Do You Haiku?

Remember in school when we had to write haiku?  Neither do I, so here’s a refresher.  Haiku is Japanese poetry, three lines long, with seventeen syllables. It’s written as 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again.  It’s usually about nature or an experience. Someone, somewhere, thought this up, folks.

I live in the Eastern US, where “nature” has been eleven straight months of rain, followed by a swath of single-digit weather.  I wrote this lovely haiku about it:

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain

Ice, ice, ice, ice, ice.

I know. I agree. I am far too talented to be wasting my life working instead of creating masterpieces.

Looking at it, haiku are like limericks for the snootier among us, minus the humor.  Haiku doesn’t rhyme, and not to disparage a centuries old tradition, it sounds just a bit disjointed and rambling when read aloud.

In my mind, all haiku follows this:

These words make no sense.

Here are seven syllables.

Oh look, it’s a dog.

Don’t hate me for my talents, embrace me in all my haiku glory.

I have never liked non-rhyming poetry.  Non-rhyming poetry is cheating.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at a beloved classic, in non-rhyme form.  This is my absolute favorite literary piece of all time:

I don’t like them in a home, with a rodent.  I don’t like them, wherever you put them.  I don’t care for this dish of green eggs and ham. I’ve told you several times, Sam, I don’t care for them.

Now let’s go one step further.  Green eggs and haiku.

I don’t like this meal.

Sam, take them away from me.

I won’t eat these eggs.

Look, I’m not saying that the haiku process takes the fun out of poetry (hey, at least with a haiku I wouldn’t have to come up with a word that rhymes with purple for that piece about grape jelly I’ve been struggling to write).  I’m just saying it seems like the kind of poetry put together by someone who thought rhyming was overrated and just a tad too, well, rhyme-y.

I may be in the minority here, though.  April 17 is National Haiku Day, believe it or not, so make your big Haiku Day plans early.  My plans on Haiku Day?  I am going to protest by reading from a book of limericks on the White House lawn.

Nobody likes “leaves, all floating down – stupid leaves need to be raked – damn it I hate trees,” but you know what we all have in common?

Everyone loves the man from Nantucket.

Sticking to Beauty

It’s unbelievable the lengths someone will go to for the sake of vanity.  Case in point?  This lady happily taping her neck to hide her throat wrinkles and wattles.

The inventor of this medical-grade neck wrinkle tape is no stranger to the beauty scene; she gave us the lip plumper (an adult lollipop with no flavors, basically).  She is apparently a grandmother of three at the age of sixty, so there’s that.

No offense to this beautiful lady, but there is no way this tape would work for me.  I superglue my fingers together every time I try to fix a vase, so I can’t imagine trying to tape my neck wattles in the back.

First, you know as well as I do that I would end up taping my hair to my neck.  Doesn’t matter how carefully I pull it back, it will end up taped to my shirt, my face, the mirror, and my dog.  And while this tape may not work on neck skin, I guarantee it will stick to anything and everything else. That’s just a given.

Second, I am well aware of my own luck.  The tape would blow out half-way through a presentation at work, setting my epic folds free in a glorious explosion of skin and fat … I can see the slow-motion capture on YouTube now.  My peers would be utterly transfixed and fascinated by my waving wattles; they couldn’t possibly be expected to take me seriously after that. The tape, under the super pressure I’d need to rein in my wrinkles, would slingshot across the room, taking out a few coffee cups on the way and smacking the new CEO square in the forehead.

Look, I’m all about women doing whatever they need to do to feel better about themselves, but neck tape?  Please, ladies, just say no to neck tape.

I agree that our necks can make us look much older than we are, so I proudly introduce my own invention:  wattle staples.  These can be used in any common stapler, and they aren’t just for neck wrinkles!  Got sagging boobs?  Staple ‘em.  Droopy butt?  Staple it!  And those obnoxious butterfly wings under your arms?  Staple those, too.  I have a staple for everything!  Defy your age, and gravity, by Stapling It! You know, I really should be on Shark Tank with all of my fantastic ideas. I’ve got entrepreneur stapled written all over my face.

OK, so the concept of taping your neck is actually not a new one. There are lots of other brands and uses, too.  Many stars have been taping body parts for years.  I applaud them for not going under the knife, but I am disappointed that they are setting the example for us common folk that aging is unnatural and evil.  It’s not.  I’ve earned every wrinkle, crease, and droop on my gloriously imperfect body. And so have you.

Come on, I mean, we have fake nails, fake boobs, fake butts, fake eyelashes, and even fake hair; now, we have neck tape to complete the package?  Yes, feeling good about yourself is important, but why aren’t we happy with ourselves to begin with?

I blame media for setting unrealistic beauty goals for women. Aging stars are displayed in all of their perfection, looking half their age, as beautiful and timeless as money can buy.  And make no mistake, money does buy youth.  Age-defying stars and models probably spend more money on time-stopping surgeries than most of us will ever invest in mortgages. Even those stars who want to age gracefully are often victims of post-photo shoot airbrushing because the editor of so-and-so magazine decided they didn’t want a naturally aging woman on their cover. God forbid. Hell, even those stars who are already flawless are routinely airbrushed to create a next-level completely unattainable vision of youth and beauty.

For the rest of us, thank God there is medical-grade neck tape!  Ladies (and some guys, too), do what you need to do to feel beautiful, it’s none of my business.  Frankly, though, spending $16 plus shipping and handling on neck tape is a little silly when you can get duct tape at the dollar store for fifty cents.  You’re welcome.

The Art of Gaming

I’ve talked about video games before. My kids played when they were younger, then in their teens, and still to this day. Their grandmother before them was a die-hard gamer. In addition to the strictly for fun or ‘feeding the rage-monster side of your personality’ class of games, there are science-y games, math games, even reading games, all of which help nurture a love for learning. My kids had them all … today, however, the educational games have decidedly progressed to the point that STEM camps and classrooms use them as a tool in an ever-growing instructional arsenal.  This is a good thing.  For the most part, though, parents – and adults in general, see video games as a waste of money, a waste of space, and a waste of time.

Before you tell your son or daughter to get off the computer, stop playing those useless games, and get a life, stop and consider: some people make a full-time living playing video games.  Between live streaming themselves on You Tube, testing out apps and games for the market, and competing in real-time challenges for pay, someone can make some pretty good scratch playing computer games.

It’s a shame, really, that you can’t add video gaming skills to a job resume.  Other than “annihilating your enemies,” and “driving the get-away car really fast,” video games teach kids valuable life lessons.  Don’t believe me?

Computer skills:  This is a no-brainer, but you need decent computer skills to excel in video gaming.  Many games have “mods,” for instance, which are modifications that the user can design and use in-game.   Games develop hand and eye coordination, and many kids can thank the gaming world for their ability to trouble shoot computer issues, type without looking at the keys, and think quickly on their feet.  Today’s kids are much more advanced in computer skills than their parents ever will be; ask any kid who has tried to walk their parent through using Skype, the latest iteration of Excel, or God help us all, PowerPoint.

Team Building and Leadership:   Parents may not be aware of this, but to excel in many video games the players need to join alliances and become team players to beat the challenges.  These kids are also learning the art of commitment and follow-through, even in a virtual world. A player’s online reputation is important to them; reliability and loyalty are valuable traits in a player.   Kids will develop pretty tight online friendships with teammates, and to them, meeting up to kill a troll in a game is as much a firm Friday night plan as going to the mall used to be for us parents but with a little more sorcery, swordplay, and bombing.

Problem Solving:  So how exactly does a fifteen-year-old raid an enemy camp, steal supplies, kill the leader and escape undetected?  This skill may not equate to real world experience; I’m pretty sure no boss will instruct an employee to break into a rival’s office, steal pens and staplers, and poison the air filtration system.  Still, these game quests teach kids to use logic and reasoning to solve complex issues – skills that can translate to any activity in the real world. Frankly, grocery shopping would be a lot more fun if we could add an element of video gaming to it.  Sneak up on fellow shoppers and take stuff out of their carts, joust in the aisle of the store, and barter for coins?  Yes, please!

Time Management:  In the video game world, many challenges revolve around time.  You may only have a set number of minutes to finish a quest, or you lose a life.  Imagine this in the real world; if you don’t get all of the items on your grocery list in a preset amount of time, your cart disappears, and you have to start all over again.  Personally, I’d love that.  It would take care of those lollygaggers in the produce aisle once and for all. I know, I know, I keep mentioning grocery stores … I’m hungry.  But seriously, in a dog-eat-dog business setting? Time is everything. Time management is a much-needed skill.

Thinking Ahead:  Video games today are far more complex than Space Invaders.  Older video games that we grew up on didn’t rely as heavily on fast thinking and planning; most of our games were luck and plain old good timing.  Today’s video games require luck, good timing, planning, logic, and thinking ahead.  Players need to consider their plans carefully, and they learn from prior defeats in similar quests.  They are constantly thinking, plotting, and planning.  These abilities are valuable in the job market as well as all-you-can-eat buffets.  Sorry, I’m still hungry.

Parents need to chill a little if they have a kid obsessed with online gaming.  Limit their onscreen times (duh), but don’t dampen their enthusiasm entirely.  After all, today’s kids didn’t invent obsessive hobbies.  Remember Saturday morning cartoons? Comic books? Rubik’s Cubes? Pac-Man? In fact, if you really want to look at it, our obsessions didn’t teach us a damn thing except that if you gulped cherries you became super charged, if you peel the stickers off the cube and stick them back on you could tell people you solved the cube, and the coyote will never catch that road runner no matter how many Acme products he buys.

Our kids may be obsessed and afraid of daylight, but they can take out a zombie with a slingshot and damn it, that’s a handy skill to have.

Circling back to that “driving the get-away car really fast” observation, check out this news story (click pic for the article) … See? Video games do pay off!