Monday, July 30, 2007


Raining Mango

Mango is one of those fruits that just saying the word starts the salivary glands drooling which is foreshadowing to the actual eating of the fruit. A deliciously messy affair that some people only eat them in the bathtub. Tasty though it may be, the flavor last longer than most fruits due to the fact that you will not get it all out your mouth until your next flossing rolls around. I have spent good money on mango and have enjoyed every mouthful until I moved to Hawaii.
My humble little cottage sits underneath three mango trees which are currently in season and the entire place smells like an over ripe smoothie. At night, when walking outside, it is never clear if that lump under my slipper sandal is a toad or a mango, neither making much of a sound when stepped on but there is a tendency to slide a little bit more on the mango. The toad, on the other hand, dries flatter.
The trees are as high as 50 to 60 feet tall and a mango falling from that height has the potential of causing serious injury or death. Killed by a mango?! What could be closer to the absurd than that? But to clarify, it isn’t always the mango landing on your head that kills you, but the fall that subsequently occurs once knock unconscious by this favorite fruit. The dangers are very real as not more than a day ago, I was picking some up when a fruit bomb landed on the ground right in front of me with a hard thud. Had that thud been made from the mango hitting the back of my head, I would have been seeing stars and little birdies.
It was necessary to rig a tarp over my cottage to eliminate the sound of them hitting the roof which had the ring of a front end loading musket packed with squirrels being shot off. In the middle of the night the loud, “BANG!!” would jolt me out of a deep slumber thinking I was in the middle of a drive by dream.
There is a lot of mango falling and at last count an estimated 60 to 80 mangos fall each and every day. And for every mango that falls and is not picked up, 300 fruit flies take up residence to propagate their kind. It doesn’t matter that fruit flies don’t bite, as their danger comes from inhaling them and choking to death. Though there are no recorded incidents of this happening, I have found myself gagging and coughing as the little buggers were going after the mango that was stuck between my teeth.
Unable to process them all, many of these tasty treats end up turning into a brown sloppy mush which I load into a wheel barrow and dump on my banana patch. The ones that are fit for human consumption are collected with a large tarp that is suspended which catches the ones plummeting to the ground in mid-plummet. The entire thing is rigged in such a way that they roll down the tarp and into a waiting trash can lid which would have made
Rube Goldberg proud.
Each morning I gather those precious darlings, place them into a cooler and look around to find buyers or barterers. Though I have been in show business all my life, I can tell you from my own experience that selling my first harvested batch of mangos was every bit as satisfying as standing on stage receiving the applause from an audience. We as a culture are so far removed from where our food comes from that kids think chicken comes from plastic packages and cereal is grown in boxes. But I know that mangos really do fall from the sky.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Take a look around you and you can easily add up the value of thing on your calculator, since you long ago lost the talent for doing figuring in your head. There is my first example. It takes talent to do multiplication and division in your head, it costs a few bucks to buy a cheap calculator. Calculators have become so cheap that they include them on your phone and you can even get them on your watch. Though I haven’t had a reason yet to figure the square root of 4:20 pm or how many minutes I would wind up with if I divided 9:37am by 11:11pm the time may come that I can do that calculation on my watch, but time myself while doing it. I don’t have the talent to do the task but I have the money to pay for something that will do it for me.

There is a talent to cooking, but most of us would rather eat out and spend the money than learn how to make that deconstructed corn chowder that you see on the Food Network or make the Triple Layered Chocolate Flat Line Cake that they whip up in 30 minutes on “I’m Baked!”
Money makes us lazy, but we will work our butts off and our fingers to the bone to get it. Once made, we go out and get the reconstructed surgery for our ass and our fingers and though
funny it is closer to the truth than we care to admit.

American’s work harder and longer than any other western country and Stone Age man had more leisure time than modern man. Then again Stone Age man did not have a closet full of clothing, matching shoes, HDTV, microwave popcorn or lint traps, so who cares that they had more time on their hands, they were bored.

It takes more time to cultivate talent than it does to make money. If I sat down to learn piano it would take so much time to learn it to a level that somebody would want to pay me to listen, say 3000 hours, that in the same amount of time I could have made, (one moment while I use my calculator) close to $20,000 working at a minimum wage job. The likelihood of finding a job as a piano player is very small, so I would probably have to supplement my pay working at that minimum wage job anyway. This is why you can pull into numerous fast food restaurants but really have to look to find a live piano player. We have distanced ourselves from talent and think that it is only others who have it by luck or inherited it. It takes talent to recognize talent and if we don’t have it, we can’t acknowledge it. The sad truth is, we will work harder for money, than we will to cultivate our talents because in the end, few will be able to appreciate our talents as much as our money.

© Michael Marlin 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home of the Brave? Not.

A Nation of Cowards
My bone to pick today is how the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth’ has become a bunch of gutless cowards. This image doesn’t sit well with the beer swinging, truck driving, macho man view that we have of the American Tough Guy. We fancy ourselves as a Rambo, Dirty Harry, ultimate fighting champions that can take on the entire world yet inside we have been taught to fear our own shadows.
The odds of being a victim of a terrorist attack is less likely than being eaten by a shark, yet we act out our days as if it is an imminent possibility. When our security at airports is frisking shriveled and barely able to walk senior citizens, it is hard to say that we are being brave. Perhaps the security people are thinking that these people have less to live for and a shorter life expectancy so they are more likely to blow themselves up than a young person who has their whole life ahead of them.
But there hasn’t been one case of a little ol’ lady busting down a cockpit door and hijacking an airplane, so what are the odds that it is going to happen? We have been led to believe that our tweezers, corkscrews and nail clippers are capable of being dangerous weapons. We all have learned to ‘toe the line’ and that is not an act of bravery. A brave person challenges the ‘status woe’ and doesn’t act like a sheep.
We fear our food, we fear bacteria, we fear getting laid off, we fear growing old, we fear nudity, we fear the authorities, we fear death, we fear hell, we fear criminals, we fear the strange. We fear for our lives on the highway and thusly justify driving enormous vehicles ‘just in case’ we get into an accident. We are so hooked on fear that we can’t get enough of it for ourselves so we will fear for our children’s safety and our parent’s health too. Fear has us act in two ways. We either cower, thus the word coward, or we act with bravado. To be brave is to be daring, fearless and bold. Bravado is a false bravery rooted in bluster and boasting. We as a nation have cowered to our governments demands on us and acted with bravado towards the rest of the world. When we went to invade Iraq there were a lot of people pounding their chests and acting with ‘bravado’ yet now, several years later, we have no more stomach for an endless war half a world away.
According to our national anthem we are ‘the home of the brave’ but when was the last time you did something that was courageous? Soldiers put themselves into harms way by dodging bullets and roadside bombs but when was the last time you put yourself in harms way besides dodging your boss or a stranded roadside motorist? Soldiers do without comfortable bedding. Can you do without a disposable cup and bring your own? Soldiers bunk with each other. Can you carpool so we can reduce our need on foreign oil that those soldiers are fighting for? Soldiers carry 50 to 60 pounds on their backs. Can you carry the responsibility of a citizen and write to your congressman? Soldiers are sweltering in 110 degree heat while wearing full body armor. Can you sweat a little by turning up your thermostat in the summer and reduce your demand for energy. Soldiers have a tour of duty that is a year or more in a country that is not their own. Can you turn off the television for an hour a week and donate your time the community you live in. Apathy is a good excuse for cowardice. Don’t shrug it off, take it on. Take on the challenges that face all of us by doing your part. A thousand tiny actions by a million people will have a far greater effect that the heroic efforts of a few.
Do you have the courage to ask the person who just threw their cigarette butt on the ground to pick it up? Do you have the courage to face off with another adult when you see they are mistreating their child? Do you have the fortitude and bravery to enroll others once you have been enrolled to save what is left of our planet? It takes no courage to remain in the stands and cheer those who are on the playing court. It takes real guts to get off your ass, to move out of your comfort zone and do something that will make a difference. Just as one person will not solve the problem of litter, neither will one person win the day. Start by asking yourself the hard questions like, “Can I do with a little less while doing a little more?”
What moves a populace to take action is self preservation but what American’s are mostly interested in doing is preserving their life style. Want to show the rest of the world what we are really made of? We can start with a rationing our precious resources instead of gobbling them up like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. If American’s cut down on their driving, eating, and spending we will send the message that we are still a determined, motivated, energized people and will once again demonstrate that, “the land of free is really the home of the brave.”
©Michael Marlin 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007



I love the Food Network, watching somebody else work has become my idea of entertainment. The alternative is watching me work. There are all kinds of cooking shows on TV now from how to’s to don’t do’s. There are offerings for every taste from the backyard griller to the gourmet thriller. The only one that is missing is Irony Chef. This will be my offering to a nation that is already overweight. .
There are 129 million overweight or obese people in this country, 60 million of those that are considered obese and 9 million consider severely obese (American Obesity Association)
Using my own Body Mass Index it would look like this. I divide my weight by my heights and multiply 704.5.
I am 5’ 8” and weigh 150lbs. I would have carry 30 extra pounds to be considered overweight, 50 extra pounds to be obese and 110 pounds overweight to be severely obese. There are 60 million people who are overweight, 60 million obese people, 9 million severely obese. Now this is just based on my body size and weight. By extrapolating my generalizations you will get a whole mess of zero’s behind some numbers, which will look like these people standing in a buffet line. The 9 million people who are in the severe category of 110 lbs over weight there is 990,000,000 pounds of fat. From the merely obese or 50lbs overweight there is 3,000,000,000 pounds of fat on the hoof. From the other 60 million who are just 30 lbs overweight, there is 1,800,000,000 pounds of fat to be harvested. Total this up and you get. 5,790,000,000lbs. Let me spell it out; Five Billion, seven hundred ninety million pounds of F.A.T walking around among us.
The average female Humpback whale weighs 25 tons or 50,000 lbs. It would take115, 800 whales to equal the amount of excess body fat that exists in America, (By the way that is ten times the number of the world’s population of Humpback whales which is around 12,000 to 15,000)

Is it only obvious to me what the Irony Chef should be cooking up? Liposuction is a huge industry. There should be more recipes put in front of the millions of viewers watching how to take a pound of flesh, or in some cases, 110 pounds of flesh and feed a family of five with a variety of tasty meals, but unfortunately not lo-fat ones, through the winter months. We hunted whales to the brink of extinction as the number of Humpbacks once totaled about 150,000 but there are 69 million people who are carrying around between 50 and 110 pounds of fat. Let’s consider this a new energy resource for America and look into ways to harvest all those excess calories and use it to heat our homes, power our cars, light our lamps, and cook our food. Unless these walking energy mines are family or someone we truly love, will we have a problem with asking them to do their patriotic duty and giving the nation what they clearly can do without?
So step up, if you can and do the right thing for your country and your fellow American’s.
There are radical Muslim fundamentalist who have been convinced and now believe that if they blow themselves up they will go to heaven. What do American’s get from blowing themselves up these remarkable proportions? You don’t need to stretch (mark) your imagination to consider a program where people be patriotic and donate their fat to help us reduce our dependency on foreign oil. There are about 270lbs of oil per barrel. We have the equivalent of 21,444,444 barrels of fat that can help American reduce its foreign oil habit for one day. We use about 20 million barrels of oil each and every day. So America Bon Apetit!