3.31.2008

Ole Anthony

The only "evangelist" who makes any sense to me these days is Ole Anthony. I first heard his morning bible studies (which are posted on the Trinity Foundation website) about 3 years ago, and the words he said just bowled me over. They challenged everything I believed to be Christianity. It was so radical that I avoided it for 2 & 1/2 of those years.

But I've found myself drifting back to it, and it makes so much sense to me now. I have to wonder what changed within me that would cause me to embrace this teaching, which, as I see it, is much more "Christian" than any I have ever heard. In fact, it makes me question the legitimacy of all the theology I've ever studied.

My first exposure to Anthony was through a copy of "The Wittenburg Door", a religious satire magazine that he "inherited". If you're not familiar with it, all I can say is that it is brutal to the point where you wouldn't know it was published by Christians if you didn't already know. And the one target that "The Door" lambasted with the most ferocity was televangelists with their false teachings and manipulative techniques.

If you've read much of this blog, especially in the last few months, you know that I have zero tolerance for these swindlers. I don't know that I can explain exactly WHY they get on my bad side like they do. I'd like to think it's because they are shitting all over something that is precious to me. They've reduced the most important event in the history of mankind into the convoluted plot line in a Must See TV prime time drama. They've used it as an excuse to hold the biggest telethon ever broadcast. It's cool for Jerry Lewis to have a telethon once a year...the proceeds all go to a worthy cause. But the Monster Televangelistic Telethon, a monster that consumes air time for sustenance, raises money to pay for...uh...MORE AIRTIME.

Okay, that's a little harsh. The folks who donate to these ministries aren't paying for airtime ONLY. Some of the money pays for the "minister"'s salary (which, I suspect, amounts to a figure that makes the average contributors yearly income look like a Christmas bonus from a miserly boss). And let's not forget just how essential Lear Jets and Bentleys are to the "preacher on the go". God forbid their standards of living be comparable to that of the modest middle class people who send their monthly "seeds" to these "sowers". It is a vital necessity that speakers of this importance own mansions. How do these bastards sleep at night, knowing that their maidservants are very likely paid with funds that were hustled from poor people who have been told that God wants to make them rich...at a price.

Harsh...sure it is. And no doubt much of the money that comes to many of these ministries is used in a proper manner, feeding starving folks in third world countries, helping the homeless, that kind of stuff. Which is GREAT. But this kind of work makes up such a small piece of the pie. It's not an excuse for all the other shit that is going on with these quacks.

At any rate, I seem to have drifted from my original topic, Ole Anthony. I was just saying that Anthony's fight against televangelism is what attracted me to his teaching. But soon it had nothing to do with that. The guy made sense, it was that simple.

He also has a sense of humor that is so spot-on it always cracks me up. For example:

Ole appeared on the Christian talk show The 700 Club—and was permanently banned when he told host Ben Kincheloe that he prayed to God to either send him a wife or stop making him so horny.

That's just so funny, not just because of the joke, but because he had the audacity to say it on "the 700 Club". The fact that he was banned afterward only goes to show what humorless fuddy-duddys they are in Pat Robertson's camp. Who would want to be a Christian if it means that you can't laugh at all of MAN'S IDEAS about what it means to be one?

Another aspect of Anthony that I find refreshing:

On at least two occasions Ole's life was threatened by one of his students, and one particular Arkansas-bred proselyte had to be held down bodily on the floor, lest he open a can of whup-ass.

Later—at Kip's Big Boy, at Lucas B&B, at the NFL—I would tentatively ask what might have been happening that night.

"Romans. We're still studying the book of Romans," he would say.

"What particular aspect of Romans is generating this level of interest?"

"Well, we were talking about your place in the body of Christ. And I told one guy his place was to be a pimple on the ass of the body of Christ. I just said it. It just came out."

"And he didn't agree?"

"A lot of these people are clinging to their miserable little self-images. They don't understand that it's about God. It's about them, but only the part of them that contains God. They still think they're special."


If this offends you...if you really think that there's anything "special" about us because we're Christians...then we're on totally different pages. And that's okay. It's none of my business what you believe. I don't mean to make it your business what I believe. I'm just ranting.

But I did want to get the word out about Ole Anthony...not exactly about Ole, but about the morning bible studies that you can download from the Trinity Foundation's website. Even if you aren't a Christian (ESPECIALLY if you aren't) you will find much to contemplate in these 25-30 minute sessions.

MORNING BIBLE STUDIES at TRINITY FOUNDATION


(The material in italics is from "Ole Anthony and 'The God Thing'" by John Bloom...I wholeheartedly recommend this article...)

Snafu

I don't doubt that at least 99% of everyone in the United States is familiar with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig...the whole stable of Warner Brothers cartoon personalities are some of the most recognizable icons in history.

But there aren't too many who know about one of their characters who was extremely popular with American GIs fighting in World War II: the bungling Private Snafu, whose sole purpose was to entertain and educate our soldiers overseas.

Warner Brothers released several "message" cartoons to the general public (softcore propaganda), but Private Snafu was the sole property of the military. As such, he got away with a lot more risque shenanigans than you'd expect.

As relatively raunchy as they are (especially for the times) it might surprise you to know that one of it's writers was Ted Geisel, who was also the man responsible for "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", "Horton Hears a Who" and several other legendary children's books he penned under the nom de plume of Dr. Suess.

Here's a Snafu short called "BOOBY TRAP"

(NOTE: You'll need to turn off the music player at the bottom of the page unless you want to know what a Private Snafu cartoon sounds like with a soundtrack by Sigur Ros)

3.29.2008

SCTV

"SCTV" was one of my favorite television shows in the early '80s. Arguably the funniest comedy show I've ever seen, it was bright, original, and even subversive in it's own subtle way. It was in the same league as the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players from the first seasons of "Saturday Night Live". It even rose to the same level of genius that Monty Python's Flying Circus achieved. Such is my opinion, but it is shared by many (Conan O'Brien, for one, has said that SCTV was his all-time favorite comedic series, and that his own humor is greatly influenced by the actors on the program).

It was where John Candy got his start, but by no means was he the stand-out performer on "SCTV". Every member of the cast brought something unique and hilarious to the show. It was basically a character-driven show with each actor portraying several different ones. The skit comedy based around these characters was held together by bogus commercials and promos for upcoming shows (almost all of which were scheduled for "Thursday at 9:00 pm"), the concept being a day in the life of a small, struggling TV station.

The cast and some of their unforgettable characters:

John Candy: Johnny LaRue, Harry (the guy with the snake painted on his face) from "Harry's Sex Shop", Dr. Tongue

Joe Flaherty: Guy Caballero, Count Floyd, Sammy Maudlin, Rocco (from "The Days of the Week" soap opera)

Eugene Levy: Bobby Bitman, Earl Camembert

Andrea Martin: Edith Prickley, Mojo (from "The Days of the Week")

Catherine O'Hara: Lola Heatherton

Rick Moranis: Bob McKenzie, Gerry Todd

Dave Thomas: Bill Needle, Doug McKenzie

Martin Short: Ed Grimley

These are not the only characters these guys have invented...just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. They are also by no means "funnier" than other personas, but they are awful damn funny.

A few weeks ago while buying staple products at the Dollar General Store I noticed that they still had a copy of the complete NBC Cycle 1 DVD box set...I had seen the first three seasons on their shelves about a year before, but had not been able to buy them at the time. They are all five disc boxes and for whatever reason they were being sold there for $10. Which is incredible, seeing as how they go for over $50 new on Amazon. And these were all new, still in the shrink wrap.

So, this last time I saw the first set and I had to buy it. I got it home and watched the first episode. That was all it took to remind me of just how awesome "SCTV" was. It was even funnier than I remembered it being. The best 10 bucks I've spent in a long time, that was for sure.

I wanted more, and I remembered that, all that time ago, they'd also had the 2nd and 3rd seasons. I doubted they were still around, because surely there was someone, even in this small town, who remembered how great "SCTV" was and would snatch those suckers up for that bargain price. I went back to the store and searched through every cheap DVD and VHS tape...I even checked the rack behind it, thinking that they may have slipped back there.

My persistance and tenacity in the search paid off, as I miraculously located the DVDs. I was happy to find 'em, but really very surprised that no one had snagged them before my return. I mean, this was at least a year later.

I didn't know if the last NBC cycle, the fourth volume, was to be found at any of the many Dollar Stores within a 30 mile radius of the one in my town. It's a 6-disc set, and for some reason I thought that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to track down. But I tried. I went to six or seven dollar stores and raided their miniscule video sections. I actually found copies of the first and third seasons at a few locations. But season 4 eluded me, and I had almost given up on ever finding it. I even considered paying the full asking price at Amazon because I so wanted the complete series.

Even so, I continued to look in the Dollar Stores. I was through with the quest, but you never know, now, do you?

Then one day when I took my family to Seminole, to buy groceries and eat at A&W, we needed to get something from the Dollar Store there. I had not hit this one up earlier, but I still had little hope that I would find what I was looking for.

Lo and behold IT WAS THERE!!! Same $10 price tag. I snatched that thing up like there was a line of people outside the door, each one wanting to take it for their own. I could hardly believe it...the entire NBC cycle of one of the greatest television shows in history, preserved in pristine digital quality and spanning a whopping TWENTY-ONE discs, all mine for FORTY DOLLARS.

These "SCTV" sets are some of the most cherished DVDs in my collection (second only to my copy of the Sigur Ros documentary, "Heima"). I have watched 20 of the 21 discs and I'm sure I'll go through the entire run on a yearly basis for the next few years. Unlike the majority of TV programs throughout the years, this one doesn't seem to get old.

So if you're out and about and you find yourself at a Dollar General Store, take a gander at the video aisle and hunt for one of these gems. Even if you can only track down one season, it's worth a lot more than ten dollars and you'll no doubt come to think of it as money well-spent.

3.28.2008

...of Options and Onions

There are a lot of good things about living in a small town. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. But, as one might expect, there are significant drawbacks.

For instance, in the town where I live the restaurant options are limited to 3 establishments. I don't count the little coffee shop downtown, which does serve food but closes shop after lunch...I don't know anyone who professes to like their vittles, they'd probably tell you that it was a nice place to hang out with cronies of a morning and pour as many cups of coffee down your gullet as you can. Somehow they've found a way to stay in business with coffee sales alone.

As for the others...

We finally got a Subway about a year ago. They came in just as the other sandwich shop went bust. Subworks was already doomed before the Subway folks moved in, but it couldn't have helped (Subworks' downfall, IMO, was their bread. It always seemed to be on the verge of staleness).

The town actually had a Subway at one point. It was the deli section of a convenience store that had just re-modeled. I don't guess the arrangement worked out very well for them, because they didn't last too long there. It was several years later until the franchise took a chance on this town again.

All of which doesn't say much about the restaurant itself. Well what do you want? It's a freakin' Subway, for cripes sake. They're all the same. I like it enough, but it's just so damned expensive (a comment indicative of my current "standard of living"). It is, however, probably the best place to eat here.

Next is a pizza place on the west side of town. I won't mention the name. This joint has been here for a long time and I have eaten many hundreds of pizza slices within it's walls. Only recently, however, has it dawned on me as to how inferior their food is to any pizza restaurant Ihave ever been to (and I like pizza...I've been to a few). The sauce they use makes it's way through the gastrointestinal system in a remarkably short period of time. This is why I don't recommend eating it unless you plan on being next to a restroom within the next 30 minutes after consuming it. There is a general uncleanliness about the place. In the summer you can count on seeing dead flies on the window sills. Often the tables have not been wiped very thoroughly. The cash register, all smudged and begrimed from being so close to the heat of the kitchen, is especially nasty. To top it all off, they've got some unhealthy looking cooks sweating away back there.

Still, we used to eat there every once in a while because you do get used to it. Even so, we are currently boycotting the place. The last time I was there with my son, the waitress passed right by us to wait on some people who weren't even there when we showed up. Got up, stormed out and chowed at Subway that night. We've boycotted this particular restaurant on a couple of prior occassions. They last for months, and the revenue of this dump drops considerably...okay, that was a joke, but truth is I doubt we are the only ones who have boycotted it. It's common knowledge around town that it's a gross place to eat.

Then again, I don't know what purpose there is in it. The best case scenario would be a drastic overhaul in the quality of food. But I really don't think that's going to happen. So the outcome could only be that the patronage of the restaurant reaches such a dismal low that they can't afford to remain in business, and they shut 'er down. But then we'd only have two choices in this town...so what the hell. It isn't THAT bad. I'm sure the whole crew will have left while another crew replaces them, and who knows but that THAT crew might get it right. That'll all happen by the time our boycott winds down. Another chance will be given.

The last option is the Sonic Drive-In. Suckers' got staying power...it's been selling burgers here for over 25 years. I can't think of any time when business has not thrived at this place. And it will always do well because people in this town like to place their orders using a small intercom while comfortably seated in their automobiles. You can eat it in the car or take it home with you, isn't that convenient? The waiting period between placing the order and getting your food is not too long. Bring a book or a magazine to read and it goes by in a flash. The food is pretty good. It's nothing special, I don't suppose. More often "tasty" than not.

My chief complaint about Sonic is one that I have also had with several other burger sellers I have eaten at. If you don't like onions on your burger you already know what I'm talking about. First of all, if I order "no onions", that's what I mean. I don't know which is worst, getting onions on the whole thing or that lone onion that always seems to save itself for your last bite. You consider yourself lucky that the Sonic guys actually got a "no onions" order right, and then, *crunch*, that powerful, nasty onion taste is the last thing you'll remember about an otherwise enjoyable meal.

Last night I ordered one of their goofy "Toaster" sandwiches. The Bacon Cheeseburger. Now, I don't expect onions to be on a bacon cheeseburger. That's what made 'em so easy to get right. You didn't even have to say "no onions" and it was all good. So I'm not expecting onions. I forget that the toaster version comes with a hickory sauce, and ordered mayonaisse instead. Then I remembered that the toaster variety of bacon cheeseburger came with an onion ring between the toast and the meat. I suppose it is supposed to compliment the hickory sauce.

I figured, what the hell, you know? It's not that I don't like onions in general (although that WAS my policy until a few years ago). I very much enjoy red onions on pizza. I like onion rings if they're done up right. Onions in chili. Probably a few more dishes that have onions in them. But I DO NOT like chopped onions...actually I don't mind them every once in awhile, if I'm in a weird mood... But more often than not I cannot stand them. And it's not really the chopped onions so much as it is the crispness, the crunchiness, the smell of 'em. This brand of onion product is what they use at Sonic.

I suppose the blame for all the countless "lone onion" incidents shouldn't be leveled at the cooks. Most likely some onions just got mixed in with the lettuce while the cook was using both hands with each. None of which changes the enormous buzz-busting power of the lone onion.

But I digress. I get myself mentally prepared for the onion ring. I'm sure wishing I hadn't made the switch to mayonaisse, but maybe it will be okay. And for the life of me I don't know what possessed me to get it as a toaster and not a regular bacon cheeseburger with the essential BUN. Maybe I thought, "I'll give 'er another tryyyyyy." Hopefully it will be long time before I say that again.

The thing had onions on it!!! Not just the onion ring, but a fistful of the dreaded chopped variety. A bacon cheeseburger with two doses of yummy onion goodness. Why would they think that even an onion lover would not be overcome by the sheer overkill of this assault? You might as well have just ordered yourself an onion burger.

What do I do? I eat it, that's about all I can do. I can't complain to the management because it states clearly on the menu that this toaster comes with all manner of onions. The only logical thing to do, as I saw it at the time, was to try and put myself in that aforementioned mood where I can tolerate them. I acheived at least 75% of this goal.

I can't say I enjoyed this particular meal very much. But in the words of popular country and western recording artist Tracy Lawrence, "Lessons learned and they sure run deep...they don't come cheap." So true. I learned one for the cost of a #5 Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster Value Meal.

The lesson learned?

Never order the #5 combo.

Collected "Roy-isms"

A couple of years ago I worked for a corporation that provided services for "developmentally delayed individuals". My short career in that field only lasted a few years, and I got to know several of these people, and a few of them were pretty cool. But I never knew anyone like Roy. Roy had his fair share of problems and eccentricities...On most days he would do nothing but sit on the floor smoking cigarettes and listening to the oldies station, KOMA. I mean to tell you he had that radio station blaring 24 hours a day. It was mind blowing how much trivia he had stashed in his brain about the songs and artists on KOMA. Every day at noon we would listen to Ronnie Kaye's trivia question and more often than not, Roy knew the answer. We would have won the contest every day if we could have made it past the other callers to actually speak with Kaye (I often spoke with him to request songs, and he put some of those short conversations on the air). We did win once, with some hopelessly obscure question that I doubt anyone in Oklahoma knew the answer to...anyone but Roy, of course.

He was a fun guy to work with once you got past the body odor, the incredibly shoddy state of his household and the constant hateful swearing and cursing he would lash out occasionally at no one in particular. He had the foulest mouth of anyone I've ever known. It was actually funny and almost endearing, once I got used to it. But he had at least one remark he was fond of that I insisted he not use. You KNOW it had to be rough stuff if it could offend me.

But perhaps the craziest thing about Roy was...

He was married to a doll.

At least he believed he was married to a doll. He loved dolls. He loved one particular doll more than the others. He had given her the name of Annie Marie. She was one of several dolls he owned, but there must have been something special about her. I guess his guardian thought this proclivity was amusing (it is, though, don't you think?) and so he rounded up some friends, dressed one of 'em up as a priest. Then they performed a wedding ceremony for Roy and Annie Marie, the doll. Gave him a bogus wedding certificate and everything (if you want to see a photograph of the "wedding certificate" and Annie Marie, they were posted on 10.21.05). They even videotaped the whole affair (of course...you don't go through that kind of trouble without some kind of memento). I don't know what I think about all of that. It was probably not the ethical thing for Roy's guardian to do. But no one was hurt and Roy really enjoyed it. He thought it was real and I have no doubt he still thinks it's real and will continue to do so until the day he dies.

All that aside, the thing I most liked about Roy was that he would say things, just out of the blue, that made no sense within the context of whatever we were talking about (if they made sense at all). Or maybe we weren't talking at all and he would suddenly bust out with one of these statements. I called them "Roy-isms", and I've posted them here before, way back in the early months of '06.

But never before have I attempted to collect the entire series of "Roy-isms" and place them all together in one post. Today I am going to do just that, because I think they deserve to be re-posted as a set (if you've been with this blog for awhile you know I rarely re-post anything). So grab a soda, have a seat and have a laugh. Roy won't mind, I assure you.

ROY-ISMS


~~~"I hope we get bowling ball-sized hail."

~~~"I'm playing my Iranian trumpet."

~~~"I wanna chase people with a chainsaw on Halloween."

~~~"I'm gonna pass gas in the Synagogue."

~~~"I'm eatin' bugs."

~~~"CHOCOLATE BRICK!"

~~~"I'm gonna make my bed in a chocolate cake."

~~~"I DON'T GET PAID FOR THIS!"

That last one is just so funny...it's what he says every time I ask him to do something that he doesn't really want to do (and that would include just about everything). He winds up doing what he's asked, but he moans and complains, "Ahhh, I don't get paid for this shit", with the volume of his voice rising to a crescendo by the time the last word is out of his mouth.

I can envision this becoming a nationwide catch phrase, with people everywhere bemoaning, "I don't get paid for this"...sort of the modern day equivalent of Freddie Prinze's old line, "Eez Not My Chob!"
Roy's eyesight is faulty, and I often wonder just how blind he is. He misplaced a pack of cigarettes the other day and thought he'd lost them. More precisely, he thought someone had stolen them from him, and he bellowed, "Some crack head done pimped me!"


~~~"I'll break my bowl! Cuz I'm crazy! I'll break my plate...I'll break my eyeglasses!"

~~~"I'm gonna squeeze a turtle."

~~~"I'm gonna raise hell on Halloween and I'm gonna throw my Christmas tree off the porch on Christmas."

~~~"My cousin Sherri took a shit in my uncle Johnny's boot and blamed it on me."

~~~"I'm gonna smoke me some coffee grounds, just for the fun of it."

~~~"I'm gonna drop firecrackers in kids' candy bags on Halloween...make 'em go off cryin'."

~~~"Can I raise hell in Dallas? Trip out on the Mexicans down there? Curse 'em out in Spanish?"

~~~"I'm gonna piss in my bug zapper."

~~~"I'm gonna drink piss 'on the rocks'."

~~~"I'm gonna bust me some balloons."

~~~"I'm gonna piss on my momma's bed."

~~~"I'm going to piss a locust off."

~~~"I'm gonna tie springs on my feet and bounce on 'em, BOING BOING BOING!

~~~"I'm gonna burn down a whorehouse. Jim McCloud, I'm gonna burn down his whorehouse. Burn down the Kickapoo Motel."

~~~"I'm eatin' horse shit."

~~~"I don't want to end up in no strange ghetto."

~~~"I had a dream I broke out windows last night...Glass makes pretty music when it breaks."

~~~"Get that fucked-up bicycle out of here."
It should be noted that there was not a bicycle in sight when Roy said this, so I asked, "Where's the bicycle?" to which he replied, "In the machine shop."

~~~"I'm gonna bitch slap my grandma. I'm gonna bitch slap my sister."
"Why would you want to do that?" I asked.
"Cause they're bitches...Push my momma off a bridge."

~~~"I'm gonna drink me some Mexican beer and go crazy like a wild Indian."

~~~"I eat shit all the time. It's good with peanut butter. I'm gonna eat me some cow shit. I'm gonna smoke me some dog shit. Dry it out in the sun, stick it in my pipe and smoke it. That's why you call cigars 'dog turds'".

~~~"I'm going to take me an overdose. I'm gonna piss off an oil well."

~~~"I'm gonna go on a hunger strike. I'm gonna sue DHS for 2.9 million cause they're robbing me of food stamps. They're robbing my white ass. N*****-fucking dope fiend."

~~~"I'm gonna drown in the sea of love, man."

~~~"I'm gonna break my stereo. I wanna see stereo fireworks."

~~~"Can I smoke my momma's crack?"

~~~"What do you think I am? Your damn whore?"

~~~"I'm gonna smoke my Mexican clock."

~~~Roy and I listen to the Oldies station all day long and we both like the DJ, Ronnie Kaye, who has been in radio & television for as long as both of us can remember. I made the remark to Roy that I've always liked Ronnie Kaye, to which he replied, "He's a fool, man...He's a stone fuckin' fool." (Regardless, Roy is as big a fan of Kaye as I am)

~~~"I'm gonna play my Australian flute".

~~~"I'm gonna play my farting violin."

~~~"I've got Satan's bug...I'm dying of AIDS."

~~~"I'm gonna drink me some toilet bowl cleaner. I'm gonna drink my cologne."

~~~Every day I suggest activities for Roy, all of which he disgustedly rejects. It has become a running gag for me to suggest a road trip to Ardmore, which is a couple of hundred miles south on the Oklahoma-Texas border. Today when I mentioned Ardmore Roy said, "There ain't nothin' down there in Ardmore for my white ass."

~~~"I'm gonna go live in a pumpkin."

~~~I noticed today that Roy was wheezing (probably from all the constant chain-smoking). I pointed this out to Roy, to which he replied, "I can't help it. I got AIDS." (No, Roy does NOT have AIDS)

~~~"I'm gonna call the police on my Aunt Glenda. She lied to me." (Roy pronounces it "Poe-Lease")

~~~"How about if I give you a chocolate pie with shaving cream on top of it?"

~~~""I'm gonna slap me a Chinese whore. I'll paint me a Mexican green-and-red striped."

~~~"I'll stick my hand in a tree-hole. What do you think I'll pull out? I'll pull out a snake, probably."

~~~When Roy checked his mail today there was, in his mailbox, one of those bulk advertisement letters from Geico. Roy walked in the house waving it around and said, "What's Geico doing sending me insurance? I don't have no damn car!"

~~~"I'm gonna play the devil's horn...the devil's trumpet."

~~~"I'm gonna piss off a bumble bee. Make it go over there and sting that dog. I'll say, 'Go get him, Buzz-Bee!' till that dog screams. He'll never know who sicced that bee on him! I'm gonna piss a spider off, too. What'll happen if I piss a spider off?"

~~~"I'm going to go to the Fitness Center and pull the Fire Alarm."

~~~"I want to hear a whole string of Black Cats go off. Two or three hundred of 'em!"

~~~"I hope we get a violent tornado. I like riding them things. I like to wrestle them things."

~~~"She ain't nothin' but a chocolate lover."

~~~"I'm gonna buy me a mouse."
"What are you going to do with a mouse?" I asked him.
"I'm gonna play with him"

~~~"I'm gonna take a dump on my momma's cake."

~~~The other day he walked into the mental health clinic where he gets a bi-weekly injection of Haldol and announced to everyone in the waiting room, "I'm here to get my weekly shot of crack!" Several present thought this was quite funny. Then he said, "I'm going to eat a clock. Can I eat that computer?"

~~~"I'm gonna shit on my momma's custard pie."

~~~"I'm gonna take a hammer and bust the windows out of all pawn shops."

~~~"I'm gonna smoke me some beer."

~~~"I'm gonna buy me some Mexican gasoline."

~~~"I'm gonna raise hell in the gym. I'm gonna burst a basketball...blow it up real tight and burst it!"

~~~"I'm going to be the devil's horns."

~~~"Why don't I just blow some gas all over this town and stink it all up?"

~~~"I'm going to play my musical whistle."

~~~"I'm going to drink me some Clorox."

~~~"I'm going to drink me some Scotch...a whole jug of it."

~~~"Can I yell 'FIRE!' in a movie theater?"

3.27.2008

the wait is killing me

A bit of a sob story today...

You see, I won a favorable decision in a Social Security Disability claim. This was in June of last year. My lawyer told me that the benefits would begin to arrive within the next 60-90 days.

As it has turned out, it's now been about 2 weeks past the 270 day mark. And I'm still waiting.

I've called the OKC office several times, but all I get is a run-around about how the documents are in the editing phase. I'll say this...they must be some obsessively meticulous bastards there, which I suppose is probably a good thing, but for God's sake, you'd think they could get it done up properly in less time. Even they told me that my lawyer was right, that it usually DOES take 2-3 months to be processed. But, oh no, they've just got SO MANY cases working at the present. I have to wonder how many people who received their decision almost a year ago have been receiving their checks for a couple of months now?

The wait has been ridiculous, and it's fucked up a lot of things in my life. Probably the biggest disappointment was when we lost our house earlier this month. 4 years my family has lived here. This was the first house we'd planned to buy, as opposed to renting. We looked forward to settling down in this home, and there was no reason we could not have done it...that is, we could have kept it if my benefits had come on time. Hell, we had it worked out to where we could even go three or four months longer than the 60-90 day waiting period. But there's no way we could have lasted 9 months without a second income. And so our house has been foreclosed upon, and I feel like my hands are tied. I mean, what am I going to do? It's a futile gesture to expect the federal government to give a shit about something as relatively trivial as a man with bipolar disorder who can't help his family make ends meet without the assistance of Social Security Disability. It's not like I WANTED to have a mental illness. It's not like I wouldn't rather be out there in the workplace earning a decent living for my wife and kid (like most everyone else is able to do).

We are, at present, moving into a rent house a few blocks down the road. I'm not going to talk shit about the new dwellings...wouldn't do any good, and besides, I may actually like it once we've got all our stuff set up. But even if that is the case, the fact is that the house is not as nice as the one we've lost. I also get the very strong suspicion that the landlord is not the most efficient one we could have hoped for (ie. I think he may well be a lazy man). But it's all said and done now. We've given the guy a $400 deposit and 3 1/2 months rent (which is a crock of shit, since he wanted that half-month for the remainder of THIS month, and he still hasn't done all the things he should have had done before we move in).

3 months. That's what we've got. 90 days and if the benefits haven't arrived within that time period, WE'RE FUCKED, pardon my French. It's as simple as that. There is no "Plan B" if that happens. Hell, we're already on "Plan D", I should say. We're out of options.

That's all bad enough, but it's only the worst of it. I won't go into the other trials and tribulations this hold-up has plagued us with. Suffice to say that our standard of living is not quite as I would like for it to be.

So, anyone out there who believes in the power of prayer, sneak one in for me. Anyone out there who believes in the power of money and has lots of it to spare, e-mail me and we'll talk (ha).

3.26.2008

New Song: "Signals Breaking Up"

Haven't done much over the last two or three days other than work on mixing a song for a project I've undertaken, the Head Reconstructions.

You see, I've got several tapes filled with song ideas from my band Head that never saw the light of day. These suckers are all at least 15 years old, but they sound mighty fresh. I've been transferring especially interesting sections to CD from the original tapes.

So the idea is to take a lot of these "songs", tweak the production as much as I can, then add vocals/lyrics and other nonsense of that sort. I'm quite happy with how the first one is turning out. I've called it "Signals Breaking Up". I would say it is probably about 75-80% completed, but I'm glad to put it up on the MySpace music page I've got. I'll probably put it up on Soundclick soon, but right now I'm just sending out the link to the MySpace page.

There are 3 other tracks on that MySpace profile. "Born Yesterday", "Tales of Mystery Imagination" and "Toad Hall Tour (DP Maximus Mix)". These are all oddities that were thrown together on the Acid 7.0 Music Studio. You might like 'em if you have a taste for the slightly bizarre.

Have a listen...

click here for SIGNALS BREAKING UP


.......and I do hope you enjoy it.......
...............send the link to ALL your friends............

Music Video of the Week: Einstürzende Neubauten

PLEASE NOTE: Before playing this video you will need to pause the music player at the bottom of the page.

"Autobahn"
Einstürzende Neubauten

3.24.2008

I've always had a real bad feeling about this guy, Mike Murdock. I consider him to be one of the most obvious donation swindlers in the world of televangelism. We call him "Lucifer" in my house. It is devestating to us that we cannot afford to send him a $100 "seed" so God can bless us with a million smackeroos...


David J. Stewart's article "Mike Murdock: False Prophet" will catch you up to speed.


(I would like to point out, however, that the website which hosts the Mike Murdock expose, Jesus-Is-Savior.com appears to be one of the most radical goofball operations I have seen in a long time. I guess it's true: sometimes you have to wade through shit to find that priceless pearl of truth)

New Sun Kil Moon album on the horizon

The Mark Kozelek fan page is featuring 6 songs from the upcoming Sun Kil Moon album, "April". Listening to it right now and it sho' nuff makes me anxious for the April 1 release. What I've heard so far is in keeping with the stripped-down acoustic guitar based style prevalent on "Tiny Cities" and Kozelek's solo recordings. I guess that's the direction they're heading in, and that's okay by me (even if I could do with some dirty, grungy epic like "Salvador Sanchez").

I have been a fan since 1999, when Red House Painters "Retrospective" came out. I loved that CD so much that I went out and bought their entire back catalogue. Since then I've kept up with everything even remotely related to Mark Kozelek. I've loved it all, but I have to say that his recent project, Sun Kil Moon, has become my favorite of it all.

3.23.2008

jam at jeff's


I traveled to Tecumseh yesterday afternoon to visit some friends. Plus, I needed to get out of the house and my son was begging for a few hours of "alone time" with his aunt's Wii. A couple of weeks ago there was a rumour floating 'round that one of these friends had died, so I was especially grateful to see him.

I had planned to take this trip about this time last week. I called my brother and asked if he had any plans to hang out, as he does go there every other week or so. He said that he was thinking about it, which means "yeah, I'll probably be there."

Then I talked to him a couple of days later and he told me that Jeff (our resurrected host) was going to have a cook-out (it turned out not to be Jeff's idea, as I later learned, but hey, it's free hot dogs and burgers, beer, soda pop, chips...all that rot). This news lessened my enthusiasm for attending, as I haven't not been in the mood for such shindigs since 1985. I had to weigh out the pros and cons, and the cons were in the lead.

Then I find out, the day before the whole she-bang, that the guys in my brother's band are going to be there, that a full-out jam was being planned. That information tipped the "pro's and con's" scale significantly in the territory of the latter. It wasn't so much that I was against playing music (although I would have preferred a nice, round-table guitar sing-a-long to the loud, amplified full-on affair that happened).

But the real deal was that I had no desire whatsoever to meet the guys in the band that I didn't already know. I didn't want to meet them, I didn't want to meet their wives/girlfriends, I didn't want to meet their children and I didn't want to meet their friends.

I got lucky, and was able to skirt around any introductions. I stayed mainly with Jeff's wife, Reita, and a couple of guys who I really enjoy hanging with, Dave and Teddy. At one point the three of us gentlemen went on a trip down "Test Road", and that is one of the reasons I feel like shit this morning (and I DO...).

I wound up playing the electric/acoustic guitar for about thirty minutes, and it was okay, just a little bit hard to be so close to such loud music.

I won't say anything awfully negative about the band. Obviously I think my brother, the drummer, is the stand-out member. I know the lead guitarist fairly well and he's quite talented. Other than that, they are a mediocre lot. I won't say they are all shitty musicians, because they're not too bad on that front. But good Lord, the list of songs they do is filled with nothing but old, old, old songs. Now I like old songs as much as the next guy, but they must have played 4 Merle Haggard songs back-to-back. I'd never heard any band do Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" until yesterday. And the guy who sings this stuff doesn't use his own singing voice, but instead trys to imitate the original singer, like some third rate impressionist on the bill at a music hall in Branson, Missouri.

These guys are not destined to go much further than the dive bars around their home town. My brother realizes this, and only plays with them for the money, because there are practically no opportunities in these parts for a drummer to find paying work in a decent band. Furthermore, they apparently don't know the difference between a "jam session" and a "rehearsal session". This was a cook-out, for chrissakes, there were people there, lounging back in lawn chairs, eating grilled meat and drinking Coronas...I have no doubt that these people wanted to hear some music. I also feel comfortable in postulating that they DIDN'T want to hear the songs break down and the guys try to figure out what went wrong, then start the song over, play it till it broke down again and repeat the process three or four times. A "jam session" does not require perfection. Even if it did, these ole boys are so far from the hope for "perfection" that they might as well just roll with the flow.

They did not, however, "roll with the flow", although I don't doubt that the song of that name is in their vast repertoire of arcane country and western chestnuts. As part of the "Merle-a-thon" they did "Silver Wings...can you believe that? How easy is that? But it WASN'T easy with these folks, because they play it in the key of E (everybody knows that "Silver Wings" is in D, just like everyone knows that there are few musicians in these parts of the woods who aren't sick to death of that song). Who knows why they make it so hard on themselves with the different key. I suspect it has something to do with the vocal range of the "Rich Little of Oklahoma Country Music".

The hootenanny was still going strong when I left. After that trip down Test Road there was no way I was going to drive home in the dark, so that was part of the reason I chose to leave when I did. Jeff sent me on my way with a little "somethin' somethin'" and the rest of the evening was smooth sailing.

A price was paid, however, for all the munchies I consumed. And everybody knows that when that condition comes around you have no control over the amount of food you consume, or the off-the-wall (often disgusting) combinations of food that get crammed down the gullet. I had already eaten a #1 Value Meal from Sonic (mustard cheeseburger, no onions, Sonic Size tater tots and a large Dr. Pepper). As the afternoon progressed, I also devoured half a bag of Jalapeno Cheddar flavored Cheetos (oh, man, those are GOOD) and two slices of this absolutely delicious chocolate fudge cake. Just to give you an idea of how tasty it was, I normally do not eat cake. But this mofo was decorated so well, with the cherrys and the sliced almonds on the side, that I could not resist.

A little more than an afternoon snack, when you take into consideration the sheer volume of the edibles I ingested. But I think it was the "late dinner" that took my gastrointestinal system for a ride in the wee hours of the night. Basically, it consisted of a "king size" Hershey's dark chocolate candy bar and about half a container of small curd cottage cheese. I was already full by the time I'd finished a few bites of the cottage cheese, but I must have been possessed, I could not stop eating it.

As I mentioned, it all took it's toll at around 4:00 in the morning. A couple swigs of Pepto Bismol seemed to help, but not enough to pull me through this woozy ordeal. My head was pounding and I knew it would be a long time getting back to sleep (even if I did, it would come in fits and starts). I finally roused myself at 9:00 o'clock...it's 10:30 now, and the pain is just now beginning to subside

Other than that, I guess I had a pretty good time, rotten band and all. It's fun to sit around the house with Reita when March Madness is in full swing. I don't think I've ever known anyone who loves college basketball as much as she does. She takes off whole days at work so she can keep up with the tournament. It's infectuous. I normally could care less about practically any sport, basketball included. But watching it with her is actually a lot of fun.

Jeff has never been anything less than a true gentleman. The longer I know him the more I respect him...I sure am glad he was still alive! Ha! That whole thing will be the crux of many a joke in the future, I assure you.

Dave and Teddy are cool as hell. Sometimes you have to invest some work into getting a friendship off the ground. But sometimes you are introduced to people who you immediately click with and feel comfortable around. Both Teddy and Dave are like that.

My brother was too busy setting up his drums to be very sociable (fuckin' drum set must have taken at least 2 hours to set up yesterday). Roger and LaHonda made themselves scarce (most likely jabbering with the band guys, who all live in the same general area). A friendly word of greeting to the brother's wife and older daughter and I was able to keep my own social skills virtually untested. I did, however, enjoy seeing my brother's youngest daughter. She was cute as hell, and remarkably intelligent for a 2 year old. I mean, her use of grammar and ability to form sentences and respond to others was uncanny.

So that was my day. Not the best. Not the worst. I'm sure there will be many more cook-outs and jams to be had at Jeff's. But I'm also reasonably sure that by the time he has another one my bro will have moved on and left the musical bozos he's with now. I don't think I will ever have to endure them again (now that I think about it, it's very likely the "impressionist vocalist" that sours me on the whole lot of 'em...but that it do).

3.21.2008

Limba's better


No, he wasn't feeling too good when this picture was taken. Can you tell? Oh, man, he was one sick doggy for a couple of weeks. We really thought he was on his last legs. The vet was not hopeful...he even mentioned to his assistant that it would take a miracle to pull him through. He said it was diabetes. Another vet said it was pancreaitis (sp?). I don't know that I trust either one of them, but one thing was for sure...he was in a bad way.

You'll be glad to know that, in defiance of each and every dire diagnosis, Simba Limba Loo has made a remarkable recovery. I won't say that he is 100% better but it's enough that we aren't worried about him anymore. So hey, let's celebrate, what do ya say?

Blazed session

I spent a good chunk of yesterday with a friend who wanted me to come by and record some stuff on a new computer music studio program he had set up. Nothing particularly complex...just a decent microphone set up in a small room. I wound up laying down at least 9 songs, with a couple of them being just stuff I was making up off the top of my head.

We got pretty blazed...I'm not the everyday "blazer" I used to be, but this guy always has the most potent stuff you could ever need. So what the hell, eh? It did what it was supposed to do, and I found myself forgetting what I had been talking about only seconds before. It's a strange feeling to realize that you can't coherantly string together a sentence or two without a total breakdown in language skills. What's even more disturbing is how you don't seem to mind. In fact, you see it as a good indicator of just how blazed you are.

Needless to say, the recording session was done in the afore-mentioned state of blazedness, so I wasn't too sure how they would turn out. There was every possibility that what I thought were classic performances would instead sound like shit the morning after. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened.

But they didn't turn out too bad. The vocals were quite nice. The guitar parts had their fair share of screw-ups, but that's only natural when you're a novice player like I am (on the guitar, that is. You'd better believe I'm a professional when it comes to the bass). The "one mic" technique was the only downfall in the whole thing. The mix of the guitar and the vocals was inconsistant. We could have tweaked it, had they been recorded on two seperate tracks. But what we got is what we got, and they were'nt meant to be anything but very rough demos in the first place.

I do tend to get nervous behind the mic these days. It hasn't always been that way. In fact, there was a time when my best stuff was coaxed from me when the tape was rolling. But those days are gone. Whenever the "record" button is pushed I lose my nerve and all my self-confidence. Which results in a weak effort.

I've got a friend in Tecumseh who has a very decent studio. I've got an open invitation to use it anytime. I can remember when such a prospect would see me hanging around his house so much that he would beg me to leave. Now I have to MAKE myself go there. And I don't think I've been happy with anything I've recorded there. I hope it will all change soon. I imagine it will when I can get it through my thick head that no one is listening anyway, so why not just roll with it?

On a somewhat different note, my psychiatrist is shutting down her private practice, so now I'll only be using the local MH center to keep up my meds. She is moving on to a state job, as she wasn't able to keep up with the costs of her own clinic.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like her enough. She has been instrumental in getting me approved for SSDB. She was the one who adjusted my meds to a level that I can live with. She seemed to be a good person. But, that said, I don't think we covered a lot of ground in regards to my bipolar. We talked about stuff, but I don't think much of it would be considered "psychoanalysis". So I sometimes felt like the trip to OKC was wasted. But at least it gave me an excuse to get out of the house.

3.19.2008

Bogus televangelism alert

I caught just a little bit of Paula White’s show earlier today (this particular airing was on the DayStar network). In case you don’t know, she is firmly entrenched in the stable of televangelists whose drive for donations is more important to her than sound doctrine. Her guest today was another one of her ilk. Some guy I recognized from all the religious TV networks but could place a name to (I actually channel surf this kind of programming, but it ‘s more to see what kind of idiocy takes place there and certainly not because I hold with the doctrine of practically any of them…I felt led, of God, to say that…heh heh).

The guest caught my attention when he said that Jesus died when the Roman soldier’s spear pierced His side. He said, and I paraphrase, “Jesus didn’t die from the whippings and the beatings. He didn’t die from hanging on the cross…Jesus died when the spear pierced Him. Jesus died of a broken heart.”

HUH? Where did he come up with this?

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was ALREADY DEAD, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."---John 19:31-37

I'm not posting this as some kind of subliminal evangelism technique. I only want to expose these false teachers for what they are. I wish I'd had time to watch more of this program, as I would like to know the context within which this preacher's comments were made. But then, I don't think it would have mattered in this case.

Apparently these "ministers" have spent a lot more time fleecing their flocks than actually reading the bible. Paula White is just as guilty as this fellow, since she provided the forum on which he propigated this heresy.

You know what I say?

FUCK 'EM ALL!

Music Video of the Week: Joy Division

PLEASE NOTE: Before playing this video you will need to pause the music player at the bottom of the page.

"Atmosphere"
Joy Division

3.18.2008


"Rocky Top Revisited"

I’ve got a tape deck hooked up to my CD burner and I’ve been transferring some stuff from my old songwriting work tapes onto disc. It’s addictive, even more so than designing my blog page. So my ears are sufferin’ instead of my eyes. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, right?

Anyhoo, I came across this song that I’d just about forgotten. Thought I’d post the lyrics:

Rocky Top Revisited

Well, now, if I was to go back to Rocky Top,
The sheriff come lookin’ for me
He bought some mountain dew, turned out to be anti-freeze
He gave it to his whole family
I was born on the day when the front page news was the Carroll County Accident
I spent a month on the road with Porter and Dolly, now my mind is permanently bent

Well, I took my hands out of my front pockets
Said, I’m tired of playing pocket pool
Mama raised 12 kids and raised hell for a livin’
You can bet she didn’t raise no fool”
Poor boys down in the Ozark mountains don’t hold no grudge ‘gainst me
I keep the gators in the swamp fed, Rocky Top cops said you’d best just stay away

Well, I took my old lady downtown in Rocky Top
I took her on the billiard table
“Werewolves of London” howlin’ from the jukebox
A porno on the satellite cable
And I traded my true love for an eight track tape deck
And a worn out “Zeppelin IV”
If I had to do it again, you know I’d do it, my friend
‘Cause I ain’t gonna tolerate a whore

Two young boys lost their lives on Rocky Top
Listenin’ to Judas Priest
They said they heard the singer tell ‘em “Blow your brains out!”
And somethin’ ‘bout the Number of the Beast
Now Porter never bit off the head of a bat or beat up a bitch
But the Rocky Top cops in the donut shops all say,
”Dolly’s got a thing for a switch”

So if I was to go back to Rocky Top
Satan come a-lookin’ for me
Saying, “Listen to the man with the paper in his hand…
Sign it if you wanna be free”
I was born on the day when the front page news was the Carroll County accident
I spent a year on the road with Ozzy Osbourne and my life is permanently bent

3.17.2008

McCainParsley/Hagee...what a joke

For the most part, I tend to avoid political discussion. I have my own persojal views on the subject and as far as I’m concerned thety are nobody’s business but my own.

But I just had to mention this.

Barrack Obama is taking a lot of heat right now for citing radical pastor Jeremiah Wright as his “spiritual guide”. Damage control must be a bitch for him right now. And he probably deserves it. There’s no way he could have been a regular member of that church without having heard at least some of the minister’s personal viewpoints and opinions (as it seems quite apparent from videos of him preaching that he sees no wrong in using the pulpit as a soapbox to propagate them).

Whether or not it hurts Obama’s campaign, I’ll say this for him. At least he had the integrity to say that his mentor was the leader OF HIS OWN CHURCH.


John McCain, on the other hand, proclaims that his “spiritual leaders” are Rod Parsley and John Hagee, two snake-oil selling televangelist charlatans. These guys are recognized by MILLIONS of professing Christians who regularly watch the religious broadcasting networks, where they’ve bought enough airtime that anyone fool enough to follow them could see them every day if they wanted. Airtime, I might add, that was purchased using funds of contributors who they’ve fleeced using “seed-faith” promises and other questionable tactics. We’re talking MILLIONS of dollars here.

The point being that there must be thousands of people who send money to these guys. And who knows how many people tune in without sending money, but who respect the views and statements of Parsley and Hagee. And that’s their business, of course.

But doesn’t it seem a bit disingenuous and tacky that John McCain would choose these Trinity Broadcasting Network superstars as mentors? A presidential candidate who shared their extremely intolerant views would never be elected, so one must assume that McCain has distanced himself from going that far. He probably wants to nurture the association with the hard right that Parsley/Hagee represent, but I doubt he would be so naïve as to firmly entrench himself in their camp.

Oh, no. It seems perfectly obvious to me, and I have no doubt that I am probably the LAST one to figure it out:

It’s numbers he wants. And it’s numbers he’ll get, because millions of people buy into all this televised preaching bullshit. And if they are fool enough to put their trust in a quack like Hagee, then they’re fool enough to vote for who he tells them to vote for. If they believe the same way that Rod Parsley believes, then they’re not going to vote for anyone but an ultra-conservative anyway. Read his books and you’ll see what I mean (plus, you might get a chuckle or two out of ‘em).

Pandering to the Christian right has been a staple of the election process since before I can remember. I don’t like it, but oh well. But it seems to me that if John McCain had any sense at all he would exercise better judgement over who he proclaims to be his “spiritual guides”. It’s just TOO obvious what he’s doing here. It should be considered an insult by every believer in this country.

I won’t disclose my political affiliation, but I will say this, hypothetically: even if I were a staunch Republican I would never vote for John McCain. Obama or Clinton, either one, but NOT McCain.

What a fuckin’ jackass.

Grace to the few?

Do you suppose, you that sell, that this pint of yours has been sweet to me? It was tribulation I sought at the bottom of it, tears and tribulation, and have found it, and I have tasted it; but He will pity us who had pity on all men, Who has understood all men and all things, He is the One, He, too, is the judge." - Fyodor Dostoevsky ("Crime and Punishment")

Having just finished reading the extremely lightweight "Cross" by James Patterson, I felt inclined to turn to more challenging fare. I decided to tackle Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment". I've attempted to read it a couple of times in the past, but I wasn't "ready' for it. I think I am, now.

Only a couple of chapters into it, I've already come upon a passage that rings true. It takes place in a dingy pub where the main character, Raskolnikov has found his way to. He is engaged in conversation with Marmeladov, a drunk outcast who proceeds to tell him of how he has repeatedly disappointed his wife and his children, selling all they own for drink. It gets so bad that his daughter, Sophie, enters into a life of prostitution to make ends meet. Things take an upward turn for Marmeladov and his kin after he begs his former employer for his job back. The man takes pity on him and restores him to his former office. His family is ecstatic, and they treat him with a newfound respect. Then, when he recieves his wages, he disappears and sinks once again to the bottom of a glass. After five days on a hay barge he swallows his pride and seeks out his daughter, Sophia, whose occupation as a harlot has made her the chief "bread winner" in the house. He begs for more money, both of them knowing what he plans on doing with it, and she gives it to him. And so, this is how he has wound up in the pot house, greasy, grimy, flecks of hay still clinging to his worn-out clothes, far past inebriation.

Irredeemable. Marmeladov has sacrificed everything he has for drink. Alcohol has dominated his list of priorities for so long (and done so with such power) that he won't give it up even though it would mean saving his daughter from the life of a prostitute.

When you think about it some more you come to see that it is not his devotion to the bottle that makes him so low. It's not even the way in which he has treated his family. As I see it, these are not the things that make him "irredeemable".

It's the selfishness. It's the placing of his own wants and desires above his own needs and the needs of his loved ones. On a deeper level it's an apathy extended to any and everyone, that says "You are not as important to me as what I can get from you to serve my own needs". Oh, he puts on airs. He cries in his beer and speaks of his devotion to his wife and children. Maybe he's trying to convince himself, maybe he knows deep down that, at some point, he's decided they don't truly matter. Certainly not in relation to the drink and the opportunity to wallow in self-pity that he seems to relish.

He ends a spiel with a proclamation that the Lord will forgive all, even the worst of sinners:

"...And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek...And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. "You too come forth," He will say. "Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!" And we shall all come forth, without shame and shall stand before Him. And He will say unto us; "Ye are swine, made in the Image of the Beast and with his mark: but come ye also!" And the wise ones and the ones of understanding will say: "Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?" And He will say: " This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is thy I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself worthy of this". And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before Him...and we shall weep...and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand all...and all will understand..."

The ravings of a downtrodden "swine"? The hope-laced declaration of a drunkard fully aware of his worthlessness to society? A theologically mistaken outburst of opinion informed by a dream of forgiveness?

Or maybe a subconscious understanding of, and desire for, GRACE.

I see a lot of blogs and MySpace pages where the author describes himself/herself as "Saved by Grace". I think that's fantastic. More power to 'em. But I have to wonder how many Christians truly grasp the idea of "Grace". How many of them still cling to some notion that you're either saved or you're not, and that there is some kind of choice that has to be made between heaven and hell.

"Choose Jesus", then stand in His grace. I'm sorry, but I don't think Christ died on the cross so He could reign into His grace only those who made a conscious decision to 'choose" Him. He either died for all men or He didn't.

Punishment at the Judgement? I wouldn't doubt that in many ways, whether we are coginizant of it or not, just living on this planet of suffering is punishment enough for even the worst crimes against humanity. That doesn't excuse anyone who has done heinous things. It doesn't mean that the world has been rougher on that person than on anyone else. Just that, in relation to whatever comes after this life, this existance is a hard one (cursed, as it is, since the Fall, you know). If thought and emotions are a part of that "heaven", I would think that forgiveness, and the ability to forgive, would be a lot easier to do than it is here.

Theologically unsound, surely. I gladly concede that. But there is hope within me. A lot of times I feel like I'm every bit as depraved and irredeemable as Marmeladov. I know I'm pretty damn selfish, perhaps not to the point that he was. Then again, selfishness is one trait that every single one of us shares. Some have nurtured it more than others. Some have allowed it to rule and reign over them.

What about me? How far gone am I? To what extent have I forsaken the opportunity to be compassionate and subjucated it to my own wants and desires? I confess. I have done it too often. I don't know but that the damage is too extensive to be repaired. At least, not in this life.

Yesterday evening, as I tried to fall asleep, one of the many scattered thoughts swimming about in my mind was this: "It's not how you think it is. Nothing is as you think it is." And that was my mantra for the rest of the night. It brought comfort. I don't understand these lofty things because I am INCAPABLE of understanding them. EVERYONE is. The human mind just doesn't travel that far into comprehension. It was never meant to. If it could then it would no longer be a human mind but the mind of God. If I could just keep this in mind and relax I would see that theology is nothing but a game, a complicated game. It's a cosmic football game where the "players" are differing viewpoints clashing against each other, only there is no winner and no loser because the game never ends.

Philosophy, too, in the grand scheme of things, is a futile exercise. It's not a bad thing (neither is theology, for that matter), in fact, it is essential to the development of the inquisitive mind. What I'm saying is this: how many people, on their deathbeds, one moment away from their last breath, are going to cross that bridge with the unyielding assurance that all they've come to accept as "good", "evil", "right", wrong"...ANY OF IT...is "The Way It Really Is"? An infinitesmally scant few, I would wager.

Introspection blesses with comprehension and worldly understanding.

It also curses, when you look deep enough to see the vanity of it all.

Closet Detectives

Just finished watching "1408". Interesting concept: Hell in a Hotel. Not bad. Not bad at all. Based on a Stephen King short story. That's why I rented it, even though I know that almost every time Hollywood tries to do a King tale it winds up sucking. I haven't read this particular one, so I don't know how the movie stacks up against the original story.

I don't know why but it brought back this memory:

I can't be much older than 9 or 10. My parents have befriended a couple. I have no idea who they are or how (or why) my folks have made their acquaintance. It didn't last for very long. Maybe not even a month. It began and ended so fast, I have no idea what their names where.

They had a son. Might have been a couple of sons, not too much older than I was. Maybe even a little younger. The family stayed in a two story house on the northwest side of town. Typical small town home.

One time, and only once, we visited them in their house. Dinner? I don't think so. I have no idea what the occassion was, if there was an occassion at all. All I know is that once the grown-ups got settled in to visit, their son (one of them, at least, if they had more) took me and my brother upstairs.

It didn't look like a furnished room, the part that I remember. There may have been other sections to the upstairs area, but the one I saw was more like a bare attic, with a window or two.

A stack of magazines. Old pulp magazines. Did the kid show them to me? Or was I just being nosey? Either way, I found my way to those magazines and had me a look-see. All of them were of the "True Crime"/"Official Detective" stripe. I looked through a few of them. Page upon page of black and white photographs. Real crime scenes. Dead bodies, lying in pools of blood, black blood on grey floors. Grey skin. Black pupils in off-white eyes, eyes that bulged, seeing nothing. Black gashes slithering across necks in some of them. In others, small bullet holes in foreheads or hearts, anywhere lethal. Knife wounds, multiple knife wounds, scattered across the voodoo doll bodies, real bodies, real enough if not. Dead bodies, on display like some kind of carnival freak show on paper, grainy photographs on grainy paper, the kind of paper that feels like sand to the touch, worse than chalkboard to the fingernails. Black and white pictures with captions describing who, why, what, where, how...pages and pages, maybe 30-40 pages with these images before the next section crowded with text (and who knows how many of the people who liked this stuff even read the words, right? Maybe this part of the rag was ignored by...what? Most of 'em?). Then, letters, words and paragraphs that describe, in morbid detail, all the carnage. All the motives. All the clues and the cops who followed all the leads. All the leads that led nowhere, mixed (in what proportions?) with the ones that led to killers and killers and killers and killers...but then agian, oh my God, all the ones that led nowhere. All the killers who got away. The ones who escaped the grip of justice. Killers whose consciences either haunted them the rest of their days or whose concsciences have themselves been killed, either in the same deadly stroke of the murderers act or long before at the hands of another, a different kind of killer, the kind that kills the soul, the kind that kills the soul and sleeps soundly at night, perhaps not even realizing the damage done. Or not caring, their own conscience nothing but a vague memory stolen by someone else without a conscience. Where do all those dead consciences wind up, anyway?

Surely no one with a conscience could have done the things I saw done to the people in those pages. Those sandy, gritty pages of those "detective" magazines, those grotesque periodicals that sold for less than a dollar at the grocery store. It seemed as if every cover showed some buxom female in trouble. Headlines like "The Rope Killer With 'Honorable Intentions'", "Does a Bride's Incest Justify Murder?", "Gang Rapes Were Fun-Until They Tried Murder", "Girl Buried Alive After Sex Session", "Wanton Murder Climaxed the Orgy at Gunpoint", "Murder Ended the Wife Swappers' Party"...these are actual titles, each one in large, bold print on the covers of these magazines. There was a whole row of the things on the magazine racks, right there where anyone could look at them.

But I didn't look at them after that day in the upstairs loft where I first saw them. They creeped me out big time. I thought, "Who would read this stuff? Who would want to look at these pictures?" It didn't occur to me then that everyone has a dark side and some folks placate it by looking at magazines like these. But at the time I was a little concerned, and frightened, as to why these people had these.

3.16.2008

a good start...a new look

I’ve spent a lot of time (some might say an inordinate amount of time) re-designing the appearance of this blog. I almost stopped posting on Blogger because they offered so few templates and they were all the same ones they’ve had for the past umpteen years. They’re ugly, too. But you pretty much had to use one if you wanted to be a part of “the new Blogger”. That’s not the only reason I nearly abandoned the Blogger ship, but we won’t get into the others. Suffice to say that I was not happy with the template I had and the page elements were weak (not enough of them, either).

I eventually did figure out how to insert a new template, but while doing so I saw the “revert to classic HTML” option, which I had not noticed earlier. A little messing around with the code and I was able to construct my own Sigur Ros themed template. How cool is that?

After that it there was no stopping me. I tinkered with the page elements and the links and the gizmos and the widgets and so forth and so on. It’s like a drug. I have been practically addicted to it for the last three days. It’s grown to such ridiculous proportions that my eyes are suffering from computer strain once again. They seemed to be getting better as I began to limit the time I spent on the computer. It wasn’t too hard, not as hard as I thought it would be. Then I woke up one morning and decided that, instead of switching over to WordPress I would just try and tweak this one.

I don’t know how such a simple idea turned into such a time consuming obsession, but that is exactly what happened. But now I think I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got done with the template. I should be able to settle down and focus on other activities. I should really concentrate on content at this point, and even though I want to give it more of a “diary” feel , I’m sure I will continue doing the commentary, opinion, fiction, all that stuff I’ve been writing for about 5 years here (which is another reason why I didn’t want to sacrifice this blog for a new WordPress site…there’s too much here in the archives for me to just say “fuck it”.

Some of the new features you’ll find, besides the name change, include a Soundclick music player where you can listen to a bunch of my old music. The regular music player has been modified to play only Sigur Ros songs, so I’m sorry if you don’t like them, but they go along with the theme. Plus there are more links than I’ve had in the past and RSS feed subscription links (which I haven’t had in the past). A lot of other stuff as well, but you’ll have to see it all yourself.

Every Wednesday I will be posting a “Music Video of the Week” from YouTube. I don’t know if you’ll like what I pick, but they won’t be the typical fare, I can almost assure you of that. I’ve also created a companion blog for this one which consists of YouTube music videos and band photos. Once again, they’re all chosen because I like ‘em and for no other reason. Maybe you’ll enjoy some of ‘em, too...if not at least you’ll get an idea of the kind of music that I’ve been listening to over the last 35+ years. Check it out if you want: The Listening Station.

Gotta go for now.

3.12.2008

Music Video of the Week: Renaldo & the Loaf

PLEASE NOTE: Before playing this video you will need to pause the music player at the bottom of the page.




"Songs for Swinging Larvae"
Renaldo & the Loaf

3.11.2008

A cruel joke

My idea of a good joke…my twisted sense of humor…

The first time I was in the nuthouse I was there on a Voluntary basis (this is not including the 6 months I spent in the Naval Hospital’s 4th Floor Psych Ward prior). I didn’t even NEED to be there. I was being kicked out of the house I was staying in and had nowhere to go. Rather than spend who knows how long out on the streets, homeless, I went to the Mental Health service place (whatever it’s called, I don’t know) and I told them that I was obsessed with killing myself and suicide in general. I told them that I had a calender at home where I put a star next to the date on which “famous people” had killed themselves (like Marilyn Monroe, Ian Curtis, Virginia Woolfe, et. al.). It is true that I had made such a calender, but it was more of a morbid hobby than a symptom of suicidal fixation. At that time I didn’t have any real suicidal thoughts. Desperate, yeah. But if I were suicidal I would have just offed myself instead of trying to find a free meal and shelter for the next month.

They didn’t know that, though, and with my track record from the Naval Hospital I was quickly admitted into the Hospital (I think it helped a lot to tell them that I wasn’t taking any medication at the time, too). Those folks get very jittery when they’re in the presence of a manic-depressive who is off of his meds. Not that I’d been on any kind of medication regiment since leaving the Navy, but I had more faith in my ability to “keep it together” than they did.

I was in there for a few days when I noticed a woman with a big crucifix necklace around her neck. Ugly woman, red hair, skinny, very introverted, so it seemed to me. I struck up a conversation with her and learned that she was a devout Catholic. Back then I had very little tolerance for Christians and Catholics in particular. So I decided to mess with her mind a little bit.

I asked her where she was from and she told me. She asked me where I was from and I said, “I come from a planet on the other side of the solar system. I’m here to observe the neuroses of people like you.”

That kind of freaked her out. She thought I was full of shit (she might have been crazy, but she wasn’t too dumb, not quite THAT gullilble).

“I see, from the crucifix you’re sporting, that you are what I’ve come to learn is a ‘Catholic’, am I right?”

She replied in the affirmative.

“That’s odd,” I said. “on my planet, everyone is a Satanist.” Then, as an aside, I put my hand to my chest and reverantly intoned, “Hail Satan, Master of All.”

The point wasn’t to convince her that I was actually a Satanic alien. I wanted her to think that I was the most insane motherfucker there. I wanted her to be frightened of me.

Our conversation continued. I was amused to see the look on her face as I expounded upon life on my planet, the Satanic rituals we performed there regularly, how our mission to earth included converting all human beings to Satanism. She was dumbfounded. I knew that once this discussion was over she would likely avoid me like the plague.

“What do you people eat here, anyway?” I asked. She reeled off a few examples of food items, and I said, “Oh, man, that’s gross. Where I come from we eat nothing but bugs.” She couldn’t believe that, but I insisted that my race was sustained by insects.

Then, a little bit later on in the day, while she was eating lunch in the cafeteria, I went to the vending machines and bought a bag of jelly beans. Next I went outside into the courtyard where patients went to smoke, get a little fresh air, maybe some exercise shooting hoops. There were bushes lining the half circle concrete wall, and I strategically placed jelly beans on the ground next to these bushes, all the way around. Then I went back inside and waited for “the earthling” to return from her meal. The staff were very insistant that we go outside for at least a few minutes every day, so I knew she would be out there soon.

The door to the court was unlocked and she went out and sat on a bench against the wall, by herself (I don’t think many people there associated with her).

Then I came out and made a point to walk in front of her. As I did I muttered, “God damn, I am HUNGRY! I hope there are a lot of bugs out here.”

I walked away from her to the first bush. Her eyes were fixed on me. I bent over an picked up a jelly bean, lifted it up to where she could see that ~something~ was in my hand. No doubt it looked like a bug from her vantage point. I examined it, sniffed at it, and pretended to pull it’s “legs” off. Looking directly at her I popped that jelly bean in my mouth and said, with a sated look on my face, “Oh, yeah. That’s delicious!”

I might as well not have planted those other jelly beans, because when she saw me eat the first one she looked like she was going to scream as she got up and high-tailed it back into the ward. I laughed my ass off.

She really started staying away from me after that. I’d made quite an impression. Every once in awhile I would look across a couple of tables and see her staring at me.

I took a ball point pen and drew a pentagram on my palm. It covered the whole inside of my hand and could easily have been seen from across the room. She wasn’t that far from me, so I knew she would see it. I locked eyes with her, gave her a wicked smile and raised my hand, waving the pentagram at her.

Sure enough, next thing you know she’s up and off away to somewhere as far from me as she could get. As it turned out, she went straight into the nurses’ station and told the doctor what was going on.

Soon afterward they called me into the doctors’ office, sat me down and asked me if I’d really been doing the things she said I was doing. Honesty always being the best policy, I told them I had. The doctor said I had this poor woman believing that I was actually a Satanist from another universe and that I ate bugs.

“Did you really eat bugs in the courtyard?”

“No, they were jelly beans I planted out there by the bushes.”

I still thought that was very funny. I don’t think the doctor thought it was quite as humorous (but you never know, he might have laughed his ass off about it with the nurses after I left). He gave me the obvious spiel about how the people here are already fucked up enough and the last thing they need is another patient messing with their heads even more. That made sense, and I told him I was sorry and that I would’nt do it again.

And I didn’t. But I never apologized to my victim and I never refuted what I’d told her about being a bug-eating alien. To tell the truth, I was surprised that she bought all that shit. As I said before, I would have felt like the joke was successful if she only believed me to be the biggest basket weaver in the funny farm.

Such fun is rarely experienced in state mental institutions. No doubt the fact that I was there voluntarilly (I could have left any time I wanted) and not really suffering from any mental problems made me feel free to screw around like that. I know this…, several years later when I was locked up there on a court order, the circumstances were quite different. In that situation it’s hard enough keeping yourself sane without trying to drive another person closer to the edge.

No, I wouldn’t do it again. Yes, I kinda feel sorry for the gal. I hope she got the treatment she needed. I hope she’s okay today and that she’s completely forgotten my little escapade.

But do I still think it’s funny?

Hell, yeah.

3.08.2008

All we were was a long way from home.

All we were was a long way from home. Too young to be so far from the loving arms of our fathers and mothers. They would not have wanted us to do these things. They would not have wanted us to think these thoughts. But they could not stop us, for we were out of their reach…this time in space, not simply victims of some generation gap of which we had no conception.

The ones we were told to trust tore the innocence from our psyches, ripped like wishbones, tossed into dustbins, and they had the nerve to laugh about it over tea and crumpets. What did they care? They’d lost theirs many years ago, forgotten, left only to extract sadistic pleasure in ruining our lives.

They told us we were wrong…

…and yet they could not tell us what was right.

So we became afraid to take comfort in red letter pages. Our hope, chiseled and scooped out, glossy oyster slick. Complicated beyond deconstruction. Would we ever laugh again?

Rained down, pain ground into fine powder we took to the brain. Despair the wind that blew back our hair, a hot steam vapor in our face to wipe away the smiles. Smiles we didn’t deserve, they told us, and we listened. It had to be better than what we’d left behind, right?

Where was the joy in an open hand to the face, forced, fast and furious? How long had it been since we gave up on love and sank down so low we dared not look above?

And I thought I had forgotten it all. I thought I had blunted every single memory from my mind of that wretched week. Seven days to erase away from my chalkboard vacant memory banks.

First day: Calliope crashed to the ground. I’ll never forget that Godawful sound.

Second day: Janie Jones all dressed in black. Rude boy’s gone and he ain’t coming back.

Third day: A lecture on the resurrection from a down-and-out agnostic. He had us convinced with his impeccable logic.

Fourth day: I ventured a kiss, you turned away. Must be that demon life that had me in it’s sway.

Fifth day: The sound of cars crashing just outside our door. The rattling rats that scurry underneath our floorboard.

Sixth day: Your father coaled. He said he was sorry for all the things he had done. Could I please give you the message?

Seventh day: No rest for the wicked, you left and stayed away. The sun turned to crimson in a sky shaded grey.

One week in the month of strange coincidences.

One month in the year of the Cat.

One year in the decade of dream-defying dogma.

One decade of six that were he was given, and of that six I shared almost four.

Of those I gave you two.

From those two you took your time in tearing me down. And from the rubble, after more time had passed, I recovered this haystack needle recollection. As clear as the first ray of moonlight cutting through the breaking fog. A tattered photograph carried in a worn out wallet.

A picture of me in my Sunday best. My old man to my right and you to my left. An aura of fiery orange shimmer from the overexposed film that shined around our heads, melting halos of flame. Proving somehow that we, all three, were blessed.

Despite or because of all that’s been said, I still search for Truth in the letters in red.


----January 7, 2003