Manon Kubler – Is that Samoan for “Reader With Great Taste”?

At the tattoo parlor, they told me this means “courage, faith and eternal happiness”, but the guy at Peking Gourmet said it meant” Shrimp in Szechuan Sauce with Snow Peas”. (Image from checkoutmyink.com)

A week or so ago, I got a notice that a blogger named Manon Kubler wished to re-blog one of my earlier masterpieces.  The post was my biting commentary on the government’s attempt to make bullying illegal, though truthfully, it could have been any of my blogs, they’re all just so damn re-bloggable.  I’m doing the noble thing and not putting a link to that post in here – go over to the right border later and click on “Bully For You” if you want to read it.

As an absolute whore for blogging popularity, I was more than happy to give Manon Kubler the green light to reblog my work.  I figured his scores of loyal fans would read my post, and maybe a few of them would join the fledgling ranks of my followers.  I won’t build a massive loyal following overnight, but small moves like being re-blogged could add up over time.  One complication of it all was that everything Manon wrote in his comments was in a foreign language.

At first I was too flattered to care what he had written.  He had given me exposure to some new readers and I didn’t have to do crap’s worth of work to get them.  That’s a win-win in my book.  After a while, I got curious to see what his comments were.  As my loyal readers can both tell you, I only speak English and not all that well.  My writing is only slightly better than my speech, as I have the luxury of editing and sounding the words out in the privacy of my own home before I hit “send”.  Curious as to what Manon had to say, I went to a few translation websites and started putting some of his words in there, but they didn’t get translated to English consistently.

The words looked kind of Spanish, but didn’t all get recognized by the Spanish translator website.  Maybe he spoke Portuguese or some regional dialect like Catamaran or Pekinese.  After a solid five minutes of trying, I was as stumped as ever.

I do have limited experience with foreign languages.  Occasionally, I’ll be in the home of Spanish speaking clients.   Many of these people have the Spanish television channel on at all times.  The Spanish station around these parts is very entertaining to watch.  Most of the women on it bear a resemblance to Sofia Vergara, only a bit sexier and they tend to dress more provocatively.  They teeter across the screen in 5 inch pumps with skin tight skirts and low cut blouses barely covering their impressive chests, blathering on and on about God knows what – because they’re speaking Spanish.

EeS gonna bee cloudy tomorrow and…are chu even leestening to me? !?  Eye’s up here you steenky dog! (Image of Mary Gamarra from tvallure.com)

If the woman on the screen is standing in front of a weather map and gesturing wildly with her blood-red painted nails, one might assume that she is talking about a tropical depression off the Carolinas.  I tend to provide my own custom translation wherein she is talking about how handsome I am and wishing she had me alone in a deserted vacation home in Hilton Head.  If the woman is holding a microphone as she stands in front of the burned out shell of a rowhome, I naturally assume she is describing how her desire for me burns within her like the flames which displaced a family of four in Brooklyn last night.  As you might imagine, many of my Spanish-speaking clients get a little pissy with me since I tend to ignore them and just watch their TV’s.  There’s just no pleasing some people.

Zee Rerun, he is zee genius, no? Ow ee wearz zee beret and zee sus-penderz! Hees comedy eez, how do you zay, “what eez appening”    (Image from celebslist.com)

It should come as no surprise then, that I have decided to interpret Manon Kubler’s words with meanings of my own choosing.  Here’s the gist of his words:

Manon has written that he and his thousands of avid followers have recognized me, even before my own American countrymen, as a stone-cold genius – kind of like the French did with Grampa Al Lewis and Fred “Rerun” Berry.  I am the next Ernesto Hemmingwayo in their estimation.  Beyond seeing me as a literary giant in the making, Manon’s followers have essentially deified me into something like a cargo god.  They feel they are not worthy of my incredible talent and only read my words on the sabbath.  In the event that I ever deem it necessary to travel to the South Pacific island paradise they call home, I will be greeted in a manner worthy of a spiritual master, descended from the heavens.  Manon didn’t come out and say it, but I’m pretty sure there will be a nice buffet with a roast pig and some of those fancy drinks served in hollow coconuts.

I’ll admit that I may have taken some poetic license with Manon’s words, but if he didn’t want to risk misinterpretation, he could have written his comments in English, or possibly Pig Latin.

Claes Oldenburg and Me – Misunderstood Artists

Recently, while driving South on Broad Street in Philadelphia, my dear friend and I spotted one of Claes Oldenburg’s impressive, whimsical sculptures.  While the subject of his piece was fairly obvious, my friend thought it looked like something else.

It’s no secret that the works of artists are frequently misinterpreted by the common rabble.  Even someone as vastly cultured as myself can look at a Rothko painting and exclaim that it looks like a big block of color with another block of color in it too.

This might be about man's inhumanity to man, or maybe it's about the artist's love of delicious strawberry shortcake...or maybe not.. (Rothko white over red - Image from etc.cmu.edu/projects/atl/rothko.htm)

I might look at a Robert Motherwell painting and see nothing more than a big black rectangle.  (On a side note, I’d like to take a brief moment to thank my parents for footing the bill for that undergrad degree which included quite a few art history courses – without their support, I might have gone through life thinking that Robert Motherwell was a British soccer player).

This is a painting by Robert Motherwell, or maybe it's a lithograph. I don't need to tell you what this is about - it's obvious. (Image by elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/06/20/14146298.html)

Oldenburg though, is not someone whose work is usually subject to such blatant misinterpretation.  He’s renowned for taking everyday objects and looking at them differently.  His sculptures include subjects such as a giant clothespin (Also in Philadelphia), a soft fabric version of a toilet and as we saw on Broad Street, a giant paintbrush with a healthy dollop of red paint on the pavement beneath it.  The tip of the paintbrush is way up in the air, a celebratory salute to Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts .  Technically, the sculpture is on a section of Cherry Street which is closed to traffic, but it juts out onto Broad Street (For the record, it’s Broad Street, putting sculptures on it and adding a few extra signs doesn’t change the name to the Avenue of the Arts – sorry).

My friend, like most people, had no idea about this whole Avenue of the Arts nonsense.  When I pointed out the giant paintbrush, she took one glance and said it looked more like an elf’s foot.  Almost immediately, we began to speculate about the state of the rest of the elf.  We settled on him being awkwardly splayed out dead on Cherry Street, in full rigor mortis, a giant cartoon butcher knife stuck in his chest and a chalk outline around his profile.  The elf in my mind would bear something of a resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog, but more elfin and dead.  The street would be cordoned off with crime scene tape as throngs of morbid curious onlookers milled around just up-wind.

You can see where we let our imaginations get the better of us. The giant, dead elf just out of sight on Cherry Street - it looked a little more convincing from the other direction (Photo by the author)

While I don’t think that artists in general enjoy having their hard work misunderstood by stooges like us, I like to believe that Mr. Oldenburg would humor us a little bit.  Although, now that I’m a massively successful blogger working in words rather than oil or marble, I believe I’ve earned the right to identify with the frustration of the misunderstood artist.

Take comfort Claes, at least someone saw your work.  If there was a “like” button for your paintbrush, I’d hit it.

Marriage 101 Required reading: Man to woman dictionary

  • She Says: "This will hurt me more than it hurts you"
  • She Means: "If this hurts me more than it hurts you, I'm doing it wrong"

Do we have to wonder why this artist only lived to be 38?
Bartholomeus Molenaer (1612-1650)

 

I recently read a blog which troubled me.  The fact that I read a blog which troubled me also troubled me, as I tend to stay away from troubling blogs, preferring to occupy my time with light-hearted, funny blogs and those with pictures of cleavage in them.  The blog in question detailed a woman’s frustration with her husband.  It took no time at all to realize the problem.  These two lovebirds had a serious communication breakdown.  I felt badly for them, as there seemed to be no way this husband and wife would possibly find a way to understand each other without some outside assistance.

I knew that I had to step in and help.  I had planned on cleaning the garage and policing the yard for dog dookie, but I would have to put these selfish acts aside and work on bridging their gender communication gap first.

Here now, I present some common Man-Woman / Woman-Man translations accompanied by typical interpretations:

  • When he says:  “Honey, have you seen my car keys?”
  • He means: “I can’t seem to find my car keys – I hope you’ve seen them”

The common female interpretation is: “I’m an idiot.  Even a toddler can keep track of a jingling set of shiny keys.  Maybe in the future I should secure my keys to a massive chunk of 2 X 4 so they’re harder for me to lose in my limited mental capacity.  I don’t deserve a woman like you.  Please help me”

  • When she says: ” Does this skirt make my butt look fat?”
  • She means: “Do you ever wish you’d married someone else?  Do you realize I shopped for hours to find this skirt?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to lose this baby weight?”

The common male interpretation is: “Don’t you dare answer this question.  It’s a trap, run..RUN NOW!!”

  • When he says: “Is that a new blouse?”
  • He means: “I wonder how it will look in a heap on the floor after we get the kids to bed”

The common female interpretation is: “Does that idiot think this is a new blouse?  I bought this back when we were still dating!  Crap, I could’ve bought a new blouse”

  • When she says: “Do you mind helping with the dishes?”
  • She means: “Do the dishes yourself and be glad I don’t break a plate over your head!  Wasn’t it enough that I cooked the dinner in the first place?  Do I have to do everything?”

The common male interpretation is: “The Browns are a 10 point dog against the Steelers.  My neck itches again.  Did she just ask me something?  Crap!  What should I say?  I’ll just nod.  Maybe if I do the dishes she won’t wait for an answer to whatever she asked”

  • When she says: “Hey Shakespeare!  I thought you were going to organize the garage today.  Why are you still sitting there typing”
  • She means: “Unless you’re going to start making money doing that blog nonsense, you better turn off the laptop and start organizing the tools and patio furniture.  And don’t forget, it was your bright idea to get a dog”

The common interpretation is: “Did she just ask me something?  Dammit, there goes my train of thought!  I was just about to come up with a witty, smart-assed way to end this post”