Matt Walsh Writes A Useless Blog. You Deserve Better

Today is Monday, the day where I talk about “The Issues”.  Today’s issue is “Matt Walsh writes a useless blog”.  My friends, you deserve a better blogger than Matt Walsh.  I don’t like Matt Walsh because we don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of ideas.  For instance, I’m going to start this by saying this piece is an opinion piece based on a number of texts Matt Walsh has created, and if you disagree with me you can still be a good person.  If Matt Walsh were to try and make a similar disclaimer, it would have to be something like “I’m going to give you a fact piece based solely upon my biased opinion and if you disagree with me you are a heartless satanic liberal’.  Let me take a step back to justify these claims.

Matt isn’t a humorist.  I feel that is important to mention, because a humorist can write that his blog is ‘absolute truths’ or that he is a ‘professional truth sayer’ for comedic effect; Matt Walsh does both these things purely out of egotistical delusion.  Matt leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m going to show you why, along with some help from my good friend Matt Walsh, who wrote down so many condemning items for me to share.  Now some of you might be thinking “Steve, why are you doing this?”  Because you deserve better, dear reader.  Also, I hate Matt Walsh’s blog, and I think you should too.

I have a few problems with Matt’s blog that cause me to categorize his work as uninspired and unreadable.  The first is that it infests my Facebook feed, when I’d rather see articles written by intelligent people that have something meaningful to say that isn’t just a biased rant typical of a confused old man pining for the white-washed days of yesteryear.  The second problem is that he doesn’t attack actual issues, he attacks straw men that he’s constructed in his head that look nothing like the issue he’s talking about.  The third problem is that Matt lives in a fantasy world that doesn’t look anything like the actual world that we live in.  Matt’s world is one where white patriarchal Christian conservatism is always right, the Satanic liberals are always pushing an agenda of evil, and his proposed ‘solutions’ are relevant to reality.  The fourth problem is that he doesn’t understand complexity, but will always boil a complex issue to a binary stance of either ‘you are with me or against me’.

The fifth problem is that his blog is far too predictable and useless, and that’s the deal breaker for me.  Because I like to know what my friends are reading, and I hate Matt’s blog, I started playing a game called “Can I predict what Matt is going to say?”  I could almost every time without fail.  It is a very easy game to play.  Just pick whatever an elitist conservative ‘Christian’ dripping in white privilege would say, and there you go, the blog practically writes itself.  If the topic is about unarmed black teenagers being gunned down, his post basically says ‘calm down, those cops have a tough job and maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt’ (even though the facts were in by that point, and the attitudes he opposed were in fact correct, he just wanted to ignore them because the black people were right for once). If the topic is about women’s rights, feminism, abortion, or one of those other topics that is a women’s issue, his post basically says ‘bitches need to stop being so uppity and listen up to what he is about to tell them is right’.  If the topic is about suicide, his post basically says that he’s against it, even if a person’s life contains nothing but pain, that life needs to go on suffering because he’s uncomfortable about what his kids will think” or maybe it just shows his complete ignorance about mental health issues and basically says ‘if Robin Williams was right with Jesus, he wouldn’t be so depressed all the time’.  If the post is countering claims that he has white privileged, his post shows that he has no idea what white privilege is so you should shut up because Matt Walsh gets to decide what white privilege is now (which is the ultimate demonstration of white privilege).  I could go on (posts about poor people, atheists, minorities, etc) but this blog post needs to start going somewhere, and can’t just list every condemning biased post Matt has written.  There’s already a blog called What is Matt Walsh wrong about today?; you can read it for more specifics.

The one time I got it wrong was when he wrote a piece called “Sorry, but it’s your fault if you’re offended all the time”.  Without reading the piece, I assumed it was going to be his autobiography, because Matt Walsh blog is nothing but a guy whining about how he is constantly offended by some things that do matter and a lot of things that don’t matter.  Seriously, I can’t find a cheery piece that he’s written in which he’s not trying to sell tickets and make himself money at some speaking event.

[Edit: Right after writing this piece, but before posting it, Matt Walsh wrote this cheery little number about why it is so great to get married.  That’s going to be very funny when you get two paragraphs further into this blog and read how Matt Walsh wants to prevent people from getting married.]

People of the internet, you deserve a better blogger!

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I’d like to do a breakdown of a more recent article from Matt that highlights each of the 5 faults I find in his uninspired work.  This blog post of propaganda and bigotry was waiting for me in my facebook feed.  The article is called ‘There Is No Such Thing as Marriage Equality”.  This is a typical article form Matt.  Go ahead and play the game where you predict exactly what Matt is going to say.  It’s really easy.

Okay, now that you’re predictions are in, go ahead and read the article.  Or don’t.  It’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be.

Matt has two points as to why gay marriage should not be allowed:
• A relationship between two men or two women is not the same exact thing as a relationship between a man and a woman.
• Gay folks can’t have kids.

The rebuttals to these points are “so what?” and “yes they can”.  Matt’s 2000+ word argument can be countered in 5 words.  Also, both of these ‘reasons’ why gay people can’t get married are non sequiturs.

Reasoning isn’t Matt’s strong suit, but deception is.  To really understand Matt Walsh and the kind of writer he is, I feel like there are 3 things that need to happen before you can really get to the heart of his blog posts.  The first is to locate all of the straw men, then all of the non sequiturs, and finally all of the delusions.  The second thing to do is cut out all of the ‘woe is me’ and the ‘what happened to the good ol’ days of yore’ and the ‘why is everything so bad now’ which does nothing but inflate his lacking content with a whiney diatribe.  That’ll take awhile, because he has a lot of clutter in his articles. He likes to include tangential rants to reinforce that the boogeyman of liberalism is behind every problem.  The third thing you do is read what remains once all of the nonsense has been removed from his article.  In this particular post, once you cut all of the crap, you’re left with Matt Walsh saying “I don’t think gay people should get married because I don’t like it.”

Straw Man 1 – The article starts off explaining that poor little Matt is mad.  Matt is mad because marriage equality is being forced on him and he doesn’t like it.  Matt doesn’t like the fact that relationships that don’t involve him in the slightest are occurring, because Matt is a bigot who feels the need to insert his personal philosophies into peoples’ lives to rule over them as a self-entitled white conservative man.

Okay, I’m being intentionally mean, but I wanted to highlight what a straw man looks like.  I started making fun of a caricature of Matt Walsh rather than the author who wrote the article I’m talking about.  This is the kind of tactic that the actual Matt Walsh uses all the time.

Without straw manning Matt, we start off with Matt Walsh complaining that marriage equality can’t exist, therefore it shouldn’t exist, and therefore gay marriages shouldn’t be allowed.  When everyone else in the English speaking world talks about ‘Marriage Equality’, they are talking about the ability for gay people to get married to members of the same sex.  When Matt Walsh talks about ‘Marriage Equality’, he’s saying that a gay relationship isn’t the very same exact thing as a straight one, therefore it is null and void.  Good straw man, Matt!  Those things are not equal.  You get a gold star!  That’s still no reason to outlaw the real marriage equality, though.  Matt just made a bad word game, and a dangerous one at that, which I’ll explain in Straw Man 5.

Straw Men 2 & 3 –  Matt Walsh likes to insult people that don’t agree with him.  In this article, he calls those people brainless, spineless, foolish, and he doesn’t say it outright but he gets very close to calling all his detractors godless, immoral, liberal, baby-killing Satanists trying to start a religion of debauchery.  That’s not a straw man, that’s actually in his article [paragraphs 7 through 10]. You can find other similar rants against his detractors throughout his blog posts.

Specifically, in this one, he picks on people that use emoticons while communicating (which are mostly children, but I guess adults do it to) and Adam Sandler fans.  That’s interesting, because I wasn’t aware that gay tolerant people used emoticons while anti-gay marriage folks never used them at all.  Also, Adam Sandler is a conservative and that’s common knowledge.  His fans are mostly teenage and college boys.  These are folks, which in my experience, don’t really care about politics.  Odd choices to be the downfall of civilization into ‘liberalism’. Emoticons and Adam Sandlar are annoying, I’ll grant Matt that, but they are hardly indications of poor intelligence.   ;^)

Straw Man 4 – Liberalism is the constant boogeyman in Matt’s various posts.  Liberalism is a thing, but what Matt Walsh is attacking is actually just a straw man/boogeyman.  There are many folks that like to portray liberal thought in a scary way in order to inspire loyalty within their audiencesThis is well documented and it is a common tactic found amongst conservative news sources.  In this article, Matt claims that the foundation of liberal philosophy is the support of gay marriage and abortion.  I don’t think he’s trying to be funny here or exaggerate, he honestly thinks that the wellspring of liberal thought is an abortion-centric place.  Clearly this man has some issues when it comes to confirmation bias.

Straw Man 5 –  No one is arguing that a relationship between two gay people of the same sex is the same as a relationship between two straight people of different sexes.  That’s silly.  I’m sure everyone can point out the differences.  Despite this, Matt is acting as if this is the very obvious truth that everyone is blind to and that he needs to explain to his readers.

But let’s go down this rabbit hole.  Is the marriage between a white man and a white woman equal to that of a black man and a white woman?  Should one of these things be made illegal because it is not ‘equal’ to the other?  According to Matt’s logic, yes, those interracial couples have a different relationship and shouldn’t get married.

Some folks might argue ‘eh, it’s close enough’.

And that’s the million dollar answer right there: “eh, it’s close enough.”
This is the same argument used to justify gay marriage.  You’ve got two people, they are in love, they want to spend their lives together, and they want to get married.  “Eh, it’s close enough.”  Matt doesn’t want to acknowledge that there is wiggle room in where we draw the line on what is and isn’t marriage. Unfortunately for Matt, the line that used to exist is being erased and being replaced with one that does include gay couples, and the people moving the line are the Supreme Court Justices.

Straw Man 6 – Matt’s definition of marriage is weird.  Matt seems to think that there is this unchangeable and time tested definition of ‘marriage’ that every single one of us has subscribed to and it can never change or else something bad will happen.  That’s not the case, and that’s a blog post for another day, because ‘traditional marriage’ and ‘biblical marriage’ are two ideas that are horrifyingly bad in a modern context or any other historical context.

Matt thinks that there needs to be a chance for human procreation between the married individuals in order for a marriage to be legitimate.  That shouldn’t matter, but to Matt it does.  He even goes on to explain why couples that get married are selfish if they are not planning on having kids.  My overall interpretation of Matt’s thoughts is that people who can’t or aren’t planning to have kids are not in a legitimate marriage.

Hey Matt, I’m married to my wife and my marriage is fine, even though we aren’t planning on having kids.  You think my marriage is invalid or selfish?  Well screw you.  Your opinion doesn’t matter in the slightest to my wife and me.  You know whose opinion does matter?  The Supreme Court’s opinion, and they are on my side, and we are on the side of gay marriage being a reality.

Again, Matt’s narrowminded ideal of marriage would make it impossible for post-menopausal women, anyone sterile, veterans whose genitals were wounded, or couples that just don’t want kids to get married.  Matt, who also wants to restrict sexual relationships to marriage, and marital relationships to those of people having kids, also lives in the 1800’s with the Victorian Era, and he oversteps his bounds when he tries to tell you what your sexual lifestyle should be.  It isn’t surprising that Matt does this, he is a delusional man drunk on white patriarchal privilege that thinks he is in an authoritative position that can speak ‘absolute truths’ as to how you should live your life, you minority scumbag.

Non Sequitur 1 – Just because a relationship is different doesn’t mean it can’t be recognized by the state.

Non Sequitur 2 –Matt thinks that because gay people can’t have children that they shouldn’t be allowed to get married.  Children have nothing to do with marriage.  When I got my marriage certificate, no one asked me if I was planning on having children with my then fiancée.   Children aren’t an issue.  That’s just Matt pretending he’s the Emporer of the Universe.

Usually it’s a bad sign if both of your points in a debate aren’t related to the argument you are trying to progress.
Matt’s Various Delusions Expressed Throughout The Piece –
•That marriage has a definition we all agree upon, and isn’t some relationship status that fluctuates wildly from culture to culture and time period to time period, starting long before the bible was even a thought
•Liberalism, the boogeyman causing everything to fall apart
•Homosexuality is an implied evil
•Homosexuality is a sign that a civilization is becoming corrupt
•That all forms of Christianity and conservatism are against gay marriage
•That the Supreme Court doesn’t get the final say, Matt Walsh gets the final say
•There is some Liberal conclave working behind the scenes to bring down all that is right with the world in some sort of Lovecraftian horror story, who won’t stop until everyone is forced to have an abortion
•Gay people are infertile, and couldn’t possibly have children via a surrogate mother, a sperm bank, or maybe even a friend of the opposite sex just willing to help out
•There is some concentrated effort by Liberals to dumb the world down in order to achieve some kind of nefarious end that involves gay people being happy
• His own self importance

So what are we left with when we remove all the crazy from Matt’s post?  Nothing relevant.  If we erase all of the tangents about a liberal conspiracy theory, all of the straw men, all of the non sequiturs, and all the delusions, then Matt Walsh’s post is simply him stating his opinion that he doesn’t like gay people and they shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it makes him feel sad.


People of the internet, you deserve a better blogger!

A Passive Aggressive Fight Broke Out In Texas….

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s Issue is: Passive Aggressive Territorial Claims.

A very specific case comes to mind, about two years ago when I was at Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL for short).  It’s a very large outdoor concert festival where there are about 8 stages playing live music, 4 going at a time while the other 4 set up for the next act.  About 75,000 people are in attendance and the park isn’t all that big, so it fills up pretty quick.

Now I was a 5-year veteran of this festival.  I had run the gauntlet of standing in front of a stage all day.  That doesn’t sound too bad until you add up all of the difficulties this entails.  There are about 5 people in every 3 feet by 3 feet square when you get that close.  It gets claustrophobic very quick as people are pressing on all sides.  It’s impossible to sit down as it takes too much space, and even if you manage it, you are probably going to get trampled at some point.  All the while the Texas sun is beating on everyone with an 85 to 105 degree heat.  It’s like that for about 6 hours, and if you leave to use the restroom, get a drink, or get some food then you can’t get back to your spot in front of the stage.  It’s a certain kind of insanity that I only reserve the big name acts that I’m most excited to see.

That’s one severe end of the spectrum.  The other end of the spectrum is for the casual music fan who doesn’t want to survive an experiment designed to test the limits of personal heat stroke.   There is a chair section for this kind of fan, where he can set up a lawn chair and enjoy the concert, although from a much further distance than your front row mob.  The chair section is much more spaced out, can be navigated by an experienced festival goer to the point that refreshments, restroom trips, and venturing to other stages is possible.  The trick is, you need to find a spot big enough for your chair.

The first day of the festival I had survived a 6 hour vigil, pressed tightly in with the rest of my fellow MUSE fans.  I tend to be the oldest guy, as the sweatlodge of the front row is a game for the young.  The festival draws heavily from the nearby universities and high schools.  These students form tight alliances in the front mob, and with some careful planning it can be quite pleasant for them.  I’m a lone wolf wolf-pack when I venture up there.  I stood through 6 hours and two other concerts in order to be in the front row to watch MUSE.  When I saw MUSE I lost my mind and it was amazing.  I shouted, I sang, I laughed, I cried, I lost my voice, I stomped my feet, I jumped in the air, I punched enthusiasm into the sky, and threw more than one person around in a body-surfing extravaganza.  I also was dehydrated, exhausted, hungry, sun burned, sore, and a bit delirious when the night ended.

The second day I wasn’t feeling up to repeating the process.  My feet hurt, my body hadn’t fully recovered from what it had been through, and I just wanted to take things easy.  So for the second day I took a lawn chair with me to go and watch the Black Keys from the chair section.  The park was already filling up, and about 35,000 people were gathering to watch the Black Keys perform.  Being an avid festival goer, I took to pushing my way forward.  There are tricks to this.  The first is to not look at the crowd, that’s just a good way to panic and give up because it is so impossible.  Just look 10 to 20 feet ahead and navigate that.  With practice it becomes easy.  With no effort I can navigate to the back end of the standing section, which is where the chair section begins.  Today, however, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I was going to leave this stage after the Black Keys, so I wanted to hang back a bit to give me a quicker exit.  It took some doing, but I found myself a spot.  In the middle of a swarm of people there was a hefty sized blank spot, so I walked up to it to set up my chair.

The spot I had found was large, probably six feet by six feet, which is unheard of for how far I was forward.  I took my chair out of my bag to set it up when I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I turned to see a guy sitting in his chair, leaning forward and looking very cross.  He was in his mid 40’s, kind of a thin guy, wearing dark aviator glasses and a visor.  He leaned to me and shouted (not because he was that angry, but because you have to shout in order to be heard in that kind of crowd) “Hey, I’m saving this spot for my friend.”

I gave him a thumbs up, showing him I understood.  There are no rules about saving spots.  Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you aren’t there, then the spot shouldn’t be yours.  Still, I respect the system of saving space because other folks in my group do it and it’s a festival where everyone should get to experience it with their friends and family.  I can easily find another spot that isn’t ‘theirs’.  ACL has a rather laissez-faire attitude about claiming territory, and generally it works out.  However, I wasn’t about to give up on this other spot that his friend didn’t need, so I set up my chair.  Like I said, the area was six feet by six feet.  I plopped my chair down on what I gauged was more than enough room for the guy’s friend to come and sit between us.  It was a ludicrous amount of room.  However, I could tell that the guy was getting angry.

“Hey!”  He shouted at me.  “I said I was saving this spot for my friend!”

I nodded and smiled at him, giving him two thumbs up this time to show him that not only had I understood him the first time, but I was understanding him a second time as well.  Both times that I had understood him, I was abiding his wishes for a spot for his friend.

“Get a load of this guy!” he started shouting to no one in particular.  “I’m saving a spot and he practically sits down on top of me!”

The few chair folks around him had to look around to who he was pointing to, and I guess a few of them figured out it was me, but it was hard to tell.  I could lean at him and stretch with all of my tenacity and still not be able to reach him.

“What an [carrot-face]!”  He kept going on, lamenting his woes to whomever would listen.  I heard him call me several names, but decided to ignore him.  At this point it was getting funny.  This concert had some pre-game entertainment.  I wasn’t really excited to see the Black Keys, but now I was going to ardently sit here to make this guy’s life a living hell by simply existing.

“Hey buddy!” he yelled in my direction.  I ignored him, because he obviously wasn’t talking to me.  I wasn’t his buddy.  He’d just called me an [carrot-face]; ‘buddy’ must have been someone else.  I just kept staring ahead, watching the crowd surge in and out of itself as people situated for the imminent Black Keys performance.

“Hey!  I’m talking to you!  This is my friend’s spot!  Get out!”

I waited for four seconds to see what he would do.  Would he throw a punch?  He’d have to get up and walk over to me in order to reach me.  Would he throw something?  I was ready to catch anything he threw my way, but by the look of things it’d either be his hat or his glasses.  Either case, I’d just keep it.  He just kept shouting at me, reiterating how this tract of land was his, so I finally turned to him and curtly asked “How fat is your friend?”

This shut him up.  Up until this point I had been pleasant.  I had abided his wishes, I had smiled, and I had given him three thumbs up total.  Questioning the obesity of his friend caught him off guard.  It also made him angry.  I can only imagine because his friend is so incredibly fat that his friend didn’t like to talk about it because it was a sore subject.  The guy’s friend must have been massive to need more than a four feet by six feet area to sit in.  A similar area at the front of the stage could have held 15 people all crammed together.  For those of you that don’t do well with spatial reasoning, that’s the size of a fold-out table.  The absurdity of it all was very entertaining, and I had to fight the impulse to break my tough-guy exterior and laugh into his face.

I went back to watching the pre-show techies as they adjusted their cameras and lights, climbing up and down the scaffolds.  Sort of.  Out of the corner of my eye I was watching what this guy would do.  He was so angry and there was no reason for it.  I found it hysterically funny.  His friend had more than enough room to set up two chairs.  This random guy didn’t get to claim the entire park just because he had a ticket to ACL.  I had one of those also, and had just as much right to sit well outside of the space he had saved for his friend as anybody.  This isn’t Oklahoma and he wasn’t a Sooner; this spot wasn’t his just because he said so.  He was just pissed because he wanted to be pissed, and I wasn’t going to let him tell me what to do just because he was throwing a temper tantrum.

He stood up.  I wasn’t sure what to do at this point, so I kept an appearance as if I was ignoring him.  At the same time, I was gathering my feet underneath me in case I needed to stand quickly.  If he wanted a fight, he’d lose, and no Texas jury would ever convict me of standing my own ground.  If he wanted to verbally accost me that was fine because I could just sit here and laugh and make him all the angrier until his heart exploded.  I just didn’t know what he was up to.  I don’t think he knew either, as he just planted his hands on his hips and adorned his best ‘tsk tsk’ act.

And then he started packing up his chair.

I didn’t believe it.  He was going to give up a glorious spot for no reason at all.  There was his spot, his friend’s spot, room for another friend in front of me, and room for still another friend.  I wondered if this guy went to the movie theater and got mad if anyone sat in ‘his’ row.  Maybe he lacked depth perception.  I was a bit disappointed in him; if he left I wouldn’t have anyone to entertain me with their absurd notion of personal boundaries.

But the show wasn’t done yet.  I knew what he was going to do before he did it, because I saw him planning it on his stupid face.

With his chair packed up, the man dropped the chair so that it’d fall over towards me.  It landed harmlessly on the ground, because there was an absurd amount of space between where I sat and where he stood.  I shook my head as he demonstrated for everyone how generous I had been with the space I’d saved him.  Undeterred, the man walked to the top of his chair, stood it up again, and proceeded to drop it a second time so it’d fall in my direction.  This time it hit my shoulder and then fell to the ground.  He walked to the front of his chair and proceeded to bend over, bumping me with his hip.  He picked it up, and dropped it again so it landed on my armrest, then gently nudged me with his arm as he recollected it.  All the while he kept sarcastically uttering “excuse me, sorry, pardon me.”

I ignored him.  He was livid.  I could tell he wanted to get under my skin, and ignoring him was driving him maniacal.

He got in my face and yelled, “Maybe now you’ll be more respectful when someone saves a spot!”

I turned my head and acted surprised, as if I didn’t expect to see him there.  My facial expression was carefully crafted to express many complex thoughts at once: smugness, superiority, dismissiveness, pity, slight confusion, nonchalance, and a complete lack of craps that I gave about him.  With a careful amount of slight annoyance I asked “Are you finished?”

There he stood, slack-jawed and stupid.  He wrenched up his chair and turned to leave in a huff, when he almost collided with several unexpected members of the audience.  While he was going through his crotch-display ritual to impress the other baboons, two teenagers had plopped down their chairs on the exact spot he had been sitting.  A third was almost smacked by the man’s chair when he whipped around to make a big show of leaving.

“Hey mister, are you leaving?”

It was too perfect.  The man huffed off, but not before he saw that not one, not two, but three people could have fit in the space that he had been saving for his comically corpulent friend.  I howled with laughter and saw him grip his fists into white-knuckles as he stormed off to the back of the crowd for absolutely no reason at all.

Getting Better At Profanity

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues and completely ignore that I didn’t post anything on Monday.  Today’s issue is: Using Bad Words.  A lot of people do it, but I find that hardly anyone does it correctly.  There is a certain art-form that effective swearing requires that seems to be lost on most of the populace, and I aim to correct that.  I want to live in a world where people swear and cuss and curse to their fullest potential!  No one teaches people how to swear, and that’s a shame.  It’s a great part of the human experience that all people are left to find out themselves.  So if you have children, make sure you pull up this article for them to read (and don’t let them click on any of the links).

DISCLAIMER:  It’s not often I’ll have to do this, but today’s post is SFW (Safe For Work).  I don’t swear in my posts or use overly graphic language.  Usually the links are safe to go visit, but today that will not be the case.  These kinds of clips are used in film school all the time (its where I got most of these clips), but usually when the professor is trying to talk about censorship and profanity.  I’m not taking any responsibility for any offense you take because of the links I’ve provided.  You’re a grown up, clicking those links is your decision.  You’ve been fairly warned.

Now don’t feel bad if you don’t swear well.  I didn’t realize it about myself for the longest time.  It took meeting a good friend of mine named Zed for me to realize this fault about myself.  Zed swears amazingly well.  Out of all the people in the world, Zed swears the best.  Swearing is Zed’s super power that he used to stop Loki from taking over New York.  Being friends with Zed was like being at the Buddhist temple for foul language enlightenment.  I thought I was swearing well, but Zed showed me what it was like to be one with the swearing.

Lesson 1: We need to analyze swear words.  My mother, who is probably horrified that I’d be talking about such a foul subject, draws the line of swear words very low.  It’s been hard to pinpoint because the bar goes lower every day, but I think the bar is currently set 8 words below the word “Silly”.  The FCC, a government agency mind you, thinks there are only 7 words in the English language that shouldn’t be said on the nation’s airwaves.  The range for folks does fluctuate a lot.  I’m going to use the word “Fart” for every swear word in this post, because it’s mostly neutral, is low on everyone’s list of possible swear words, but still has the shock value of legitimate swear words.  That’s the first lesson: you can’t really tell what your audience will consider to be a swear word.

Lesson 2: Swear words are completely unnecessary.  They are.  They distract from what one is trying to say.  Swear words can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb.  (He is a _____.  He is going to _____.  That guy is a ____ clown.  That guy is ______ dishonorable.  [I noticed that some of you filled in those blanks while reading this, and not all of you used the word ‘fart’.  The sentences do become funny when you fill in the word ‘fart’ in each blank, but I’m sure you see how it distracts from the original intent.])  Still, swear words are completely unnecessary.  With a decent thesaurus, you can see that swear words are lazy words.  Swear words are generally words that one with a poor vocabulary has to use in order to add emphasis to whatever it is one is saying.  When one lacks a verbose lexicon to impact communication in a fetching way, one can lazily concede to using foul language for its shock value as opposed to a better word’s gravitas.

Lesson 2, Example:
My best friend betrayed me by embarrassing me in front of all of the popular kids to become popular himself.  He is a _____.
He is a fart.                         VS                         He is a quisling.

Lesson 3: There are generally two reasons to swear:
•to communicate a feeling of anger/disappointment
•humor

A lot of people just throw bunches of swear words around ineffectively.  The reason is that swear words are generally used to communicate two ideas, and overusing them dulls their edge.  By overusing swear words to communicate an intense idea, you’re basically making everything you intend to be intense boring.  (You know that guy that describes everything as “epic”?  Yeah, don’t be that guy.)  By overusing swear words for humor, you’re basically repeating the punchline in hopes that other people will find it funny a second time around.

The greatest offenders of this are middle school boys to college boys.  While jogging at the YMCA, I often hear the high schoolers below me swearing in every single sentence they utter.  Sometimes it is the only word in the sentence.  It is to the point that their swearing is just extra white noise, just there to be there.  It becomes boring, trite, sophomoric, useless, and dumb.  I think of their language the same way I think of high school boys.

Swearing is a lot like makeup.  Less is more.  One can use makeup to add emphasis to something one wants people to see (eyelashes, lips, ect).  If one uses too much makeup, they look like a clown.  Same goes for swearing.  The trick to swearing effectively is that it needs to be a rare event.  Swearing all the time makes one look like a clown.

Swearing has a certain power to it.  If every time you use a profanity, your language loses some of its power.  A speaker that abuses vocabulary loses all of their power.  People that overuse profanities are seen as vulgar, stupid, and crass.  Seems accurate.  These folks don’t realize that they are being overly offensive for no reason (vulgar), they don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves meaningfully (stupid), and they lack the social skills necessary to talk with intelligent and refined people (crass).

So how often should you be swearing?  The answer is always the same: Less.

Reserved swearing will actually increase your swearing effectiveness.  If my mother were to suddenly drop a profanity into one of her sentences after 60 years of not swearing, I’d know that she was EXTREMELY angry at a situation.  Her profanity would catch my attention, I’d know the severity of the situation, and I’d legitmently be shocked by it.  It’d be such a landmark occurrence that I’d call my sister to let her know that it’s happened.  Meanwhile, if Snoop Dog were to swear in a sentence, we’d all know that his heart is still beating.

Lesson 4:  Rarely use a swear word as an adverb.  It’s the equivalent of using the words “very” or “really”.  Both of these words are similar to swear words in that they are lazy ways of adding emphasis.  I’m really sure some very well planned abuse of these words will really show you how very little they really add to any sentence.  ‘The man is very stupid’ is not a better sentence than ‘the man is stupid’.  The idea is to add emphasis to the insult ‘stupid’.  This is how I hear most people insert their swear words because it is easy.  An adverb can go almost anywhere in a sentence, and yet, folks tend to place their swear word right before the word they are trying to emphasize, which completely negates what they are trying to do.  Also, most swear words, when converted into adverbs, will get an ‘-ing’ ending.  This makes swear words look like verbs, and can change the entire meaning of your sentence.

Lesson 4, Example:
The man is stupid.
The man is farting stupid.

The swear word in this case was meant to emphasize how stupid the man is.  Instead, the audience is wondering how one farts stupidly.  The swear word had so much emphasis that it took over the entire sentence, graduating from an adverb to a verb.  All meaning was lost.  Even if we did away with the ‘-ing’ ending, the sentence becomes ‘The man is fart stupid’.  Now it’s just an awkward sentence.  The word ‘stupid’ is now describing the word ‘fart’.  The sentence has been ruined by adding swear words into it.

Lesson 5:  Rarely use swear words as adjectives, for the same reasons as rarely using them as adverbs. They become boring.  They change the meaning of the sentences.  They aren’t effective.  It’s easy to insert a swear word before the noun you are trying to describe, but don’t.  Any swear word used as an adjective can be replaced by the word ‘big’.

LESSON 5, Example:
The man is an idiot.
The man is a farting idiot.
The man is a big idiot.

Nothing was added with the expletive except confusion.  The man is farting in addition to being an idiot?

Lesson 6:  The F-Word has become trite.  It really has.  The moment that “WTF” became something normally said on prime time television during a news cycle, the F-Word was done.  It’s over.  The reign of the F-Word has collapsed.  Now it is only offensive for the sake of being offensive.  It’s why I’m not spelling the word out despite it being a vapid profanity.  It’s overused.  True, it is a versatile word with fitting usage as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb.  It’s just not effective anymore.  The F-Word is so 1990’s.  There are better words now, and 99% of those are not profanities.  The F-Word has become so pathetic that most readers here think that writing “F-Word” is a good enough censorship of it.  So the F-Word shouldn’t be used unless it’s being added to be offensive just for the sake of being offensive.  Don’t use it.

Lesson 7: Never ever use a slur against someone!  This one is always a no-no.  In the digital age where everything is recorded, you don’t ever want to be caught using a slur.  This is a career ending move, and rightly so.  Wielding a swear word to hurt people will say a lot more about you than it will ever say about them, and it’ll speak volumes about you that you don’t want spoken..  The N-Word is nuclear.  If you feel the compulsion to use the N-Word, you might want to do some deep soul searching and find what you hate so much about a disenfranchised minority class in the United States.  This is one of those personal flaws that one should work out on their own time in private, not air for everyone to hear.  It’s not just racial slurs you should stay away from.  Stay away from gay/lesbian slurs, religious slurs, slurs against women, slurs against men, slurs against the disabled (physically and mentally), and whatever other bad term that can be applied to a group of people.  Even if someone uses a slur against you, don’t ever use a slur back against them (we’ll get to that in lesson 8).

You don’t want to get labeled as a bigot, and that’s exactly where using slurs will land you, because those are the kinds of words that bigots say.  Even if you are a bigot, which is a terrible thing to be, you don’t want to be exposed as one.  You keep those locked up tight, because there is a difference between offending someone with a profanity and inspiring righteous furry in someone by exposing your prejudiced hatred for a group they belong to.

Lesson 8:  Don’t swear in a fight or an argument.  In order for an argument to be constructive on your end, you have got to retain control of yourself.  Arguing is a complicated thing that requires a bunch of social manuvers and “one-up-manship”.  You’ve got to continually present you and your case better than the other person presents their case.  If you start swearing all over the place, you’ve started to present yourself poorly.  One swear will get their attention and show that you care deeply and passionately about the topic being argued over.  Persistent swearing will make you look like an out of control, vulgar, stupid, crass, and out of touch.  If you present yourself poorly, your position in the argument gets reviewed poorly, even if it is the right position.  At maximum, you get 1 swear word per argument, and even that seems high.

Lesson 9:  Despite all of my insistence to not swear in all of the previous lessons, it can still be done effectively.  Swearing is a lot like a semicolon; a person can use it to create beauty and new meaning for the sake of clarity, humor, and expressing one’s self.  Used incorrectly; and the semicolon quickly shows how bad one is at using semicolons and everyone questions their intelligence.  You have to know what you are doing in order to swear effectively.  There are times when it can be done to humorous effect.  There are times it can be done to really show upset someone is.  It’s an artform, and part of the art form is the rarity.  When done correctly it is brilliant.  When done incorrectly it makes the speaker look bad.

The Ultimate Lesson:  If you want to swear effectively, don’t.  Don’t swear at all.  Keep those profanities locked up behind your tongue.  Don’t dare utter them.  Let them sit.  Let them wait.  Let them ferment.  A person who doesn’t swear is the best at it, because the one day that you need a swear word’s power, it’ll be there for you.  Everyone will fall at your feet, because you waited, and your saved up profanities will pay exponential interest.  It’s the build up of a conservative tongue that makes a constructive swear word.

That’s the secret I learned from Zed.  Zed swears once every three years, and every time he does, the full weight of what he’s done registers to his audience.  His profanities are a thing of intense beauty because they are so farting rare.

We can only hope that my mom never decides to swear, for we would all perish in the flames of the magnificence.

The Albany Walking Suicide Brigade

Today is Friday, the day I write about The Issues.  Today’s issue is: pedestrians are dumb.  I live in New York, in an armpit of a city called “Albany”.  You may have been taught that Albany is the capital of New York, but it is not.  The Governor has fled Albany in favor of New York City.  I drive past his mansion frequently and he is never there.  The reason the Governor has fled is that Albany is home to many stupid pedestrians.

Most people are taught at a young age that they need to look both ways before crossing the street.  Even though cars are expected to be in control at all times and avoid all threats to people and property, they still have “right-of-mass”, so you make sure none are going to hit you while you borrow their street.  Sometimes there are slight variants on that advice.  When I lived in North Dakota, I’d not only look both ways while crossing at an intersection, but I’d also look for ice, because a car intending to stop at a red light might not be able to.  Albany, New York seems to have its own slight variation on crossing-the-street advice which goes something like: launch yourself into traffic until you are in the middle of the only lane, and only then do you turn and glare at whoever it is that dared to squeal their breaks at you while invading your personal space.

I don’t get it.  It’s like they have a death wish.  I actually think a lot of people in Albany want to die.  While driving in downtown Albany, folks will dart out into traffic and only then wonder if a ton of metal is about to hit them at about 40 mph.  Folks are just flinging themselves at the hood of my car.  They are sneaky about it, too.  Albany is a big fan of parallel parking, so what the pedestrians do to increase their likelihood of being hit is jump out from behind a great big van so drivers have no warning that a pedestrian is trying to commit suicide by car.  It happens at least three times per trip I take into downtown (a drive lasting only fifteen minutes [1 suicide attempt per 5 minutes]).  I wish that I could get across to you that this figure is not an exaggeration.  I sometimes think it is like the M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Happening”, where millions of movie goers wanted to commit suicide in mass because Shyamalan makes terrible movies.

The folks here in Albany are also passing it down to the next generation.  I was driving down the road, on the verge of a heart attack because killing someone is something I honestly worry about while driving in Albany, when a little girl literally leapt in front of my car.  Literally.  Not figuratively-but-I-want-to-give-it-more-credit-so-I’m-using-the-wrong-word-like-a-moron. I mean literally.  One leg outstretched fully in front of her, one fully outstretched behind her.  Her arms matched in a parallel kind of beauty that would make for a great final pose before being mangled beyond recognition.  I was going 35 mph (10 below the speed limit) when this darling little lemming leapt in front of my car.  I didn’t see her because she was small, and had picked a nice little blind spot behind a parked car to be her diving board into the afterlife.  I slammed on the breaks and smashed my fist onto my horn.  The little idiot landed and turned to see a car screech to a halt two feet from her.  She screamed and almost fell backwards from the shock of almost being made into road kill.  I’m pretty sure she peed herself.  I know I did.

This is when I lost hope, dear reader.  The girl was an idiot, sure, but all children are.  It was her mother that drove me over the edge.  This lady starts to yell at me for almost smashing her stupid child.  She launched into a tirade of verbal assaults against me that made me think I should pack up the child with me in my car and just drive straight off to social services.  “Why you honkin’ at my baby?”

“Why haven’t you taught your daughter to not play in the street?  She jumped in front of my car, and any parent worth their weight would be explaining to their kid that the street is dangerous, not yelling at the person who is actually looking out for your kid!”

“Ain’t none yo’ business how I raise my kids!”

At this point I was evaluating whether or not my car could hop the curb so I could run this mother over.  Not out of malice, mind you, this was in the best interest of the child.  Second degree murder was a sacrifice I was willing to make on the little girl’s behalf, as well as her siblings.  Besides, this is New York, no jury would ever convict me.  A jury of my peers would just shrug their shoulders and say “What did she expect?  She lived in Albany.  She was going to get run over sooner or later.”

My wife has had a similar experience, only in her case it was a kid on a bicycle that careened into traffic right in front of her.  The mother was right there with the excuse “He’s just learning”.  I’m not sure why this mother thinks that lessons are best learned in the hospital.  Maybe it’s because she is from Albany and she wants to die and she wants her kids to die because all of their friends have already died from being run over.  I don’t want anyone to die, but dear reader, these folks are wearing me down.

I think it is the glare that gets to me the most.  Pedestrians here have a glare they use when they see you screeching to a halt.  Sometimes it is a tough look that says “What are you going to do about it?  That’s right, nothing!”  Sometimes it is a dead-eyed thousand yard stare where I can’t tell if they see me at all or if they are silently pleading for this driver to have the courage it takes to end their suffering.  With so many people wanting to be run over, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t cracked under the pressure already.  It would only take one fed up road-rager who decided to once and for all grant everyone in Albany their death wish.  Someone could easily run over at least one hundred people in one night while still following all of the traffic laws including speed limits, stop signs, using turn signals, and staying in their lane.  Albany, New York is the reason why automated cars will never work, because an automated car would follow all of the laws and still manage to murder half the population.

This brings me to my next point: drivers in Albany, New York are the worst drivers I have ever seen in my life.  This could be a post all on its own so I won’t go into detail here.  I have lived in Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas.  I have roadtripped through nearly every state in the nation.  Albany, New York has the worst drivers. (Los Angles comes in second).  Firstly, their brake pads are all worn thin from slamming on them to avoid hitting pedestrians.  Secondly, they don’t seem to know any traffic laws at all.  Thirdly, I’m convinced none of them can see over the hood of their cars because painted lines on the road mean nothing to them.  Fourthly, they seem to be under the impression that either the accelerator or the brake must be fully applied.  The list could go on and on, including the special U-turn that I’ve dubbed “The Albany” which will take you across 4 lanes of traffic, two of which are oncoming traffic, and it’ll usually involve an intersection.  These drivers are the people that these pedestrians are leaping out in front of.  There is only one conclusion:

Pedestrians in Albany want to die.

It may be time for Albany to adopt a law from Sarasota, Florida, where it is a $78 fine for hitting a pedestrian.

Ice Bucket Killjoys

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue is that there are people out there being killjoys about the Ice Bucket Challenge.  In case you’ve been living in such a way that you could find this obscure blog but miss the social phenomenon that has taken over every form of social media and the news, the Ice Bucket Challenge was a fun publicity stunt designed to raise a lot of money and awareness about ALS research.  The idea is that if you get challenged by someone, you have to send $100 to ALS research.  If you don’t have $100 or don’t want to send $100, you can instead dump a bucket of ice water on your head and send only $10 instead.  Then you chain letter 3 other folks and make them do it.  It seems that most folks opted for the ice bucket and then sent the $100 anyway.  As a publicity stunt it worked wonders!  Celebrities got involved, the public got involved, and for the month of August it was all the rage.  There were more than 739,000 new charitable donors and raised $41.8 million dollars in the space of one month (double what they got last year).

Of course, we can’t have a giant phenomenon where millions have a good time, lots of disposable income is pushed to a good cause, awareness of the terrible disease is increased, a readily replenishable resource is used, and people are temporarily discomforted for the amusement of others without the killjoys raising their voices in protest.  The killjoys are a group of folks that have to be outrageously upset about something that doesn’t impact their lives in the slightest bit.  They are obstinate gadflies who just want to poo-poo whatever it is that their pretentious ire is aimed at.  I’m not sure if it is out of spite, out of jealousy, out of a need for attention, or out of a dark soul that bemoans goodness and joy in any form, but the killjoys are here to talk bad about the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC).  It’s just so easy to sit there, doing nothing, and complain about something while other people are out doing something.

The first thing that the killjoys latch onto is that the IBC is “wasting water”.  I’m not sure what to say about that, because the idea is really stupid.  These folks are acting as if the Conservation of Mass was not in effect, that once the water is dumped out it is gone forever.  The Earth has 321 million cubic miles of water, and even if the water from these IBCs did disappear from the universe, we’d be fine.  Of course, the water does not disappear, it rejoins the water cycle.

Maybe these folks aren’t scientifically illiterate and are more concerned that we are taking water and dumping it on the ground.  The USGA predicts that 2.08 billion gallons of water are used to irrigate all the golf courses in the US every day.  To put that in perspective, that is everyone in the United States doing the IBC with a 6 gallon bucket every single day.  Not for charity, but so that a few well-off suburban dads (mostly) can enjoy their really green playground that poor people aren’t welcome to.  Granted, most of that water for the nation’s golf courses is pulled from ponds, lakes, and it isn’t sanitized.  But that doesn’t stop Americans from dumping sanitized water on the ground all the time.  The typical American household has a sprinkler system that uses 265 gallons of water per hour.  They should only go for 15 minutes, which is literally taking sanitized drinking water and dumping it on the ground at the rate of 66 gallons every day, about 200 every week with 3 days of sprinkling.  That is, if they aren’t overwatering (which is a widespread practice).  If wasting water really offends you, start the campaign for outlawing lawn watering.

How about just dumping water down the drain?  A typical load of dishes uses 20 gallons of water if you do the dishes by hand and leave that pesky faucet on, 10 gallons of water if you are using a modern dishwasher.  3-ish gallons per toilet flush if your toilet isn’t new, 1.6 gallons per flush if it is.  A full bath can be about 40 gallons of water, a shower is 5-ish gallons per minute (Americans average a 50 gallon shower).  I haven’t even talked about washing the car, cooking food, actually drinking water, laundry, or many other water intensive activities.  A nice little water-conservative family of 4 living in suburbia USA uses about 280 gallons of water a day, 1,960 a week, and 8.4K gallons a month.  It’d be such a shame if 6 gallons of water went to a charity event.

Really, if ‘wasting’ water bothers you that much, you could instead do a charity of your own where you donate $88 dollars to buy someone with an older toilet (3-5 gallons per flush) a high efficiency toilet and another $29 on a WaterSense shower head (2 gallons per minute as opposed to the average of 8).  You’ll save about 42 gallons of water per person that uses that bathroom exclusively.  It would require effort, though, and that’s why I don’t expect the killjoys to take this idea and run with it.  It’s a shame, because I’ve got a great plan to kick-start this charity.  Let’s have folks dump 42 gallons of ice water on their heads to show how much water could be saved a day with just a donation of $117 dollars.  That’d definitely raise awareness!  Or have an Office Space moment where people take baseball bats to the old toilet.  I bet all sorts of people would watch toilet destruction videos.  Of course…then the killjoys will say that everyone is being wasteful and over-burdening already full landfills.  They just have to be offended by something.

Drinking water isn’t a precious resource in the United States.  At my current rate in New York, where everything is expensive, I can get a gallon of water out of my tap for less than a penny.  We have plenty of infrastructure that lets us convert absurd amounts of water to be safe enough to drink.  6 gallons here or there doesn’t really matter.  That’s 6 cents worth of water.  The ice costs 25 times more than the water.

The second complaint I keep seeing is that there are lots of people without drinking water, and the IBC is affecting them in some way that…um… well the killjoys never seem to finish their thought.  It’s the same thinking that an American child needs to finish their vegetables because there are starving children in China.  The thoughts aren’t related.  I’m not sure why this complaint is a thing.  Are they mad because we dumped that readily accessible resource on the ground rather than boxing it up and sending it UPS over to some unspecified thirsty individual?  Are the killjoys mad that thirsty people without access to drinking water weren’t given a plane ticket so they could come over to participate in the fun?  What is the complaint?  You might as well get mad at those kids in Alaska for throwing snowballs at each other and wasting the snow when there are kids in Hawaii that have never even seen a snowflake.  One place has the resource in droves and the other doesn’t.

I can tell you what the complaint is: Inequality exists in the world.  Inequality in the world is a very serious topic and one that troubles me often, but saying that the IBC is making it worse isn’t valid in the slightest.  It’s tragic that people don’t have access to clean drinking water, but that isn’t affected by the IBC.  Wasting water here won’t hurt or help folks over there.  Preserving water over here won’t hurt or help folks over there.  Locking up 6 gallons of water in a shrine to be revered and honored for generations to come won’t hurt or help folks over there.  Really, the “we’re wasting water when there are people that don’t have water” argument is really dumb because any resource could be used here.  If it was the “Eat 5 Poptarts” challenge, killjoys would be mad about wasting food from a place with an overabundant supply of food.  If we did a “stay awake all night” challenge, folks would be mad because insomniacs everywhere can’t get enough sleep.  Some people just refuse to let a good thing go by uncriticized because they have to be offended.  They need to be offended.

Yes, inequality exists in the world, and one of the best ways to combat that is through charityCharities like the IBC are great to combat inequality.  If you want to talk about inequality, let’s talk about the tens of thousands of individuals suffering from ALS that could greatly benefit from some very expensive research.  If you want to talk about inequality, let’s talk about people in the richest nation on earth using their iPhones and internet connections to help redistribute $41,000,000 of their throw-away change to help people that have it worse off than themselves.

Are there valid criticism of the IBC?  Actually…yes there are.  Some folks don’t like it because ALS research is sometimes done with detriment to animals.  Some folks question where the money would be going to (does it go to actual research or some CEO of a research lab?).  Some folks think that ALS is hogging all of the charitable giving (the numbers haven’t come in on this yet, so I can’t say if it is true or not, but my feeling is that the IBC generated extra giving without cannibalizing a large percentage of donations).  These folks I can tolerate, because they’ve put thought into what they are doing as opposed to throwing an immature hissy fit/temper tantrum in order to gain attention for themselves (my favorite one so far calling the IBC a Satanic Ritual).

What has the Ice Bucket Challenge done right?  More than raising $41 million for charity, it briefly made charity cool again.  For a while, people were talking about charity and giving.  They were excited about giving.  That hasn’t been a common conversation in years.  My wife and I talked about how we’d been slacking off on our giving to our charities of choice and how it would be nice to start that up again (my favorite is Heifer Project International).  The IBC brought with it a spirit of generosity that’s been sorely lacking.  It showed that we are very capable of addressing social issues if we want to.

Final thoughts?  I have a few.  I don’t have any data to back this up other than my gut feeling, but charitable people tend to be really excited about folks being generous.  It doesn’t really matter what the good cause is, charitable people are excited that other people are putting their money into the cause they care about.  If you ever find a charitable person, ask them, and they will tell you all about their charity of choice because it matters to them.  That’s why I think the killjoys really don’t have a leg to stand on, because I don’t think they give to any charities.  They don’t have a dog in this fight.  I have trouble seeing someone with a charitable heart donating hundreds of dollars to one charity and mocking and jeering someone else for donating to something else they care about.  I have trouble seeing a charitable someone missing the point so completely while saying “you’re giving to ALS?  Well I give to cancer research, and they didn’t need a stupid gimmick, so I’m better than you.”  Charitable people don’t talk like that.  Killjoys do…except for that part where they give to something else.  It really just sounds like an excuse to remain selfish.

So to you killjoys of the world, I offer you your own challenge.  You don’t have to dump water on your head or anything.  Just give a little bit of your spending cash to any charity you think is worthy.  $50 should do it.  If you are so offended by the inequality in the world that the IBC highlighted for you, I suggest giving to Heifer Project International.  If you were made aware of people without clean drinking water because of the IBC, I suggest giving to water.org.  I think the simple act of giving will change your heart a bit.  I wouldn’t put your money where your mouth is because I think that bragging about your charity is really just a self-promotional bit of advertising that still helps the cause but robs you of any personal growth you could have enjoyed.  It’s the difference between saying you care about something and proving it.  What will the challenge prove?  Not a whole lot, no one will really know that you did it, but I think it’ll change you for the better.  And if it doesn’t, you can tell me all about it and I’ll apologize to you personally for ruining the good name of killjoys everywhere.

Falling In Love: an 8-year old does his research

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue is that I feel that I was lied to as a child about what falling in Love would be like.  I knew folks who were in Love, but I didn’t know how they got there.  There were very limited resources to find out.  Asking mom and dad always brought about some weird story about storks, other birds, and bees.  This was nothing I cared about because that was about creating another human, not falling in Love.  The cartoons I watched were not helpful either.  Jeanine might as well have been invisible to the ghost busters, April O’Neil was the wrong species for the Ninja Turtles, Fred and Daphne were always strangely absent during the solving of a mystery, and Wolverine and Gambit just seemed to be annoying the ladies they claimed to Love who obviously didn’t Love them back.  The video games I played didn’t help either, because Mario, Link, and Earthworm Jim were already in Love with their respective princesses before the game started (and their princess only got a few seconds of screen time).

 

I needed texts where people fell in Love, so I gathered the entirety of my family’s meager movie collection to conduct some research.  In our collection of 20 VHS tapes (most of which were recordings of TV broadcast movies) I had picked out 3 movies that dealt with the subject matter:  Aladdin, Star Wars IV & VI, and Top Gun.

 

Here is what all 3 sources had in common about falling in Love:
1.) There will be only 1 girl to consider.  It’s pretty obvious who it is.  That’s the girl you have to go for.
2.) At some point before being in Love, you’ll see the girl without all her clothes on.  Her bellybutton will be visible and she’ll have on little more than a glorified swimsuit.
3.) There will be very obvious musical cues as you fall in Love.
4.) The girl needs to be useful to your job in some capacity (street rat & street rat, prince and princess, rebel pilot and rebel princess, pilot and lady who teaches pilots).
5.)  At some point you’ll have to kiss her to find out if you are in Love with her.  All of the guys seemed to be surprised that they were in Love.

 

Each of the movies had some unique notes about falling in Love.  Aladdin had a few points you had to find between the lines.
A1.) Girls might like you for rescuing them (a lot), but they won’t Love you and marry you until you stop lying.
A2.) It’s okay to see if the cute girl on the street is likable.  No shame in shallow interest.
A3.) Girls always know when you are lying.  Even if you fool them, they know.  And they’ll remember it forever.  Forever.
A4.) No matter what, even if you just need to hand her the lamp at the end of the movie so she can wish you into being a prince so that you can keep your word and wish a genie free, NEVER share your toys with her.

 

Top Gun was more confusing to me as a child (it’s confusing to me 22 years later).
TG1.) Falling in Love seems to be achieved by a lot of yelling and apologizing, until you are so angry with each other that you are in Love.
TG2.) Despite being strangers as far as I could tell, they could still fall in Love.
TG3.) Right before you fall in Love, you have to lick each other in the mouth whether you want to or not.  [This last one was heavily contested by the other kids in the neighborhood.  No one had ever seen actual people in Love do this, so maybe it was just a movie stunt.  It was enough to make me question Top Gun as a resource for what Love should be like, even at the age of 8.  Which leads to the real lesson of Top Gun…]
TG4.) Not everyone falls in Love in a healthy way.  Even Tom Cruise gets it wrong sometimes.

 

Star Wars was the best resource.  My parents had recorded A New Hope and Return of the Jedi on VHS.  Empire Strikes Back had been deemed too scary by my mother, so it was not in the rotation and my Star Wars knowledge was thrown a bit off as a kid.
SW1.) Rescuing a girl does not win her heart.  She’ll be very bossy after a rescue.  The most you can expect is a medal.
SW2.) If another guy is after your girl, he’ll back off if he finds out she is a sibling.
SW3.) Maybe some girls are just hard to get.  Rescuing Leia on the Death Star jail, then from the Death Star laser, then off of Hoth, then from an Imperial manhunt through an asteroid field, then out of an asteroid with a giant worm, then out of Cloud City, and finally from Jabba’s palace where she had dabbled in rescuing also, Han slowly wore down her steely heart.  Some girls just need more rescuing.
SW4.) This is the most important:  Don’t fall in Love just because you rescued someone.  See if they are a good match.  Han Solo did not rush into Love.  He waited and watched to see if Leia was any good, and she was.  She came up with the garbage chute escape plan, shot thousands of storm troopers, gave him a medal, tried to rescue Han, strangled Jabba the Hut with her own hands, did some really cool stuff with a speeder bike, and saved Han’s life after being shot by outdrawing a bunch of storm troopers.  He waited an entire (presumable) three movies before falling in Love with Leia at the end.  Leia might be pretty and all, but she seemed to Love Luke.  Han wasn’t going to put up with a two-timer.
SW5.) Falling in Love is about making someone else happy because they make you very happy.  Han was willing to give Leia up at the end so that she could be happy with Luke.  Leia fell in Love with Han because he made her happy.
SW6.)  Even after falling in Love, Han still had to kiss Leia to be sure that he was in Love.  Turns out he was, and it surprised him very much.

 

 

 

Turns out my research into falling in Love was mostly wrong.

Club Dancing Is A Strange Phenomena I’ll Never Understand

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue that I want to talk about is: Clubs are awful.  I’m not talking about clubs like G.R.O.S.S (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS), the George Takei fan club, or even secret clubs like the illuminati.  I’m talking about Dance Clubs.  A dance club is where a person goes in order to attract a potential and temporary mate.  A club is a weird place to go for this, because it is designed to make the process of finding a mate very difficult.  All of the potential mates available are being assaulted on all of their ‘mate-finding’ senses.  The building smells strongly of sweat filtered through a person’s perspiration system and Axe body spray.  The potential mates’ ears are being assailed by the sophomoric remixes of the day’s top 40 remixes that all have the same bass line and hundreds of people screaming at each other in order to be heard.  A potential mate’s sense of touch is useless as they grow numb to the incessant rubbing of the bodies in the crowd around them and a strange humidity that grows stronger throughout the night.  The best way to attract a mate in this environment is to jerk your body in syncopation with the music in an elaborate manner that sets you apart from all other members of your gender.  Despite your best dance efforts, potential mates will need super vision to find you as a club is simultaneously too dark and far too bright, depending on what setting the strobe lights are set to. 

 

Clubs are expensive.  Far too expensive.  Some people think that the primary reason for a club existing is to give people that like clubs a place to be.  That’s insane.  Clubs exist to make the owners a lot of money.  No one likes people that like clubs.  Clubs don’t even like people that like clubs.  The first person you meet at a club is a person with the job of keeping you out of the club.  The person is called a Bouncer.  The bouncer is the most reasonable person you’ll meet at any club.  The bouncer is to hell what St Peter is to the Pearly Gates of heaven.  Bouncers learn their hatred of people that like clubs (PTLC) early.  Their job interview goes something like this.

Club Owner: “Hey, I hear you are looking for a job.”
Bouncer:  “Yes.  I’m trying to pay off student loans with a second job so I can get ahead in life.”
Club Owner:  “Sounds like you are a reasonable person.  Your job is going to be dealing exclusively with people that aren’t reasonable.  These people are in no way like you.  They are younger.  They are drunker.  They are dumber.  They don’t like that you are keeping them out of the club.  They think that they’ll find a potential mate within the confines of my psychedelic prison complex.  And on top of all that, they are PTLCs”
Bouncer:  “That sounds awful!  I hate clubs!  I hate PTLCs.  But I need the job.  Tell you what, mister.  I’ll guard your club as long as I never have to go in it.”
Club Owner:  “Deal.”

 

Outside of a club you’ll find a gigantic line with the Bouncer as the gatekeeper.  You might think that once you get into the club you’ll be fine, but all that you’ve really accomplished is gaining entry to a more complex line.  The line is very broad and disorganized, but it’s basically the same thing as outside.  The difference is now the atmosphere around you is awful.  Before the obstacle you had to fight was a bunch of people in front of you.  Now that you are inside the club you can’t see, you can’t hear, and the obstacle you have to fight off is a bunch of people in front of you that are thrashing about.  Dance floor, bathroom, or the bar, you’ll have to go through a bunch of people jerking weirdly about.  Welcome to the advanced line, sucker.

 

I have been dragged to clubs a handful of times.  Never was it my own idea, and I protested each time.  The only people I’d find at a club are PTLCs, and that sounded awful.  However, my friends were more suave and charismatic than I, and they made many promises, so I went.  They promised it would be fine.  They promised it would be fun.  They made a promise that seemed odd, but I trusted them.  It is this last promise that made me agree to their request.  Their promise went something like this:  everyone can dance, even you.  Perhaps they saw the movie Footloose, where a dance suppressed culture of teenagers can break out into choreographed delight the instant that rock music starts to play.  Maybe they themselves were born with the magical ability to move gracefully through the swamp of a club like a crane standing out beautifully amongst its surroundings and they thought that I too possessed this dormant instinct.  Perchance these individuals believed in musicals, where even the most hardened of villains who never heard a note of music in their entire lives were capable of tap dancing to an incredible pace of 32nd notes while accomplishing aerial feats of gymnastic valor.  Whatever caused this notion in their heads, I don’t know, but they were wrong.  Woefully wrong.  I can’t dance.  I can’t even bop.  A normal person has 3 axises of movement: yaw, pitch, and roll (rotating shoulders around, bowing forward and back, leaning side to side respectively).  A middle-aged white person in a crowd will usually pitch forward and back (a weird bowing motion) while bending their legs slightly to move their body up and down.  Sometimes there is a bit of a sidestep involved.  It is a travesty that no one should have to watch, but middle aged white people in large crowds have some kind of magical herd immunity to this.  I am incapable of even doing this.

 

After passing the Bouncer and the sign that reads “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”, my captors found a group of females that they wished to display their mating rituals to.  I was not excited about this, but I went along because the alternative was to strike out on my own to display my own mating ritual alone in a hostile universe filled with plenty of competition that knew what they were doing.  I had no chance on my own, and wandering about simply observing this spectacular mess of humanity did not seem humorous to me.  So I ventured with the other pack of young males to woo the ladies.

 

It was quickly apparent that I was outmatched by my peers.  I was not in a mating mood, so I simply needed to stay in the background and pretend to be enjoying myself.  The other males in my group had convinced a group of females they were familiar with to circle around to lay claim to some dance floor territory.  The females of this circle placed their purses in the center of our circle to observe how well the males of my group could simultaneously protect their valuables while slinging about in a mating ritual.

 

The ratio was in our favor.  There were seven females and only three males.  Two and a third girls for each of us, but that is not how nature works in the swamp.  All of the females desired to mate with the alpha of our group.  I do not wish to embarrass him, so I will keep his identity secret and refer to him only as “Cameron Jones”.  Cameron was very accomplished when it came to performing the mating ritual of the club swamp.  He performed it effortlessly while at the same time demonstrating charisma beyond that of his competitors.  I was not accomplished at performing the mating ritual.  A person watching me might assume that I’m not moving.  Perhaps I was shrugging just enough to readjust the way my shirt fit on my shoulders.  My arms stayed locked in a 90 degree angle at the elbows, as if I was pushing an imaginary shopping cart that I was going to place all of my potential mates into.  Whatever it was that I was doing, it was stupid.  I knew it was stupid.  I felt stupid.  I wanted the whole stupid adventure of the club swamp to be over with, but that’s not how the others in my group saw it.

 

“Dance!” they said.  ‘They’’ being the females.  Perhaps they meant it as encouragement, but I only heard mocking.  I kept doing what I was doing, knowing that the night’s jubilee would be over one second at a time.  “Dance!” they insisted.  The females had turned their attention over to me for whatever reason.  Despite Cameron Jones still performing the mating ritual with eminent refinement, the girls now wanted comedy.  To see how superior a mate Cameron Jones was, they needed a baseline to compare him to.  I now saw why Cameron Jones had brought me to the club.  It was to set the bar low.  Very low.  Cameron Jones brought me to the club so that I would set the bar on the floor, where Cameron could clear it as long as he didn’t shuffle his feet.  I felt betrayal and embarrassment, neither of which helped me perform any kind of movement that might be mistaken as a dance.

 

Despite all this, I tried harder.  I tried moving along more than one axis.  I tried to bop up and down, forward and back, side to side.  I mixed up the movements.  I shrugged my shoulders slightly in time with the beat.  I kept my arms close, but moved them in some kind of subtle kungfu mimicry.  I tried, but the more I tried, the worse it got.  The females looked at me like I was sick.  Perhaps I was dying.  It felt like I was dying.  I wanted to die.  Cameron Jones made me want to die.

 

The night did eventually end.  All seven of the females wanted to mate with Cameron, but Cameron tossed their hearts aside.  Being a gentleman, he did not want to mate with just anyone.  Or perhaps Cameron thought himself too good for the females of the club swamp.  Maybe Cameron wanted to assert his dominance over our friendship by showing me that he could have all of the ladies while I could only convince them that I was dying of muscle failure.  Maybe Cameron Jones wanted to establish the social hierarchy where he was better than PTLCs while I was inferior to every last one of the PTLCs.  Or maybe…just maybe…Cameron wanted to show me the truth, the hardest truth I’d ever come to know.  Cameron Jones wanted to open my eyes to show me that clubs are awful, and so are the PTLCs.  I’ll never know.  Unfortunately Cameron suffers from a contagious disease that alters his memory to the point that he thinks I had a great time.  I say it is contagious because he convinced me to change my memory of the club every time he dragged me off to another one.

Chain Letters

Forward:
If someone sent you a link, to this blog, it is because they love you.  Because of the love they have for you they want to continue communicating with you, but the sickness that you keep showing is making it hard for them.  Please, read on.  Know that we aren’t condemning you, we are condemning the sickness you have.

If you are one of the regular readers, welcome back!

 

The actual post:
Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue is Chain Letters.  If you are younger than me to the point that the Internet was always a part of your life, than chain letters have always existed for you.  It is a recent phenomenon, however, one that wasn’t popular until e-mail made written correspondence cheap, fast, and stupid.  I was in 6th grade when the internet finally reached my corner of Iowa.  It took longer for the internet to reach Iowa than most places.  This is partially because we weren’t excited about it.  When people said “Information Super Highway”, we just pictured the paved road that we labeled Main Street.  Notice, I said “the” paved road, not “a” paved road.  Main Street might be paved, but the speed limit is 20 mph because of the school crosswalks and it is interrupted by stop signs every block.  Compare that to the dirt roads where the speed limit is whatever you feel like and there are no stop signs, even at the intersections.  (You probably think I’m joking about that ‘no stop signs at intersections’ fact.)  The second delay in the internet is that the construction workers laying the cable had to fight off the Amish warrior hordes, armed with their new invention of fire from atop their saddled T-Rex mounts.  They were a fearsome foe.

 

I’m grateful for the delays, because I grew up in a time when people had to talk to one another.  It was the only option.  If I wanted to talk to Paul, I had to go up to Paul and strike up a conversation.  These conversations could last as little as thirty seconds or could last up to six hours.  During the conversation we’d walk, do things, play games, work on projects, and live life together.  It was a time where we expressed ourselves.  We let ourselves be known as we got to know others.  You just conversed until you were done and then you left.  There was also the phone option, but it wasn’t ideal.  We got charged extra money if we called anyone outside of our area code.  Now area codes don’t cover a whole lot of ground, so you’re probably calling someone close by.  Folks used phones to talk, and if the conversation was going good, they just said “hey, let’s meet up and talk about this.”

 

I mention all this because I picture all communication as a face-to-face conversation.  All other communication tries to simulate that.  Phone calls do okay, writing letters is a bit one sided but you can anticipate what the other person wants to ‘hear’, and post cards were a quick “Hey how are ya?  I’m doing awesome at this location”.  Post cards were nice, because they were the promise of a more in depth conversation later.

 

It all changed when the internet came out.  Keep in mind, face-to-face is my ideal mode of conversation, so I compare everything against it.  I even picture two people talking face-to-face when I communicate in various methods.  E-mail was fun, and I did a lot of it early on because it was so darn cool.  But it’s like having a conversation where one person says a lot of things and then goes silent for a few hours, waiting for a response.  Chat rooms were better, but the pacing of the conversation goes from fast to slow, and could get interrupted when there was a phone call on either end.  Skype and other face-to-face programs didn’t come around until much later.  This is back when 20% of home phones were rotary phones, so text messages and pictures were not a thing yet.

 

It was in this unholy arena that Chain Letters were born.  I don’t know who invented them, but screw that guy/girl.  They were, are, and forever will be awful.  It used to be that when I looked at my e-mail inbox, I pictured the hallway at my high school.  I had a locker just inside the door in high school, and as I walked to my first class all the way across the school I got the chance to have a small conversation with everyone.  It was like that when I opened my inbox.  Short conversations with everyone.  But then the Chain Letter virus spread.

 

It’s like any zombie movie.  The virus spread unpredictably, but I knew that I’d be safe from it because I was the main character.  At first it was just one chain letter.  As I walked down my imaginary hallway of friends I had a bunch of miniature conversations until one person decided to have a very out of place conversation.  “Did you know that our rain forests are being deforested at the rate of 30 acres per day?  We need to do something about this!  Pass this letter onto 15 more people if you want to protect the rain forest!”

 

I like the rain forest as much as the next guy, but that conversation was weird, and wouldn’t be one that I’d have on a normal day, so I trashed it.  Over the next few weeks, the virus spread.  My mental hallway was losing friends.  People were being replaced by machinations that just spouted whatever script was fed to them.  “Pass this letter on to 20 people or you’ll never find love!  30 people and you’ll meet the love of your life this weekend!”  “Bill Gates is trying a new software.  If you pass this onto 10 people he’ll give you 1,000 dollars!  I didn’t believe it until after I sent this chain letter, Bill gave me a check.  Not sure how I told you about it though since I had to send the email before I got the check….”  “If you hate Satan and love Jesus you’ll pass this onto at least 10 people.  Don’t deny Christ!”  “If you are against shooting children, pass this on!”

 

The awesomeness of email had a graph like a man shot from a canon.  It soared ever so high.  It was exciting.  It was thrilling.  It was new!  But then it came crashing down with disastrous results.  The virus spread; chain letters grabbed my inbox and constricted it.  The mental hallway that used to be filled with memories of my friends has been replaced with a hallway with sirens, strobe lights, and thousands of chattering voices all screaming for my attention.  Chain letters opened the way for businesses to just throw out their ragweed pollen into the internet for everyone to choke on.  Some advertising guy thought “Huh…people are sending trash to their friends already.  What if we did something like that?”  I rarely open my email anymore because it is just too awful.  Instead of thoughtful correspondence it is mostly about buying gadgets and increasing the size of various body parts (biceps and triceps) while decreasing the size of others (brain).

 

Chain letters also led to the downfall of Facebook.  Facebook needed a new kind of mental construct for me.  For me, Facebook was my high school courtyard.  Instead of conversations, it was more like people wandering into the court yard and shouting what they were thinking.  It was a bit more organized, people would take turns, but the shouts still happened rapid fire.  “I’m doing great!”  “Come drinking with me this weekend!”  “The Dispatch concert was awesome!”  “I’m learning how to Scuba dive!”  Quick clips broadcasted into the friend-sphere. 

 

Chain letters ruined that.  With a quick evolution of the virus (which happened after Facebook opened to people outside of college), chain letters adapted to corrupt Facebook statuses.  Quickly the stream of shouted awesome became corrupted.  People decided that they should have a guilt based communication structure rather than saying what they what was on their mind.  “If you like firefighters you’ll post this.  If you don’t post this, everyone will think you hate firefighters”  “If you love Jesus, you’ll reduce his gospel message to a passing fad in order to gain some cheap attention.  Copy my post to brag about your humility!” “I don’t know if anyone cares enough to post this for even an hour, but copy and post this status if you are against the institutionalized drowning of puppies.  Don’t enable those puppy drowners by staying silent.”

 

No one talks like that!

Yet again, another spot for me to retreat to in order to feel some connection with folks was ruined.  The court yard was a place where I saw peoples’ excitement, hopes, dreams, struggles, triumphs, and priorities.  It became a swamp of guilt.  “Mimic my status if you want to show how much of an individual you are.  Tag your friends so they can uniquely mimic my status also.”  “If you love your mother you’ll post this status.  Your sister already has.  Don’t let her be the favorite child.”  “If you are against dragons eating people, repost this twice.  Once today and once a week from now.”

 

No one talks like that.  Rather than the court yard of fleeting conversation, my mental courtyard has become a protest where everyone is waving signs clamoring for attention for ideas they care nothing about.  Also giant posters of babys have been plastered everywhere, and every so often a plane flies overhead and drops millions of pamphlets to the ground.  All of the pamphlets are titled “15 things from 10-20 years ago that we are going to whore out in a format that took us 5 minutes and no thought to create in order to bait you into clicking on our site so we can profit from the actual artists who worked hard to create the thing you feel nostalgic about.”  Luckily, Facebook has a “block” button, so I can ban out a lot of this.  However, it’s become apparent that bailing out the boat one bucket at a time will not stop the Titanic from sinking.

 

So let me say this for everyone.  Chain letters are bad.  They are a guilt based form of communication where you are trying to guilt someone else into a behavior they don’t want to do.  That’s bullying.  That’s blackmail.  That’s something that friends don’t do to each other.  People want to hear about what is in your heart, not see a chain letter that has already been posted by seven other people that same day.  When I see you post a chain letter, I mentally picture you standing next to me in a face-to-face conversation where you are trying to guilt me into doing something I know is stupid in a conversation I wish you weren’t instigating.  When I see you post a chain letter, I picture you sneezing in a crowded room without covering in an attempt to spread the virus as far as you can.  When I see you post a chain letter, I hear you saying the words in a whiny tone that a 2-year-old would use to beg its parents for a candy at the grocery store that it isn’t going to get.  When I see you post a chain letter, I see you parroting someone else who is parroting someone else in a long line of vacant heads that couldn’t create an original thought until the originator of the chain letter is reached, and they weren’t all that bright to begin with.  When I see you post a chain letter, I instantly think less of you and I think about banning you from all communication, no matter how much I love you.

If you pass on chain letters, you have a sickness.  The symptoms of the sickness are what I’m addressing here.  You can be a great person and still come down with the sickness.  Raising awareness is the only way this virus can stop.

 

 

TL:DR  I’m trying to grow the readership of this blog.  Pass this link onto another 20 people if you hate chain letters.  (You should have those 20 people already lined up in your inbox.  Just do a search in your inbox for “pass this on”.)

Sandwich of Sin

Yesterday I went to my local sandwich shop, and you wouldn’t believe what I saw.  The guy in front of me bought a ham sandwich.  A ham sandwich!  There he was, in public, ordering a ham sandwich as if it was the most normal thing in the world.  So I tapped him on the shoulder and said “Hey buddy.  How about you eat your sandwich in private.  This is a town with good folks in it, and we don’t appreciate your kind around here when there are impressionable kids about.”

 

The guy had the gall to look at me confused.  “Excuse me?”

 

“No I won’t excuse you,” I was quick to retort.  “I don’t like your sandwich.  I want you to stop ordering that ham sandwich and apologize to everyone in here.”  I turned to face him, letting him know I wouldn’t back down from my stand on the issue.  I was sick and tired of people like him showing up and changing everything.

 

“Look, guy,” the pork-eater said to me, “I don’t know who you are or what your problem is.  Why do you care if I get a ham sandwich?  I’m not forcing you to eat one.  How about you have your sandwich and I’ll have mine.”

I looked down at his sandwich with revulsion, and back up at him, still revolted.  “Because I think sandwiches are sacred, and here you are profaning their sanctity.  You come into my town and try to change the definition of traditional sandwiches.  Well I’m not having it.  So why don’t you toss that sandwich away!”

 

The man looked back at the store clerk, trying to give me the cold shoulder.  I tapped him again “Hey buddy, I’m talking to you.”

 

“Leave me alone!” the bacon buffoon said.  “I didn’t call your sandwich evil.  I didn’t make up rules about you can eat!  I wasn’t even bothering you.  No, you decided to make my sandwich your business and get all riled up about it.  Stop it!  Let me eat my sandwich in peace!”

 

“Hey everyone!” I yelled to the sandwich shop.  “Look at this guy.  Take a good look.  Do you see what he’s doing?  He’s eating a ham sandwich!”

 

People started to murmur and gasp amongst themselves.  One mother took her kids by the hand and left the store.  They knew that this guy was a creep now, a sausage sinner if they ever saw one.  A couple of them moved to stand behind me.  The guy took a few steps back, something he wouldn’t do if he was ignorant of his sin.

 

“Folks” the hambo said, trying to appeal to the crowd, “this really isn’t any of your business.  I saw that you guys were eating your sandwiches and I wanted one too.  I don’t see why you guys get to eat the kind of sandwiches you like and I don’t, just because I like ham.”

 

A couple of people started to shout reasons why, but I quieted them down with a gesture before things got out of hand.  I wanted to humiliate this porker, right in front of everyone, and convict him of his shame.  “Listen.  We’ve all enjoyed sandwiches for a long time before your kind decided to show up.  We’re not going to sit by and let you just ruin that for everyone else’s sandwich!”

 

The man looked confused.  “How does my sandwich have any impact on your sandwich?”

 

Someone yelled from the back.  “It’s an abomination!  It ain’t a traditional sandwich!”

 

The man looked even more confused.  “People have liked ham for a long time, this isn’t a recent trend.  What makes your sandwich a traditional sandwich?”

 

The same man yelled from the back, “It’s the only kind of sandwich!”  Cheering erupted along with some clapping.

 

I quieted the shop down with another gesture.  I wasn’t about to let some anonymous voice from the back steal my thunder, because I felt the heat of god’s wrath being channeled through me.  “If you must know, a traditional sandwich is the kind that God set down.  In the book of Exodus, God set down the perfect example of what a sandwich should be.”  I smiled at him, because I’d committed this bible verse to memory in case I met a bacon-eater like this one.  “The people of Israel called the bread manna.  It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.  Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’  That’s what a traditional sandwich is: white bread and honey.  The way god intended!”

 

Cheering erupted from the crowd.  I sneered at the boar biter.  “And come to think of it, you aren’t eating your ham on white bread!  And that’s way more than an omer!”  The crowd started to boo and hiss at the man.

 

The swine swallower turned red.  I knew I had him, but he tried to weasel his way out of God’s word where he stood convicted.  “You do know,” he started, “that sandwiches predate the bible?  The agricultural revolution took place 16,000 years ago, and their primary crop was wheat.  Bread has been around for about that same length.  It’s part of what catapulted homo sapiens into modern people.  Sandwiches have-“

It was too late for him to go on with that liberal nonsense.  People were shouting and booing the hog hankerer.  “The bible starts at the beginning of the world, 6,000 years ago!”  yelled one man.  “It’s manna and foul!  Not manna and sow!” yelled another.  I just started to laugh, and the crowd quieted.

“Look at this guy,” I guffawed, “he thinks that monkeys were eating sandwiches before the world was created!”  Everyone burst out into hilarious laughter.

 

“I didn’t say anything like that.  Humans are homo sapiens!  Monkeys are a totally different species.”  His protests were lost in roars of laughter.  A couple of people pantomimed monkeys.  One threw a banana at the guy.  I didn’t appreciate him calling me a monkey, and neither did anyone else in the town.  Still, the pigsty guy tried to plead his case.  “Sandwiches still predate the Bible!  Many cultures had sandwiches before the Bible was written down.  If anything, the people of your god learned how to make sandwiches in Egypt!  And more than that, the Bible has many DIFFERENT kinds of sandwiches in it.  Sometimes god commands bread to be flat!  Other times it is served in loaves!  Why did you decide that this one example of manna is the perfect sandwich when it isn’t proper bread for which to make a sandwich!”

 

Another shout from the back rang out.  “Because that’s the way it’s been for hundreds of years!  Who are you to question that?”

“Whatever!” the man shouted.  “I don’t even believe in Bread God.  Why should I have to eat his ideal sandwich?  I’m not going to let a ghost from the Stone Age dictate my life choices with sandwiches or anything else!”

 

The crowd quieted.  This was something worse, an atheist and a ham eater, talking out in public as if he deserved the same rights as all of the normal people.  I could feel bile rising in my throat, but I kept my temper.  “Because, you piglet poacher, god didn’t just show us what the best, traditional, and only kind of sandwich is, but he also told us what kind of sandwiches not to eat!”

I recalled to memory a couple of verses before reciting them before everyone.  “Leviticus 11, seven and eight.  ‘And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.  You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.’  There’s also Isaiah 65.  ‘All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good…who eat the flesh of pigs…such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day!’”

 

“You’ll burn in hell if you don’t turn from your carnivorous ways!”
“God hates Pork!”
“Stop corrupting our children!”

 

“I still don’t believe in Bread God.”  The salami stranger looked exasperated.  “Why would I care that he hates pigs if I didn’t care that he likes honey?”  The oinker orderer looked confused, exaggeratedly so, like he learned in that liberal college he probably went to.  “I…still don’t believe in Bread God, even if he doesn’t like pigs.  But you do.  Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of everyone, even people that eat pigs?  There’s even a story in Acts about Peter is offered pigs to eat from god who said they were clean-“

Booing cut the man off as people yelled at him.
“Don’t you dare use the Bible if you don’t believe in it!”
“What do you know about clean animals, piggy!”
“Pigs weren’t specifically mentioned in that story, you secular swine! Only four footed unclean animals!”
“Your parents must be so disappointed in you!”
“Take Ham Reparative Therapy.  Damn the spam!”

“Listen!  Listen!” The swine-seeking stranger called out.  “The shop offers ham sandwiches, so obviously they are just fine.”

“Oh don’t you dare!” I justly accosted, jabbing my finger into his chest.  “It’s people like you, pushing your ham-eating agenda on the rest of us that have forced this good shop owner to have to carry your abomination!  I’ll have you know that we are taking this case to the highest court in the land!  There is no reason why this Bread God loving business should ever have to serve ham-eaters like you!  This shop has the right to love god and shouldn’t be forced to sink down to your level!  It goes against everything this shop believes in!”

 

The man looked confused.  “This business has a religion?  It has religious rights that trump mine and common politeness?”

 

“Don’t get clever with me!”

“I’m not!  You just said that this sandwich shop has a religion.  If anything, you’re the one that’s being silly.”

 

The people in the shop started to boo the man again.  He comes into our town, into our shop, and demands that we just treat him like everyone else, like he has a right to force us to serve him and his hellish ways.

 

“If your Bread God hates pigs so much, why did he create them?  Why did he make me in such a way that I like ham?”

 

This godless pigheaded liberal was getting on my nerves.  “No one is born liking ham!  It’s unnatural!  You turned away from Bread God and turned to sin!  You just want to do things your own way!  You want to carry out your vile cravings and snub everything that is good and right!”

 

“What do you mean it’s unnatural?  You see pig-eating in nature all the time.  Wolves, hyenas, tigers, crocodiles, larger birds, and even dingos eat pigs.  Throw a pig in the ocean and I bet a shark would eat it.  Humans have eaten pigs since ancient history.  It’s perfectly natural!  And scientists have shown that people don’t choose whether or not they like ham, it’s just the way they are.”

 

“God doesn’t make mistakes!”
“Who are you to question god?”
“Bread God didn’t make pigs, the devil did, in order to test us!”
“It’s not sinful to like ham, it’s just sinful to eat it! Abstain from ham!”

 

The man grabbed his sandwich and started to walk out of the shop.  People cheered that the abomination was finally leaving, but, just as he reached the door, he turned around.  “You guys don’t care at all about Bread God.  You just hate people like me because you are bigoted, narrow-minded, and prejudiced!  You hide behind your Bread God just so you can shrug your shoulders and say ‘it’s not me that hates you, it’s Bread God.  Take it up with him!’  And then you turn to thin air, waiting for me to talk to your imaginary friend, as if you actually expect me to carry on with your fantasy.  I won’t play this childish game with you!  I don’t follow your Bread God, and neither do you!

 

The crowd was seething in anger.

 

I stepped forward.  I wasn’t going to let him have the last word.  “What do you mean we don’t follow Bread God?  I love Bread God with all my heart and soul!”

 

“No you don’t, you miss the message completely,” the man let loose with his pigsty lie.  “I see that you are wearing mixed fabrics, which god forbids in that book of Leviticus that you quoted at me.   He calls it an abomination.  You over there, the married couple, do you force your wife to sleep in a different bed when she’s on that time of the month?  Have any of you sacrificed an animal to appease god of your sin?  Do any of you treat your wife as unclean for 33 days after she gives birth?  I’m looking at the advertising board here in the shop, and it looks like this very shop has created idols and images.  And here we all are on a Sunday, breaking the Sabbath rule.  If any of you have a vegetable garden with more than one kind of plant in it, you’re an abomination!  If you get your hair cut in the wrong way, you are an abomination!  Tattoos are an abomination!   Eating at Red Lobster is an abomination!

 

“But here you all stand, accusing me of a rule I don’t follow for a religion I don’t have, when you all are breaking MULTPILE rules from the SAME book of the Bible that you do follow.  You are all hateful hypocrites, hiding behind your Bread God so that you don’t have to come to terms with your own corrupted hearts.  You want to hold me under the law of your religion while at the same time saying that it doesn’t apply to you in the slightest.  Even if I believed in Bread God you wouldn’t accept me.  You’d say that liking ham is too big of a sin for Bread God to handle, and that’s where he draws the line.”

 

The man left the shop, got in his car, and pealed out of the parking lot.  We never saw him again.

We showed him!

The War From The Top Floor

Today is Friday, the day I talk about “The Issues”.  Today I want to talk about today’s youth.  Part of living a long and productive life is getting old and cranky.  I’ve done a stellar job in the cranky department because I’m more mature than my peers.    Other people are taking their time getting old and cranky.  Heck, I have a few grandparents-in-law that still haven’t gotten cranky.  While they are out being pillars of society, chatting with friends, being social, and having a good time, I’ve done my duty and have gotten cranky to make up for their delightfulness.  I’ve got a glower down that can instill the fear of mortality into an unsuspecting person.  I have to channel some real crankiness to achieve that one.  Think of me as the old man from the movie “Up”, except there is no redeeming 1st 10 minutes of my movie to totally justify why I’m such a terrible person.  I just am, because that’s what this country needs!

 

I can tell that I’m an old man because of the war I’m waging against the children in my apartment complex.  They are loud.  They are awful.  They are dumb.  I tell this to people often, when they ask about what is on my mind.  The people that have had kids (I’ll call them “Breeders”) always feel the need to justify this.  “Oh, they do that because they are kids.  You’ll understand one day,” the breeders say with a knowing smile and a wink, as if my wife and I have never heard about this great thing called ‘sex’ and how it leads to a tiny, loud, awful, dumb person invading my family, taking my food and foiling my attempts to sleep, but once we figure out that sex exists we’ll have a romp that’ll last until at least 6 more people are in my family.  Yes, breeders of the world, I understand that kids are in fact children.  That doesn’t stop them from being loud, awful, and dumb.  Your excuse of “they are young” doesn’t change any of what I have previously stated.  The people without kids (I’ll call them Normal) always agree with me on this: the situation I have is awful.

 

The kids at my apartment complex are especially bad.  There is an arsenal of plastic weapons that are constantly left just outside the door, as if the Battle of New York came to a bloody climax just outside the door of Fort My Apartment.  Sure, the bodies are gone, faded away just like real bodies do in video games where people die by the hundreds, but the remnants of the weapons tell the awful truth.  Not only that, but every day from noon to 4 pm, I can hear the screams of that battle as it gets reenacted every day.  Every day.  Those bloody kids go running around every day, screaming and yelling.

 

It’s not normal screaming and yelling.  They do this terrifying high pitched siren call with their voice that sends a deeply coded and ancient message down to the core of my DNA that members of my caveman tribe are being murdered by Saber-Tooth tigers.  They’ve tapped into the power of evolution, calling upon the heritage we share as social creatures.  It’s a scream that cannot be ignored, and they usually let that banshee wail loose whenever something really scary happens like a ball went out of bounds, their friend is being a jerk, or a cloud cast a shadow on them.  I’ve tried to condition myself to ignore it, but the howling menace outside my window gets inside of my nerves and fires electricity through my brain, telling me that a Tyrannosaurus Rex got past Og, Bog, and their dog and is now eating all of the young people and I need to get my club and act immediately.

 

The scream has been noticed by others.  I work from home, and I do a lot of communication from my computer.  I’ve got a nice microphone, the kind you can sing into and record music, and it picks up sounds the way a microphone is supposed to.  Every so often while I’m talking to a client, a scream of “a stranger captured me and is murdering me in his basement” gets recorded and sent over to the people I’m trying to talk to.  There is this delay in the conversation as shock registers into their system.  The shriek has gone into their DNA, and they have heard the message loud and clear: The employee you are talking to has stolen me, a child, and is torturing me to death, and you need to do something about it!  At this point in the conversation I can tell if the client I’m talking to is a Breeder or a Normal based on their response.  A Breeder will laugh and say [paraphrased] “Oh, yeah!  Kids are supposed to be loud and awful.”  If a Normal is on the other end, I hear a muffled “click” as they turn on a tape recorder so they have evidence to hand over to the police.

 

When the kids aren’t screaming murder, they are being awful in other ways.  They’ve taken up a game called “Foul!”  It looks a lot like kickball in form and function, but whenever anything happens the kids all yell “FOUL!” and then argue with each other for the next two minutes.  Every single play.  There are also heated arguments over the stupidest of things: you’re playing with the 1 ball in 20 that we leave out here perpetually which I wanted to play with, stop pretend shooting me with your pretend gun because we are on the same side (apparently you’ve been betrayed, kid who is pretend dead), stop being mean to me when I’ve been a rat bastard to you for the past hour, and my favorite, which is “go play somewhere else!”

 

The war I have with the kids has come to a head.  Our apartment building has two doors that lead to the outside, and both lock once the door is shut.  The kids are too stupid to keep a key with them, so they just leave the backdoor open.  I can tell whenever they do this, because there is screaming outside my window and the temperature of my apartment has risen by 10 degrees.  Summertime in New York is a hot time, and New York was built back when air conditioning wasn’t a thing.  My air conditioning unit keeps the house and a nice and cool 80 degrees (about the best it can handle) and runs so loud that the TV cannot be heard over it in the next room over.  Not to mention, the recent infestation of chipmunks and bugs can be attributed to the kids for when they forget to shut the door and leave it open all night.

 

So I go downstairs and shut the door.  I shut it if they are not there, and I shut it if they are there.

 

You might think this is a jerk move (if you’re a Breeder), but the door has a sign clearly posted on it saying “This is a Security Door, and should remain shut”.    I’m not sure if a security door is a proper noun or not, but that’s how the sign chose to be capitalized.  I didn’t even post that sign (although I have lowered it so that it is eye level with any child that might be using the door).  Anyway, the sign says the door should be shut, I want the door shut, so I shut it.  If I wanted an apartment with a permanent 3 foot by eight foot hole in the wall, I would have gotten one.

The kids think this is terrible.  Whenever I go anywhere, I shut the door.  When I leave, I shut the door.  When I come back, I shut the door.  I’ll kick whatever plastic sword they have out of the way and shut the door.  I’m not going to swelter in my own home because these idiots can’t carry a key with them outside.

 

The kids know who I am.  Once a kids stood up to me and said (in a slightly entitled voice) “would you PLEASE leave the door open?”  

 

I repressed my smile of pure condescending glee and instead glowered at the kid with such crankiness that he took a step back.  “No.”  And I kicked out the plastic sword and shut the door behind me.

 

The kids have gotten smarter.  When they see my car pull up, they sprint into the apartment building, waiting for me to pass so they can wedge the door open as soon as my shadow has past.  It’s a smart move.  However, there is a smarter move.  The door on the other side of the building as 2 doors.  One to let the mailman in, and another that locks.  If they left that inside door open, everyone would be happy. 

 

The parents haven’t said anything to me.  If I was a parent, I think it’d be great if someone locked my kid outside so that I could have some peace and quiet.  Besides, if something terrible DID happen, the Old Grumpy Man upstairs would be the first to know, since he is forced to pay attention to what my kid is up to, and he’s probably not evil enough to let the kids get kidnapped/murdered/eaten by dinosaurs.

 

The door wars are going in my favor, and the reputation it’s won for me is well appreciated.  One day the kids were kicking a ball against the wall of my apartment, and bouncing it off the ceiling.  I’m the top apartment, and this was getting old fast.  I took a page out of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and channeled my inner Boo Radley.  I went out onto my balcony for about 10 seconds, and glowered.  Only one kid saw me.  I could tell because he did a startled double take so exaggerated I thought my glare had shocked him with 100 volts (a power I’ve been working on).  As soon as he turned to get his friends’ attention to alert them, I quickly jumped back into the apartment and out of sight.  For the next ten minutes I heard the kids argue with such terror in their voice.  They do this thing where they try to whisper like a Shakespearian actor would.  They scream their whispers, but add a lot more airy flourish to whatever it is they are saying.

“I saw him!  He was out on the balcony”
“I didn’t see him!”
“He’s going to tell on us!”
“Don’t be silly!  He’s not there.”
“But what if he was?”
“I saw him!”
“No you didn’t!”
“Can we just go?”
“I guess.”

 

The incessant beat of the balls against my walls stopped during this conversation, and the haunting thought that I might be listening (I wasn’t trying to, but they are shouting outside my window so I hear it) drove them to play in a different yard.  The mystery of the Grumpy Old Man works wonders in the way that glowering never could.