Mockingbirds, Gödel, and Chopping Broccoli

Caveat:  This one is brought to you by insomnia, after Gödel, Escher, Bach (cheaper than sleeping pills) failed to knock me out.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Title image:  from Empathy by Sarah Schulman.


Is this common among introvert-type, bookworm children (now nominally adults): a mockingbird tendency to steal the song of others, rather than using our own voices?

I know I’m guilty, and I know that probably needs some explanation.  When I feel like I’m on stable ground or in familiar/safe territory, I’m more free with my own speech.  When pressured to speak about something that makes me uncomfortable or upset, I’ll back into the pages of a book.  It’s how I retreat.

There’s a certain amount of learning everything and learning nothing involving in reading, which is where this defense mechanism becomes complicated.  You can quote pages of relevant material, but those pages are not lived experience.  If you’re like me, you sometimes use fiction as a stand-in for discussing lived experience, because talking about what is or was is too acutely painful and difficult.

It’s not quite the same as looking for a 1:1 parallel to your own situation in a novel (though I’d love to see the search algorithm online booksellers would have to devise for that one).  I certainly did that more as a child:  see my requisite Harriet the Spy stage (I also wanted to be Sport; it was very complex).

As characters, often through internal monologue, reveal (only to the reader) what is unsaid, it does feel powerful that someone did not so much find the words (though that’s a feat– but a book review, not for this post) as put them on paper, in the public eye.  When I’m on the spot, I may sputter a bit before commencing my ongoing Jane Goodall-level study of carpet fibers.  It’s not the same creative process, and it’s not nearly as articulate.


In case I’ve painted myself as a quoting automaton, that’s not quite the case.  This is what happens when I’m acutely, unusually uncomfortable.  If I can’t (or don’t want to) use my own words, I’ll use someone else’s.

To be clear, it’s not the same thing as posting a mystery, you figure-it-out song lyric on Facebook; I am trying to make myself understood.  It’s a literary defense mechanism.

Of course, a bon mot, well-placed, can be a lot of fun.  Having “a way with words” often involves coopting other people’s.  If I can’t quote Dorothy Parker, I’m taking my toys and going home.

And I just assume that everyone ELSE also sings “Choppin’ Broccoli” (hey, that’s a classic!) while chopping broccoli . . . .


I didn’t let myself quote anything while writing this one.  That was hard.  This is getting into vaguebooking territory, but I can’t resist tacking on a reading list of books that, at various times, I’ve torn chunks out of for personal use.  Consider them reading recommendations.  Or reasons to avoid me.

My only real (facetious) attempt at vaguebooking to date has been to declare that my mood was “whatever Peter Wolf says at the beginning of ‘Whammer Jammer.'”  I’m working on it.



I’ve Been Called Many Things, But Never an Intellectual

This is a complete text exchange with my brother, reproduced with his permission.  And yes, he even said I could say we’re related.  I guess he’s already planning to go into Witness Protection or something.

I could have included a picture of him, but I’d like him to continue to speak to me.  The post image is one of the first known images of Bradshaw (see below) instead.  Like most pictures, it’s undated.  I choose to withhold my time period guess that’s based on when I had that romper (which we called “one-piece suits” then).

Title:  Tallulah Bankhead, yet again.  And now that I know that there’s going to be a movie about her, that kind of wrecks my frequent use of quotations from her as post titles.  Hey, people:  you saw it here– before it was cool!

Also, uh, no offense to Marxists, any sundry variety of persons on the communist spectrum, Socratics, bearded persons, Germans, cats with attitude problems, fans of the Marx brothers, or anything else covered here.  I have my own opinions (as does he) on a variety of those things; they’re just not represented in this exchange.  This all just crashed into puns after the initial random bit about cats; anything is fair game.

Him, left.  Me, right.

Context:  Seawright and Bradshaw are cats (named after football players) who showed up at our house when we were children; Seawright was pretty vicious and didn’t hang around.  Bradshaw– how do I put this?– once smacked a pit bull across the face because he was annoying her, and that was her general attitude about life in general.  This didn’t stop us from spoiling her, etc.

You might think she's annoyed with the bow situation. This actually is just pretty much representative.

You might think she’s annoyed with the bow situation. This actually is just pretty much representative.

No intro; first line is beginning.

Thinking about it, Seawright is a pretty good cat name.

Sea legs?  Sea worthy?

Language games?

I dunno.  It just seems fitting.

More so than Bradshaw?

Yeah, though she did own that one I’d say.

This desk? Yeah, it's mine now. Go away.

This desk? Yeah, it’s mine now. Go away.

I agree there.  But she did kind of own everything in existence.

Also very true.

Meditating on the football cats of fall?

Cat names in general


I dunno.  Train of thought went that way.  I usually just let it go

How philosophical of you.  Very Socratic

Indeed.  I often find myself quoting him.

–here’s where it goes downhill into strictly joke/pun territory–

“I drank what?”

huh huh huh

All time classic

Brings the house down


Like that Marx book

Das Cavital

Masses of people enjoyed that one

Like opium

Recommend over religion by many leading bearded Germans

The devil (internet) made me do it. I didn't make this, by the way. Twitter is probably responsible.

The devil (internet) made me do it. I didn’t make this, by the way. Twitter is probably responsible.

Try the new scented version.

Smells like clean fresh lenin.

And try it Mao!

Quit stalin

You’re just Putin this off

I always preferred his brother Groucho anyway

Quit Harping on it

My philosophy books have not made the move yet, so here's my representation of WWII (100% realism guaranteed). Please note that this is the

My philosophy books have not made the move yet, so here’s my representation of WWII (100% realism guaranteed). Please note that this is the “big bestseller” that’s “now the great movie!” And it cost 95 cents.  BRING BACK PAPERBACKS FOR .95 CENTS!  Tangential (see:  Stalin), but I wanted to bring up the cheap paperbacks, pretty much.

Again, please note that everyone here is ostensibly an adult.

Really, though, probably only Bradshaw was.

There's been speculation about what would happen if it had been possible to put Alice in Bradshaw in the same room. The most popular theory involves matter/antimatter and combustion.

There’s been speculation about what would happen if it had been possible to put Alice and Bradshaw in the same room. The most popular theory involves matter/antimatter and combustion.  After reading the above, discussing cat theoretical physics shouldn’t really seem all that surprising.

I’m As Pure as Driven Slush

(title source:  Talllulah Bankhead, yet again; the image you should recognize, unless this is your first visit to the Internet– in which case welcome, and go introduce yourself to Google!)

I’ll come and make love to you at five o’clock. If I’m late start without me.

Yes, that was T.B. again.  I do love a good questionable role model.

Perhaps you’ve seen the recent survey that has found that users of emojis have more sex (hello?  anyone still reading this?  is everyone on their phone now?  should I just stop here?).

At any rate, maybe you want to up your game.  Maybe a heart or an eggplant just doesn’t say how you truly feel.  Technically, this post was reader-suggested (well, the emoji part; I’m the one who went all kinky with it, DUH); therefore, mashing all that together, this is going to be an advice column for the technology-addicted lovelorn.

Dear Maggie,

I long to communicate my innermost desires and feelings o’ passion to anyone in my contacts list I might reasonably have a shot at.  My feelings are as multilayered and nuanced as the finest Harlequin Romance writer’s [1], though, and I simply can’t cram the swelling tides of passion that o’erflow my heart into one cartoonish symbol.  Help my thumbs speak eloquently!


Struck Dumb on a Smartphone

Dear Struck Dumb,

Had smartphones existed in Shakespeare’s day, imagine how much more transcendent the sonnets would have been!  Picture Donne’s “A Valediction:  Forbidding Mourning“– the whole final stanza could simply be a picture of a compass!  I’m completely re”writing” my personal favorite, Auden’s “Lullaby.”  “Lay your 😴 my 💘, / 👤 on my 🚫 ⛪️ 💪; / ⌚️ and 😷 🌋 away / Individual 🌈 from / 📚 👶, and the grave / 👏 the 👶 🍃 . . . .” [2]  The humdrum, limited language of these soon-to-be-forgotten poets is not for you, my dear; you will write the pithy, epic sexts that will be the cultural touchstones of the 21st century!  Just get ready to take notes (screencaptures?) . . . 



A nice, gentle one to ease you into this: “kiss me slowly.” (via Buzzfeed)


Choose one: A) All about that Bass; B) Fat-Bottomed Girls; C) I Like Big Butts; D) My Pet Theory, They’re All the Same Song (Paper forthcoming: “Butt Appreciation: It’s the Same Old Song”). Okay, fine: it’s asking about getting to second base. (via  [3]

Twerking fails to impress.


Looks like somebody’s getting lucky tonight. (via Buzzfeed)


Pretty obvious, though I do wonder: is that a glass of wine apiece, or does it take two glasses of wine to get to that point? Sub beer if that’s your thing.🍺 (via Buzzfeed)


My personal favorite: want to join the Mile High Club? Here’s how to ask. (via Buzzfeed)


This one is dedicated to the current situation above me.  Use as you see fit.  (my own)

👀 📬 👰

Not finding tru luv on Tinder?  Mail order is always an option!  (my own)


Steamy. Theoretically, you could tack on another shower. You know, a cool down. Yeah, never mind.

BUT . . .

👉 + ❄️ 🚿 = 🚨

does make it clear someone needs to take it down a notch.  (my own)

Suggestive can be good:

🍒 💣

(my own)

Urban Dictionary top meaning:  a smoking hot female; female with a fine ass; beautiful curvaceous ass.  My understanding is that, in the context of the song, it referred to the band member, and (duh) underage promiscuity and general hell-raising.  Which is basically all Runaways/Joan Jett songs, give or take the underage bit.

. . . and I just came up with one for “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” in my head, but I’m going to stop myself before this entire thing turns into a Joan Jett emoji post, and some psychoanalyst finds it, and I end up in a mental health journal.  Or TMZ.

There are always other songs

👀m on 🔥

Bruce’s hottest song?  YOU DECIDE.  [4]

🚢 🎼

Okay, referencing “The Ship Song” is going to work on a limited audience, but it includes me, and this is MY blog.  So.  There.

And, my lord, Cale is on stage with him.  What else can I give you?  Oh, yes, MOJO’s recent artist profile, where he is called “the Satanic Sinatra.”  👺🎤

Finally, I’d really like to see someone come up with a translation for this one:


Annie Hall again, yes. Your point?

So there’s your quick guide.  I should mention that this post comes with a 100% in no way guaranteed guarantee that you’ll live happily ever after.


Well, at least you’ll have a great soundtrack!

[1]  Eh, the Harlequin covers were boring.  You’re getting a 50s pulp instead:


This is pretty much also the subtitle of this post. Or this blog. Whatever.

[2]  Seriously, how are you supposed to convey “ephemeral”?  Where’s the emoji set for wordy nerdy types?


[3]  After presenting this theory to one person, they declared:  “Sir Mix-A-Lot:  an ardent supporter of feminism since 1992.”

[4]  Best Springsteen article ever.  Also citing because I won a comment award for what I said there.  But, um, you seriously might not actually want to read what I wrote there, because you’ll definitely never be able to un-know it.