You will not be surprised to learn that over the years I have received numerous questions about why I have put time and effort into creating and maintaining Mr. Eha's Place, especially since its readership is diminishingly small, and that if my life depended upon its acclaim, I would have been dead eleven years ago. The short answer is that at first I thought it would be amusing to create a site based on a series I enjoyed as a child, and thus was born the first primitive, four-page version of Mr. Eha's Place. Then I wondered how long I could keep it going before I ran out of ideas or my interest pooped out, and so I continued to work away at what has become a longish set of footnotes to the Freddy series. Sure, it's nothing more than a piddling literary stunt, a bit of postmodern messing around, but it also has been a way for me to promote some opinions, to entertain a few Freddyites, and to exercise my brain without having to resort to crossword or sudoku puzzles. And that is the long and short of it. Someday, if it would be agreeable with the organizers of those Freddy conventions, I might deliver a short speech entitled "The Mr. Eha Experience," although as Mr. Eha or "Mr. Eha" I don't yet know. I do know that my schedule prevents my appearing at the 2008 convention in any case.
Hmmm. This item has caused me to think about lawns, especially perfect monoculture lawns. I do enjoy a stroll about the neighborhood. I take one every morning that doesn't feature freezing rain, sleet, or a blizzard. One thing that distresses me, though, is the absence of the dandelions of spring on many neighbors' lawns. I like to see a lawn spotted with the jaunty fellows, and I know that they are not sprouting up and down the street because of the chemical poisoning of the lawns.
Here's my theory regarding lawns and lawn care. Call me crazy, but what we have here is obviously a shrewd tactic in the long-range Martian strategy to eliminate the human species with minimal collateral damage. It is a fact that the Martians have a small army of human stooges and dupes at their disposal, most especially in commercial and political arenas that are likely to cause the most damage to the human species. Here are the four steps that the Martians have already taken to capitalize on the natural human desire for status and respect as manifested through the creation and maintenance of the mini-fiefdom called "home."
First, they have created and propagated the notion that lawns are a desirable feature of privately held property. Having a lawn is a simple way that members of the middle class, always desirous of attracting attention and impressing others, can alleviate their class envy and anxiety.
Second, the Martians have induced scientists to create easily dispersed chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers to lavish on lawns.
Third, through the art of marketing, the Martians have elevated the lawn to a status symbol requiring meticulous care and the application of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. It's too easy! The middle class subset of the human species is so gullible that it believes that Franklin Mint "collectibles" are valuable and will continue to rise in value, so selling the idea that poisoning lawns for a few hundred dollars a season is both affordable and a measure of status should be (and has been) a cakewalk.
Fourth, the Martians now stand
by and watch as gormless human beings poison the ground, ground water, themselves,
and creatures better than themselves while pursuing the middle-class obsession
with the perfect lawn.
I thought I'd use this opportunity to run a little Internet Yard Sale since I haven't done one in quite some time and am not likely to conduct one of my big periodic sales ever again. This and the next item will be snapped up quickly, I'm certain, so don't hesitate to get in touch with me through the Freddy group if you're interested in buying either or both. First up for grabs is a Virginia Wonder Heavy Duty Ranch Mower in nearly original condition! Why would you be interested in such a relic? Let me tell you. Not only does it run like a charm and have a very comfy "Joy Ride Tractor Seat," but it comes from C. Jimson Camphor's estate! Yes! It is no doubt the very machine upon which C. Jimson enjoyed his last moments on Earth before his fatal accident! Should you be the lucky buyer, I will throw in the original receipt signed by Camphor himself and a photocopy of his obituary! I bought this gem at the estate sale following his demise and have kept it in tip-top shape ever since. Here's your chance to pursue the perfect lawn (if that is still important to you after reading the column to the right) at a most reasonable price!
Hmmm again. This item also makes me think...of my former smoking habit and the tobacco industry, which, I have come to believe, is comprised of serial killers from top to bottom.
Is that too harsh? Dear me, I don't think so! Let me explain. I believe all people involved in the tobacco "industry" are serial killers from the farmers who grow tobacco to the CEOs of the tobacco companies and everyone in between. Why is it that a product that can make you really, really sick or kill you is legal to grow, process, and sell all over the world? Easy! (1) It makes a lot of people a lot of money. (2) The tobacco lobby is hardly underfunded and understaffed. And (3), it's just too damn bad for the dopes who get hooked on it. That's what having free will is all about. It wouldn't be ethical or moral to take their right to choose to smoke away from them, now would it?
But just a gosh darn minute!
The tobacco companies can't be evil, can they?! Don't the folks
at Phillip Morris USA, the self-described "largest cigarette manufacturer
in the United States," have information on their site to help kiddies not
start the filthy habit and to help addicted smokers quit? Why, by golly,
they sure do! Here's a
link. Are they crazy? Not at all! They're just cynical business types who
know that the omnipresent inducements to smoke will win out over the transparent
subterfuge of their "tips and tools for talking to your kids about not smoking"
and QuitAssist®. Besides, the worldwide market is huge, and you better
believe their profits aren't going to suffer one bit. Seriously, you don't think
in great gobs of money and living the good life even at the expense of the
suffering and dying of cretins dumb enough to start and keep smoking is going
to want to give it up, do you? Heck, no. It's not good for the economy,
especially their economy. And for these loathsome businesspeople the beauty of
it is, it's all perfectly legal.
Wow! What a discovery! It's not exactly like finding a dusty bottle of a rare vintage, but darn close! This is an actual photo of the pack of Lucky Strikes that turned up in my toolshed just last week. I haven't been fishing since the '40s when I got back from overseas after the war...the one we actually won. I don't know why, but lately I've had a powerful hankering to head up to Oteseraga Lake and do some pan fishing. I was rummaging around in my old tackle box for some size four hooks when I came across this old unopened pack of Luckies which has not seen the light of day since 1947 or so, I'd guess. I gave the pack a light squeeze and would have to say that the cigarettes are probably unconsumable based on their audible crunchiness. Nonetheless, as a collector's item for display purposes only, this lethal antiquity from the days when the Journal of the American Medical Association carried cigarette ads and "men of medicine" named Camels as their favorite cigarette is worth the asking price! And remember... "L.S./M.F.T."
possesses a soft bilateral body from sitting around with cronies plotting, scheming, and spinning reality instead of working actively at the job of bettering the lot of constituents, the country, and the world
exhibits a muscular siphon for sucking up campaign money, dirt on opponents, sweets & treats from lobbyists, blood of vanquished adversaries, and the fawning spittle of toadying underlings
has an internal shell--useful for simulating a real backbone among the members of this spineless phylum
employs a radula (a rasping band of teeth overlaying a tongue-like muscle) to drill holes through rivals, critics, common decency, and most especially the intelligence of those of voting age. The radula is also used for shoving the shreds thereof into and down the gullet to be excreted in the general direction of large gatherings of mindless adulators and assorted other imbeciles and half-wits for their consumption.
uses a funnel for expelling waste, ink, & slime and providing jet propulsion--useful in muddying the waters around substantive issues and racing away from thoughtful confrontations and the challenges of the world which non-politicians inhabit
makes optimal use of a well-developed nervous system and eyes for dodging momentous issues and spotting opportunities for self-aggrandizement, ego enhancement, pocket-lining, and status elevation
uses chromatophores (elastic pigment sacs) and iridocytes (reflective plates) in the skin to make rapid color changes--handy when camouflaging real intentions and eluding the fallout from errors in moral judgment and egregious lapses in ethical behavior. Intentions may also be concealed beneath pricey haircuts, by expensive suits, in vacuous rhetoric and formulaic babble, and in empty promises draped in flags and illuminated by fireworks
Proposed Taxonomy of the Blore-like Politician
Here's a photograph of a Centerboro citizen mentioned in the Freddy series, Senator Blore, a multi-term, bottom-feeding politician known for little else besides the immense cigars he smoked, his almost total disregard for his constituency, and his big, fat ego. It is the memory of his undistinguished and self-serving career which prompted me to prod the Biocultural Research Division of EHA Industries to undertake a scientific investigation of the functional characteristics of average, off-the-rack politicians like Senator Blore. I am pleased to announce the outcomes of the study and the resulting proposal for a reclassification of the Blore-like organism which moves it completely out of the phylum Cordata to its appropriate place in the phylum Mollusca where it joins the invertebrates it most closely resembles. The rationale for the proposal is briefly stated in the column to the right, and then the proposed new taxonomy is presented in chart form. For a copy of the complete report on this epochal advance in the classification of the animal kingdom, contact the Manager of Scientific Research and Analysis, Eha Industries, Incorporated, Centerboro, New York. There is a nominal charge. Incidentally, I would be remiss if I did not note that the study reveals the existence of a minuscule number of politicians who remain in the phylum Chordata owing largely to their occasional principled behavior.
Friendly reminder: The contents of this report and the summary presented here on this site are protected by all applicable copyright laws. Not even a tiny snippet of this information may be reproduced in any form whatsoever for any kind of private or public use without written permission.
Now here are some sights you
don't often see these days-- unplugged children playing outdoors! What
an idea! Back in the days before the minds and bodies of your average kiddies
were hijacked by the entertainment and food industries, these kinds of scenes
would have been regarded as completely ordinary. The top photo shows one of Mrs.
U's nephews and a neighbor pal enjoying the coolness of an inflatable pool on
a hot summer's day in Centerboro. The next is an old snapshot of a little playground
at the corner of Clinton and Chestnut Streets. The last is a Clinton Street Irregular
in a snow fort. It's summer here now, and since I can't speak with much authority
about what girls did for fun back then, I'll describe how a typical summer's
day in the life of a boy might have unfolded as the hours lazily drifted by...
I believe girls were similarly active, doing almost everything the boys did, but eschewing a lot of the roughhousing, substituting dolls for army men, and giggling a bit more.
A generality next: I believe that the best of what the world will ever have to offer children (or adults for that matter) is long, long gone. I feel sorry for today's children for they have missed by several decades the times when they might have been free to play on their own and exercise, to quote Anne (with an "e"!) Shirley, the full "scope of imagination" that has been so thoroughly squelched by today's thoroughly witless culture. Ah, well, the over-programmed, hovered-over, plugged-in little lambs don't know the fun they're missing, so perhaps the painfulness of knowing how their lives are likely to turn out in this tanking world exists, mercifully, only in the minds of us mossbacks.
I've been holding back publication
of this 1909 photograph from the Bean family albums for quite some time as I completed
the research necessary to establish whether or not this pig in particular was
the inspiration for the character "Freddy the Pig." I am now happy to
present my conclusions. The Beans' Gertrude is indeed the prototype for the character
Freddy. Yes, Mr. Brooks did transmute the real Frederick Bean into that character,
but the more authentic pig-like traits of Freddy the Pig were based upon Gertrude's
behaviors, many of which I remember hearing about directly. Some of them even
correlate with what we might describe as intelligence. Here's the summary:
Finally, I have established that Mr. Brooks did actually meet Gertrude during one of his first visits to the Bean farm. In Mrs. Bean's 1911 diary, she records an early visit from Mr. Brooks when he was working for the Frank Du Noyer Advertising Agency in nearby Utica. She writes that during that visit he complimented William on raising "a darn fine pig, that Gertrude, though a bit small." I think we have a pretty strong case here.
The Clockwork Twin is sure as shootin' one of the weakest of the Freddy series in my opinion, and please do not try to contact me with your manky contrary opinions. As with other titles in the series, Mr. Brooks appropriated and modified (greatly so, in the case of Clockwork) some real Oteseraga County happenings to produce his story. You may have already guessed that the real Benjamin Bean would have been involved, and you would be right, as he created the the golem-like figure you see in the photograph about mid-1936. For the record, here's all I know of "The Benjamin Bean All-Purpose Prodigious Automaton."
When it became immediately clear that the ants had no interest in anything except escape, Uncle Ben dismantled the Automaton and carted it to the dump up by the lower pasture where most of it gradually disintegrated over a period of years. I say most of it, because someone carried off the head, and it hasn't surfaced anywhere around here yet. The Clockwork Twin, though, appeared in October 1937, I believe.
THROUGH THE SEASONS
Here you have views of Centerboro through the seasons from a long, long time ago. For those Freddyites enamored of the charming picture of Centerboro depicted by Mr. Brooks, here is a reminder that it was and still is just another upstate New York town. We have four seasons as you might expect. Winter in these parts can be particularly brutal, but so can the summer's heat and humidity and storms. Grandpa Anderson told me about the worst storm he'd ever seen in these parts, a terrific electrical storm that blew through the region in August of 1893. The rain came down in buckets, and the hailstones were the size of tomatoes! Grandpa was not one to exaggerate, so I have no reason to disbelieve him. Spring and fall hereabouts are the grandest seasons by far.
Speaking of weather, after watching the local "news" on television today, I am more than a little exercised about the amount of time given to describing it and the language used by the so-called "meteorologist." The local news here calls its overblown weather segment "The Weather Outside." (Get it? The weather outside where the weather is? The weather guy even stands outside to deliver his usually inaccurate forecast.) When the weather gets a little dicey, the "meteorologist" moves indoors to the "Storm Center"--i.e., a dinky set in a small corner of the studio about fifteen feet from the so-called "News Center."
With regard to the weather report, never have so many found so much to say about so little. I would think that anybody with an 8th grade education could be trained to rip reports off some national weather feed and then tell us what he or she has read in simple language and in less than a minute. Here are some authentic examples of asinine "weatherspeak" which I have heard lately and the de-inflated equivalents:
Let's start with meteorologist
(i.e., weather guy or weather girl)
Why the inflation of language to begin with? Why, could it be simply a reflection of the weather guy's terrible anxiety over being seen as someone who couldn't cut it as a real journalist? If the weather guy were honest, he'd be content with "weather guy." At least he's performing a more useful job than the upper torsos and talking heads that fill the airwaves with idle chatter and lame jokes and pretend to be "reporting" the news when all they're actually doing is reading it to us--sometimes none too well.
One last gripe about the weather report--I really don't need to be reminded by the <ahem> "me-te-or-ol-o-gist" to take my umbrella to work with me because it's "raining outside" (as if it were at all likely to rain inside). I can figure that out all by myself, thank you.
Oh, and by the way, it was pleasant in Centerboro today. Sunny, but temperate, and quite cloudless.
At the left, you see Mrs. U's crystal ball which she has allowed me to photograph and publish here for the purpose of introducing a proof of my precognitive prowess, In the guise of Madame Françoise, Mrs. U employed this very ball at numerous charity events throughout Oteseraga County. Of course her prophecies were entirely spurious, being concocted for entertainment purposes only. My prophecy, which follows, was not.
At 5:07 PM EST on Tuesday, 26 October 2004, I posted the following commentary on my now discontinued Blog-A-Rama.
Well, there you have it. I believe I called it correctly four years ago, and, friends, here's hoping that we'll all be around to see what will have happened during the next four. I don't think I need Mrs. U's crystal ball to make an accurate prediction, do I? I don't think you do either.