Category Archives: Ridiculon

Switzerland

To many Americans, Switzerland is either a) Sweden, b) a European theme park, or c) not real. To very few of us is it known as a small Alpine tassel adorning Italy’s boot. What we don’t know about Switzerland says as much as what we do know. For example, the fact that we don’t know Switzerland for its rampant gang-related violence – or for producing androgynous Europop stars – is a very good thing. With little to go on in the way of cold, hard facts, many Americans are forced to rely upon stereotypes to fill in the gaps. Now, I would as lief form judgments on a people group based solely on broad stereotypes as the next guy, but even Swiss stereotypes turn out to be vague and uninformative, and sadly, my countrymen go about their lives blissfully unaware of the awesomeness that is Switzerland.

Not from Switzerland

We know from common Swiss stereotypes that they make chocolate, cheese, clocks, army knives, banks and neutrality. In fact, according to a 2009 UN report, Switzerland is the number one neutrality producer in the world, accounting for 43% of earth’s neutrality. That’s more than Canada, Ireland, Sweden and Vatican City combined! But what does this tell us about Switzerland? That they can tell time? That they have currency? And how does making chocolate set them apart from any other European nation? Or for that matter any nation with access to cocoa and sugar? Or any nation founded after the advent of Dessert? We need more to go on!

There’s so much more to Switzerland than what products they export. Like the people who live there. The Swiss people speak four languages – French, German, Italian and Yodeling, reflecting their location between four countries we can prove exist – France, Germany, Italy and Austria – and one we can’t – Liechtenstein[1], as well as their eclectic mix of ethnic groups and lonely goatherds. The Swiss people may come from many different people groups, but they all have one thing in common: they make mediocre post-Cold War Bond villains.

One ethnically ambiguous Swiss banker on the wrong end of Mr. Bond's Walther.

Switzerland is also home of the Matterhorn, which, legend tells us, the last President of the Confederation will blow when all peace is lost in this world, when Swiss neutrality no longer protects them and their borders are overrun by foreign hordes. When the Matterhorn sounds, the last remnant of Switzerlanders will know to flee to the highest mountains to make their last stand.

The Matterhorn at the Annual St. Berchtold's Day Parade

Okay. Look, I’m going to level with you. I may have made some to all of that up. Swiss stereotypes really are all I have to go on, but you see, that is exactly what makes Switzerland so awesome. The less anyone knows about Switzerland, the longer it survives. It’s nearly impossible for a country as small as Switzerland to remain neutral when its next door neighbour is Germany, a nation which tried to take over Europe not once, but twice in the last 100 years. Italy, France and Austria don’t exactly have spotless records themselves. It’s far too risky to invade a country when you don’t know how many weapons they have, what kind of weapons they have or where those weapons might be. It’s even riskier when no one’s even exactly sure where the country is located. Sure, we all know Switzerland’s crammed in the middle of France, Germany, Austria and Italy, but finding it would be like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The Alps form an impossible labyrinth, not mention the country’s less than twice the size of New Jersey, and I bet most of you couldn’t find that on a map either.

Which one of these is Switzerland again?

If Germany tried to invade Switzerland during World War II, Hitler would have spent half the war digging under the couch cushions of Europe for it. Then he would have yelled, “Eva! Have you seen Switzerland?”

To which she would have replied, “What?!” from her room.

“I said, ‘Have you seen Switzerland?’ I could have sworn I saw it next to Austria this morning, but it’s not there anymore!”

Then Eva would have said, “Have you tried next to Austria?”

And Hitler would say, “That’s what I said! I already looked next to Austria!”

“Oh, well look on Italy!”

“It’s not on Italy! Don’t you think that’s the first place I would have looked?!”

And the next thing they would have known, the Allies would have invaded Berlin, and they would have been on fire in a ditch before the Americans even knew what was going on in Europe.

You see, Switzerland grew up around bullies. Now, I’m a big fan of Germany, Italy and France. They’re our allies and our friends, but let’s face it: they’re bullies. To survive in a schoolyard full of bullies, the littlest kid in school either secretly takes karate lessons after school or he learns to hide really well. I suggest to you that Switzerland has learned to do both. Even if I’m wrong, even if Switzerland has no might to back up its neutrality, its existence is just vague enough to have kept more than one dictator from invading. That is no small feat, and it has earned Switzerland a permanent place in the annals of awesome.

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[1] The last Liechtenstein sighting was on July 27, 1978, in the form of a grainy photograph taken from the Austrian border by Swedish mountaineer and amateur cryptoethnologist, Erik Blomkvist. The so-called Blomkvist Photograph has gained its proponents, but it has yet to be verified by leading cryptoethnologists and is considered by many to be a hoax.

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The Shape of Things to Come

Darryl Hannah in 'Clan of the Cave Bear'

A while back I wrote about the Urso-Human Wars, back around the time that I, you know, still wrote posts. I don’t want to brag or anything, but it has been said[1] that this blog was solely responsible for alerting humans[2] to the dangers of bearkind. And yet even I was not aware how postscient[3] my words would prove to be…

This very week evidence has come to my attention that sheds new light on the urso-human conflict. Not only is a clash between bears and humans – a clash that will decide the fate of both our races – inevitable, it may have already happened. Scientists believe that when early man moved into the caves of prehistoric Europe, they clashed with the local population of cave bears. The cave bears, proud and curmudgeonly race that they were, were not eager to share their living space with the humans. Not to be denied prime cave-painting real estate, the humans fought back. There was bloodshed. There was the occasional bear-human hug and/or tummy rub too, but mostly there was bloodshed. In the end the humans proved victorious, free now to while away their time finger painting dirty comic strips on their walls in peace.

Luchadors may be humanity's last defense against a bearslaught.

The cave bears, however, went extinct. Scientists aren’t sure if this was a result of the war itself. Some suggest the cave bears simply couldn’t adjust emotionally to living outside of caves. After all, without caves, cave bears are just bears. Some of the cave bears went in search of other caves, never to be seen or heard from again. The cave bear religion even became centered around the notion of The Honey Cave that the Great Sky Bear[4] would lead them to after annihilating the human race at the end of the world. Other cave bears rejected the religion of their fellow bears as baseless superstition, choosing instead to adapt to the times they lived in. These bears believed that for their kind to survive, they had to break with the past and their identity as ‘cave bears’ and integrate themselves into other bear communities: grizzly, polar, black, teddy, gummi, to name a few.

It has yet to be seen if history will repeat itself. Will human and bear find a way to bury the hatchet and live together in harmony, or will bears take revenge on us by moving into our homes and repainting our walls? Is the stealing of our pic-a-nic baskets but a prelude to an all-out bear attack? We’ll have to wait and see, but I trust, my astute reader, that you already know what this awesome-munimentalist thinks.


[1] By me.

[2] About five of them.

[3] postscient – n having or showing knowledge of events after they have taken place

[4] Ursa Major

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The Autumnal Equinox

In recent years, a belief has spread that the Autumnal Equinox is the first day of Fall. This is clearly an urban legend with no basis in truth. Like all such myths, most of the support for this idea is based in tidbits of ‘scientific fact’ gleaned from internet forums and Wikipedia. Its proponents state that the Autumnal Equinox occurs when the axis of the earth is not pointed toward or away from the sun, resulting in roughly equal-length night and day. They also claim that ‘autumnal’ is an adjective meaning ‘pertaining to autumn’ and that ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin aequi meaning ‘equal’ and nox meaning ‘night.’ Such linguistic bamboozlement is a telltale sign of these modern tall tales, and is not to be believed under any circumstances.

Look at this carefully. It doesn't mean anything.

The truth about the Autumnal Equinox is far more interesting, and far older, than the explanation offered by poorly researched chatroom ‘science.’

The Autumnal Equinox is a legendary monster said to live in the ancient forests of Great Britain. The story goes that the  Celts and Anglo-Saxons who inhabited the forests and surrounding farmland lived in peace and security most of the year. But every September, for one night only, the Equinox would appear. The people would hear the ominous cry of the Equinox from the darkest parts of the forest exactly as the sun went down. It was the only warning they ever got. The Equinox would emerge from its secret den to prey upon the human population, gorging itself on the flesh of its victims. And then, just as quickly as it appeared, it would disappear at the crack of dawn, not to be seen or heard from again until the following year on the same night.

The word ‘autumnal’ is believed to originate with the Anglo-Saxon unman, meaning ‘un-man.’ The prefix aut-, from the Greek auto, meaning ‘self,’ was most likely added during the Jacobean period, when it was in vogue to attach Greek and Latin affixes to Anglo-Saxon roots. The overall sense of the word — literally translated ‘self-un-man’ — is of a creature originally human who for some horrible reason has willingly transformed himself into a monster by some agreement with dark forces. You see, the Equinox is no mere monster; it is the worst kind of monster: one that used to be man. It is no wonder, then, that the Autumnal Equinox held a place of special fear for the Celtic and Saxon tribesmen.[i]

The word ‘equinox’ is another example of Jacobean Latin-Saxon pairing. ‘Equi-‘ comes from the Latin equus, meaning ‘horse,’ and ox is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning, well, ox — literally translated, an ‘equine ox.’

A medieval portrayal of an Equinox killing a warrior with its dreaded projectile whatsit.

So the Autumnal Equinox is a monstrous beast — part horse, part ox — that used to be a rational man before he sold his soul to demons and was transformed into a flesh-eating hell beast.

Out of self preservation, the tribesmen started building large fires and holding religious ceremonies in order to ward off the Equinox. Later on a belief arose that if one could manage to balance an egg vertically on the night of the Equinox’s attack, it would act as amulet capable of warding the monster off. The custom continues to this very day.

Eventually, as the population of Britain grew, the forests were cut down, cities spread, technology improved, and the Equinox has scarcely been seen since. The only memory anyone has of it is in the continuing commemoration of the night named after it at the end of every September.

Still, there are those who say that if one is alone in an English wood on this inauspicious night, the ominous keening of the ravenous Equinox can still be heard.

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[i] The only creature more terrible and more feared than the Autumnal Equinox is the Vernal Equinox. ‘Vernal’ here is derived from the same Latin root as infernal, meaning ‘from hell.’

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Narwhal

Denne er narkval.

Children are inherently magical creatures. What sorcerers, witches and necromancers have always laboured to recapture at the expense of their own souls children have been able to accomplish with no more effort than an irreverent giggle at the dinner table. The veil between the possible and the impossible is very thin for children, and it offers no resistance their exuberance cannot tear asunder. For reasons both many and tragic, most of us lose that ability by adulthood.

As children we were content to sit for hours piling up mud and sticks or packing the latest snowfall into an embankment in the yard. And, as far as our parents could tell, all we had for our trouble was a ruined pair of sneakers and a dirty pair of overalls. But we knew better. We knew the truth of our efforts; that we had populated our mud kingdom with all manner of wonderful denizens. In our kingdoms dwelt that which had once been — kings, princesses and warriors; that which might one day be — aliens, spaceships and newly inhabited planets; and that which would never be — griffins, unicorns, goblins and elves. We knew that our grass was in fact lava and that our lawn must be crossed by climbing the picnic table and deftly swinging onto the lower branches of the nearby tree, shimmying across to the rope swing and flying onto the wagon where we could just manage to jump to the safety of the porch.

But then as we grew, we watched each of our flights of fancy die one by one. The most tragic part of it all is that for many of us our disillusionment was engineered. In a painful and untimely lesson in betrayal, our own parents taught us to believe in the reality of the impossible — in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the bogeyman — and then taught us not to believe in them anymore. Unwilling to be hurt again, most children have chosen to put to death their own imaginations in order to become adults.

As adults we know — as surely as we knew before that magic swords could be pulled from stones — that there can be no such thing as magic. There are no dragons nor were there ever. There are no perilous quests for heroes to set out on because there is no real evil to be vanquished. There can be no such creatures as pixies and trolls because scientific taxonomy has no place for them.

That is, until one discovers the Narwhal, the very existence of which confounds the skepticism of the most hard-hearted naturalist. The reality of the narwhal’s existence must be measured, studied and found to live up to scientific scrutiny. It is, in fact, a real creature, Latin name and all (Monodon monoceros). Yet it cannot be explained away as just another animal. It is undeniably and uncompromisingly magical.

Hvor er narkval?

Actually, the Narwhal is more than just magical. It’s a blitz; an attack from the realm of the impossible on the realm of the possible. While every creature we believed to be real as a child — unicorns, centaurs, nymphs — all turned out not to be in spite of all our youthful expectation, the narwhal is a magical creature that turns out to be real in spite of the fact that none of us expected it to exist at all. In any realm. The narwhal blindsided us with its existence by being even stranger than we could have imagined, and suddenly everything has changed.

Those kingdoms we populated with the inklings of our childish imaginations crumbled into the sand and mud we made them with when we were taught not to believe, and were scattered by the wind. The narwhal is the last glittering fragment of those lost kingdoms. And as long as it survives, the whole world of our imagination can be restored. When a grown man or woman sees a whale with a unicorn horn — an honest to goodness, spirally unicorn horn — sticking out of its face, it becomes more and more difficult to deny the impossible. Simply because the narwhal is even weirder than the things we’ve learned to think are impossible. If the narwhal exists,what other impossible creatures could be out there? A unicorn isn’t that strange come to think of it, not now that we’ve discovered there are actual sea unicorns in the world.

The narwhal is an invitation to wonder again. It is a harbinger of magic breaking in on our dull little world. It is a messenger that seems to shout to our former child selves, “Hold fast the hope ye profess! A new dawn is breaking!” And would we but heed the narwhal’s call, we might yet live to see a day when animals talk, when rings are magical, when mirrors are doors to other worlds. A day when air pirates sail the skies and battle the cloud ninja clans. A day when people live side by side with elves, dryads and gnomes and when Santa Claus never fails to polish off the plate of cookies we leave out for him, no matter how many millions of homes he visits that wonderful night.

Lykkelig liten narkval.

Freakazoid. Possibly the greatest man never to live.(i)

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[i] If you don’t know what Freakazoid has to do with this post, I strongly recommend you educate yourself.

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Arms Akimbo and Krav Maga

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, a distant relative of Akimbo

Krav Maga (pronounced krov məgah) is a brutal Israeli martial art. It was originally developed in 1930s Europe to help Jews in the ghettos escape from Nazis and their anti-semitic collaborators. Krav maga was created for quick fights in streets and alleyways against an enemy with superior weaponry and numbers. It’s therefore designed to incapacitate or kill one’s opponent in under thirty seconds. It’s also the official martial art of possibly the most terrifying and determined military in the world: the ID-freaking-F.

Allow me to reiterate one important point in order to convey its full import: krav maga was made to kill Nazis. That puts it in the same category as the OSS, Indiana Jones, and the atomic bomb. Of all the awesome things in this world, Nazi-killers are among the most verendic. They’re up there with space marines, free refills and hugs.

Indy going krav all over this Nazi's maga.

And while we’re on the subject, that reminds me: never, ever, ever make the mistake of getting in the way of, defying, or even taking too lightly anyone or anything whose sole or primary purpose for existence is killing Nazis. A Nazi killer is someone or something you always want to have on your side. A point which will become clearer shortly.

But first, arms akimbo. Arms akimbo means to have one’s hands on one’s hips with the elbows turned outward. This a wonderful and versatile way to stand. It can be negative — expressing anger or frustration — or positive –expressing an unaffected nonchalance. It also comes in quite handy when one is nervous and doesn’t quite know what to do with one’s hands. And arms akimbo happens to be one of the most delightful expressions in the English language to say aloud.[ii]

I was developing a spiel in which I would convince you of the surprising connections between arms akimbo and krav maga, but it would have mostly been blarney, blandishment, bamboozling and alliteration.

They have only one real connection:

I decided a long time ago that if I were ever unfortunate enough to be in the position to need bodyguards, and ever fortunate enough to get to have bodyguards, I would name the one “Arms” Akimbo and the other Krav McGaw. Mr. Akimbo would be a tall Nigerian with a sour disposition and the biggest biceps you’ve ever seen. He would stand threateningly at my side with his arms eponymously akimbo. Krav McGaw would be a vaguely Eastern European man with a hooked nose, a beard and nasty scars on his face, neck and arms which he got wrestling a rabid porcupine.[iii] He would occasionally pull a quill out of his neck as a reminder of how hardcore he is.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as "Arms" Akimbo

Nobody would ever dare cross me with “Arms” Akimbo and Krav McGaw at my side. But don’t worry, lest you think I would become a villain. Another thing movies have taught me is that giant, terrifying men are always ironically sensitive and kind-hearted. So I’m sure Messrs Akimbo and McGaw would never do anyone any real harm. Except Nazis. All bets are off when it comes to Nazis.

An actor's portrayal of Krav McGaw, sans porcupine scars

If you were to have a bodyguard, what phrase would you name him after? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you, my taciturn reader.
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[i] “But a bit” is an phrase that when said in rapid repetition sounds like a horse galloping. Try it when no one’s in the room. It’s fun.

[ii] Try that as well when you’re finished saying “but a bit.”

[iii] He won.

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Unsung Heroes: Mirrors

The late Michael Jackson, seen here starting with the man in the mirror.

The relationship between humans and mirrors is a complicated and often uncomfortable one, mired by superstition and misunderstanding. Sure, man and mirrorkind are willing to live in peace with each other, but it is an uneasy peace at best.

People need mirrors because they offer a simple but invaluable service: they reflect light and images clearly and accurately. There are other materials in this world with reflective qualities, but none of them has the effortless talent of mirrors. Water distorts whatever image it reflects. Bronze and other metals are too dim and cloudy to be of any use. Seeing our reflection in spoons and on toasters might make us laugh, but it’s no way to prepare for a big date. Mirrors, quite simply, are the best at what they do. They are like an entire race of Albert Einsteins in a world of Pauly Shores.

So when mirrors offered to provide the human race with clear reflections, no strings attached, it seemed too good to be true. But the humans learned soon enough that any offer made by a mirror is a double-edged sword. The very thing that makes mirrors a necessity in life is what makes them the bane of our existence. Mirrors show what they show. No more, no less. No matter how closely a mirror has worked with a human, no matter how long they’ve spent in his or her employment, no matter what personal feelings they might feel for them, a mirror never sugar coats the images it sees. It gives the truth to us straight: baggy eyes, pasty complexion, love handles, cellulite, crooked teeth, lazy eyes. Everything.

As much as we’ve grown dependent on the reflective properties of the mirror race, it’s become the very thing we despise about them.

Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror. And that's cute somehow.

I know I’m not making mirrors sound very good. Allow me to clarify. In no way do I mean to imply malevolence or spite on the part of mirrors. I can assure you they mean us no harm. Lying simply isn’t in their nature.[i] They don’t always understand us humans, and admittedly all-too-often they feel a smug condescension toward our pride and egos. In fact, they even take delight in bursting our bubbles with the image staring back at us in the bathroom each morning, but only because of how dedicated they are to truth. In their culture, such blunt feedback is viewed as a sign of great respect and loyalty. We need to understand that mirrors are just as frustrated with people for not understanding their acts of kindness as we are with them for showing us how imperfect we are.

I want to make something else clear as well. Mirrors perform another function that is in many ways far more important than knocking our egos down a few pegs; a function that regularly saves human lives. I might even go as far to say it could play a role in the survival of the human race. I speak of course of the role of mirrors as vampire detectors.

I hope for your sake, my dear reader, that you are versed in the essentials of vampire safety. If not, I’m afraid this is neither the time nor the place to catch you up. For now, suffice it to say that because vampires are undead and have no souls, they cast no reflections in mirrors. Not only is this terribly interesting in a symbolic literary sort of way, it’s also a big advantage we have against these undead predators. Since vampires can only enter a home if invited, it’s an absolute necessity for you to keep a mirror in your foyer so you can give it a quick glance to see if the person at your door is friend or fiend. If you don’t see a reflection, you’ve got a vampire on your hands.[ii]

It is an established factoid that every year in the United States alone, five thousand people unwittingly invite vampires into their homes. Of those five thousand, 90% end up dead. The other 10% have a far worse fate in store for them. Just think how many lives could be saved if people observed proper vampire safety. It only takes a few mirrors strategically placed in vulnerable points of entry in your home to protect yourself and the ones you love.

Mirrors knew what kind of deal they were making with the human race when they agreed to show us our reflections. They knew people would blame them for auto accidents even though they had the decency to warn us that ‘the objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.’ They knew we’d fear and revile them if they broke, believing seven years of bad luck would come upon our heads. They knew we’d even blame them for our own physical shortcomings. But most importantly, mirrors knew — eons ago they knew — the threat that vampires posed to the Living. And yet they stood by mankind through it all. They bore with our scorn, our contempt, our fearmongering. Vampires pose no threat whatsoever to mirrors; they have no blood to give the undead. But even though this wasn’t their fight, the mirrors joined themselves to mankind as our silent protectors against the dark race that walks the night. Night after night, year after year, century after century, they have kept their vigil on our walls, ever waiting, ever watching lest a vampire enter a human home.

The good news is this T-rex isn't a vampire.

If we understood — really understood — all that mirrors have done for us as a race, we’d thank them. We’d never stop thanking them. In showing us ourselves, warts and all, mirrors haven’t just been giving us a lesson in humility. They’ve been sending us a much more important message. As long as we have a reflection to look at, and as long as we have imperfections to fret over, we’re still human. And as long as we’re still human there’s hope. It’s when our reflection disappears that we need to start worrying.

The only vampire I'll ever invite into my house. Well, except for Bunnicula.

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[i] There are glaring exceptions: fun house mirrors and one-way mirrors being chief among them. Sadly, in the case of the former, many were forced into their position by ruthless and unscrupulous men. In the case of the latter, they are reluctantly willing to deceive in order to promote justice in places such as police interrogation rooms.

[ii] Whatever happens, don’t panic. Just make sure you’ve got a wooden stake handy, an ultraviolet light switch, and a cannister of garlic spray on your keychain.

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Noses

What a Google image search for "Greek nose" yielded.

Noses are perhaps the most distinguished, and most unappreciated, facial feature. On the one hand, noses are greatly respected. A person with an unsightly olfactory organ might be said to have a nose with “character.”

Character. It is perhaps an all too transparent euphemism, but it’s still a pretty fantastic thing to say. And it’s true. Noses truly do imbue their bearers with a great deal of character. A lot can be told, or at least imagined, about a person based on their nose.

That lady with the high nose bridge looks snobby. The gentleman with the hooked nose looks villainous. The boy with the upturned nose that’s always an unhealthy shade of red looks perpetually ill, and therefore somehow sympathetic. The older man with the likewise red nose looks perpetually inebriated. Perhaps these generalizations are unfair[1], but they’re also very fascinating. If another facial feature on someone’s face is less than perfect, it might make them look angry, sad, silly or just plain ugly, but it won’t turn them into a character to populate the world of our imaginations like noses do.

The snobby lady with the high nose bridge isn’t just a snob, she’s a spinster school marm named Eliza Dewey who uses her aloofness as a defence because she was wounded deeply by a love affair gone wrong when she was a young lady.

The man with the hooked nose isn’t simply mean, he truly is a villain — Jimmy ‘The Crow Bar’ LeFontaine is his name. He used to be the most notorious safe cracker in the lower 48 until a botched bank job forced him to shoot his way out, which is how he discovered he makes a better hit man than safe cracker.

The boy who always looks sick isn’t really sick, he’s just allergic to anything made of nuts, wheat, milk, eggs, pollen, dust, or air. His name is Rob, and he’s a good hacker. Actually, he’s not just good. He’s great. And unfortunately for him, he’s stumbled upon something much bigger, and much more dangerous, than he imagined possible.

You see, the young man, named Victor, who broke our spinster’s heart, faked his own death to get away from some gangsters he borrowed money from several years back in his native country of Balislava. In order to work off his debt, he had to become an errand boy. He tried to put aside as much money as he could to marry the spinster and run away with her where the gangsters could never find them. But they discovered his plan and broke all the fingers in his hand. They threatened to go after his girlfriend next if he ever tried anything like that again. So he faked his death. He knew it would break the heart of his beloved, but he just couldn’t live with himself if he allowed any harm to come to her.

That’s where Rob the hacker comes in. The not-actually-dead lover of the spinster secretly contacted the hacker about three weeks ago asking him to transfer money from his offshore bank account into his spinster’s bank account. It was risky. It might indicate to the wrong people that he’s still alive, but it was a risk he had to take. He had to provide for his love, even if it meant risking his cover being blown. The hacker reluctantly agreed to help. Unfortunately for him, it would be the last thing he ever did.

The gangsters’ boss, a ruthless and unscrupulous kingpin by the name of Vladimir Petrovich, owns the bank the spinster holds an account at and he was having his minions keep tabs on her account in case some mysterious deposits were made. He suspected the boyfriend wasn’t really dead and that he would eventually try to reach out and contact his former lover. Petrovich knows of only one man good enough to hack through his security system — our hacker friend Rob — so he sends Jimmy ‘the Crowbar’ LeFontaine to deal with him.

Meanwhile, in Mid-Town Manhattan, a man sits alone at McGillacuddy’s, a dim and greasy Irish dive. He’s grizzled, slightly overweight and has a red nose that makes him look perpetually drunk. That’s because he almost always is. His name is detective Finn Munroe, and he’s about to get the call that’s going to make his career. “Dang it, Kowalski,” he says to himself as he downs that final shot of whiskey before heading out to the crime scene, “why’d you have to go and die, you no good son of a gun. This is just the kind of crap you loved.” After throwing on his trench coat, he pauses a moment. Then he pours one last shot of whiskey onto the floor as if in libation to his dead partner. Everyone at the precinct always says Munroe is a tad melodramatic.
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Can lips do all of that? I don’t think so.

On the other hand, the nose is greatly maligned, or at least under-appreciated, by the populous as a whole. Consider the expressions we have in English involving noses:

If someone pries or gets to involved in another’s affairs we call them ‘nosy’ and tell them not to stick their nose in others’ business.

A person who sucks up is called a ‘brown noser’ for unpleasant reasons.

An ignorant person is said to be unable to see ‘further than their nose.’

Snobs ‘turn up their noses’ or do things ‘with their nose in the air.’

People with unpleasant voices are often described as ‘nasal’ or as ‘speaking through their nose.’

Every facial feature is beautiful, and therefore awesome, in its own right, and each performs a function both physiologically and aesthetically that I’m sure we’d all rather not live without. But the nose is special. It’s the first part of a face a person sees. It comes in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes and sizes, but I am firmly convinced that each and every one of them is beautiful — something I wouldn’t say about eyes, ears and lips — but more than that: each nose is fascinating. A nose sketches a portrait of a person’s character and ancestry in a split second. I know that for better or worse, people will make conclusions about my personality and my life based on my nose. Sure, a lot of these conclusions are unfair. But I enjoy the thought that the people I pass in the street might imagine me to have ‘the nose of a scholar’ or ‘the nose of a janitor’ or ‘the nose of a musician’ or any number of other personas. I enjoy that in the passing fancy of people I know and don’t know, I might live out a thousand lives as all manner of heroes, villains and anything in between.

Besides, I’m proud of my nose in all its imperfection. It speaks of where I came from — where my people came from — and while that is not who I am, it is an integral part of who I am. And it is one of my life’s small pleasures to enjoy that in others as much as in myself.

So, my dear reader, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Give your nose, and the noses of others, the appreciation it deserves.

What a Google image search for "French nose" yielded.

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[1] They are, but you’re only going to know that if you bother to read the footnotes.

[2] This footnote doesn’t even correspond to anything in the body of the post. Aren’t you glad you moseyed on down here to the footnote section?

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