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In Which I’m Conflicted As To What To Be Furious About

February 17th, 2017 No comments

Outside of the beginnings of a cold, it’s been a decent day. Quiet. Enjoyable. Cleaning the kitchen, watching a few movies and arguing with people on Facebook. Relaxing! But now I’m pissed and I can’t figure out what’s worse

  1. The last minute of the otherwise enjoyable Death Game
  2. The seemingly unhinged rantings of a former Facebook friend I met the last time I went to LA and had a lovely time with.

1. Death Game involves a home invasion, very similar to Funny Games but with two psychotic women (Sandra Locke and Colleen Camp). They show up a random stranger’s house while his family deals with a medical emergency, seduce him and refuse to leave. It’s tense, violent, sexy and nightmarish. They don’t pull any punches or try to humanize or explain the invasion. It just happens and this unfortunate guy gets subjected to a myriad of punishments and mindfucks. (And here comes the spoiler alert) Funny Games devastates you because the happy end never shows up. No one survives (as the villains predict at the beginning) and the perpetrators just wander off to the next home to terrorize. And it’s all perfectly calm. Almost like a comedy of manners with blood and no jokes. Thus, it amazed me to see almost the same film made 20 years before. Death Game contains a lot more histrionics and showiness but there’s a direct line between the two movie. So, as it sped toward the climax, the killer question hung in the balance – how does this thing end? Without giving away what happens to the victim, the perpetrators wander out the front door and skip down the sidewalk. SCORE! That’s exactly how it should end! They get away! And it got made in 1974! Damn! Color me, impresse- oh wait they get killed by a speeding van.

Fuck you, movie. Just. Fuck. You.

It’s was one thing for that to happen in Get Carter three years earlier. It made a lot of sense. The movie was all about nihilism. It fit. Redemption doesn’t redeem. But for Death Game it smacks of 1930’s post-code “shit, they can’t get away with it and we can’t re-write the script so…hit by a van…I guess?” Or maybe they took How To Write Good to heart?

Either way – fury. 90 minutes of amazing shot down by 3 seconds of bullshit.

2. I ran in troll circles with this guy. He’s bright and clever. I enjoyed his work and his outlook. When I went to LA we met and he very graciously walked me around the architectural landmarks, including the stunning Bradbury building that, much to my surprise, affected me so deeply, I came very close to crying. We walked and talked and he even shows up at the end of a BBN video. We had, as far as Facebook goes, a pretty close friendship.

And then the 2016 election happened.

I didn’t vote for HRC. I couldn’t. I had too many problems with her – fracking, Wall St., her condescending treatment of Black Lives Matter, somehow convincing John Lewis to lie for her in front of a camera, the fact that a large majority of what she says gets followed up a few days later with “well, what I meant to say was…”. From the start of her tenure as FLOTUS, she backed down from statements her supporters cheered her for making. Remember the cookies comment? “I could have stayed home and baked cookies”? She walked that back pretty quickly. I felt that her coquettish entrance into the 2016 primary (WILL SHE OR WON’T SHE???) insulted a bunch of candidates who didn’t enter because they knew it would be pointless. On 9.9.08, she was the presumptive nominee for 2016. I resented that. I also resented that the media did a shit job covering the the other candidates for the Democratic Primary. And I GODDAMN resented the DNC believing that the most hated woman in US politics would magically brush all that aside for 50.1%. I was pretty vocal about it.

What I also said was, “fuck her emails”, “fuck ‘they’re all the same'” and “fuck Sanders supporters who parroted rightwing talking points”. I was pretty clear about that. I was vocal about that, too.

But, just as not supporting HRC makes you (through some strange alchemy) racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic etc. etc. etc. it also means that you PERSONALLY elected (t)Rump. Seriously?

If you’ve never argued with wingnuts (and I hope you haven’t), you’ll quickly find that no matter what ironclad, universally accepted facts you give them they will either not accept them or move the goalposts.

Here’s an actual example. To demonstrate this to a wingnut, I posted, “I bet you don’t agree that A and B are the first letters of the alphabet.” His response? “Which alphabet?” That’s just all kinds of perfect.

My FFB (Former Facebook Friend) and I share many friends. Over the past several days, when I left a comment on one of their posts, who pops up to chide me “for electing Trump”? Yup. FFB. And it’s getting more and more unhinged. His argument is that “you have no right to whine about him because you elected Trump”. Did I? I don’t remember that. I remember voting my conscience and that was certainly not (t)Rump. Let’s be clear, here. I live in Massachusetts which went for HRC even though I didn’t. If I lived in a red state, sure, I’d have to accept that as true. But I don’t. And he knows that. But in his mind not voting for HRC meant voting for (t)Rump.

Which is bullshit and I reject that.

HRC, like Kerry, Gore and Dukakis, was a shit candidate. The amount of political baggage she carried would have crippled…well…an elephant. But throughout the entire proceedings she and her campaign showed incredible arrogance that, given the staff she put together, beating this political newcomer would be a cakewalk. No. Possible. Way. She. Could. Lose. Period. I mean, LOOK at the guy? He’s a train wreck! He lies. He’s an idiot. He can’t stay on message. HRC, smooth, polished and tempered by 30yrs in politics? C’mon. Put up your daughter’s virginity as collateral. What ever you have to do! Put. Your. Money. On. HRC.

Remember her response to Bernie supporters? I think it went something like…um…let me see…oh yeah – “fuck you.” They didn’t need the independent votes because she was HILLARY FUCKING CLINTON, you dumbass. She used the same tactics of ridicule that lost her the primary against Obama. Obamabots became Berniebots. Same script. I mean…IT WORKED THE LAST TIME, RIGHT?? Then, oops, maybe she should make nice with the independent voters. Suddenly, she’s adopted Sanders’ platform and she’d always believed in that. Always.

As the gap closed in between her and (t)Rump, we were told “Don’t worry about it! She’s got the ground game! Order the drapes for the Oval Office cuz we’re going to Disneyland!” HRC supporters completely forgot about Sanders’ supporters in those heady days. The vast majority of “BernieBots” supported her once the nomination got sealed.

BUT NOT ALL OF THEM.

That’s the definition of treason, folks. That’s the HRC version of white genocide. As bush said, “You’re either for us or against us. Choose up sides, people of Massachusetts! It’s not even going to be close here, but we’re watching you!”

In the end, as you recall, HRC lost the election she couldn’t lose. Was it my fault personally?

Given that I have 352 friend on Facebook, I’m gonna go with no. I’m not that powerful and never thought myself to be. A few of my anti-HRC memes got a small amount of traction but, c’mon.

The other charge leveled is “the constant drumbeat of right wing talking points suppressed support for her.” Again – that wasn’t me. I actually fought against that saying numerous times, “There’s plenty enough to hate about her without resorting to wingnut talking points. Stop.”

Doesn’t matter, though, because I’m not sure FFB actually paid attention to what I wrote. Like with wingnuts, his worldview is everybody’s worldview and facts don’t matter. I’m not to be judged on my actions but on the actions of others. It doesn’t matter that he should know my position because I was very, very clear about it. “YOU THINK BOTH PARTIES ARE THE SAME.” No. No, I don’t. It’s insulting that he thinks so.

I shook his hand and spend 3hrs wandering around LA with him. I really enjoyed his company. I put up with his HRC posts and rarely challenged him because I liked him. He, on the other hand, constantly harangued me throughout the election and beyond. Maybe he feels betrayed. Maybe the loss shattered his sense of self. Whatever the reason, I’ve become his whipping boy. I don’t like it. It actually makes me sad that he can’t get past our differences. But that’s him.  That’s HRC. Not me. Her job was to win over people like me. She didn’t do it.

I’ve voted third party since 2000 with the exception of Obama in 2008. I’m not a fan of either party. They work for the same business interests but they are not the same at all. For me, it came down to fracking. HRC’s disingenuous and embarrassing ramble on she’d tighten the regulations to the point where it would be impossible to frack stood in sharp contrast to Sanders’ “no”.

I couldn’t vote for her. I didn’t vote for her. I’m not sorry.

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In Which I’m Not Typing AMEN

February 16th, 2017 No comments

Amen profile

“ISN’T IT GOD’S GLORIOUS WORK THAT WE HAVE A UVULA?? TYPE AMEN IF YOU AGREE!”

I get it. You’re so religious that you feel the need to tell everyone on Facebook how religious you are because…that will change people’s minds? Ok. So maybe I don’t get it. I’m an atheist and not a joiner. I’m honestly happy and supportive of your religious choices. I’m not an anti-theist. If religion is how you make sense of randomness of the world and it makes you feel better that it was God’s Plan() that three year-old Jimmy shot his baby sister in the head rather than finding a way to prevent that from happening then more power to you.

Was that judgmental? Probably. But here’s the reason why.

Because your obsessive need to make sure that God and social media know how devout you are actually leaves you open to attack by what I guess you’d refer to as “the forces of Satan.” You’re profiling yourself to the bad guys and inviting them into your computer and possibly your bank account.

There has been a “copy and paste” post going around recently about animal abuse. As well as the directive to “Do not share” but instead “copy and paste” this, the post contains a key phrase with incorrectly spelt words.

A person who copies and pastes it can easily be found by searching Google with the operand site:facebook.com “key phrase here”

The potential scammer can now see a long, long list of Facebook users who have copied and pasted the exact message about animal abuse.

Now they have a target list of people who they can be reasonably sure will react to a new post, an new “like” request, a new friend request, or some other “support us” plea that is related to animal abuse….

Key phases to look out for run along these lines:

“don’t scroll without typing amen.”
“if you woke up this morning and you are thankful every day while being bless scroll down and type amen”

Confidence schemes work because the grifter exchanges confidence for money. This is how it works.

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Sadly, too many people have a Pavlovian response to the word Jesus. Using the name “in vain” provokes anger. Using it in praise leads to euphoria. Or vice versa if you’re a non-believer. The nefarious understand this and use it to their advantage. Thus, you get Facebook pages with millions of viewers that do nothing but post pretty memes with bible verses so that the user can…remember they’re Christian? Seriously. I don’t understand it. What I do understand is that the higher the number of likes the higher the probability that someone is counting there money and giggling. I don’t mean to single out Christians per se. The clickbait political sites on both sides of the aisle do the same thing. Any Facebook page with tens of thousands of likes that asks you to like and share rarely cares about what they’re promoting. Each click makes them money and raises their profile. Just to be clear, they’re not all scams. Reputable enterprises turn to this tactic because that’s the tactic that works.

So what’s the difference and why should you care? Because Proctor and Gamble, the ACLU and the GOP are businesses. I Believe In Jesus Christ shouldn’t be. Am I implying that the proprietor of that page isn’t a Christian? No. I’m saying they’re leveraging your belief to make money. Not directly because it doesn’t cost you anything except your personal information and if you’re ok with someone turning your sincere belief into cash money that’s fine. Just understand that when you copy/paste/share that altruism isn’t their top priority. Unless explicitly stated, that money is going into the pockets of the moneychangers in the temple. Even if explicitly stated there’s no guarantee they’re telling the truth. Have you seen Joel Osteen’s many houses? Sincere Christians paid for him to have a temperature controlled wine cellar.

Joel Osteen HomeOur God is an awesome God!
He gave me this huge home

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In Which Your RIP Memes Are Shit

December 8th, 2016 No comments

rip_nelson_mandela

It started with this one. After Nelson Mandela’s death, some Twitter users, suffering from TALAS (They All Look Alike Syndrome) confused Mandela and Morgan Freeman resulting in this meme. And it’s a good one. It provides a good commentary on TALAS and works as social criticism. It makes sense. It says something. It’s amusing. That’s my criteria for for trolling. Keep it relevant, smart and pointed.

When Lenny Bruce first started swearing in the 60’s he shocked people. He swore for a reason, though. He didn’t gratuitously drop profanity. He wielded his words as weapons to puncture society with. Not too long afterwards, when you didn’t get arrested for saying “cocksucker” in public, the floodgates opened and, though through the wonders of money-driven entertainment, audiences expected comics to swear. Comics rapidly blunted the (s)words until you couldn’t cleanly cut a tomato with them. It became a race to who could say the most offensive thing. The hacks took over.

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I trolled hard for awhile. I’d like to think I was good at it. My various alts could lead the unsuspecting piece of shit racist/wingnut/homophobe/Islamaphobe down a golden path, getting him to agree with ever more horrific statements until they realized they’d step over the invisible line of tact and euphemism and into the truth of their hate based philosophy. I infiltrated a few members only email groups and Facebook groups where they dropped all pretense freely threw “nigger”, “jew” and “camel fucker” around gleefully. I’ve been privileged to be a part of some outstanding websites and Facebook groups exposing wingnuts for the miserable human beings they are.

Sadly, the Golden Age passed to the second wave who, like the post-Bruce hacks, lived for the yuks and to piss people off regardless of the target. The sense of purpose fell by the wayside for pageviews, like counts and notoriety. Like SNL, they got complacent and refused to believe that the well would go dry. As a result, the content got worse, descending to coarseness with no wit or sting whatsoever. This, of course, is my own, snobby subjective opinion. But I know I’m not alone. Most of the people I respect now do their own thing on their own time leaving the kids to their kid stuff.

So, now we have the Death Memes. A Death Meme is when you take someone who’s just died, hopefully within an hour of their death, and post “RIP [Insert Name]” with a picture of someone else with the similar name. It needn’t have any relevance. John Glenn just passed and I’ve seen “Glen Campbell” and “John Goodman”. When I see these I block them immediately. They’re pointless and stupid.

Why Death Memes? Why do people feel the need to make them?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death hit me hard. As a recovering alcoholic, it really hurt that he gave into his addictions. The man was a genius. His ability to put himself into another person’s body and mind, his subtleness and phrasing…dear god, what a tragedy. My favorite moment of his is in The Big Lebowski when he shows the Dude the Big Lebowski’s photo gallery. “This picture was taken when she [Nancy Reagan] was first lady of the NATION.” Where that line reading came from is anyone’s guess. But no one could have sold it except him.

I’d already had it with the Death Memes before his death, but they came fast and furious. One of the public groups I was in had a private planning group where “fans” were invited to leave their memes for consideration. Several Hoffman Death Memes popped up and I snapped.

“What is the fucking POINT of these? One of the greatest actors of our generation just died of a heroin overdose and you’re doing hacky, shitty death memes an hour after he’s dead? Why does he deserve this? What agenda does it put forward? Seriously – WHY?”

The answer?

“Calm down, man. It’s what we do.”

Yeah. “It’s what we do.”

It went back and forth with me trying explain why that was the shittiest answer you could possibly give and them trying to say that I was butthurt, too old, too thin-skinned and had no sense of humor. After a few hours of this, I realized the futility of it and quietly left the group.

I hate The Three Stooges. It’s a one-joke premise. You watch because, like Napoleon in Time Bandits says, “THAT’S WHAT I LIKE! LITTLE PEOPLE! HITTING EACH OTHER.” But I get why you’d find it funny. I honestly understand it. I didn’t like the South Park episodes I’ve watched but it’s the same thing. I get what they’re doing and I get why other people think it’s hilarious. I get why some people think Nichols and May sucks. I get why my wife can’t stand InfoChammel.

But I cannot understand why someone thinks Death Memes are funny. Given my interaction with creators, they can’t either. “It’s…Glen Campbell…but it says JOHN GLENN! GET IT? One of the first men to go into space DIED and I put his name of GLEN Campbell, not John Glenn! Get it?! GET IT??!!”

When websites first got the ability for people to leave comments the kids used to have a competition to see who could comment first. In most cases, they didn’t even read the article. They’d sit at their computers hitting F5 until a new post showed up and wrote “First!” That’s it. “First.” Because they were first. And that was supposed to mean something. Writing “First”. To show they were first. No context. No meaning. Just mindless competition to see who had the biggest cyber-dick. Those idiots are now making Death Memes. Because they want to be pointlessly first.

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In Which I’m Listening To A Lot Of Old Rockabilly – Mike McAlister

April 28th, 2016 No comments

I don't dig it

I’m driving much shorter distances and less frequently lately which effectively derails my 3 year streak of obsessively listening to audio books. I’m a little bit sad about that but not enough to want to go back to the stress and work load I had previously. Even with SiriusXM, I don’t have much in common with radio. I guess that there’s no room with all James Taylor and Elvis stations to host a free-form channel. Not that there’s anything wrong with listening to every single live performance Sweet Baby James ever recorded. And not to say that I don’t get into genre grooves.

Speaking of which…

I stumbled across a 10-CD set called Nasty Rockabilly recently which kept me company over the past several weeks. As a history buff and a cultural history buff, at that, I find old music fascinating, the more obscure the better. The songs that didn’t make it, didn’t make it for a multitude of reasons. In many cases, the glut of that new-fangled “rock and rock” music provided the greatest barrier to entry. With so many diamonds like Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and the ubiquitous Elvis, shining out from some shitty little town in Arkansas or Montana proved nigh impossible even if you were a local celebrity. And a lot of the performers on this compilation don’t appear to have reached that height. I only recognized Link Wray immediately. Almost nothing is known about Mike McAlister.

I want to highlight some of the songs of note here over the next bit of time. These songs grabbed my attention for one reason or another – either they rocked, had a cool hook, whored themselves shamelessly to exploit the trend, outright sucked or, in the case of I Don’t Dig It, made me scratch my head.

Given there’s no songwriting credit, I assume that Mike wrote this tune. And if you take the text as a psychological profile…don’t date this guy…even in the 50’s. The songs strikes me a musical cognitive dissonance. Early rock and roll garnered a reputation Satan’s music partially due to its direct descendancy from “race music“. The jungle beat forced normally placid, church-going white children to fornicate like savages. It also brought about a resurgence of the drag king movement with girls…not dressing like girls.

tomboy

Given the loose sexual morals of rock and roll (and, remember, the original Tutti Frutti was about butt sex), finding a song decrying your girlfriend’s dress code seems an odd choice of subject.

You’re a real gone gal in your Sunday best
But when you go home, baby, you change to a mess
I don’t dig it
I don’t dig it
It ain’t right

As with most control freaks, it’s not about the actual issue. It goes deeper. And it’s about sex or the lack thereof. The chronology and logic of the song confuses me. Here’s two of the couplets in order.

When you give me a date, I jump for joy
But when I pick you up, baby, you look like a boy

Well, you tell me, pretty baby, I’m the only one who rates
But all I get from you is a 13th date

Notice anything weird? Swap those two lines and you get a clearer picture. Mike’s gone out with this chick at least twelve times. Every time he’s gone out with her she’s looked like a boy and hasn’t put out. Mike must really want to nail her to keep going back to an obviously dry well. The takeaway, then, is not how she dresses. He uses that excuse to get shame her into a dress that he can slip his hand under. Because Mike thinks if he can just get her started, she’ll be up for some Tutti Frutti.

Ironically, wearing jeans promotes abstinence more effectively than skirts providing a greater…well…barrier to entry.

Check out the short article referencing Mike and Hob Nob records. This is the area The Band came from.

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In Which I’m Not Going To My High School Reunion

July 22nd, 2015 No comments

My high school reunion happens this weekend, apparently. I couldn’t care less. I enjoyed high school to the extent that someone enjoys chemo – the side effects suck but they go away after awhile.

I’ll be honest. I’m slightly envious of people who enjoyed high school. From what I understand, you’re supposed to. Reunions allow you to connect with the people you grew up with and shared experiences with. I envy people those who, like one of my classmates driven by the need to see their high school friends, plans on spending a not insignificant amount of time and money to fly to the other side of country to attend.  I have neither the time, money nor inclination.

I spent high school on the outside. Around ninth grade, I realized the futility of blending in. I didn’t like most of these people. Most of them looked at me with the expression of a dog being shown a card trick. Mutual indifference mostly ruled the day and sometimes spilled over to active disdain. I was too smart to hang with the stoners and too stoned to hang with the brains. Apparently, I was too odd for the drama-ramas. I didn’t give a fuck about the jocks. I found a small island of friends who got me through to graduation and I’m still in touch with many of them.

I’m struggling right now to keep some kind of balance as I write this. Part of me feels like cataloging every single slight visited upon me like finding out that the girl I asked to the Junior prom got dissuaded by her friend after she accepted. Or the pie that got pushed in my face at the school talent show. This conflicts with the knowledge that I’m an adult and that the chemo happened in the past. I made a conscious decision not to follow the herd. What did I expect? It’s a fine line to tread but this works as a decent balance.

In 1979, the B-52s release their first album. Working at what passed for the school radio station (which consisted of speaker wire running from the Distributive Education classroom to the cafeteria) brought me in contact with one of the definitive albums of my generation. It blew me away. “Thank you jesus for something that’s not country rock,” I crowed. Putting stylus to vinyl, I began to evangelize. It’s not that I expected any conversions nor was I unaware of the probable outcome. As the DJ on duty, though, I exercised my right to play what I wanted and somewhat reveled in the backlash. My already low favorability numbers declined rapidly. Flash forward two years and I’m at the club where my now drinking-age classmates congregated. Like a moth to the flame, I felt compelled to check it out. Much to my surprise, I saw them all enthusiastically dancing to…Rock Lobster.

At the time, I seethed.  Were these same people who screamed at me for playing it two years ago professing their undying love for the B-52s? Were they fucking kidding?  Did I actually have to take shit for playing their favorite song first because I wasn’t one of the cool kids? Today, I know the answer is still yes but for different reasons. I understand the role of the outsider in a way I didn’t back then. The outsider gets it before everyone else does. That’s both a source of frustration and a source of pride. The outsider clears the path for everyone else. There’s no (intellectual) reason to feel annoyance or anger towards the people behind you. Outsiders rarely care about leading. They’re in it for their own curiosity. The people behind you don’t take the road less travelled by unless it’s previously paved. As outsiders we tramp down the overgrowth because there looks like something cool on the other side and this gets the path started. Once they see it, they may or may not follow it. Expecting them to thank you flies in the face of reason. In theory, it’s not done for the accolades but for out of our own drive to find something new.

Given this, why would I bother wanting to hang out with the incurious? To hear about their high paying stressful jobs, children and divorces? To admire their tanning salon skin and plastic surgeries? To watch them fight the natural aging process? The only compelling reason to go is to congratulate those who came out of the closet. It couldn’t have been easy to be gay in that place.

Because of Facebook, I’ve gotten to know some of my classmates better. Many of them friended me and just as quickly unfriended me which made me laugh. Others, though, made me (slightly) regret my “angry young man” persona because I like them immensely and wish we’d joined up in high school. In retrospect, I know that I stereotyped a lot of potential friends out of the mix. That’s kind of what your teens are all about.

There’s a case to be made that by writing off the reunion I’m still closing myself off. That’s probably true. But, as I said on the reunion Facebook page, I can sit in a corner and feel awkward just as easily at home.

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In Which SkullDUGGARy Is The Name Of The Game

June 10th, 2015 No comments

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

Always open with a joke, says conventional wisdom, and so I shall:

Q: What’s the difference between Josh Duggar and the right-wing extremist xtian perception of Mohammed?
A: Nothing! Both molest little girls!

Here’s a bonus joke – The Duggars will come out of this having learned something.

Boom! Suck it! No one writes comedy like I do! NO ONE!

But, cereally, folks! I had a vague understanding of the Duggar cult and Michelle Duggar’s vagina kept me awake at night screaming before I even knew who they were. I’ve never watched nor will ever watch their show.

If you’re just joining in, the Duggars had a reality TV show where…again, pure speculation because I don’t actually care…they travelled the country in The Mystery Machine exposing evolutionists as cranky old frauds in latex masks. Their show, Fifty Degrees of Fucked Up…err…19 Kids and Counting came to an ignominious end when it turned out Jim Bob (I shit you not, that’s his name) and Michelle were such shitty parents they couldn’t teach their son, Josh, not to finger his sisters.

I don’t hate Christians. I was raised Christian and left the church when I was 16 when it became apparent that “Christian” meant calling other kids “faggot”, stealing, drinking and in some cases grand larceny. Silly me, I actually took it seriously for awhile. But, unlike xtians, I don’t condemn the entire religion like they do with Muslims. Ironically, three of the people I went to high school with are ministers now. Two actually walk the walk. The other one (my best friend from high school) took a nose dive into the crazy pool, complaining about my cursing on Facebook, effectively calling me a baby killer and generally insulting my character. I put up with for awhile and then I started hitting back. And when I did that, he blocked me. Which is what Jesus would do.

Bill Hicks summed up xtians (fake Christians) perfectly:

These two rednecks came up to me after the show and said, “hey, buddy, we’re Christians and we don’t like what you said.” And I said, “oh, yeah? Then forgive me.”

That’s it in a nutshell. The actual Christian (as with the actual hero and soldier) feels no compunction to broadcast who they are. They don’t shy away from it but they don’t walk into a room carrying a cross and quoting scripture. I contracted at a company once. A lovely woman who worked there asked me if I’d work on her home computers and I agreed. Something seemed off at her house. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I saw the entire series of Left Behind books on her bookcase. At least she reads, I thought. Not once did she give any hint as to her religion nor did she evangelize. I admire that.

Not broadcasting your religion works on two levels.

One: You don’t come off like an asshole if you happen to meet someone of a different religion. Telling an atheist “I’ll pray for you,” works about as well as telling a Christian “hail Satan”.  It’s just not necessary. Period. Full stop. If you need to preach, become a minister. (BTW – I’ve been told the fastest way to become an atheist is to go to Divinity School.)

Two: You’re not setting yourself up for the kind of free-fall the Duggars are in now. Put another way – You don’t set yourself up as a pinnacle of “family values” who raised a child molester.

Frankly, I don’t know how Christianity survives. The Family Research Council where Josh “Gropey” Duggar used to work preaches a Santorum-like mixture of hate and hypocrisy. Tony “Not The Gay One” Perkins has Senator David “Dress Me Up In Diapers” Vitter on his program occasionally and calls him a “good man”. I’d understand “good baby” but “good man”? Why didn’t Tony “Not The Gay One” Perkins, who hates sin SO MUCH, not run against Vitter for his Senate seat?

I know this is all Dog Bites Man stuff but in the decade that I spent listening to xtian talk radio (extensively talked about on this blog) I heard the Isaiah quote over and over again with regards to pretty much any the heathen tried to do from make school lunches healthy to not blame all of Islam for 9/11.  It stuns me that anyone regardless of their religious bent could defend Josh Duggar. It defies logic.

Let’s end abruptly with some Lyle Lovett.

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[PS – I hope to be more coherent as I get back into the swing of this writing thing]

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In Which Jenner Changes Sex And I Have An Epiphany

June 7th, 2015 No comments

People started experiencing Jenner Fatigue about 4 minutes after Vanity Fair announced the cover announcing the new and photoshopped Caitlyn Jenner. Surprisingly, the reactions run from highly positive to highly negative with the bulk somewhere in between. Kudos to Vanity Fair for referring to Jenner as a former Olympian rather than a “reality TV star.” I honestly didn’t even know he participated in the whole Kardashian experiment in fuckwittery.  (Note: I find it sad that “Kardashian” shows up in my spell check dictionary and “fuckwittery” does not.)

Without cataloging all the reactions, the one that interests me the most is the “that’s the wrong person to advanced LGBT awareness” argument. In what way? I’m not sure. I had a Facebook discussion with someone who, responding to the refutation of the “Jenner’s not brave – soldiers are brave” argument, went on to explain she was tired of Jenner and everyone else should be, too. Having an average person changing sexes would mean much more than a celebrity. Long story short

There are plenty of transgender people who could be better suited for a docuseries. People that actually have a lot of obstacles to overcome.

…and a light clicked on.

My own paraphrase of this statement goes

It’s not enough to work through the issues, pain and trials of switching genders. To keep my interest, you must have even more shit to overcome or you bore me.

I couldn’t get into the show Transparent. As much as I wanted to watch it, I found most of the characters annoyingly self-absorbed and writing a little too precious. Jeffery Tambor, though, shocked me with the journey to coming out. The pain and doubt pervade his entire being. As a straight, white male, I can’t begin to fathom internal conflicts of effectively lying to people for decades about who you are and then the backlash (and freedom) of taking the plunge into living your authentic self. Annual income and public profile play no role in making that easier. That just seems logical.

But it’s not. According to this person, you have to have additional problems to overcome. I’m not clear what those would be nor did I ask. I’m guessing that a black, quadriplegic heroin addict might garner her sympathy. Maybe. That might still not be enough.

To quote her again:

It’s easier to relate to an average Joe than to a celebrity.

Maybe if one on one, but on a national stage, no one gives a shit about Average Joe…unless Not So Average Joe hires Average Joe a publicist and turns him into a media star. And then, obviously, Average Joe is no longer average.  And, according to my discussion partner, no one can relate to him anymore.

What she appeared advocate was giving someone already encased in concrete a backpack full of barbells, ankle weights and an i386 computer and telling them to start their journey. Then she would pay attention to them and call them brave. Until then, they’re just wasting her time and blemishing her page full of kitteh pics.

The epiphany comes in realizing that rarely do we (and I include myself) look at situations universally. A grieving parent is a grieving parent. A transgender person coming out is a transgender person coming out. They’re all taking the same base journey. Instead, we look at them with a built in bias based on the person in the situation. Thus, Natallee Holloway makes headlines (“it must be so hard for that white woman to lose her child!”) while thousands of minority mothers suffer silently far from the news cycle.

I don’t pretend it can or will change. Bias is part of what makes us human. It’s good to acknowledge that sometimes.

Categories: Jenner, Transgender Tags:

In Which I Present What My Closing Statement At The Zimmerman Trial Would Have Been

July 14th, 2013 No comments

Ladies of the jury, I don’t envy. Not in the least little bit. There’s a lot of pressure on this case. My job is to take the pressure off you. My job is to show you that you can make a calm, rational decision, based on the facts. That is what an adult does. Or at least what an adult should do. Kids, and I’m sure you’ve seen this first hand, do what they want when they want. They don’t have very good judgment. Think on your own childhood and some of the stupid things you did. I’ll give you a minute to do that.

Now. Take that incident in your mind and ask yourself – ok, that what stupid, but did I deserve to die for that? Did the worst mistake I ever made mark me for death? And if the answer is yes, how was it your fault?

There are a lot of people on both sides of this case that want to make it about race. Trayvon was a black kid. Convicting Mr. Zimmerman of 2nd degree murder is somehow, some way a travesty of justice because…I’m not really sure why, to be honest with you. Let me take the pressure off you – this has nothing to do with race. End of story.

This has everything to do with being an adult. This has everything to do with the judgment that we, as adult, grow into. Discernment. Morality. Doing the right thing. Not acting rashly.

Let me make a quick side trip here. We all remember the story of the Good Samaritan, right? There’s a guy beat up on the side of the road and no one will help him. Then the Good Samaritan comes along and feeds, clothes and heals the victim. I think we all like that story. But, what’s forgotten about that story is that Samaritans, at that point in time, were looked down on. They were the scum of the earth, so to speak. They were, effectively, spit on by the same people that left the victim dying in a ditch. They didn’t want to get their hands dirty or get involved. They were too busy going about their day to want to waste any of it helping somebody out. Keep that in your mind, please.

Let’s take this down to the very bare facts. Both the prosecution and the defense have done a lot speculating. It’s the nature of this kind of trial. But let’s strip all of that away. Let’s go with what we know.

  1. Trayvon Martin was unarmed.
  2. George Zimmerman had a gun.
  3. George Zimmerman is on tape, and you heard that tape, saying “those assholes always get away with it.”
  4. The 911 dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon Martin.
  5. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

That’s about as bare bones as you can get. Are we agreed that on that?

  1. Trayvon Martin was unarmed.
  2. George Zimmerman had a gun.
  3. George Zimmerman is on tape, and you heard that tape, saying “those assholes always get away with it.”
  4. The 911 dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon Martin.
  5. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

Ok. Let’s think about this. What we, the prosecution, allege is that George Zimmerman had criminal intent to kill Trayvon Martin. He wanted to do it. He meant to do it. Let’s again, go back to, not the speculation, but the bare bones facts of the case.

  1. Trayvon Martin was unarmed – Did George Zimmerman know this? The fact is that he literally could not. He sees a kid walking home at night.
  2. George Zimmerman had a gun – Why did he have a gun? We don’t know. I guess that he felt unsafe on the mean streets of Sanford’s gated community. You never know when a felon might try to break into somebody’s house.
  3. George Zimmerman is on tape, and you heard that tape, saying “those assholes always get away with it.” – “Those assholes always get away with it.” Keep that in your mind. Which assholes? Why the word “assholes”. Personally, when I use that word, I’m making a generalization about a group of people. I want you to say that phrase to yourself. You heard him say it. Say it the way he said. What feelings does it bring up inside of you?
  4. The 911 dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman had no legal authority. That’s a fact. None. His job was to call 911 and report suspicious behavior. And he did that. He called 911 to report that someone he deemed to be one of “those assholes” was wandering around the complex. And that made him suspicious. So he called 911. What did 911 tell him? Did 911 tell him, “Thank you, Mr. Zimmerman, what we like you to do is to keep on his tail until we can get some cops over there.” Did 911 tell him, “We are so ineffectual that we need your help, Mr. Zimmerman, and we trust 100% that you know what you’re talking about and have judged the situation properly.”

    You know the answer to that question. It’s on the tape. The answer is no. The 911 dispatcher told George Zimmerman to drop and let the police take care of it.

    What did George Zimmerman do?

    I got fired once. Hard to believe, I know! I was working for Wendy’s as a kid. The manager told me to cut the potatoes for French fries. I thought he was an idiot because there were already French fries cut. So I made some hamburger patties instead because we were low on those. You might see this coming – we ran out of French fries. I was shown the door.

    How many of you have worked in a hierarchical organization? Hierarchies came about as a way to facilitate work flow. Someone has an overall vison. That person communicates the vision to others and tells them what needs to be done to make that vision a reality. If someone disagrees, that’s fine. They don’t work there anymore. It’s like the army – if you don’t like the way the army works, fine, you don’t join the army. But if you do join the army, you follow orders. If you don’t, bad things happen.

    George Zimmerman didn’t follow orders. George Zimmerman felt that he knew better than his superiors. George Zimmerman literally took it on himself, after being explicitly told not to, to get out of his car rather than drive away and let the police take care of the case of a kid wandering around the complex.

    George Zimmerman, in short, did not act like an adult. George Zimmerman acted like a child, pumped up on adrenaline because he was going to get to the bottom of this, regardless of being told not to. Was there an actual threat in a kid wandering around the complex? Had there been reports to the police of house alarms or gunfire? It’s a fact that George Zimmerman couldn’t know that. He’s not a police officer. Had there been murders in the complex? No. If there had been murders, was George Zimmerman of the Neighborhood Watch program the person to deal with a possible murder? No. It’s called a Neighborhood Watch, not a Neighborhood Police Force. How many of you own guns? Does owning a gun make you a police officer? Then why would George Zimmerman believe that he was somehow better and more capable to deal with the highly, highly dangerous situation of a kid quietly wandering around the complex.

    This, ladies of the jury, is why we brought 2nd degree manslaughter charges. This wasn’t a mistake. A mistake would be something like George Zimmerman saying that he didn’t understand what the dispatcher was telling him. THAT is a mistake. This was a willful and knowing disregard for the order of a superior that resulted in the death of a child. End of story.

    It doesn’t actually matter who was on top and who was on the bottom. It doesn’t matter if Trayvon Martin stalked and attacked George Zimmerman. The defense would like you to believe it but it’s simply not true. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter that George Zimmerman referred to “those assholes”. What matters is that he disregarded the order of a superior. Had George Zimmerman done as he was told – had he gotten back into his car and drove off or even waited inside his car for the cops to show up – Trayvon Martin would be alive. Let me rephrase that slightly – George Zimmerman would not have killed Trayvon Martin.

    As the prosecution, we are supposed to prove criminal intent. Trayvon Martin’s death was not an accident. There is literally no way to call it that. The minute George Zimmerman left that car, you have intent. The minute he decided on his own to take the law into his own hands, you have intent.

  5. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin – he admitted it. George Zimmerman, who, as part of the Neighborhood Watch program, operated under very clear and explicit guidelines, made a conscious decision to ignore those guidelines. As result, a boy is dead.

Trayvon Martin was a child. The defense would like to have you believe otherwise but under the laws of Florida, Trayvon Martin was a child. Trayvon Martin had every right to be where he was despite whatever conclusion George Zimmerman jumped to.

George Zimmerman is an adult. Not only is he an adult, but he was given a certain amount of responsibility under the auspices of the Neighborhood Watch program. George Zimmerman failed. He failed on purpose. He failed as an adult and a protector of the community – a community which Trayvon Martin was a part of. When George Zimmerman left his car he assumed responsibility for anything that happened afterwards.

It was not Trayvon Martin’s fault for walking home and it’s been show that that was all he was doing – walking home. He did not deserve to die for walking home. Was Trayvon a perfect child? No. Did Trayvon make some mistakes? Yes. Did you make mistakes as a kid? I can’t answer that for you. Perhaps you had a mistake free childhood.

George Zimmerman is an adult. As adults, we have responsibility to act as adults.

I want to come back to the Good Samaritan. I want you to think about that story while you’re deliberating. I want you to ask yourself who in the story you are. Are you the wealthy, affluent and unconcerned people who passed by a beaten, bleeding and dying man because you couldn’t be bothered and you wanted to get home quickly? Or…are you the Good Samaritan that did the right thing.

I can’t decide that. That is your decision.

 

Categories: Navel (Gazing At) Tags:

In Which Some People Are Very, Very Touchy

June 2nd, 2013 No comments

Sometimes, all you have to do to incur someone’s wrath is link to a website. Sometimes, all you have to do is point out that their words and actions don’t sync up very well. Take this guy, for instance:

YouTube Preview Image

Not only does he videotape himself in a bathroom stall and take more than four minutes to talk about how much something doesn’t matter to him, he then wipes his ass with that thing he doesn’t care about and flushes it down the toilet.

That’s some serious not-caring there!

I’m not going to disingenuously pretend not to care. I’ll put it succinctly – when you list yourself (even with the level of delusion that John Henry does) as a “public figure”, you are, for all intents and purposes, fucked. You relinquish all rights to privacy because…you’re a public figure. Get it? Public. It’s the opposite of Private.

In this particular social contract, you sacrifice your privacy for (possible) fame. This means that the PUBLIC gets to talk about you. And if they they (or some segment of the “they”) perceive you to be a whiny, hypocritical moran deserving of ridicule and contempt…guess what…they’re part of the public. What you’re actually looking for is a closed, Stalinist cult-of-personality where you’re unconditionally adored and never questioned.

John Henry, in one video, calls himself a journalist “in the style” of Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes. Um…I want to make sure I phrase this correctly. If Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes gave a master class on journalism, I’m pretty sure that “filming yourself in a toilet and literally wiping your ass with criticism” would not come up as a topic. HOWEVER, should someone (possibly John Henry) stand up during question time and ask something like, “On a personal and/or journalistic level, what are your opinions of filming yourself in a toilet and literally wiping your ass with criticism”, I think they’d probably laugh off the question. And then call security.

John Henry feels that any criticism of him denotes a conspiracy to shut him up. As such, and not surprisingly, he deletes all criticism. He moderates his blog and YouTube page comments. On his Facebook page, he writes things like:

Always cute when someone claims to “challenge” me and then immediately turns it into a handicap match.

Even cuter when I hand them their asses so completely they have to delete the thread…which I’m sure they’ll claim was my doing.

But the fact is that he does delete comments. And I’m pretty sure that the commenter did NOT have his ass handed to him. I had my comments deleted when I asked “How does deleting opposition comments make the mind of your readers free? Isn’t that more controlling the information in a Stalinist way?”

Really. That was all it took. Comment deleted. Profile banned.

And since I had another profile, I asked the same question. And that was deleted and the profile banned.

Call me naive, but I’m pretty sure that Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes would frown on these tactics. I don’t care as much of having my profile banned as having my comment completely erased.

I have about a half a dozen people on my FB banlist for various reasons. One of them is a woman who continually posted outright lies like “I’m so glad you’re voting for Romney, Paul!” Another is a wingnut that I despise. Reading his bullshit makes me legitimately angry.

I’m pretty sure that John Henry’s banlist runs into the hundreds. That’s the type of control his mind is under.

Categories: John Henry Tags:

In Which I Reflect On A Decade

May 19th, 2013 No comments

I’m not going to say I’m done because 1) I’ve already said that and 2) I may find a reason to dust him off in the future. But BBN no longer matters to me. As I’ve said before, this is 95% on me. I”m just not a hustler. It’s also just not a commercially viable character, as least as I envision it. The chances of making anything happen even as Fox News and Brietbart get more and more defacto racist approach infinity. Bottom line – when you have a “fan base” of 5000 and you can’t even raise $40/mo to pay for a Blog Talk Radio show that pulled in 1000 offline listens per show, you have to step back and go for a straight cost/benefit analysis. Which takes about 5 seconds to complete.

It’s not a reflection on my talent. I’m confident in that. It’s more about feeling tired of banging my head against a wall. I dislike comedy clubs for the most part. I don’t like hanging around and making idle chatter with people whose comedy sucks.

True story.

There was a comic who honestly, honestly sucked. Simply not funny. But he showed up almost every night to the club and sucked up to the owner and, viola, he’s made “comic of the month”. I ran the website for the same club and dutifully helped put chairs and tables away after my gigs and had to beg for stage time.

A comic told me, “you want everything handed to you.” And, to be honest, I guess there’s a certain aspect to that. However, if you go by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours thing, I put in my time. The problem is – I don’t boast about it. I wrote and produced a one-minute podcast Monday-Friday for more than a year on Shelley The Republican. I’ve also done more than 600 hour long radio shows, 212 videos and a couple dozen songs. The body of work is not insubstantial.  Oh, I almost forgot the punchline – I had this comic on my radio show twice. This same comic never once asked me to be on the show he booked.

The writing on the wall came the day I was asked to do a free  show because it was Halloween and the  booker was trying to come up with comics who wore costumes.

It’s not that I haven’t done favors for people. I just did them for the wrong reason – aka: I didn’t do them to call them back in. They were gestures of friendship, which, if anything, shows that I suck at choosing friends.

So, what’s next?

For the moment, I’m happy as part of a collective of people, like me, who don’t fit the mold and want to do something different. I’m not going to gain any wealth or fame from it. There’s not a chance of that. We all work together in a way that comic’s simply can’t do. It’s truly a hobby in a way that, sadly, I can’t look at BBN as.

Lastly, if you ever sent a couple of bucks to paypal or bought the CD, thank you. You are the reason it went as long as it did. Without the love of people who chipped in, even once, I would have folded up a long time ago.

If you ever typed the word “genius” or “brilliant” and never bothered to contribute – fuck you.

Categories: Navel (Gazing At) Tags: