm like this doesn’t allow for obtuse metaphors, but overall it’s a good measuring stick.

So like any good geek, I felt the need to turn sentence length into a mathematical construct.  I developed a program that takes anything written, measures the sentence length, and graphs it for a visual representation of the words per sentence.  Using the graphs, you should be able to tell a few things about the work without actually seeing it.  For this article, I’ve only graphed the first 50 sentences.  Can you tell what kind of read the first graph would be?  Don’t look at the X-Axis label.

One for the Money

It’s Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.  A quick read.  I’m not grabbing the average length yet, but from the graph you can see the novel starts out with words/sentence in the 8 to 15 range, with only 3 sentences over 20 words.

What about this one?

Swann's Way

It’s Proust.  A brain bender and acquired taste.  Easy to get lost.  It can’t even be graphed using the 50 word max.  Here’s the full graph.

Swann's Way Full

The intro to Swann’s Way hardly ever dips below the 20 words/sentence mark.  And a couple of paragraphs masquerading as sentences weigh in at over 160 words.  I wonder if Proust talked like he wrote.  You would have to have Steven Tyler lungs.

After a few different books, I fed it one of my blogs called Potential Energy.  I think it looks like a healthy EKG.  This looks to me like a diverse mix, enough to keep you on your toes so you don’t wander off on me.

Potential Energy

Then I fed in the first part of one of my novellas called Sorry Charlie.  It looks like someone should hit the nurse button.  There seems to be a literary arrhythmia taking place.

Sorry Charlie

And maybe I shouldn’t place to much import on these little graphs, but I’m very happy with Potential Energy and not so much with the start of Sorry Charlie.  At any rate, I think these might be useful.

You could, for instance, feed in a book and see at a glance if it matched your reading level or preference.  You could gather metrics over time to uncover patterns in the graphs.  You might be able to tell a particular genre by the graph.  Every book would have an EKG.

If you are a writer, you could use it as a tool to pick out the flow of certain sequences in your book.  The graph above can be colored in under the line for specific ranges where there is considerable action, as noted by contiguous, short sentences, or where there is more thought provoking prose, as evidenced by a cluster of longer sentences.  You could then visually ascertain whether your writing was leading the reader down the path you intended.

And of course, there are other chart styles that could be explored.  Other variables you could take into account, so on and so forth.  But aside from all the geekery, I will certainly give the overall sentence length variation a look.

If you would like to play with the already available algorithms online, Google ‘reading level algorithms’ and feed in some of your writings.  Are you writing for your audience?

Unspoken

Unspoken

pic credit

 
When I was living
I left fear voids,
an embarrassed unspeaker of things that
should be said,
comforting things,
cool bed covers on a summer’s day things.
Each well thought out novel excerpt
bottled up into an awkward moment’s
silent little soliloquy.

Each repressed emoticon
too cliché,
too much like a movie line,
rehearsed sounding,
as if mumbled sideways by some sappy poet
ready to expose my delicate ego
to some mirage of infinite possible responses,
or worse,
left desolate in wide open silence.

It was these Unspoken things
that were swallowed by swift moments,
hesitations led by a tug-boat of doubt,
slow moving but of powerful persuasion
tightening the unsure rope around the words
on the tip
of
my
tongue
and dragging them to the back of my
remorseful throat.

And the dead drew tears.

They would never know the words
I had kept to myself.

Then I died
and went to a place
similar to what you’d think
and they sat me gently down
at a wooden desk and slid a book under my nose.

The title was simple:
Unspoken.

The authors were many
and line one chapter one read
“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean that.”

And the living drew tears.

Stereotypes

Cockroach look-alike

pic credit

I squirm into position
cheeks evenly distributed
pasted gently to white plastic
my twirly tucked and aimed
feet planted on the cold green tile.

 

Down to my right
next to a trickle of leaking water
is a cockroach.
I call him Jervis
as he has no discernable method
to relay his name.
He lie upon his winged back
a silent witness to my solitary ritual.
Having little in common
I remain silent,
awkward tension waxing.
I cannot perform my… duties.
“How is the foraging?”
Idiot.
Roaches don’t forage, do they?
Scavenge perhaps, but what a dirty sounding word.
It was out there.
Too late to apologize.
Silence.
I did not intend offense
to categorize
to stereotype.
I have friends that are roaches.
Perhaps he is sleeping.
Idiot.
Roaches don’t sleep, do they?
Like sharks?
Perhaps a submissive gesture then?
After all, I am the Alpha male.
I reach down to tickle Jervis
on the belly, thorax, what have you,
and his left leg twitches in protest.
I have been presumptuous, assuming.
I retract, stare forward.
I was only trying to be friendly.
“Are you injured, sir?” I yell,
self-conscious of my own ire.
“Excuse me?” he retorts.
I am shocked, recalcitrant.
The person in the next stall leaves abruptly.
I do not believe they cleaned themselves.
It was not Jervis who spoke.
My embarrassment is acute,
like the pains in my abdomen.
I stand quickly.
“GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR!” I scream,
and leave.

 

Some stereotypes are true, I suppose.
Goddamn roaches.

 

 

The Ad God

Advertising.  It’s everywhere.  And nowadays that’s expected.  Billboards, radio, TV, Internet, coffee cups, newspapers, etc…

 

And that’s fine.  People need to get the word out about their company.  But there needs to be a set of rules concerning ads.  And these rules need to be enforced by bipolar inmates on steroids.

 

Rule #1: No gas station advertising.

 

I pull up to the station and open my wallet.  A few moths fly out.  I then hold it near my gas tank.  I have to hold it tight because the gravitational pull of the empty tank is very strong.  Within seconds, one’s and five’s begin to fly out and crumple slightly before being sucked into Jupiter, the gas giant (corny, I apologize).  My mood is thus – disheartened, full of money shame, happy challenged, aggressive without direction, financially angry in a helpless sort of way, gas raped, futile, contemptuously colic, and pessimistically exasperated.

 

Out of nowhere rumbles the voice of God, telling me to buy insurance and acne medicine.  Then I realize it’s not the voice of Morgan Freeman, but the voice of the Ad God (which is a good thing, because when God tells you to buy insurance, it can lead to paranoia).  The Ad God wants me to sign up with Allstate and start using Proactive.

 

First problem.  Timing.  I’m already handing over way too much of my paycheck at the gas tanks to people who may be human rights challenged.  So, with each gallon that sloshes into my tank, our family dinners are changing from lasagna and pork chops to Ramen noodles and… Ramen noodles.  As my financial ability to survive until my next payday slowly dissolves, is this really the most opportune time to ask me to spend more money on your product?  No, it’s not.  Actually, it creates a negative connotation of your product.  My mind now equates your product to me losing money.  You have accomplished the opposite of what you intended.  You’ve created an aversion to your product.

 

Second problem.  Prison.  That’s what I’m in when I’m at a gas station.  An open air prison.  The advertising company actually counts this as a plus when attracting advertisers.  One web site referred to us as a ‘captive audience.’  Captive (kăp’tĭv): A person who is confined; especially a prisoner of war.  So now that I am a prisoner, it’s time to force the propaganda, big brother style, right down my throat.  Sure, I can press the ‘OFF’ button, but you can still hear the pervasive Ad God rumbling from the other side of the pump.  Like all worthy brainwashing techniques, you can’t turn it off, ever.  This is like Ron Jeremy coming up to you in church and asking you in a booming voice what you’re up to lately.  You try to move away, but he just keeps talking about stuff you don’t want to hear while all your friends stare out the corner of their eyes at you.  This is how gas station advertising makes me feel.  Slimy, anxious, and awkward.  Make it stop.  Please.

 

Rule #2:  Let’s fix Rule #1 first.