Tag: Phineas Gage

Day 999: Buh-Bye, So Long and Hallelujah

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It’s a completely valid question.

For the past 50 or so days I have been fielding one question more often than most: what am I going to do for Day 1000? Will the final kilograph reflect upon the 999 that came before, like some extended clip show of my greatest guffaws and most aww-rending moments? Will I spend my final entry in closing-credits mode, thanking those who have made this all possible and put up with my considerable dearth of free time over the last 2 years and almost 9 months?

In short… no. While my original intent was to meander down that self-serving footpath for my final article, I decided that I would only do so if I could cite the Wikipedia page that had been created about me – as it turns out, that doesn’t exist yet.

In order to figure out my final missive, I felt I should turn to the moulder of my wisdom, the sage oracle who has helped to shape my morality, my perception, and even my understanding of the world: television. I have experienced the highs and lows of series finales – certainly at least one of them could illuminate the road to a poignant, entertaining, and (most of all) worthy coda to this monstrous undertaking.

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My first option is the beloved trope of bringing back a classic character for the finale. In my case I could introduce a surprise cameo by Yoko Ono, Craig David, Mary Nissenson, or if I really want to stretch to my roots, Phineas Gage. I could style the entire piece in a blend of haiku, musical theatre and secret code (did anyone ever figure that one out?). It sounds trite and cliché, but that’s always a place to start, isn’t it? Read more…

Day 786: The Pun Disease – When You Think A Seizure Is A Roman Emperor

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Did you hear the one about the kleptomaniac? His doctor told him to take something for it.

How about the painter who was hospitalized for too many strokes?

Or what about the lady with amnesia who had to re-learn how to walk up the stairs, step by step?

These and other such acts of depraved punnery come naturally to me due to a junior high penchant for class-clownery. Fortunately my sense of humor has evolved slightly, at least to the point where I’m now aware that puns are best used as a means of torturing my family to induce the awkward glares that serve to fortify my position as the dominant male of the household. Puns are the true test of familial loyalty.

But what if the puns came not as a conscious effort to fill the surrounding air with groans, forehead slaps and loathing? What if there was some sort of medical condition that exhibited itself through involuntary pun-making? And what if a guy who was allergic to cats were to rush out and buy one anyway? Would it be considered a rash decision?

I make no apologies for the fetid stank of wince-worthy humor in this introduction. There is simply no better way to unfurl the horrors of witzelsucht.

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Imagine if you will a 30-year-old theological scholar, an intellectual man with a solid reputation. He is admitted to the department of neurology due to some inexplicable irritability, a nasty case of hyperphagia (meaning he can’t stop eating), and some really unusual behavior. He spouts puns like most of us drop small-talk pleasantries. This occurs more frequently during stressful moments, like when nurses come in to take some blood or when his doctors are doing their rounds. Maybe he comments on how his back used to hurt, but that’s all behind him now. Perhaps he expresses his dislike for needles, as they really get under his skin. Read more…

Day 1: The Hole In Phineas’s Head

Since nothing sells better than graphic sex and nauseating violence, I was hoping Wikipedia would help me launch this project with something juicy. I tried to weave a sexy yarn into some prose about the Rugby Club Pobednik, but I was starting to creep myself out. Luckily, another click of the mouse brought me to Mr. Phineas P. Gage, the tamping-iron-through-the-head-guy. Perfect.

In 1848 Gage was a grunt worker in a work gang, laying down the roadbed for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad, a small line in the American northeast. Phineas was part of the blasting crew, which he no doubt hooked up with so he could pick up chicks (or whatever girls were called in the 1840s). He was 25, he was the crew foreman; Gage had it going on.

I like the part of disaster bios when they paint the victim’s picturesque, ideal life before the incident, so I’m going to stretch this out. Let’s see… Gage had just won a case of sarsaparilla by betting on a cockfight tournament. His years-long letter-writing campaigns to establish both Wisconsin as a state and bring about the end of the Mexican-American War had recently been successful. Also, he had train tickets to head out to California to pan for gold ahead of the big rush, leaving on September 14.

There, that sounded convincing. All was rosy and glorious – everything was coming up Phineas. Then, on the afternoon of September 13, right as Gage was reflecting on his good fortune (and, for the sake of drama, let’s say he was also planning on releasing some dirty information that would have crippled Zachary Taylor’s current presidential campaign), it happened. Read more…