Today is the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.
Every year this day brings some new aspect of my dad to mind. This year, probably due to some things happening with people I know, what comes to mind is my dad’s gentleness. He was a badass. A superstar athlete and minor league baseball player. He cussed, and he had a temper. He could get so mad…
…but he was always gentle with me, my mom, and other people. He was gentle. Not just in his actions, but in his words. There was never anything approaching verbal abuse in our house. There was never a need to fear being around him. Loving, gentle, and supportive to the end. That was my dad.
The holiday season is once again at our throats. Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but the Christmas stuff is already on TV and the retail business analysts are already making their predictions for this year’s consumer orgy.
As I have written in the past, while I’m not a big fan of traditional Thanksgiving food, I do like the sentiment of the holiday. There’s a lot in the world to complain about, and most of us take every opportunity to do just that. We love to get our complain on.
Now, as a secular humanist I feel kind of weird saying I am “thankful” , as that indicates I am thankful to some supernatural being who has “blessed” me. Even if I believed in some personal supernatural life-manager, it seems kind of arrogant and wrong to celebrate the blessings he/she/it/them have conferred on me whilst simultaneously leaving others in worse, indeed sometimes dire, situations. Like the millions in the world who live on essentially no money, don’t have clean water, etc, etc, etc. You get the picture.
Truth is, most of us who celebrate this holiday are just lucky to be in a situation where we can think about celebrating and being thankful for all the good things. Just lucky. That’s it. We’re not “good”, we’re not “better”. Just sheer makes-no-sense, why-am-I-me-and-not-someone-else, born into relative prosperity luck.
But if it makes you feel better to think that for some reason the gods have smiled upon your more than your neighbor, well, then knock yourself out. It really doesn’t matter, because it’s still just luck.
All that being said, and as I’ve said in previous years, I think it is a good practice to at least once a year recognize how lucky you are. Have some gratitude to the Lords of Chaos for allowing random chance to benefit you. A day to recognize what isn’t fucked up in your life. If your life really does suck, well, there’s always someone with flesh eating bacteria consuming a leg or internal organ, so take some satisfaction in the fact that it isn’t you (unless that’s you too).
So here’s a list of people/things/stuff/etc that I am thankful to nothing in particular for:
my wife – so proud of her, and thankful that she is supportive of my endeavors.
my aunts and uncles
the rest of my family – cousins, etc. Such good people.
my in-law family
my nieces and nephews, who are a beacon of all that is good.
skateboarding, of course
relative health — you know — I have a few aches and pains, but overall I feel pretty good for a beat-up aging skateboarder
Aikido – which has changed my life and made me better
My job – I get to work in a profession that does good works for our community, I get to have fun with it, and they pay me.
My loving grandparents, all of whom I miss, and all of whom were supportive.
Grateful that thus far in my life a giant meteor hasn’t obliterated Earth.
Grateful to have had a dad who was supportive, loving, and positive, and who taught me to cuss really well.
Grateful for the knowledge that this is all just temporary, everything dies, so there is really nothing to fear.
My Aikido teacher.
My Aikido dojo – where you can forget all your problems because someone’s fist is heading toward your face.
Books and literature – through which we can see the world through other’s eyes.
My cats – all of ’em dead and alive.
Especially my nephew Alex, who is growing up too fast, but makes me proud every day, and happy every time I think of him.
I’m in that kind of mood this week, and you, my poor reader, are right in the cross hairs.
Yes, another post that verges on a rant. OK, I’ll admit. It is a rant. I’m good with that. Maybe it’s the impending Holiday Season that is cranking my internal stress level up, as I already wish it was over. Maybe it is the stress I feel knowing that I will have to ramp-up the War on Christmas this year if I’m to have any negative effect on the holiday. I don’t know. But here we go…
There are certain activities in our society that are considered good in almost situations. Today I’d like to cite two such things, and explain why they are both bullshit.
We like to encourage reading. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that as a society we like to pretend to encourage reading. We say “just get kids to read” and everything will work out. Adults are supposed to be better people if they will just read rather than watch TV.
As a thinking, conscious vertebrate, I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth.
If someone is reading stupid stuff they are making themselves and society around them worse. If they are reading books by Glen Beck, Ann Coulter, or any of that ilk, they are harming themselves. They are harming themselves as surely as if the were sucking on the exhaust pipe of a running car in a sealed garage while gulping down tranquilizers and vodka, and they are making society worse by fueling the publishing business that purveys such stupidity.
If you are reading the Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye, or any other kind of Christian Apocalypse literature, and you are reading it as anything other than humor, you are contributing not only to your own intellectual damnation, but that of your species as well.
So stop. It pains me greatly to says this, but stop. Change what you are reading or stop. You would be better off in a vegetative state. Read science fiction, a zombie novel, a classic, a cook book, but for the love of Jeebus stop reading that hack political and religious stuff. You aren’t educating yourself. You are de-educating yourself.
I’m tired of these “Get out the Vote” drives, in which the general population is encouraged to get out and vote. This is not a good idea. Remember, a large part of the population is reading books by Glen Beck. This is the country that birthed Rush Limbaugh. Just because those folks have the right to vote doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to encourage them.
Voter turnout is actually only good if they turn out for YOUR SIDE. And by YOUR SIDE, I mean MY SIDE.
I’m not suggesting that anyone be disenfranchised. Every citizen of this country who is of voting age and hasn’t lost their voting rights due to crime absolutely has the right to vote and that should be guarded, protected, and cherished. That doesn’t mean that every lump of protoplasm with a pulse should be encouraged to vote. For God’s sake, have you been to Walmart? If you have, you know where I’m going with this argument, and I won’t even finish it. Just connect the dots.
Alright, that’s it for today. Remember – Read Well and Vote Well, or don’t.
Admission: On a bad day on the stock market, I enjoy seeing the pictures of dejected brokers and traders. I imagine them all going out and jumping out of high windows or jumping in front of subway trains. I like seeing the people who leach money out of the system have a bad day. Don’t you? If you say “no”, you are a liar!
Bathroom urinals are designed so that the “pee catcher” protrudes a few inches from the main body of the urinal. While urinal design varies slightly from one manufacturer to the other (one must consider aesthetics in all areas of endeavor), the protruding pee catcher is common to all modern urinals.
This design allows one to urinate without dribbling pee all over the floor in front of the urinal, IF — and I can’t emphasize this enough — one stands within a reasonable distance of the urinal.
It doesn’t work if you are a foot away. It isn’t that complicated. When finishing the urination, you must have your member OVER the pee catcher until all urination is concluded, and all dribble-droplets are dribbled.
I was inspired, one might say compelled, to write this by the conversation I was eavesdropping on this morning, outside my office door. Unintentional eavesdropping — they were invading my sound-space. And brother, when you invade my sound space,it is on!
Deep male voices — the name Romo comes up a few times – talk of options and blah blah blah. Yes, it was a Monday morning discussion of yet another glorious Dallas Cowboys victory on the field of simulated battle yesterday.
This has never been my world. I’ve never had even the slightest interest in football. None. While I enjoy a good baseball game and I like that sport, I don’t go out of my way to watch it. Basketball — every game is the same. Sorry. It is. But of all the “big 3” sports, football offers nothing to interest me at all. When dudes start talking sports in general, and especially football, I’m pretty sure my eyes glaze over as if the Zombie Virus has just taken hold of me and my mind has gone empty. Which is weird, because to me they’re the zombies.
Before I go on, let me just clear this up. I just said I like baseball. I do. Baseball, for all its steroid scandals, is a great sport. Some will say it is “too slow”. To them I say “No. YOU are too slow, idiot!”. Still, I rarely devote the many hours required to watch a game. I save it for the World Series, but usually I pretty much skip that too. Sorry, I have a life.
My brother-in-law took me to a Boston Bruins hockey game a couple of years ago. First time I’d been to a hockey game. Now THAT was an experience. I can’t say I’ll spend a lot of time watching hockey, but it was fun. And the fans…let’s just say the crazy meter was on “11”.
Now I will continue…
At any get-together, if I meet a new person and they bring up football (which is common and usually happens in the first three seconds of interaction) I know the conversation is over. Done. As soon as those words leave his mouth, I am looking for my exit. “Can you excuse me? I have to go home and put some new doilies on my tea table.” Before you think too badly of me for feeling this way, keep in mind that as soon as that person realizes that I have no idea what he’s talking about he will quickly be scanning the room for safer territory. It’s like being a librarian in a room full of salesmen (I have been in this situation). As soon as they find out you’re a librarian and can’t do anything to make them money, they never make eye contact with you again.
The only thing my liberal intellectual elite mind finds less interesting than professional football is, you guessed it, college or high school football. At least I am vaguely aware of the names of professional teams. In our culture you can’t help but be. But it seems unreasonable to expect me to know anything about your favorite college team. Sorry, but the inner workings of the mind of the coach of the Chickenville State Worm Gobblers isn’t foremost, or even lastmost, on my mind. Getting all worked up about your college or high school team, well, it’s just infantile.
I don’t know any of the millions of rules of football. It’s just too complicated.
I have always preferred doing things myself, rather than watching others do things. I’d rather be skateboarding, or drawing, writing, or reading, or going to aikido practice. Or staring blankly into the sun while wearing a turtleneck sweater on hot summer day with gnats buzzing around my nostrils.
I’m not saying that watching football (or other professional sports) is for stupid, uninteresting people. I know plenty of intelligent interesting people who enjoy watching football. BUT – I’ve never met a stupid uninteresting dude who didn’t love watching football. So there’s an intersection of several Venn diagrams there, and it’s a space I don’t want to occupy.
You’ve probably heard the theory that professional sports are a substitute for war in our society. Instead of city-states actually fighting, they compete on the sports field. Doesn’t seem to be working. Last I heard, people around the world are still killing each other, in-between halves.
It’s more likely, I think, that sports watching/football fanaticism provides some common topic for adult men to discuss — something to insure that at that next dinner party they don’t get mad about politics and start tearing each other apart. Football talk is just violent enough to engage the lizard-brain ever so slightly. I feel my brain stem tingling a bit just thinking about it.
Soccer fans are always quick to point out that soccer is the “real” football. Yeah yeah. Tell it to someone who cares. As much as I don’t care for football, soccer is even worse. Entire games where there is hardly any score. They just run around. They spend a couple of hours accomplishing nothing. Worse part is this — the fans take it so seriously they will KILL each other over it!
While we’re on soccer, let me just mention that what I hate about it is the way the players always pretend to be injured. They are great athletes, but for some reason the culture of the game allows this bullshit acting, and the actors aren’t publicly shamed! This last weekend I went to a pool skating session where a guy tried ten times to ride his skateboard straight into the deep end of a swimming pool. Dude tried about 10 times before making it at least enough to roll away up the next wall. Crashed the other 9 times. No complaining. No crying. Just picked his ass up , climbed out of the pool, and tried again. So you see, I have no patience for soccer players who pretend to be injured.
Back to football…soccer is too big a subject to work in here properly.
I’d rather hear dudes talk about hunting. I don’t even like hunting, but at least in hunting sometimes interesting things happen, like that time Vice President Dick Cheney nearly blew that dude’s face off. See — that is interesting. The potential for good events is there with hunting. You don’t get that with fishing. What’s the worst thing that might happen (other than an occasional drunken drowning)? Getting a hook caught in your nostril?
Which brings me to the one part of football I do like — the injuries. Now let me be clear. I really do feel bad for the people who get brain injuries in football. Or the kids who get paralyzed. It’s a violent sport. I don’t really understand why parents let their kids play. I’m certainly not a pussy. I’m a skateboarder, former wrestler, and a martial arts practitioner. But football is really really really not good for the human body. Parents, seriously, what the fuck? Sure, injures happen in all sports, but in most sports a 300 pound human isn’t targeting his mass x velocity at your knee.
Now, back to my enjoyment of the injuries. Really, I think most people are hoping for injuries. They want their team to really injure the shit out of the opposing team. They want to see “a good hit”. So I’m not alone in this, my sole pleasure from football. I’m just honest about it. Everyone likes to see a good Joe Theismann hit. Fans get to live vicariously through the action of the person inflicting the hit. “MAN I’d like to do that to that guy who takes the last cup of coffee in the office without starting another pot”. That’s what they’re thinking.
One thing that make me sad is when women get dragged into the world of football by their boyfriends or husbands. They become fans. Usually, husbo is a football fan and the choice is simple. Either convert or be an infidel. Being an infidel is not good for the relationship, because there are actually three members of the “couple”, the third being the girlfriend/wife — also known as the “second wife”. The primary wife is football. And football is a very demanding spouse, as it requires huge blocks of time. Watching a football game essentially takes an entire afternoon or evening. So if there are two “important” games on during the weekend (and two is a very light viewing load), well, you get the picture.
All this, and to what end? Well, let me tell you what this is really all about. The purpose of televised sports. The cause of all this misery. One need only watch 15 minutes of a game and it is painfully clear what football’s special purpose is. Selling beer. All the body building, steroids, HGH, and injuries of the players. All the marital/relationship stress, sublimation of violent urges, social isolation and feelings of masculine inadequacy, lack of exercise and associated carb-fueled weight gain.
It’s all about selling beer. Beer finances it all, while still managing to make a healthy profit. If you doubt this, I challenge you to look at a game without your beer goggles on, and be honest with yourself. It isn’t about athleticism, courage, determination, or character development. From peewee league to the NFL, ultimately it is about selling beer.
If this article has angered you, please, I entreat you to seek out a competent mental health professional, because you are sick.
All this being said, if you invite me to a Superbowl party there’s a good chance I’ll show up, because while I don’t care for the game I do enjoy the spectacle and hanging with friends.
Men’s watches with big metal bands. Seem to be trying too hard to be manly.
Really huge watches. This trend needs to stop. There is a maximum reasonable size for a watch, based on the size human wearing it. So the rule is fuzzy, but in general if the watch can be seen from space, it is too big.
Pictures of people at parties holding their drinks. Reminds me of how uncomfortable and awkward it is to have to carry a damned drink around with you.
Cosplay. This is an excuse at comic conventions for 1)women to dress up and make the convention all about themselves, and 2)for nerds to ogle women dressed up as superheros. Exception — every Con, regardless of official subject matter, needs at least one extremely obese women dress up as the green Orion dancing girl from Star Trek.
The Prairie Home Companion. Actually, I’ve never not been weary of this audio exercise in tedium. The good news? Garrision Keillor is 71.
Dave Mustaine. Heavy Metal is not a musical genre known for the intelligence of it’s musicians or it’s fans, but Dave is probably dragging the mean IQ down quite a bit. Again, really, I’ve always been weary of Dave.
Sometimes I love Texas. We have some cool stuff. We have Six Flags Over Texas. We have Willie Nelson. We have good BBQ. We have ZZ Top. We have great skateboarding and great skateboarding history. No joke – when the skateparks died in the last 1970s, Texas was a massive part of keeping the dream alive. From Jeff Newton and Zorlac in Dallas to all those rad dirtbag rippers in Houston, Texas was super important.
However, we don’t always make the best collective decisions. Case-in-point, please refer to the kickass gun slinging, executin’, fetus-protecting career of one Rick Perry. For a state that supposedly has a “weak governor”, Perry has proven amazingly adept at using his position (and the Republican majority in our House and Senate) to bludgeon the state to his heart’s content, in particular women, the poor, and the sick.
But this article isn’t about trash-talking our kickass governor. What was I talking about…? Oh yeah, about the good and bad thing…
OK, I after watching the spectacle of Paula Deen unfold for a week or two, I feel compelled to comment on it. Sorry, but I’m being moved by a force greater than my own will to do this, because, well…here we go…
First, let me say Paula Deen is largely off my radar, and always has been. I barely know who she is. It is my understanding that she is a TV personality known for her “southern” mannerisms and way of speaking, who specializes in cooking various artery-blocking, liver-killing, colon-clogging, lethargy-inducing foods.
OK, I’m good with that. I don’t support it, but hell, she didn’t invent shitty food. She just jumped on the gravy train of gravy and is riding it all the way to the dialysis center. It’s all good.
I wish Ms. Deen no ill will. I don’t know her. I’m sure she would do a fine job catering your child’s “first gun” celebration.
Apparently a couple of weeks ago Ms. (or is that Mrs. or Miss) Dean admitted to using racist language and essentially running what most modern Americans might consider to be a “hostile” work environment. Her use of the “N” word seems to have gotten the most attention.
All of this resulted in termination of Paula’s TV show (I think she lost the show, but don’t really care enough to verify) and loss of some of her business partners (like Walmart). Yes, apparently non-whites also shop at Walmart, and the retail monster came to the incredible conclusion that they may not want to do business with a public person who has pissed off a lot of their clientele. How shocking!
Now for an unexpected change in the direction of this article. Surprise — I’m not really going to discuss Paula.
I have been very amused, whilst simultaneously annoyed and disgusted, by the reactions of many white people to this situation. Especially white southerners. For you see, I am a white southerner, born and bred. Hell, I still have paper mill smoke in my lungs I’m trying to cough out.
Comments I have read on the internets from such beings include the usual “Well they say it, so why can’t we?” Or “What a double standard. Black comedians and rappers use that word, so what is wrong with Paula using it?” The list goes on, but they are pretty much all like that.
Really? Do you folks really not understand it? Are you really that stupid, white people? Don’t answer that question. I know that some of you are, but most of you are just stubbornly clinging to the racism you were taught as part of your life in the South. Remember, I grew up here too, and I am intimately familiar with this kind of “I don’t understand why…” act.
I grew up hearing this kind of southern bullshit. Is it really your greatest Rebel Aspiration to be able to use the N-word whenever you see fit?
If it is, then all I can say is this: That’s really weak.
As I write this, fear not for my mood. I am “jamming” the Toy Dolls, and thus in quite a reasonably good state of mind.
Tonight my now 7-year old MacBook took a big dump. I turned it on, it began to book up, put the background image, but would not build my desktop. I tried several times, and each time a big, stinking, slimy, dump.
Thank “BOB” I back up my machine regularly. As I sit her listening to “Ernie Had A Hernia”, my poor old electronic friend attempts to reload from the last backup. Since it is, in fact, rebuilding, it seems the parts are all working. Doubtless the Pinks sabotaged my software. No matter. I am bigger than them.
It has not been a wonderful month for technology in my sphere of influence. In the 100 degree Texas summer heat, my car’s AC dumped on me last week. Our “new” vacuum cleaner took a dump on me last night, refusing to create a vacuum though the motors all seem to be running. After practically taking the whole damned thing apart I have failed to diagnose the problem. So it is mentally filed in the mind-cabinet under the category “Currently Fucked Up.”
I suppose while I’m writing I should mention the powerful and brave performance of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who stood in front of the Texas Senate for over 12 hours the other night to filibuster an anti-abortion bill that would have reduced not only access to abortion for Texas women, but also associated medical services. Our cowardly and stupid Lt. Governor actually tried to falsify the time stamp of the final vote, after a gallery full of citizens stood up for their rights and shouted the GOP pinks down.
Our neanderthal Governor has already called another special legislative session, and will spend close to $1 million on it, in order to force the bill through. I suspect it will pass this time, but not without a lot of debate.
Thanks and mad props to Senator Davis, however, for at least trying to keep evolution moving in the right direction. It is a hard fight, and she has guts.