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Pump Not
May I have everyone’s attention, please? Thank you. I have a small request to make of worldwide human culture.

It’s about the fist pump. I’d like to see it go away completely.

Okay, I know that this gesture has been widely used as a method of celebrating all kinds of victories, large and small. Furthermore, it has come to be seen as an amusing display of good, clean competitive spirit. For that reason, I certainly don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade. Sometimes, however, as a service to the public good, I allow myself to become a light drizzle — on your victory march if necessary.

I know these things can take time, so let’s make sure all 8 billion of you know exactly what my request covers. First, it’s not the fist bump. I have no problem with the bumping of fists with another as a means of expressing mutual satisfaction. And I’m not talking about a fist that is simply raised in the air as a sign of victory or other transcendence. Same with a fist held up and waggled in an amusing fashion or a fist thrown as an exaggerated air-punch (a la tiger Woods upon sinking a 40-foot putt). Nor do I have a quarrel with a fist brandished in anger or as a threat. All these usages would be permitted under my ban.

The fist pump I am concerned with involves a very particular pumping action. According to Webster (and me), it is “a celebratory gesture (as by a sports player) in which the fist is raised in front of the body and then quickly and vigorously drawn back.” Webster goes on to report that its first usage in print was in 1981. Other than that, its origins seem to be unknown, but its introduction to broad public awareness might be attributed to Kirk Gibson after his miraculous walk-off homer off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. As Gibson limped around the bases, he swung his bent right arm again and again with this exaggerated pumping action.

I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t. Apparently, given the widespread usage of the fist pump, the world disagrees. So allow me to make my case for its absolute forbiddance. At the core of my argument — the root, you might say — is the unseemliness of the gesture, especially when used in a repeated fashion. It mimics, to my eye, sexual intercourse. And please, don’t tell me that has never occurred to you. The imagery is obvious: copulation of the most exuberant variety.

Now, I am not a prude. (If you doubt that, I have a large sheaf of documentation here, including photographs, testimonials, and police reports, that you are welcome to look through.) The messaging of fist pumping, however, is unmistakeable. The pumper is saying one of two things: A. what just happened is as good or better than sex, or B. a big “fuck you” to his opponent.

In either case, the gesture is just plain wrong. If you are getting the same feeling out of winning at sports that you get from good sex, then the sex you’ve been having isn’t nearly as good as you think, my friend. And if your gesture is meant as a more demonstrative version of flipping the bird, then you are the most unsportsmanlike of sportsmen.

I hope that I have made myself clear. Fist pumping should never have been accepted as a legitimate form of celebration. It defiles sport and gives sex a bad name. And now that it has metastasized into a global phenomenon, it needs to be removed from our culture like a giant, malignant growth.

I can see by the expressions on your faces that we have unanimous agreement. Thanks for listening and for your prompt attention to this matter.
Blink
Just in case you weren’t paying attention last week, I didn’t post anything new here on timeagan.com. That was the first time in seventeen years that that has happened.

In other words, I blinked. Even though seventeen years is a long time to keep your eyes wide open, I was surprisingly casual about the lapse — especially since (I should tell you) it could mean an even longer hiatus for my political cartoon, Deep Cover. I’m not sure how long this will last, but when I got to last Tuesday afternoon, when I normally would have begun to focus in earnest on putting the cartoon together, I found that I wasn’t really that interested in doing it. It seemed like a good time to stop and think, so much so that I decided to let Subcon and Eaganblog go, too.

The juice just wasn’t there, and I’m not really certain why. I hope it’s not because of the depressing, relentless trend we all see in the news. I hope it’s not my own disillusionment with our democracy and the cravenness of our politicians. I hope it’s not a sign that my view of humanity, which I thought was balanced and clear-eyed, has changed to something darker and less optimistic. And I hope Trump hasn’t driven me out of the political satire game.

I don’t think he has, given my long history as a political junkie. But I can’t deny that some of the fun has gone out of it. Hundreds, if not thousands of children are being hideously abused in my name (and yours) at the border. Cruelty is mistaken for toughness by the President’s followers. Indeed, cruelty is seen as a good thing in and of itself by some of those people. Beyond that, incompetence and corruption and rampaging abuse of power are shrugged off by the same party that honors Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt in its hall of heroes. And no end in sight.

It is a dark time, no doubt, and maybe this is just the time I should be digging deeper for that one, deeply incisive cartoon that cuts to the heart of some universal truth and changes the world. And maybe that will still happen…sometime. Just not right now. I’ve got to save myself, or I won’t be ready for that moment of clarity when it comes.

I’ve posted a Vintage Deep Cover this week, just to keep that consciousness alive. And maybe I’ll post an original now and then if it strikes me. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Subconscious Comics goes on forever — in a world all its own where blinking isn’t even possible. And Eaganblog, too, as you have just discovered. See you next week
Big Doug
There is no denying that the Douglas fir can be a beautiful tree. It grows tall and straight and reassuringly symmetrical like any good conifer. It grows fast, too, making it a favored source of building materials. Truckloads of doug fir studs and joists and beams pour out of the Pacific Northwest to building sites around the country.

It supplies the bone structure for my own home as well, and its strong silhouette joins the local redwoods and oaks to form the woody horizons around my mountain community. It is a familiar and plentiful cohabitant of my world. But the Douglas fir is no friend to me. Indeed, by some measures it is my mortal enemy. Or more precisely, my nemesis.

Still, I have no choice but to coexist with it. Doug fir is everywhere, and there are many more of it than there are of me. There is one growing in my front yard now that is thirty feet tall. It appears to be healthy and well on its way to 200’ or more…if it is allowed to live.

Its future was not always so promising. During its early life, it lived in the shadows of several large tan oaks, and had a spare, spindly look that seemed to foretell a short stay here. But through the years, the tan oaks came down one by one, succumbing to to the ravages of sudden oak death and infestations of bark beetles. Their passing let the sun shine in fullness on the fir, and it responded vigorously. The trunk is now quite thick and it has branches and needles in abundance. It will be a shame to cut it down.

I had chosen to let it grow because I was charmed by how it responded to its sudden change of fortune — struggling against the odds in its early years then seizing the opportunity fate had given it. And, as I have said, I had already decided to live peacefully alongside its species when at all possible.

But it would be foolish to ignore our history with the Douglas fir here on the mountain. It has proven to be an unpredictable and dangerous neighbor — like the time thirty years ago when a big one tried to kill my wife.

We had been hit by a particularly strong storm that spring night, one that carried lots of water and the high winds that can whip up to 60 mph or more along our ridge tops. This Douglas fir snapped very close to ground level, at a place where the tree was nearly five feet across, so it must have made a terrific noise. The wind and rain were making a racket of their own, however, so I never heard it.

I could not miss, however, the blow it struck across our roof. The whole house shuddered. The door to our second floor master bedroom flew open, and my wide-eyed wife charged out and down the stairs. “What the hell was that?”

We tentatively ventured out into the storm and found a tangle of limbs and a cracked tree trunk wedged against the house. “A doug fir,” I said. “Where did that come from?” I didn’t recognize the tree. Not from our property, anyway.

By morning, the storm had passed, and the sobering truth was revealed. The 120-foot-tall fir had stood up the slope from our home. When the high winds struck, its rotted bole had split, hurling the massive tree toward us. As it fell, gravity kicked in, accelerating the fall. If it had struck unimpeded, it would have made short work of the doug fir skeleton of the house, even the big four-bys. At the very least, it would have blown through the rafters above the top floor and demolished the entire second story bedroom. Right where Jane had been sleeping.

There had been only one object in the path of the falling fir. A mature madrone, perhaps twenty inches in diameter, grew at a slight tilt at the edge of our property. Its hardwood trunk t-boned the fir as it fell, taking on a big part of its momentum and slowing it enough to save our home…and the life of my beloved.

Now, all these years later, we still have reminders around us of this event. There is a long, straight dent across the ribs of our steel roofing., The carcass of the fir itself still lies in the woods, finding its way back to the earth. And the madrone — whose mighty trunk had been flattened in its heroic effort — now sends up a host of saplings from its root ball.

As if I needed a reminder. The Douglas fir is my nemesis. Its soft, pitchy wood is a worst-case wildfire waiting to happen. Its straight, healthy appearance can be a lie, concealing a rotten core. It is a killer, lying in wait to crush unwary humans or assist in their incineration. Let it flourish along a distant skyline. Let it provide the framework of my home. But it should not grow here.

So, this plucky survivor growing in my front yard — so blessed by fate and my own forbearance — will fall soon. There will be no remorse, no wistful remembrance. Just a pile of chips and another rotting carcass on the forest floor. Good riddance.
Come Fly With Me
He’s in here now. I can hear him buzzing. It’s the deep, lazy sound that only a big, old fly makes. I’ve seen him a number of times around the house, sometimes hidden from view, sometimes right in my face. He doesn’t do it taunt me, I know, so I don’t take our interaction personally.

Buzzing, landing, taking off again. Some time soon, I know, he will land and wait just a little too long. When that happens, I must try to remain calm. The swatter must come down forcefully, but I need to maintain the icy resolve of a killer so that the death stroke will be both swift and sure.

He will probably die soon of natural causes, but I can’t wait that long. I keep picturing him walking all over my kitchen surfaces, including on my food. And on my butter…my butter! Who knows what else those filthy feet have walked on? He’s probably been up to his ankles, or his knees, or even his hairy thorax in all kinds of unsavory muck — and then tracked it through my precious butter.

This is unacceptable. I could, I suppose, open the doors and windows and trust that the big buzzer could find his way out. He thumps against the windows again and again and again, so I assume that he yearns to go outside. On the other hand, he is a housefly… musca domestica. Maybe he’s right where he's supposed to be: in housefly heaven, where it’s warm and windless and there’s butter aplenty for food or frolicking.

I am told that the lifespan of your average housefly is about 28 days. This one, though, is the size of an Atlas Airbus. He’s two months old if he’s a day. And that buzz…he is an old lowrider of an insect in need of a tune-up…a tune-up that will never come.

For now it is his time to go. My guess is that flies are not the smartest of animals, but I can’t help thinking that he knows the end is near. Perhaps he even welcomes it. And perhaps, at some level, he realizes that it is I who will be cast in the role of Death in his life’s final drama.

It is in both of our interests that I make this quick. He doesn’t want to suffer needlessly, and I don’t want bug guts smeared all over my stuff. But neither of those things will happen. He is nearby now, circling lazily by the big window in the living room. If he lands, I know he will be too slow to lift off in time. And when he does land on the window, on the sill, on the countertop — anyplace, lord, but on the butter itself! — I will have him, and this show will be over.

But he does not land. He is drawing out the last few moments of his life on Earth. That, of course, is his privilege. If he chooses to gaze wistfully out of my window at the sunny summer day, those few moments are his to spend. But I am not beholden to his schedule. I am Death, and I have other appointments to keep. A full calendar of duties, in fact. I cannot wait for a convenient landing. I must act, all the while remembering that I must take no pleasure in this duty. The fly and I are as one, partners in the cycle of life. Well, his cycle of life anyway.

The swatter flashes, almost imperceptibly to the human eye, catching the big bug midflight and full-on. There is no squirming, no unseemly entrails to wipe up. I swaddle him in his Kleenex shroud and honor his passing with a solemn burial in the place he loved so much in life — the garbage.

But our bond has not been broken. The fly and I are brothers, joined by death and a deep love of fine, Grade A butter. I think of him even now as I stand by the same window where he breathed his last. It’s almost as if he’s still right here with me.

What’s that buzzing sound?
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon