Author Archives: desertcurmudgeon

Dear Mole, Deconstructing Mr. Ed

mr. ed

For a nominal fee, I would be willing to hop a flight to your neck o’ the woods, casually waltz into your office and kick Prick sharply in the shin, thereby inflicting both pain and confusion upon your workplace nemesis.

Incidentally, that opening sentence will constitute the entirety of my job search efforts for the day.

Now for my Yuletide philosophical head-scratcher:  do you think that any of the “higher animals” are capable of awe?  Establishing at the onset that conceptual thought is something of which (currently) only humans are capable, I’m speaking more of that wordless feeling of overwhelming beauty that we get in our less jaded moments as we gaze upon the strange play of light when the sun sets behind a forested mountaintop.  I understand if this proposition sounds absurd on the surface, but stay with me here.  The male peacock, among other animals, attempts to attract a mate by displaying its dazzling plumage.  The beauty of the patterns on its fan-like feathers is appealing to the eye, but it doesn’t seem to imply strength, health, vitality or any other quality that enhances its chances of survival.  So why is the female peacock so discriminating in her assessment of his “beauty”?  Does this perhaps present the possibility that she has an actual sense of aesthetic appreciation as opposed to a mere instinctual attraction to a practical mate?  Perhaps even some version of what we so loftily refer to as “spirituality”?

Think about the evolution of our domesticated pets.  The reason it’s so common to hear a pet owner describe their dog or cat (or agreeable wildebeest) in the same terms that they use to describe a human child is because we have fiddled with their evolution through selective breeding and training in a way that literally made those species more closely related to our own.  Their emotions and corresponding mannerisms grow perpetually closer to ours the longer they inhabit our homes and memorize the verbal and physical cues of their human companions.  Who’s to say that there is a limit to their evolutionary potential?  Physical adaptations appear in animals all the time – that’s natural selection maximizing survival chances.  Should dogs, cats, pigs, dolphins or horses continue to mentally evolve according to our direction, why wouldn’t it be possible at some point for these animals to develop the subtle muscles and organs required for speech?  Or opposable thumbs?


We were nothing more than a dumb animal once.  Sure, our earliest ancestors already had the potential to become what we currently know as the modern human, but aside from that, the collective intellect had not yet advanced beyond that of the rest of the animal kingdom.  And all things considered, I’m not so convinced that present day humanity is anything more than a potential stepping-stone to something far more advanced, should we survive as a species long enough to get there.

Merry x-mas and all that.

*Grunt* *Snort*,


Dear Mole, La-De-Da


First, leximize is a superb word in serious need of official entry into the lexicon.  It’s timely, too, since it seems that every year since the mid-90s has seen Merriam-Webster beaten into submission to add internet-related non-words into its formerly esteemed publication, which I believe is the very definition of your newly-coined masterword.

I finally remembered something this morning that made me feel silly for having wallowed in amnesiac depression and disgust these past few weeks: consciousness.  Arguably, the only concept still completely elusive to scientific theory and experimentation due to the fact that the very consciousness that tries to grasp it is it, thus we always grasp in the wrong place because we are incapable of doing otherwise.

Worry not: this doesn’t re-open the doors of spiritual metaphysics; just plain old run-of-the-mill physics will suffice here.  To my mind, there is only one philosophical question left that’s worth pondering: do we create the phenomenal world with our consciousness or vice versa?  This is enormously significant because if it turns out to be the former, then I do not have the right to complain about a single goddamn thing.  If the very creation of my (our) own consciousness rubs me the wrong way, I’d say the problem lies purely in perception, specifically my perception.

My adolescent mind was strikingly similar to that of the young Alvy Singer in the movie Annie Hall; mildly depressive, doubtful and precociously cynical.  I haven’t changed much in 50 years and I think this might have something to do with the habitual orientation of my perception.  In other words, if happiness is truly my aim, then I am the only one that can bring it about and the only tool I need is my own mind.

By the way, yesterday, I noticed that Notes From The Avalon was getting an inordinate number of views from Canada.  Then my follower count went up by 1, as someone new had registered via e-mail.  I tracked the e-mail address back to the Facebook page with which it was associated and found that it came from a small company that offers acting classes.  The owner and CEO?  The beautiful Robyn Ross, a/k/a Brooke:


It’s not Deadpool, I know, but I’ll take it!  See that?  I told you there was a method to my madness.




Dear Mole, Misanthropy Rising


I’m glad to hear you and yours had a pleasant Thanksgiving.  Mine served as another crystalline example of the way we make ourselves suffer through forced rituals and tired traditions with people we secretly disdain simply because “it’s what people do”.

Remember that nonsense I recently spewed about embracing kindness to others as a possible fulfillment of my life’s “purpose”?  Of course you do, you just referenced it in your last letter.  Well, it should come as no surprise that I’ve already analyzed the wisdom right out of that vague plan, and that analysis went a little something like this: “The very crux of my current malaise is my utter distaste for the rest of my own species.  I do not wish them well, so why in the hell would I waste my time trying to help them?”

Your son sounds like an interesting and compassionate guy, but I’m probably not the best source to advise how his talents and resources would be best utilized, especially since I found myself involuntarily wincing at the inclusion of the word “spiritual” in your opening greeting.  I understand that you used the word (much as I’ve done, ad infinitum) to poetically describe human connection as opposed to religious belief, but it’s a word that has become anathema to me over the course of the past year or so for the simple reason that it implies the existence of a soul or spirit within each of us and that, to me, represents the loftiest heights of human arrogance.

Before you think that this letter is a complete downer, I’ve got some exciting news to report.  I’ve found my purpose!  Or more accurately, it found me.

The longer I float along without a job, a relationship or even a semblance of a social life, the more my remaining friends and acquaintances react with alarm.  Similarly, and even more amusingly, those with whom I used to discuss Eastern philosophy and other pseudo-spiritual topics are reacting to my declaration of life’s lack of meaning with extraordinary alarm.  They want to encourage me to find a career I’ll love, a religion I’ll embrace, a philosophy about which I’ll write extensively for the benefit of the world.  They want to play matchmaker, get together for coffee to “discuss what’s going on with me”, and it seems that they will be relentless in their collective nagging unless and until I tell them that my life is imbued with purpose.  This amuses me more than I can possibly express.

Do you think that they’re reacting this way out of genuine love and concern?  I don’t.  In fact, I know exactly why I cause such a visceral reaction in my friends these days: those who live their lives “the way they’re supposed to” are slaves to worries, anxieties, disappointments and concerns the likes of which I have washed my hands of and this, frankly, pisses them off.  “Why should that little shit be allowed to flout society’s conventions that way?  He needs to get with the program!”  However, deep down, they all know that I have no such “need”.  It is they who need me to play ball with all manner of societal bullshit because people who speak and live the way I do represent an enormous threat to the imprisoning stories they’ve accepted and embraced about life and how to live it.

Tell me more about your son’s platform.  Despite everything I just said, I’m sure I’ll have some ideas to throw your way.  And while brainstorming these ideas, I promise to pretend that I don’t hate humanity more than life itself.




Dear Mole, Blind To The Beams

A friend that I secretly no longer consider a friend invited me over for Thanksgiving.

I don’t feel like going, but as if acting of its own free will, my mouth spoke the word “okay” in response to the invite.  It would be much easier for me to ignore holidays that mean nothing to me if the rest of the world would allow me to ignore them in peace.  Since I won’t be afforded the luxury of ignoring this year’s arbitrary day to express our gratitude to nobody in particular for whatever in our lives hasn’t yet turned to complete excrement, I’m conserving my energy in order to maximize my ability to act like someone who doesn’t hate spending stupid holidays with stupid people when Thursday rolls around.  That’s not to say that this letter is devoid of a message, it’s just that I’ve chosen to cede the floor to Canadian super group The New Pornographers in the deliverance of said message.  Utilizing the song’s symbolism, I never wanted in and am currently blind to those beams that mesmerize others back into enthusiastic participation.  Happy Thanksgiving, My Friend.

Higher Beams

Just out of frame, with a passenger’s name
Though you’re freight pulled behind
It was always a battle to arrive at the station alive
With all the bags to unpack, all the plans for the future to protect
Because we’ve come to expect the trains on time
A cloud of steam and we’re out of the gate, not a fashionable late
Wearing long sleeves to hide the mark of Cain
Got it when I was young, half eternal, half sung
Play a sour note long enough it’s right
And our finishing moves were fight or flight
The higher beams, that temporarily blind
That change your mind
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Deep in the culture of fear, we all hate living here
But you know when you can’t afford to leave?
So you stay in the lines, navigate the land mines
Should have gone for the guided tour
Got lost I could see what we’ve crossed, I knew the cost
The higher beams, that temporarily blind
That change your mind
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Thank you
Thank you for nothing
I didn’t want in
Fuck you
Fuck you for nothing
I didn’t want in
You lost your train, but you’re high on the fumes that are left in the room
When you dream of a team, of higher beams
That temporarily blind, that change your mind
The higher beams that temporarily blind, that change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind
That change your mind

Dear Mole, Six Bills


It’s funny, but every time I think I’ve given up hope for our species, something happens that makes me feel even more hopeless, proving that I had not yet reached a nihilistic point of no return.  This week, as I’m sure you’re aware, a bevy of credible witnesses laid out for Congress in no uncertain terms the unprecedented and proven crimes of the pretend POTUS.  Most dramatically, an ambassador named Dr. Fiona Hill utilized her opening statement to eloquently eviscerate the GOP members of the chamber for propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  And then…to a man, every single GOP member proceeded to double down on propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  This, of course, was to be expected, but after the public hearings wrapped up and everyone in the nation had heard from extremely reliable sources that Trump is an imminent danger to the country and the world, SUPPORT FOR TRUMP AND AGAINST THE INQUIRY WENT UP!!!!

This may finally represent the straw that collapsed the proverbial dromedary for me.   Here we are, as a species, at the height of our potential, able to contemplate incredible possibilities for the future of mankind thanks to our increased knowledge and technological capabilities.  War, pestilence and preventable death are at historic lows.  And yet, I believe we’re doomed.  We’re doomed because we CHOOSE to be doomed.  All of that manufactured “meaning” has become so important to people that proven facts and the evidence of the senses are dismissed out of hand if the reality they reveal is incompatible with our imaginary “purpose”.  We don’t even care if our “purpose” is good, bad or neutral anymore, as long as we have one.  We will, in the very near future, assure our own extinction.

Thank god for that.

In his novel “Gallapagos”, Kurt Vonnegut beautifully illustrated your point about our intellectual capacity actually serving as the biggest threat to our survival.  He dreamed of a process of de-evolution to dispense of the self-destructive potential of overthought culminating in a dumber, slightly furrier version of ourselves with a much greater capacity for happiness.

Out here in Albuquerque, we have all sorts of ancient petroglyphs etched into the volcanic rock on the outskirts of the city.  The residue of the first examples of human self-importance, but no less fascinating for being so.

You make a good point about the weight of a vehicle crushing the organic majority of Colonel Austin’s body.  Here’s another good point about The Six Million Dollar Man: it’s established right in the title that in 1970s dollars, it cost $6 million to give Steve a bionic arm, eye and leg(?).  A few seasons into the show, we’re introduced to Sasquatch, who is also, curiously, bionically endowed.  Who in the fuck decided to spend several million dollars to enhance the limbs of a mythical forest-dwelling primate?  Think on that one.

Fantasy, in whatever form each of us find most pleasing, is essential, for exactly the reasons I delineated in the body of this letter.  Having washed my hands of silly sociopolitical concerns and even hope for my own species, I still largely enjoy the act of existing and this is largely due to my ability to suspend disbelief, with the understanding that I’m doing so, and enjoy the work of other people’s imaginations.

But if even fantasy gets stale, is there anything else?  Believe it or not, I think there is.  Kindness to others, just for the sake of it.  I’m not so good at that, admittedly, but if a challenge is what’s called for in my life of extreme leisure, perhaps this is it.  Do you agree?  Might I not enjoy myself immensely if I fashioned myself into some kind of self-styled modern day Robin Hood?  Or should I just cut my losses and check when the next episode of iCarly is airing on TeenNick?



Dear Mole, Bears In Space


Silence is indeed golden.  2019 has thus far been my least contentious year of life precisely because it’s been my quietest year of life, hands down.  Like you, I’ve learned that when I just keep my damned mouth shut, unnecessary problems are easily avoided.

We’ve established that most people are genetically programmed to subscribe to a worldview that infuses life with meaning and will often suspend disbelief (or, if you prefer, ignore their faculties of reason) to accommodate such a view without conscious hypocrisy.  We’ve also established that both you and I have a very hard time accepting this perplexing but very common mental game.

In 1983, Lou Ferrigno played the titular role in the film “Hercules”.  At about the age of 14, I tuned in to a showing of this fantasy crap-fest on WABC’s The 4:30 Movie and spent the next hour and a half in absolute hysterics.  Even by early Eighties standards, the visual effects were laughably atrocious.  And Ferrigno’s dialogue was, of course, dubbed.  Take a look at this GIF of Hercules tangling with a bear, culminating in, I assume, the creation of constellation Ursa Major:

bear in space

Yeah.  According to IMDB, Hercules made over $11,000,000 in box office sales.  I’m certain that at least some of those movie goers didn’t show up at the local multiplex to laugh at terrible production values and I’m also certain (by law of averages) that some of those people left the theater feeling they’d gotten their $8 worth, and then some.  But how can that be?  Weren’t they watching the exact same film that caused me to bust a gut on that fateful afternoon in 1984?  Of course, they were.  And those who enjoyed the movie were in possession of a skill that I do not possess: the ability to make themselves believe that what they’re seeing is the very antithesis of what I described.  Kinda like Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists and Sheikhs and Scientologists and Zoroastrians and everyone else whose theological views require a deliberate suspension of disbelief.

But much like “Hercules”, I can discern nothing of substance (save for comically mock-worthy material) in any theological system of which I’m aware.  Ditto for political conservatism.  Any philosophy, be it secular or religious, that requires fear from its adherents in order to function is masochistic and more than a little unhelpful to the potential evolution of our species.

That brings me to today’s question: do you believe humanity will continue to thrive long enough for another great evolutionary leap to occur or do you think that this is it and mankind in the year 2019 represents the pinnacle of our history?  Might some form of negative evolution already be underway as a result of the ubiquity of communications technology?  Is there anywhere left in the Continental United States where a guy can get a decent Ruben sandwich for under $10 and if not, should we even desire for our species to go on?

It’s lunchtime.  Gotta go.



P.S.  What kind of person uploads a picture of Fred and Wilma to their blog media without immediately and proudly displaying it on their page?

Dear Mole, Indigestion


Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.  A simplification of the heart of Epicureanism seems to make it align with one of my earliest teenage epiphanies: “The meaning of life is to enjoy oneself”.  Simple enough.  Despite all of my intellectual self-torture in the ensuing years, the only change to this basic worldview has been the addition of the disclaimer, “…without causing intentional harm to others.”  And just like that, Bacchanalia became Buddhism but Buddhism stripped of its supernatural elements is essentially Epicureanism for the empathy-prone.

Going back to the previous topic of why we still adhere to most of society’s rules despite having mentally divorced ourselves from its cultural tendrils, I think we missed the most obvious reason for this: it’s just easier.  In establishing that we both still pursue enjoyment in our particular ways, we also established that we’d prefer to avoid unnecessary suffering.  When one flagrantly flaunts society’s conventions, jail is often the outcome of such behavior.  I’d do terrible in prison.  Worse than most.

My problem with a passionate embrace of a pleasure-seeking life is that very little gives me pleasure anymore.  I eat in order to avoid the feeling of hunger, but I hate cooking and three decades of smoking has dulled my palette.  Alcohol and all drugs aside from medically prescribed weed are verboten (see the desire to avoid incarceration in the previous paragraph).  I still love music, but the way it would shake me to my very soul in my youth is an increasing rarity.  The entire world of sex and romance — once my very raison d’etre — is something I now find an unnecessary hassle.  In other words, despite the fact that I still have a hint of a sex drive, the negatives of dating far outweigh the potential positives.

So I watch a lot of TV and sometimes I even show up here on WordPress and write about shit that I watched on TV.  I’ve already explained my love of passive activities, but TV is also where I gather new material at which to laugh.

What did Epicurus or Lucretius have to say about laughter?  If I possess any skill whatsoever, it’s the ability to find the humor in everything.  It is literally what keeps me sane (and amused).  Would you guess that this love of comedy says something deeper about my need for constant reminders of the absurdity of it all?  Does it perhaps betray the fact that I don’t really feel it to be as laughable as I contend?

You now have a picture of Ozzy sitting on the toilet gracing your blog page.  You’re welcome.  That’s what friends are for.