Are you addicted to memes?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

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 Dictionary.com.

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 (1933-2016) 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? Is it any of Bernard Meltzer’s &^%$# business???

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…”

Copyright 2023 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.