If the World Gets Upside
Down, Learn How to Float
Much has been lost in 2017, or is under threat. Our dignity as a nation, shared respect for facts, telling the truth without a subpoena involved. But we’re not giving up our ownership over what’s weird just yet.
See, since we’re ruled by someone with no regard for clarity, the very concept of what’s bizarre has become twisted. Well, no longer. Weird belongs to reality itself, has its own shine, and we’re its keepers.
But before highlighting some of the brightest spots, where the nonsensical and the truly odd reign supreme, and where no orange human has been before, here’s where the quirk and the surreal are actually enlightening. The Improbable Research, for instance, with its gloriously instructive Annals magazine and annual Ig Noble Awards.
Yes, it may never occurred to you that how long a cow stands may determine how long it will lie down (a 2013 award), or the effects of music on angry drivers (a recent paper), but boy, what a delight to learn. For these are accomplished scientists, fulfilling the ‘first laugh, then think’ motto. Yes, now you know.
On another end, there’s I Fought the Law, a book about some American laws, which may or may not be real. It all could’ve come from the same warped realm where the 45th seems to belong to, including suspicions that its author is pulling our collective legs. But what if somebody does want to ban the Stripes and Stars from being planted on a bar of soap?
In between, Pareidolia and your garden variety abnormalities of all suits, from time travelers, their blurry pictures and eerily-looking guns, to kinky children’s plays and traditional, but no less unsettling, national habits. Some quite unsavory indeed, but hey, haven’t you heard about the working, golden-platted toilet boil they’re shipping to the White House? So there you have it.
A NEW YORK CITY BAR BARS LITERALLY
The East Village Continental used to be a dive where $5 would get you good drunk to go. Now, $20 buys you only a literally washed-down Appletini. Just don’t dare saying ‘literally’ to the bartender; it’ll get you banned. That and mentioning the bankruptcy that will close it in July.
Or maybe it’s the clientele of NYU bros, who came with the onslaught of school dorms in the area. In any case, this dive is doomed and yes, the only good thing still good about the place is that it’s still a dive. Or maybe it’s now something else. Literally. Whatever.
NO, THIS BIRD CAN’T FLY WITH YOU
One of the most enduring cartoon characters ever created is Linus and his blanket, which he uses for emotional support. Charles M. Schulz knew a thing or two about Freud, and therapy, and how sometimes we all reach out for something to provide us relief from a troubled world.
But United Airlines sees it as a stunt, apparently. Even as animal companions are as common in air travel as, well, lack of leg room, the company has recently refused to let a woman board the plane with her pet peacock. And mentioning Freud or Schulz didn’t help her either.
BOILED BATS, COLD IGUANAS & FROZEN SHARKS
Evidence of climate change has been overwhelming. Hurricanes, wild fires, and that’s just talking about last year in the U.S. (more)
* The Weekly Weird
* That Can’t Be Right
* Better Halves
Still no one was ready for iguanas dropping dead cold from trees in Florida. Or sharks freezing in the waters off the East Coast. WTH?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, the heat wave in New Zealand was actually so intense that it boiled bats alive. When the leader of the lying word ignores climate change in his most important speech of the year, that’s not even weird, it’s downright tragic.
THERE’S A WHOLE LOTTA FAKIN GOIN ON
‘In the space between birth and death you can have one life, or you can have many.’ At the end of Philippe de Broca‘s war satire King of Hearts, a naked, birdcage-carrying Alan Bates stands at the entrance of the town’s asylum, ready to join in the inmates he wound up befriending.
A fitting decision for the former soldier, sent on a perilous mission he wouldn’t have accomplished without help from the ‘lunatics.’ In these surreal times, dropping it all out and joining the circus, or a nuthouse, doesn’t seem nearly as weird as much of what’s going on Washington.
A lot is easy to loose, and even easier to underestimate, such as our compassion, sense of humor, and ability to be open to wonders. It’s time to reclaim the unusual and the strange from the claws of those who’d use them to scare and to oppress. It’s our turn to restore at least some notion of sanity, and enjoy the proverbial lightness of being.