12/22/13

In Orca News

In the words of Calhoun Tubbs, “Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Hear it goes!” At exactly one, I am the world’s leading expert on Sea World Orca raps. No one has dedicated more of their life’s work to the rapping of Orca related topics than me. To the extent such dedication has been recognized by the academies of science, it has. I have been honored with every possible award and accolade ever given for the rapping of Orca songs. 100% of them. I am known, in Orca, as, “meeeeeaaaaawwwwwwwwwuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa the terrific.”

I finally saw Blackfish.

It largely substantiated the hype. In response to the damning documentary, Sea World has mounted a public relations campaign. I think the movie posed two main questions. First, a moral one. Is it right for us to keep a sophisticated mammal with epic scale emotional and environmental need in what amounts to a wash sink? Notwithstanding the cultural and scientific benefits, the answer seems pretty clearly “no.” The second question is a logistical one. To the extent they remain in captivity, is it permissible for trained handlers to swim with them? I think this question is a closer call than the movie implies. The real indictment of Sea World is a transparency one. Trainers were not given relevant information about the behavioral history of the animals. As a result, they likely were not able to make informed decisions about the attendant risk of their regular proximity to them, rightly justifying substantial bitterness. But, the movie represents an incident rate that suggests that the risk of attack might be an acceptable one so long as trainers are made fully aware and necessary precautions are taken to minimize impact to audiences.

The science is already in. How we treat animals says a lot about us. Apparently, we’re jerkfaces.

seaworld

In other documentary news, my wife and I just saw A Band Called Death, about the rediscovery of an all-black seventies punk band from Detroit called “Totally Alive.” Just kidding. They were called Death.

death

A must see. And, it gives me hope that someone’s going to “coming looking” for my blong material one day too. Until then, more Orca raps all around.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s blong here:

No Room

07/23/13

The Lion King

Naaaaaaaants ingonyama bagithi Baba!

[Today’s post sort of requires you to picture me at the peak of Pride Rock hoisting a blong aloft over my head. Not a tall order, since I’ve been seen holding blongs aloft before.]

My son’s cat, Hedwig, disappeared about 4 months ago. I’ve previously shared other cat tragedy on this site. Again, this time, we were pretty sure he’d gone to the Great Scratching Post in the sky, if you know what I mean. As it turns out, he wasn’t dead after all and someone recently had brought him to an area shelter. Unfortunately, the shelter didn’t find the ID chip, which robots from the future had implanted, until we were gone last week. So, the shelter called a couple of times without response, including a last message, which cryptically offered that we needed to come retrieve him that same day or else he was “going somewhere.” I later learned that that “somewhere” was a little place we like to call “Anderson County” South Carolina. Let’s put it this way, there’s a Blue Ridge “Beef” Plant Company in Anderson. Plus, Anderson is only slightly friendlier than a cage fight. I’m pretty sure stray cats there smoke Pall Malls.

But, in fact, he had not yet been delivered and I was able to bring him home yesterday morning. There was great rejoicing.

hedwig returns
Photo courtesy of Susan Brewer Photography LLC.

My son and his friend wrote and recorded a song to commemorate Hedwig’s return. Of course, that’s what he thinks you’re supposed to do. I’m not sure where he would have gotten that idea.

Just to be clear, anytime my children want to rap, I try and redirect their enthusiasm — gambling, a life of crime, homelessness. Anything but hip hop music. It’s just not a path I would choose for them. The heavy neck jewelry, the suffocating community support for your art, the cascading waterfalls of money you make. I want better for them.

But, he insisted and like so many fathers before me, I set him up with some egg-crate soundproofing, a condenser microphone, and ice grills.

I would have gone a little different way with the lyricism. Maybe some hot wordplay about the Aristocats or Garfield and Pooky. But, how does the saying go? A boy and his cat?

Welcome back, Hedwig.

“He’s the star of my life.”

Written, performed, and recorded by jwillis and escrilla.

Today’s blong here:

Hedwig Returns

01/30/13

Deer Blind

For those of you who don’t own any camouflage, wooden duck calls, or lawn gnomes, a deer blind is a kind of small, single or double occupancy, hunting shelter, typically elevated, that disguises the gunman from Bambi. I guess the simple advantage of a long-range firearm and scope is apparently not enough imbalance in the transaction.

It’s also what we are, apparently. Deer blind.

Because, if the Deer Antler Spray Bowl doesn’t convince you that GMAs (Genetically Modified Athletes (trademark pending)) are the future, I don’t know what will. I actually think the clinical term is “Antler Velvet Liposomal.” It sounds like a Belk cologne. Or maybe a delicious cake.

Deer-Antler-Spray-IGF-1-spray

Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens pro-bowl linebacker, is alleged to have sprayed a deer antler hardener under his tongue to accelerate the recovery of his torn triceps, as well as drunk negatively charged water and maybe re-eaten his own once-digested ear wax. It doesn’t matter whether or not he actually did. Even that the idea might have materialized in someone else’s mind just for the purposes of falsely accusing him of it is enough lunacy to prove the point. Athletes, and the scientists and handlers that would cater to their success, will do anything to gain competitive advantage. Witches brew, monkey brain, water aerobics. (Don’t laugh. The Y has a brutal class.) But, as it turns out Deer Antler spray might be rampant, one of those industry secrets for which the rest of us are just now getting a late pass.

So we can either continue deer blind, so to speak, or we can accept that so long as there are people running and jumping and tackling each other there are going to be people injecting animal parts into their human parts. I mean, surely it’s one of the Seven Seals or Bowls of the Biblical Tribulation that the demure and gentlemenly Vijay Singh, of all people, is quoted as saying something to the effect: “I didn’t know that antler extract was banned.” Whhaaat?? Vijay’s on the antler sauce?

I’m just telling you. This is a no win deal. But, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, I think the saying goes. So, for today’s blong, I’ve detailed my recommendations for staying in peak competitive form, well into your early 90s. Now, you might grow a lion’s mane and a small schnauzer tail but you’ll be able to dominate neighborhood H.O.R.S.E for years to come. Your fingernails might fall out as well. But, you’ll be able to throw your curbside trash can 150 yards. You’ll have no elbows. But, you’ll do 500 pushups at at a time — with your tongue. You’ll smell like panda. But, your teeth will win an olympic medal in three events. You’ll grow wings and a scorpion stinger.

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s blong here:

Deer Blind

10/26/11

Drowning in a Puddle

So, they are evacuating Bangkok in anticipation of horrendous flooding. But, every time I’ve done an Act of God song, see,e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here, it sounds like a leftover ballad from Farm Aid. There just isn’t much of an angle beyond, “Wow, this is really sad” and “man, the Earth sure is powerful.” So, I passed. The European Union came to an agreement regarding its debt crisis, and Greece specifically. But, I either missed it earlier or the news did not break until I was essentially done with today’s blong. Plus, a song about European economic policy might make the ladies swoon.

Earlier this afternoon, I had a homeboy message me concerning the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) recent lawsuit against SeaWorld for the enslavement of six Orcas. PETA alleges that their captivity violates the 13th Amendment’s slavery prohibition. As a constitutional matter, specious (although interestingly the Amendment is not circumscribed by words like “person” or “citizen” or “naturalized person/citizen” as is elsewhere found). As a human one, maybe not so much.

I LOVE SeaWorld. I remember, and probably still have, those molded plastic animal sculptures that you’d get out of the ginormous vending machine style dispenser and how they’d still be partially molten when they dropped. I think I had a pink dolphin. We took our kids, probably 4 years ago, and they sweated like little sweet potatoes in the Orlando bunsen burner of a sun but loved every minute. “Shamu” in particular. I mean the divers would literally ride, standing on the nose of the orca under water, until it shot them both high into the air. It was stunning.

So, the issue of animals in captivity is a difficult one. That’s where a lot of them are, really. Captivity. We eat them, domesticate them, wear them, hunt them, mount them. I was sort of enraged over the self-righteous view of many that Michael Vick’s atrocities, and they were unspeakable, were of some different order than the more culturally acceptable ways we casually kill or mistreat animals. For your lunch, let’s say. The chicken farmer didn’t have to have any of the malice or sadism others would project on Vick, for the experience to be just about as awful for the dead chicken as the dog.

So, it seems we tend to judge the humaneness of an act in regards to animals based on (1) our view of the human motives (distinct from the objective pain suffered by the animal) and (2) the capacity of the animal to be conscious of any suffering or harm incidental to, or directly caused by, the activity.

So the “sportsman” is seen as respecting animals because he (or she) hunts by some sort of chivalry code that “honors” the game. Their motives are different than the cock fighter. This was the sort of thing you heard about the Federal Judge who presided over Vick, like he had some moral authority, as a hunter, to condemn Vick for animal abuse.

This is not to disparage hunting. It’s to encourage consistency.

So a place like SeaWorld is hard to condemn. It reasonably sees as an accolade to its credit that the top zoologists, biologists, and animal lovers in their respective fields attend to the creatures it harbors. But, treating well someone you mistreated in the first instance doesn’t seem`very commendable. It’s like punching a friend in the eye and then handing them a top of the line ice pack. Or Tim Tebow mounting an “heroic” come back from the score deficit his own bad play created. (Second appearance of the word “mount” in this post.)

I have no idea how the animals feel about it. PETA is pretty fired up.

The worst part about slavery is that it’s not death. You live the hell, not escape it. In rhetoric, I would steer pretty well clear of associating animal captivity with slavery. We know what human captivity is and their seems to be an injustice in correlating the two.

Even still, to hold animals against their will and out of habitat to the affect of any misery at all seems something less than we should strive for. It’s not really a question of whether we can but whether we should. I believe that over time we can grown in our moral sensibilities. Maybe, we are not obligated to consider the well being of a cow in the same way as we consider our own but if the luxury of our philosophical and moral advancement allows us the intellectual perspective to close the gap on the two, then maybe that’s good.

I’m not ready to shut SeaWorld down. I sure wouldn’t call their activity slavery. But, maybe over time we can choose better.

This is one of those weird nights where I chose a song topic, began writing, and then peered into my library of beats and there was one of almost perfect sonic compatibility. I mean how many beats in the universe have what appear to be whale or dolphin squeals in the background? And, somehow I had one on hand?

Performed by ipoet (d/b/a Tom Lawyer). Topic by Conduct Lionhardt. Music produced by djclutch off his forthcoming Beat Tape ’11 (spoiler alert!).

Today’s song blog here:

No Room