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Meme addicts abound

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Meme: “A cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way,” explains

Some people are mere passive consumers of memes. Others eschew newfangled social media altogether. (“If I can’t get my memes through Bazooka Joe comic strips, shortwave radio and smoke signals, I don’t need them! Do you like that contrarian position? Check yes or no on this piece of notebook paper and pass it back …”) Me? After having a dormant Twitter account for ages, I’m suddenly going full-blast brainstorming memes for my account (@TyreeDanny).

I started out exclusively creating memes to promote my self-published books (see Amazon), but now I’m branching out. Let’s face it: some photographs, topics and situations just beg to be parodied.

(Beg? Here’s a 19th-century woodcut of a one-legged urchin. If only I can come up with a pun about TB and rickets, then hilarity will surely ensue!)

I’m in hog heaven as I pore over public domain images (wildlife, sports, antique gadgets, etc.) for downloadable meme inspirations. And I adhere to the strict definition of “public domain,” not the current variation that liberal district attorneys favor. Those scamps have given us a culture celebrating public domain bodega Slim Jims, public domain Cartier watches, public domain preschoolers … It gives me an exhilarating sense of accomplishment to put words in the mouths of personages such as Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant and Sigmund Freud. Until I see a little kid using a plastic Godzilla in a Barbie dress to terrorize a Lego replica of the Plymouth Colony. Then I just want my blankie and a nap.

The other spontaneity-killer is when I get a guilt trip from the platitudes of the late radio host Bernard Meltzer. He’s the “measure twice, cut once” philosopher who encouraged asking yourself whether the things you were about to utter were true, kind, necessary and helpful. I mean, Meltzer was a buzzkill right out of the starting gate. No, it’s probably NOT true that Gene Wilder (19332016) in Willy Wonka garb made wry comments about the 2023 Kentucky Derby. There! Are you happy?

(And for that matter, most white cats sitting at a table with a plate of vegetables DON’T toss out snarky bon mots while being yelled at by a blonde woman. Come to think of it, do white cats, vegetables and blonde women still exist? I’ve been chained to this laptop cranking out memes for sooooooo long …) Why stop at four guidelines for a public statement, anyway? Let’s go for broke the next time you feel compelled to blurt out something. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it bigger than a breadbox? Is it all that and a bag of chips? ... The emotional highs may wax and wane, but I keep plugging away at my quest for “likes” and “retweets.” Pardon? Have I had anything go viral yet? Well, not exactly. I’ve had some memes that qualify as “muscle spasm” or “ingrown toenail” status, but viral still eludes me.

Someday I’ll be a legend. And once my portraits pass into public domain, some colonist on Mars will undoubtedly share a doctored photo of me confiding, “I don’t always haunt the halls of Twitter, but when I do … .”

San Marcos Record

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