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a tedious work of self-indulgence
it's all about meme
by ken mohnkern

Every so often a "meme" makes the rounds online. (Pedantic prick that I am, I have to point out that they are not really memes; they are just writing prompts for bloggers. Wikipedia has a good article on what a meme is). The latest one to come along asks you to give three answers to a whole load of questions, many of which aren't worth answering once. Now, I'm not sure why someone would want to know a bunch of inane things about a blogger, but I fill them in and post them on my blog anyway.

Here are my answers to some of this latest meme's questions.

4. Things I don't understand:
  1. I don't understand what my body is doing lately. My back goes out at any opportunity (when I sleep wrong, sneeze, towel-dry my hair too vigorously, anything). I'm growing hair in odd places. I'm losing hair in odd places. I feel like my mind is in a fog for periods of time. Little wounds take weeks to heal. I'm not gaining weight but I am changing shape, become wider, more rectangular. Aging: it's a daily adventure.

  2. I don't understand why people make up emails that claim ridiculous things then try to pass them off as true. My parents keep me neck-deep in this stuff, most of which is rabidly critical of Democrats, the media, the ACLU, and Al Franken, and unconditionally loving of the current inhabitants of the White House and all branches of the military.
    Then there are the phony heartwarming stories. There's the one about the little orphan girl who gives her last penny to the parish priest, the one about the dog that pulled 800 people from the collapsing World Trade Center, and the one about the boys who included the disabled boy in their backyard baseball game. There's a special word for this nonsense: glurge.

  3. Nascar. What's the attraction? And golf.

6. Things I want to do before I die:
  1. Publish a story in The New Yorker.

  2. Vote in an election for a candidate whose views match my own.

  3. Live.

7. Things I can do:
  1. Forget things.

  2. Whistle.

  3. Play a D chord on a guitar. I forgot the C, G, and E.

9. Things I can't do:
  1. Perform for an audience.

  2. Do a split.

  3. Bullshit my way through a job interview.

10. Things I think you should listen to:
  1. Music you've never heard before.

  2. Birds: cardinals, chickadees, wrens, song sparrows, and (heh) tits.

  3. Water: rain, surf, a stream, a shower. KR and I were sitting on a granite boulder on the coast of Maine, our eyes closed, the sun warming us. KR said, "This is the noise I've been waiting to hear." I agreed and smiled at the waltz rhythm of her words.

11. Things you should never listen to:
  1. The insulting voices in your head.

  2. Those who say you should "never" do something.

  3. You should never have to listen to other people's lame-ass cell phone rings, but that wasn't the question.

12. Things I'd like to learn:
  1. How to play the harmonica. Or the accordion.

  2. The names of the things around me. When we were in Maine I realized I know a lot less than I thought. I saw lots of birds, critters, plants, and trees that I could not name. KR and I started, like Adam and Eve in the garden, naming things ourselves. There was the crowduck, crow-like but larger, whose call sounded like a quack in a crow's accent: "quah quah." And the squirrelmunk, a small squirrel with stripes on its sides like a chipmunk. Every morning at 10:30 the roostercrow had a call-and-response session with the circling flock of crows. Something floating in the waves looked to me like a loon, and to KR like a goose. It never moved, though, so I got out the binoculars and found that it was a buoy. KR was distraught: "It's not a buoy! it's a loon-goose!"
    The night sky was the blackest I'd ever seen and there were huge sections of it in which I could not identify any constellations. (I did figure out Capricorn, though. "It's right there," I said to KR, pointing. "It's the one that looks like a giant pair of panties.") I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about this stuff, but apparently I'm not.

  3. How to pick locks.

15. Shows I watched as a kid:
  1. The Sid and Marty Krofft shows: Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, The Bugaloos, H.R. Pufnstuf, and so on. (Click to see the intros on YouTube.) And all those old violent Saturday-morning cartoons.

  2. I was eight years old when my family moved to a town that had a PBS station. I was fascinated by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I watched them with my younger siblings, though I was too old for them. Thirty years later I met Mister Rogers himself.

  3. I was not allowed to stay up for this new Saturday Night Live show the kids in middle school were all talking about.

One benefit of doing these "meme" things is that you can revisit them when you need a topic to write about. So maybe my next article will be about one of the above topics. Doing splits, probably.


There's a fifty-fifty chance that Ken is wearing a shirt with a stain on it.

more about ken mohnkern


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published: 9.9.06

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published: 8.21.06


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