Deep in the Well of Savage Salvation

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Hyperion January 29, 2003
The Hyperion Chronicles
“Dumber than a sack of hair”

#90 Potpourri, Volume XI

Unless you’re evil—or from Mississippi—the Comics are a big part of your day. Everyone seems to have a routine for reading them. For some, that’s the first thing they head for. Myself, I like to practice M. Scott Peck’s Delay of Gratification, and save the comics for last, as a reward, right before the crossword puzzle. I even have an order for how I read them; so that I can end with my favorite comic strip of the day, Foxtrot. There had always been some comics, though, that I skipped right over. I’m talking about Judge Parker, Mary Worth, Mark Trail, Rex Morgan, and Brenda Starr. They always seemed so boring to me. But, in an effort to be more well rounded (insert your own Hyperion joke here), about a year ago I started reading these strips to see if I could figure out what was going on. After all, I used to not understand women. I still don’t, but they turned out not to be boring. Anyway, I read diligently. And I read. And I read. And nothing happened! These comics move at glacial pace, are lucky to have 20 words of dialogue each day, and have so many characters it takes forever to figure out who’s who (comic strips are not conducive to many different types of people). I guess it’s lucky the pace moves so slowly, because it takes that long to figure everything out. One good spot; I skipped a month of reading the paper, and when I came back, I could get right back into it because not much had gone on. The main thing is that these panels are so boring. I found myself wishing that Mary Worth would develop a morphine addiction from the hospital where she can get free drugs. Or that Mark Trail really did have a cabin full of poached animals, like that Far Side I saw once. About the only interesting thing was Brenda Starr, who had a very gay hairdresser who wore a Spider-Man costume all the time. I wondered why these things are still in the paper? The Comic Page is a cutthroat world, and the competition is fierce. The way strips stay in the paper is by reader response. Clearly, the culprit here is old people. Now, I know old people get blamed for a lot—some of it undeserved—but here they take the fall. I just wish we could figure out a way to stop them.

I know if you have been forced to take Geometry any time recently you were taught that prÙ2. Well, I’m here to tell you that is incorrect. Pi aren’t squared, pie are round!

Okay. I know this is heresy, and I’ll be condemned to purgatory for even thinking it, let alone saying it, but I don’t get Audrey Hepburn. I’ve seen most of her important movies now, and I’ll admit she’s sort of pretty, and dresses nicely, but I just don’t see that famous mystique everyone is always talking about. Audrey just doesn’t do anything for me. In Sabrina I’d rather date Humphrey Bogart, in Roman Holiday Gregory Peck looks pretty good. I’d pick George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Carey Grant in Charade, and in My Fair Lady…I’d rather have Dick Van Dyke as a chimney sweep. (Okay, technically he’s not in Lady, instead in Mary Poppins, but the ridiculous accent is the same, and you get the idea.) It’s pretty bad when you’d pick the male co-stars over the female lead. For me, she’s not even the best Hepburn. I’ll gladly take Katharine Hepburn in anything. I’d do back flips for Bette Davis and those eyes and that voice—even post-stroke—or Lauren Bacall and her small secret smile. You give me Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, and I’ll commit espionage for you. For Ingrid Bergman I’d lasso the moon, and for Grace Kelly? Well, let’s not even discuss it. I don’t have a problem with the grand dames of American cinema. But Audrey? Nothing happening for me. So tell me, is there a help-group I can join? Are there others like me, and if so, will my breaking the wall of silence compel them too, to come forward? I hope so, for all our sakes.

A bit of advice, because I like you. Any offer or award that comes to you in Email, well, be suspicious to begin with. But if words are misspelled in the subject line? You can bet it’s a scam. As far as I know, Publisher’s Clearing House isn’t so pressed for time that they have to write “U R A Winner!”

One thing I preach to new writers is that when they get an idea write it down, Write It Down, WRITE IT DOWN! You may have the best idea in the world, absolutely positive you can remember it, and 20 minutes later the phone has rang and the baby has sucked a plastic rat up his nose and peace was declared in the Middle East, and you can’t remember your wonderful idea. Believe me, I’ve been there. That’s why I always have a pen on me, and paper, whether it’s my notebook, a Guest Check book from a local pizza joint, post-it notes, or the ripped off back of a cereal box that I was working on the finding the Captain’s lost treasure. Of course, when you’re old and feeble like I am, even writing things down doesn’t always help. I counted the other day, and I have over 700 notes on various papyruses, at least a third of which I have no idea what I meant. Some I can barely read, and have to retrace my own writing to see what the words were, kind of like when you can’t remember the order of the alphabet unless you quickly (and under your breath) sing the alphabet song. Some notes I can read, but unfortunately it doesn’t help. “A frame orig copied,” “Stockard Channing: turkey,” and “sos-sec-Alex” are just three notes sitting here next to me that will likely never be retrieved. I bet they would have made great columns too.

I saw Brooke Burke the other day on Wild On trying to shear a sheep in Australia. The sheep—and I’m not making this up—was using non-violent resistance to thwart her. If you know who Brooke Burke is, or the show Wild On, or even non-violent resistance, you can help but laugh at the noble sheep. I guess Gandhi and King finally do have a successor.

Lastly: okay, now don’t get me wrong; I’m a big Colin Powell guy. I don’t agree with him on every issue, but I like the fact that he’s stand-up, and comes across as a fairly honest man, not an easy thing to do when your official duties as Secretary of State basically consist of lying.

However, with all that, I do have to protest what I saw on CSPAN the other night. According to the historians on this roundtable they had, 100 years from now the concept of Overwhelming Force (what America and the Allies used in the Gulf War against Iraq) will be known as “The Powell Doctrine.” I realize it’s more complicated than it seems, but it still sounds silly. I mean, I’m all in favor of overwhelming force, but this isn’t exactly a new idea…

General: Colonel, the enemy has 5000 men. To make it fair, we’re going to give you 5000 too.

Colonel: Well, General, I’d rather have 100,000, if it’s all the same to you.

General: That’s a great idea! Promotions for everyone!

You can see what I mean. Who wouldn’t want overwhelming force ‘twere that available? Of course, I can see this having all sorts of other applications...

POWELL COACHING PHILOSOPHY: Finish the game ahead of the other team

POWELL PROSECUTION PLAN: Convict the guy who committed the crime

POWELL PLAN FOR UNDERSTANDING WOMEN: sorry; you’re on your own here

And so, I’m off to come up with a battle strategy for dealing with those women. Until then,

January 29, 2003


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