Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's only words, and words are all I have...




Bet you never expected me to begin a blog post with a BeeGees lyric... I'd like to point out, however, that the line should be, "They're only words..."

Pedantic, yes... especially given the license I take with usage and grammar. Get over it. It's not going to stop.

BUT, I do love words. I love obscure words. Obsolete words. 50-cent words.

Dead words.

So without further ado, I bring you.... Are you ready?

THE MOST NEGLECTED WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!!!

I do use the words paroxysm, draconian, and hornswoggle with some regularity. Is that pretentious? Maybe, but I'm going to see what I can do to fit the rest of the list into conversation.

Except for schadenfreude... There is simply no excuse EVER for schadenfreude. I heard someone belch that one out recently and would have heated up the pimp hand for the speaker had I been sitting closer.

But since you asked...


THIS IS WHAT HE'S DONE SO FAR!

With proper support, he could have done more. His record speaks for itself.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What did we expect?


Liberals, and the left-at-large (pardon the alliteration), have done very little lately (ditto on alliteration) but express disappointment in the accomplishments of the Obama administration. The New York Times has leveled utterly venereal attacks on everything from the healthcare battle to the Bin Laden assassination, and everything in between. It reached new lows in the last several weeks with Dr. Cornel West's mostly personal ad hominem attacks (he may have made some valid points but even a broken clock is right twice a day).

There are better minds than my own to make the case for the defense, but where are they? They are witnessed mostly on blogs and in academic circles, but the mainstream media has done very little to publish and broadcast them.

MY QUESTION, PARTLY ANSWERED IN THIS THOUGHTFUL ESSAY, is what could we realistically expect? Few presidents have faced such rabid assaults from the opposition. Rarely has the opposition been so successful in politicizing the utterly irrational and mobilizing voters behind non-political issues. We live in a climate not at all conducive to any real change and progress.

Barack Obama spoke to us in 2008 of what he believed in and what he would support. There were very few "I promise" statements, beyond, "I promise you that if you work with me, we can change this." He never shouted "YES I CAN." He has, as far as I can see, fulfilled that promise. The best any administration can do is stand with a foot in the door, hopefully long enough for the rest of us to push through.

No, we didn't. Not yet. Let's face it. The opposition, as fractured and weird as they are, works harder.

I support Barack Obama's reelection. The Democratic Party, apparently, does as well. There has already been a buzz (read 'a roar') from The Right on possible presidential candidates, but nothing from the other side. Is it too early to presume that there will be no other candidates for 2012? That would be incredibly ironic considering the sniping.

But the questions remain, did we have realistic expectations, and furthermore did we expect one man to do it all himself?

Pupdate and stuff...


It has come to my attention, that Pitbulls are not extreme weather beasts. Miss Jane is no exception and has let me know in no uncertain terms that she prefers a cool, ceramic tile floor to blazing pavement. This news suits me fine. Hot weather is like a house guests or fish. It starts to stink after three days. We have retreated to cool, dark environs.

Not a bar.

HGTV House Porn is on with the sound down. The music is playing at just-below-live levels.

This post is a bookmark. A place-saver. Like leaving a jacket on the back of a chair. I've ingested a lot of information in the last few days. It's time to process now. That could take a few days. Things upstairs have always moved glacially and God forbid I sprain something.

Kidding aside, the heat is just fine for me. It has been an obnoxious spring. The cold, damp settled into my bones and the distance from sitting to standing was feeling a lot farther than just last year. My patience had worn thin. I was unsuitable for human consumption. A few days in the sun seems to have been the key. All the grime has burned off like a morning mist.

For now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When real news eclipses The Onion...


I've been told many times over the years that I'm too tightly wrapped. There is probably some truth to that, because it really doesn't take much some days to set me off. I will argue, though, that we live in a very strange world.

THIS STORY SETS ME RIGHT OFF

It is so strange and so wrong on so many levels that it's hard to find words for it. I've never been able to get my head around beauty pageants for children. It's a special brand of perverse to doll up little girls like Morgan Fairchild and parade them about in front of adults--and it comes as no surprise that so many sick twists go nuts over this stuff.

The little rodeo described in this news item takes it to a brand new level. The video... the exhibition... the interview clip. I kept waiting for the cut to Rod Serling that never comes.

It also contains a stern warning. There is an equine herpes epidemic in Utah. Take that for what it's worth.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Abuse of power...

I'm still trying to sort out my words about the current deluge of examples of...

MEN BEHAVING BADLY

A fair amount of my trouble here is how the definition of power is applied to specific situations.

It could be TWO POLICEMEN AND A DRUNK GIRL.

It could be A "GENTLEMAN" OF MEANS

It could be the Governor of California...


Or one of thousands of stories that never reaches the news... The common denominator is that rape and sexual misconduct are difficult cases to prosecute, and the victim usually ends up on the shit end of the stick. That's really something to think about. I looked for statistics for successful prosecution rates for violent crimes; I searched for a comparative analysis, but came up empty handed. It seems every time I turn around though, there is another acquittal. That has to be pretty frightening when you are not one of the empowered.

So they say that absolute power corrupts absolutely... but how much power is enough to corrupt? Just enough to do something horrible?

Just random thoughts in The War Against Misanthropy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You get what you give. Sometimes.


I had a discussion today with a friend, on whether or not empathy and compassion are innate human instincts. Nature vs. nurture, and all that crap... I'm really kind of glad that this conversation wasn't recorded. Nobody would believe that it wasn't... um... chemically enhanced.

It did resonate though. The closest points of reference I have are my own children. Kids, on the surface, often seem like obnoxious, cloying, needy, self-centered, wee peckerheads. They want. They ask. They demand. They don't care that you've been busting your ass all day. Their needs/want are right there, in your face, on your best and worst days... Often at the most inconvenient times.

Then again, I experienced moments of connectedness with both of my sons that can only be described as spiritual. They seemed entirely attuned to all my moods. They shared my joyous moments and seemed ready, willing and able to offer comfort in down time, even before they could speak. Or, it was suggested today, they became alarmed that a down mood meant their needs wouldn't be met by a moody parent, and practiced a learned behavior to shift attention.

I'm not going to speak for all adults, but there are days where my compassion is in short supply. Hence the illustration above. There are days when I couldn't find it with a shovel. I've had a string of them... and of course 'shovel' is appropriate because these days generally happen when I'm buried in my own bullshit. Or simply tired. And tired of it. It's not exactly like I'm well practiced with it either. It's often only after the fact that my response to an entreaty for advice or help was... less than kind.

It's a discipline, at least for me. I'm working at it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I can't program my mobile phone...


I totally forgot what I was going to say about THIS REPORT ON AGING AND COGNITIVE DECLINE!

It doesn't make it feel any better to know that these lapses are a normal part of aging. Then again, if it were long-term memory rather than short-term, it could preclude the need for expensive therapy. Maybe...

Potential problem with this? Well, learning is supposed to be a lifelong process, but chemical breakdowns aren't going to make it easier, are they? Can the breakdown be slowed? Reversed? There are scores of products on the market that claim it can be. The jury is still out on most of them though. Gingko biloba gives me a headache and that's probably not because I'm remembering too much.

Oh well...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Silent but deadly...


So, apparently...

HE WAS HERE ON SCHEDULE!!!

He came in "like a thief in the night," just like the book says. He passed... er... judgment quietly. He'll be back in five months. Then we'll all be headed either north or south.

Harold Camping told reporters that it was a tough day for him.

Yeah, no shit. I'll bet it was.

Will Family Radio be writing refund checks? Nope. And that stinks.

Is happiness overrated?


THIS ARTICLE from The Boston Globe suggests that it may be. I'm going to have to read up on the study cited. The write-up here, at best, tells us to be wary of those who always appear happy, and to be suspicious of those who are always engaged in the obsessive pursuit of happiness. It's also a fairly stern warning to be mindful of our own ideas of what might make us happy, and the lengths to which we'd go to achieve such.

Really just food for thought, as I inventory my own wants vs. my own needs.

Taking the kids along for the ride.


LEARNING IS A LIFELONG DISCIPLINE.

And everybody hates a know-it-all, right? This article poses an interesting question: How much better off would our children be if we positioned ourselves as being traveling the road with them, rather than dragging them along with us? The co-learner, rather than the pedagogue? How could they benefit from witnessing our own trial and error (provided of course we carry ourselves through tribulations with a small amount of grace)?

I have, at times, done my children a great disservice by establishing myself as the expert, dispensing gospel truth with authority and discipline. The inevitable failures inherent to any parent's life quickly dispel myth, but perhaps foster resentment. Even children hate the know-it-all...

So this article was a good reminder for me. We are entrusted with the education and well-being of our wee bairns, but maybe there is a better way to prepare them. Keep the mythology of the perfect being in the books. It might, at the very least, relieve some of the pressure of being perfect.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's a process...

And like THE RESPONSE TO THIS LETTER suggests, it is about re-framing your perspective. Life does come with its disappointments. The gratitude list I wrote of a few days ago is a tool. It's not a solution. Writing a grocery list doesn't take you to the store, and the list certainly isn't going to carry your purchases home. That's going to take a bit of sweat.

Nobody can tell you what you deserve to feel and why. Nobody can tell you when and how to "get over" something. Life would be grand it it was all as easy as a quick comparison to someone in a worse situation... someone with a higher misfortune quotient. There are usually several within spitting distance.

Just be willing to believe that, as George Harrison put it so wisely and beautifully, ALL THINGS MUST PASS.

And be willing to work it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All kidding aside... on Gratitude

I've spent the better part of the last week stirring it, just a little. I do want to be very clear, however, that I am not having a laugh at the expense of good people of faith. These are mostly good-natured pokes at the sort of false prophets and charlatans that, over the years, scared me away from religion and spirituality... and of course there were other factors... my own immense ego not the least of them.

This coming Saturday may or may not be THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. We may or may not die, as a group, or as individuals. Make no mistake, though. You're going to die. I'm going to die. There may come a point also, when you'll want to take inventory of your life as a whole, or a spell you've been going through, or just that particular day. You may not like what you see at the end of that inventory. You may find that no matter how you crunch the data, you're coming up in the red. What then?

I'm told a person can always start over, at any point in their life. At any point of any day. That is probably true but I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm not that bad. I'm not Pol Pot, and if you're reading this you're probably not either. I have, however, pulled some nasty shit. I'm not proud of it, but going back and doing it over isn't an option. Why did I do it? God knows. Perhaps because I always viewed the world as a hostile, adversarial place, and that anything I did was simply payback for any number of things that happened or didn't happen to me. I had a grocery list of justifications. You may also. Something to think about?

Lately, I've been trying... TRYING, I SAY... to remain in the spirit of gratitude for the blessings in my life, large and small. I try to make a daily list, and that helps. Sometimes it's the small things that keep me going, when for whatever reason the large things are obscured. This discipline of making this daily list didn't come easily, having become practiced in counting up all the things that never went my way. Some time ago, someone passed me a handwritten note with their list. It was VERY SIMILAR TO THIS LIST. I gave this someone a very insincere smile and a thank you, and pocketed the paper. It came out of my pocket a few days later on laundry day and I read it. What was there to lose? Long story short, I still try to make that list every day, with my morning coffee, which incidentally I am always very grateful for. It helps.

But this Rapture business. I do believe wholeheartedly that it's a load of nonsense, but... BUT... I don't believe it's such a bad thing for people to remember that when they are called up, or simply drop dead, it's entirely out of their hands. You just don't know, bucko. That in mind, it's never bad to be reminded about how you're living. Nothing brings you closer to life than death.

And now... back to the Apocalypse!

Many are called, and few are chosen.

400,000 really isn't a lot when you think about it. The odds of being among The Chosen are a little better than hitting a PowerBall jackpot, but not quite as good as hitting the Trifecta at the track. That leaves many of us way up there without a paddle, if you get my drift.

So it's all supposed to start this Saturday, on May 21, 2011. Then there will be 5 months of mayhem, starvation, plaque and all that fun stuff. I don't have much of a taste for any of that so I'll probably do some reading.

I've had a lot of time on my hands, being a Citizen of Involuntary Leisure, and all this Hell Hoopla got me thinking. I'll be taking a trip to a place I've never been before. I know nothing about it. The geography, the climate's a no-brainer (pack shorts), the culture... most of all the people. I've got some research to do. So my journey really begins at Amazon.com.


WHO'S WHO IN HELL seems like a good place to start, no? It's on order. I chose UPS 2nd Day, because who knows what deliveries will be like after Saturday. Seems to me like the closest I'm going to get to a Fodor's Travel Guide to Hell. I'll head down to the passport office tomorrow. Looks like vacation time, baby!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Have You Done To Prepare For The End of Days

Oh Stephen... please SIT DOWN!


STEPHEN HAWKING PRATTLES ON AND ON and I'm really not qualified to say whether he's right or wrong, but really... Am I the only one that finds him irksome? Can I be the only one that's noticed that he's as famous for statements he can't prove as he is for anything truly scientific?

I'm not a particularly religious person. I am not, however, an atheist either. I do, in fact, find many atheists every bit as annoying as the religious right. They are often as devout in their proselytizing as those they find all too many excuses to argue with.

It almost makes me wish that May 21, 2011 would settle the argument once and for all.

Almost.

Not quite.

We could, of course, launch from here into arguments about teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design in school, as an alternative to Big Bang and Evolution. Perhaps, after more coffee... but not now. I'm just saying. Faith is an interesting phenomenon. We all seem to be possessed of blind, unwavering faith in something. Even Stephen (har!). I'm just going to keep my eyes and ears... and heart, open. We will see what develops.

Monday, May 16, 2011

AWW JESUS CHRIST! NOT AGAIN!

This is, of course, not the first time that they've predicted... what?

THE END OF THE WHOLE GODDAMN WORLD!!!!

I grew up in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We did a 'duck & cover' drill a couple times. There was a mysterious yellow sign in the school that read FALLOUT SHELTER, and it marked the entrance to an area in the school that nobody but a crusty custodian named Dobber (don't ask why, I don't know) had seen. My suspicion is that it was chockful of ashtrays, bourbon and porno mags. But I digress. People regularly used terms like overkill. By the 80s, Ronald Raygun (Remember him? He doesn't.) was talking about First Strike Capability and Star Wars, blah blah blah.

This latest threat, however, carried much more profound implications. Jesus is coming back, they say, and he's rather ticked off this time. You would be too if you got banged to a cross in the blazing sun for somebody else's sins, and they turned around and kept doing all the crap you warned them not to do. Okay, I would be pissed, anyway.

This isn't new though. Every few years, some group comes along and sends you a SAVE THE DATE notice with a little byline that says in no uncertain terms, "DO IT OUR WAY OR YOU'RE UP SHITCREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE!"

We are still here.

These dates come and go, and one would think that would be the end of it for whatever johnny-come-lately group is spreading the word. Sometimes it is, like with those poor, misguided bastards with the purple shrouds and neat-o New Balance running shoes. Sometimes, however, they move on, mumbling about miscalculations and the inscrutability of God. They're an interesting lot, these Prophets of Doom. Most of them really don't seem bad sorts. They can be annoying for sure. And amusing. Let's face it. We all enjoy a good laugh, so at the end of the day (and there may not be too many days left) I am thankful for these folks.

Which brings me to my end of the world book recommendation:


APOCALYPSE PRETTY SOON chronicles a few of these Doomsday groups. The author even meets with some of them... folks who picked a day... and the day came and went... etc. It's a light read. It's a fast read, which may come in handy, all things considered. It could be, after all, your last Monday on Earth. It's easy enough to get at your local chain bookstore. Or you could have mine. If these folks are right, I'll be busy swimming in a lake of fire, and that's not conducive to a relaxing read.

No matter what happens, though, I recommend it highly. Enjoy

The End of Times

THESE PEOPLE ARE GETTING RICH
And while I admire the spirit of entrepreneurship, and all that entails (or you can go back in the archives and find me extolling the virtues of Socialism and believe that), let's make one thing clear:

A BUNKER ISN'T GOING TO SAVE YOU FROM GOD!

This is the deal. You believe the Bible, or not. You believe the world is going to end in 5 days, or not. IF... IF YOU DO BELIEVE THIS TO BE TRUE... please, I implore you... At the very least, don't spend your last few days digging a hole (you can take that literally or metaphorically)! It's not going to help.

You are one of the chosen. Or you are not. It's really that simple. There are 400,000. That's it. Not 400,001. And it's not like there is a whole lot you can do between now and then that might give God that moment of pause. He's not going to turn to someone and say, "Hey you! Yeah, you! Silly guy in the ugly Walmart shirt with the stupid look on your face!"

"Yeah, you're out. My pal here is in. Go home. Better yet. Go to HIS home. He's got a bunker. Yeah, you'll be safe there. There is a lifetime supply of Dinty Moore and Spam."

No, if you really know the book, it doesn't work that way.

But you just can't tell some people shit!

Stay tuned. It's going to be a strange week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Your bucket list...


Okay, so you've got ABOUT A DAMN WEEK! You may want to take a quick inventory of your life. How do you feel? Tally it up again. How do you feel now? Easy does it. It doesn't really matter. Our time is up, right? It must be true if you read it on the side of a bus.

Problem...

Looking down the barrel of doom, and being a devout underachiever, I've realized that my to-do list is pretty damn boring. AND I'M RUNNING OUT OF TIME! Well, thankfully there is a solution. God bless the internetz!

Underachievers, procrastinators, and tragically unimaginative folks, there IS an answer. CLICK HERE CLOWNS!!! Consider your remaining days an adventure.

Carpe diem, bitches!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ah, but I was so much older then...

I'm younger than that now...

I don't think so much about age and aging most days, despite the growing numbers of silver hairs that surprise me every morning in the mirror. Despite hair appearing where there was once none... Ugh! Despite the mild shock of receiving a reminder from our good friends at AARP, that I'll be turning 50 later this year.

!!!!!!

Yes, I will be signing up the moment the benefits are available. The word DISCOUNT carries a greater weight now than it did in more carefree days.

There has always been a lot of talk about the reverence we should hold for age. Respect your elders. Honor thy father and mother. Etc. It's always seemed more lip service than anything else. And I will admit to having encountered some fairly difficult older people. I am quickly becoming one of them.

The world, however, remains mostly enamored of the young and their achievements. The Information Age and The Intertoobz have us hurtling through linear time like shit through a goose. You can be rendered a has-been overnight. You can be yesterday's news before you can grow a full beard.

It can, admittedly, be a little disheartening sometimes to be one of the "not so fresh," having through circumstance or bad decisions not realized one's potential. So this in mind, news of an art showcase featuring the work of ONLY folks over 50 may not have caught my eye, even just a few short years ago. I was about to straighten my creaky knees up from the sofa this morning when I encountered this bit on THE GEEZER GALLERY. This is not a little feelgood, pollyanna crap about art therapy in the home. Definitely a cut above and worth checking out.