Sunday, October 7, 2012

Iconic cupcakes and other irrelevancies

This is the greatest mystery of the human mind—the inductive leap. Everything falls into place, irrelevancies relate, dissonance becomes harmony, and nonsense wears a crown of meaning.

John Steinbeck

This WILL make sense: itwillitwillitwillitwillitwill. . . and if it doesn't, it's cuzzadafact that I just got up and am not yet fully awake and have many other things to do.

I've been compiling a list of things that belong together, mainly because they annoy the shit out of me. If they seem dissonant, irrelevant, etc. (I almost said "whatever"!), then bear with me. Soon all this nonsense will wear a crown of meaning.


The cupcake theme leads the way, more or less, because cupcakes have become ubiquitous since that moment some time in the '90s when Carrie and Miranda sat there on a park bench cramming their faces with cake and talking about (what else?) "crushes".

Cupcakes might've become Big (to coin a phrase, an awful one) anyway, but somehow-or-other, perhaps because of Carrie spitting out little pieces of cake while she waxed all giggly like someone in high school,  they blew into the stratosphere - imagine  little multi-colored sparkly-icinged projectiles raining down on us all - and still dominate kids' birthday parties, baby showers and even WEDDINGS.

No more does the bride-to-be fuss and twitter (I mean "twitter", not "tweet") about that dire necessity of marriage, the wedding cake. She won't have one anyway. It'll be a cement-frosted edifice made oout f styrofoam and it will cost $1550.99.

No, she will fuss and twitter about importing "special" cupcakes like the ones Carrie and Miranda ate 18 years ago on Sex and the City. From the Magnolia Bakery in New York.

This is how cupcakes become. . .(and here is my point - yes, there is one - ) iconic. And if cupcakes can become iconic, so can everything else.

The word is thrown around so casually these days that no one notices any more. James Bond has his iconic martini. The Kardashians have their iconic stupidity. Justin Bieber has his iconic stupid haircut. Simon Cowell has his iconic nastiness.  And I'd think of more, but I don't have to: just listen for it for one day and you'll see.

So what is an icon? It's a symbol so culturally significant that it comes to stand for a whole world of meaning. I think it even has religious importance, a focus for prayer or worship. It hardly relates to cupcakes. But in this air-puffed, sugar-spun world, maybe it does.


Let's get the next one out of the way now because it nauseates me so much:  "awesome". In the course of a day, I hear this 29,000 times, to the point that it means nothing at all. In fact, its empty-headed non-meaning is worming its way into the dictionary, as so many non-words eventually do.

"Here's your change."


"I had my shoe fixed."


"My AIDS test came out negative."


And so on, and on, and on.

If something really is "awesome", such as whatever-that-American-thingie-is-called, Mount Rushmore, or Old Faithful, or the Sistene Chapel or something, I don't know what the response would be because you've already used up "awesome" on all those stupid, empty-headed, meaningless things.

I saw a book not long ago: 500 Things that are  Awesome, or some-such. I flipped through it and, as my Jewish brethren say, plotzed. One of the things they listed as "awesome" was your colon. It described in detail its role in processing human shit as it made its way out your - I won't go any further, but hey, it's "awesome", isn't it?

Another one I'm hearing every day: "surreal". Maybe it's because our whole world is surreal now. But it's being applied to everything, i. e. the plumbing failing or having to take your cat to the vet. "He was throwing up furballs. It was surreal." Why do these words catch on? Is it a disease, and how soon before we all start scratching?

I will add to this "no problem" in place of "you're welcome".

"Thanks for loaning me $5,000,000.00 till payday."

"No problem."

What does this mean exactly? "This is not a problem." " There is no problem here." Why say that instead of the courteous non-phrase "you're welcome" (which doesn't mean very much either)?


But the lowing herds of humanity don't stop there. "You betcha" sometimes stands in for "No problem," and means even less.

I don't know if this is a catch-phrase or just a stupidity, but whenever something disastrous happens, a fire or a shooting or 9-11 or anything on a traumatic, unexpected scale, everyone says, "I thought I was in a movie."

No one seems fully present in reality any more. It's all watched on some sort of vast screen in 3D, and we're just spectators with no active role. "It looked like a movie." "I heard some sort of popping noise."

That popping noise is GUNFIRE, you fucking idiots, and that is what it really sounds like, not the "BLAMMMMM!"  that has stood in for decades on TV and in movies. It's a sound that comes out of some sort of central sound effects bank, and it's the only way movie directors can convince people that a gun has actually been fired. It's kind of like cars exploding into fireballs when someone lights a match. It doesn't happen that way, but it has nevertheless become our collective reality.

So when someone fires a real gun, it sounds kind of like a muted firecracker, a puh-puh sound, and no one dives for cover but just stands there stupidly waiting to be shot because THIS MUST BE A MOVIE. Which might be followed by another statement (if such a thing were possible):

"This must be dead."