Monthly Archives: February 2014

Cantusecholalia

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I believe I have discovered a new form of mental illness. Since I am the one who discovered this malady, that means I get to name it. Let me tell you about Cantusecholalia. Those of you who know Latin won’t need me to translate the word, but for the rest of humanity, let me explain: It is a disorder in which a person keeps repeating the last song they’ve heard over and over in their mind. I should know. I suffer from this, and it is horribly debilitating. I hope and pray you or a loved one never develop this disease, because I seriously doubt there can be a permanent cure. I bet they could make a drug to fix it, though. Better living through chemicals, I say.

I realize now that I’ve had Cantusecholalia my entire life. My mom would sing me a lullaby at bedtime and it would start rolling around in my brain non-stop, until another song took its place. My brain played “The Good Ship Lollipop” once for eight weeks before it was replaced with “Stormy Weather” when my dad played it on the hi-fi. It didn’t help that my dad was a radio disc jockey, either. I’d spend a day with him at the station and come out in a near psychotic state. Try singing the tune “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (Glenn Miller) and “Coo Coo Roo Coo Coo Paloma” (Perry Como) in your head at the same time.

The first song that I really liked, and didn’t mind hearing over and over and over and over again was “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. Unfortunately, after I set the back yard aflame, I was prohibited from walking down to the service station for lawn mower gas again. I thought the whole song-in-my-head thing was normal and that everybody did it. I mean, heck, I’d hear a fellow humming a tune to himself as he walked down the street (this was almost a century before the first portable radio), or hear my mom singing something from Bing Crosby or Dean Martin while she did the dishes, and before I knew it I was carrying that around in my noggin. I realized something may be wrong with me when I caught my dad sitting on the front porch swing one day and asked him what he was thinking. “Nothing,” he replied. I asked him if he was listening to music in his brain and he told me the only thing going on in his brain at the moment was whether he should wash the car or not, and the ‘or not’ was winning the argument. That’s when I began to think I was different. Well, again, there was that back yard conflagration incident, but I mean really different.

I couldn’t keep my mind from playing the last song I heard, and I tried everything (except snails…I refuse to put snails in my ears). I’d hear a jingle in a commercial before going to bed and it would bore into my consciousness all night and into the next day. I was haunted by the Mister Clean song for years. Crap, I hear it again. “Mister Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute…” It wasn’t until I first heard “In a Gadda da Vida” in ’68 that I was finally rid of Mr. Clean. It looks like now I’ve got to listen to Lady Gaga’s latest hit to overpower this relapse.

The scariest times are when I’m minding my own business, trying to be like my Dad and think of nothing more important than whether to wash the car or not, when some yahoo in a ragtop rolls past with Pitbull cranking out “Timber,” and because I don’t know any of that song except what I hear when they shoot by, I’m stuck hearing “Swing your partner round and round, end of night it’s going down.” My mind is stuck repeating that line ad nauseum and I’m left wondering what in the heck Pitbull was thinking putting out a square dance tune. Then I quickly run inside and fill my head with Bigger On The Inside’s title song until Pitbull’s been exorcized. That is until the next morning when I wake up screaming “ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND AND…!”

Ok, now that’s I’ve discovered this new mental illness – Cantusecholalia – would it be asking too much to have some pharmaceutical company make me a pill that’ll make it go away? Well, everything except “Ring of Fire.” I really like that song.

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Hobby Blues

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I spent a handful of days begging the NSA to give me demographics, and conducted an exhaustive data mining campaign through such accurate records as Google, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook and Wikipedia. I collected all the information, ran it through Excel, and discovered that I was the only person in the world without a single hobby. So that’s why I hate joining online communities and neighborhood watch organizations: they always want to know what my hobbies are, and when I leave it blank, they automatically assume that I’m some sort of social outcast or perhaps a person with a slow mind. Mine is most certainly not slow – it’s deliberate. There’s a difference. I deliberately leave it blank because I’m certain I have no hobbies. Notta one. You could beat me to the brink of death, but you’ll never squeeze a hobby out of me. It just ain’t there. If you want, I can act stupid, though. I’ve been told I do it quite well. Doctors say it has its roots in an incident that happened Thursday, September 9th, 1999 involving the accidental ingestion of a hallucinatory mushroom, in which I wrote fifteen novels in 84 hours. Boy, was that stupid. I wrote it in Cantonese. Unfortunately, I can’t read a single word of Cantonese. See what happens when you don’t have a hobby?

If I gave you a list of indoor and outdoor hobbies that I have no skill or interest in, it would stretch just past Neptune and contain 314 trillion terabytes of hard drive space. I just made that up, but it’s so awesome it could be true. I’ve attempted scores of them but have failed miserably. For instance, I tried my hand at gardening once; tried growing watermelons. They came out the size of Skittles. I did learn, though, that fried chicken doesn’t grow from the ground. I planted a extra crispy leg once. All that came up was a lousy wing. Then there was the whole magic phase of my life. Only trick I could pull off was turning food into poop. I learned the art of soapmaking, but kept coming out with jell-o on a string. I gave juggling a whirl; come to find out it the same thing as keeping up with seven kids and three ex-wives. My therapy bill is too high for me to go through something like that again.  I thought about getting into woodworking, but that whole ‘work’ thing scared me off. I tried bird watching until a flock of rogue seagulls stole my binoculars and McDonald’s fries. How was I to know fries were their favorite food? I gave hunting a try. Best sleep I ever had was in a tree stand. Then there was my attempt to take up cooking. No matter what I did, no matter what kind of exotic dishes I tried to make, it always ended up being meatloaf. Don’t get me wrong. I love meatloaf. It just gets old after awhile. At some point they make for great door stops, too, but I don’t want to start a door stop collection. Without fail every single hobby I’ve attempted has blown up in my face. Which reminds me of that chemistry set my cousin Matt Self and I blew up 45 years ago. Debris still falls from the sky.

I gave a go at collecting, having heard that is a hobby as well. You know me, though. I’m not your average stamp, baseball card, porcelain doll collector. I managed to amass quite a few finger bones until the police came and took them away. Spoilsports. I do have quite an extensive library of books, but I wouldn’t call it a hobby. My therapist calls it hording. I amassed a rock collection during my childhood. Well, it was coal, and it was over a span of several Christmas’s when I just happened to make ‘somebody’s’ naughty list. Did you know you can hide a lump of coal in a snowball and do some serious damage to younger kids?

Seems the only thing I can do well that even remotely resembles a hobby is writing, and I seriously suspect anyone who suggests it is. Hobbies are supposed to be relaxing, and writing is anything but. All those prepositional phrases and dangling participles. Poems are brutal. Try finding a word that rhymes with ‘rabbit’ and isn’t ‘habit’. Don’t even get me started on ‘orange,’ either. I’d rather swim naked in a cactus garden. Actually, cactus swimming in the nude can be quite adventurous. Not even that is a hobby, though.

I should just face the fact that I have no hobbies whatsoever. Well, I take that back. I do enjoy a good outing with the dog on a scat expedition. She’s got a much better nose for it than I. Usually I just photograph it, check it’s taste, texture and temperature and then move on to let Mother Nature have it. Sometimes, though, a particular scatalogical specimen comes along that defies logic (that was a scat joke: ‘logic: log-ic, you know, like an icky log… never mind. It’s really an insider’s joke, anyway.), and I make sure to get a sample of it for extensive testing purposes. When I’m done cataloguing, analyzing and sniffing (to name just a few pseudo-scientific techniques) I always donate the dung to the nearest zoo’s monkey house for flinging purposes. Even then I wouldn’t call this a hobby. It’s a passion. That’s right: to a scatologist, poo is a passion fruit.

But I digress. (as I usually do when I start in on crap) Hobbies are something alien to me. So if you ever come across a biography about me and see the heading “Hobbies,” expect to find my writing under it with the words “Yeah, about that…” Now let me get off my hobby horse before the grammar Nazi returns to check my writing. Happy habits to you!

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