Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Confusion of Moral and Your Own Uncomfort: Homosexuality

I think it’s one thing be against people of a certain social type, quite another to deny them their rights. One article I’ve read from the Huffington Post considers that gay marriage shouldn’t even be considered a subject up for democratic vote, on par with requiring Congress to vote on whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are allowed to stand at train stations or go door to door and peddle their “The End is Nigh” pamphlets. You may not like it, but it is a fundamental civil right.

It is pretty stupid and actually not any of anyone’s business as to whether people of the same sex want to get married or not. Even considering it as a sin, how is this even close to being a top priority for healing the world? Will Wall Street re-crash and bankers’ greed recharge if we do not stop gay marriages? Will an influx of gay marriages produce another Hurricane Katrina? Do gay people become part of Al-Qaeda if they marry? Was the Swine Flu produced by homosexuals marrying? You can go ahead and consider yourself officially retarded if it takes you more than a microsecond to answer these questions correctly. I don’t see why gun control isn’t front and center of every news briefing and political blog post, especially after Seung-Hui Cho’s free and flowing access to weapons of swift destruction and his war-path at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. I don’t see legal and federal fights over the mistreatment and torture of animals at farms that kill them and put them on your plate1. No, these things are fought in the smallest of media arenas. But, if you stroke the male-dominated society’s libido wrong, then it’s an all out war against you on every T.V., radio, website and book.

I guess then, labeling myself a Christian, I’m charged with the task of stating what Christ thinks about all this. Since no one can possibly and absolutely know this, I’m tasked to state what I think He thinks. Yes, you can sit there and point to each and every verse that says homosexuality is a sin or that it’s wrong for a man and a man to do this, that and the next thing. But this is text in a book that has started to physically exist since the 2nd century, passed through more hands than there are words in the book itself, has had just as many translations by people with a variety of biases, all of which were ping-ponged back through God knows how many languages and cultures who all thought they truly knew what the parables and narratives meant for their historical contexts, etc. A comprehensive person would understand that it can be a bit difficult to take something at face value when considering this (homosexuality meaning man and boy? Rape, like in prison? Sexual abuse? Can gay men be together and just not have sex?). I have not done enough studies to presume a particular context behind what the Bible means by man on man relationships, so I cannot explicitly tell you what Christ thinks.

I can definitely tell you what He isn’t thinking, though.

He isn’t thinking of making laws like the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed by David “Asshole” Bahati in October 2009. If this law were to be passed in Uganda, authorities would be allowed to arrest people doing public displays of same-sex affection, along with people who have HIV or have sexually been with people under 18, and put them to death or life-imprisonment. Since Uganda seems to be ran by people who are frightened of their own sexual confusion, they are trying hard to gain a good majority of support for the bill by painting the picture of gay people as tongue-wagging monstrosities that ride the streets and countrysides in trucks, scooping up fresh kids by the bundles for fresh molestation. I mean, death or jail because a person kissed another of the same-sex in public? Because it’s “against the order of nature2”? Can we say Holocaust? Can we say Neo-Genocide? Can we say Satanic-level persecution? Violent oppression? Corrupt and evil authority? Can we see Christ shaking His head and slapping his forehead saying “Nooo, no, that is not what is meant!”

A long time ago (as I’ve related to you, Amanda), I watched a T.V. special on MTV about a young man who talked about his experience with a particular church as a gay man. If I remember correctly, the church he attended was always kind and genial with him for however long he used to go. One day, he decided to confess to a pastor of his that he was gay. I forget the detailed account after this, but the church arrived at the solution of applying electro-shock therapy to the young man to “cure” him of his homosexuality. They took him to a back room in the church and strapped him down to a table. They attached some sort of apparatus to his penis. Then, they would show him pictures of gay porn, and everytime he got aroused from it, they’d send a severely damaging voltage amount through his genitals. They repeated this process, upping the voltage number everytime he was charged to come back for being “cured” through this “therapy”. The young man walked and talked to the MTV camera about this, stating that after that whole ordeal, he now suffered random blackouts even seizures.
Christ. Is. Not. Thinking. This.

Come on, people. It’s good to be devoted to a Will higher than your own, but to not think for yourself is to say that God made you into a hollow-shelled nothingness. Is to say that He made you for nothing. There is clearly no real logic or justice or God in stripping people from any orientation of their rights or life. Lest you send the message that He created their lives for no reason as well. Although He may be hurt or angered by their actions, God takes pride in all of His creations. Regardless of where they put their genitals. Just take a gander again at this clip and ask yourself who the social monster truly is: a homosexual or the woman in this video?







Notes:
1) In saying this, my own hypocrisy must be noted, as I am a huge fan of cheeseburgers and sausage and bacon. But I am trying to make the transition over to less meat. Much less. Or perhaps finding companies that get their meat from farms that wait for the animals to naturally die before putting Bar-B-Que sauce on them.
2) How so? How natural is it for a man/woman to force themselves to be with a woman/man when they clearly want to be with another man/woman? And if there’s a specific way that nature looks, how come all of these other things outside of that specific way keep naturally happening?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Indecisive Filler

A month. It’s been a month and some change since I’ve posted something on this blog. And not for any reason other than a lack of things to write about. So here, take some rambling.

In a thin fabric of everyday routine, reality likes to punch through with the sharp end of a knife. I was driving home the other day from Astoria back to the Bronx, having just got off the Queensboro Bridge and heading towards FDR Drive, when piercing red and blue flashes start to dance throughout my windows out of nowhere. I routinely just move to the side, since this usually just means that they want to drive up ahead of me, but the reality was that the lights were for me. Policemen show up, knock on my closed window, ask me for my license and registration. I can only pull out the license; registration is somewhere or other in hermitage. They go back to their squad car, lights still blasting through the darkness in my car, and then come back and give me a ticket because the brake light is out. This was annoying, as the brake light had went out weeks ago and then mysteriously started to work again ever since. So it decided to go back out and be a problem in the one moment a pair of cops would notice. This was both annoying and a relief: annoying because they could’ve simply slapped my palm and said “replace your light, bee-yotch”, and a relief because too much “Law and Order”/”CSI: Miami”/”Criminal Minds” made me suspect that they may find some random dead body in my trunk or that they were serial killers posing as cops who enjoyed pulling people over and then shooting them to tidbits.

The following Thursday, Obama decides to show up at the United States Military Academy in West Point and disappointingly announced/explained that he’ll be sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Some of his more popular fan and supporters, including Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and even the reknown former Weather Underground member, college professor and colleague Bill Ayers have spoken out against him. Against this, I should say. I’m at a crossroads about the whole thing. I mean, he made it a specific point to not be like Bush, but now I’ve read reports about him protecting Bush’s policy for illegal wiretapping (when he said he wouldn’t), not closing Guantanamo Bay (which he said he’d close it first thing), not being too active on protecting gays in the military (when he said he’d ban the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy), and making compromises with conservatives on Health Care. And now, his Afghan War.

I don’t know all of the super deep details about it. He says that we are to go over there and quiet-down-now the Taliban. If we don’t, they will plot and scheme and blow us all up again. But when won’t they plot and scheme and blow us up? The libs are saying that he’s continuing Bush and making a terrible decision of going to war in the light of just having received the Nobel Peace Prize. Some say that this is his Vietnam War. He made it one of his key points to come into office and not be this war president, but he’s already going back on promises, although he did also say from the beginning that he would be making some choices we would not agree with. Also, he did set a time limit and a very fine objective to defend the Afghans (alongside Pakistan) and train Afghan soldiers to defend themselves, in opposition to the Texas Fascist who just wanted to “blow s**t up” and his disciples McPain and Stale-lin who wanted to be at war for 100 years1. This makes sense to me, but at the same time, the whole thing seems like a lost cause and Obamsky really needs to start attending to matters in his homeland.

I imagine the “reality” that may hit many people who campaigned hard for him is that all politicians are the same in office, the difference is just in how they campaign themselves during election time. But this obviously isn’t true either. Doubting everything and everyone is just as stupid as believing everything and everyone, even if you have the experience of being tired of being betrayed by people you have faith in. Obama did help to qualm Russian beef with us left over from the Cold War, as well as signing the Matthew Shepard Act into law; two things I’m sure Bush would’ve used to wipe himself with after using the bathroom. 3 years left. We’ll see the reality of how he carries himself. Meanwhile, excuse me while I tend to this traffic ticket.

Notes:
1) John McCain and Sarah Palin. McCain once said that it would be fine with him if the United States military stayed in Iraq for 100 years. Go google it yourself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cultural Rupture

I thought I had become racist. For a second.

A Hispanic woman who did not have extensive English or seeming of much wealth (for lack of a better description) came into my store the other day and I immediately knew she wasn’t going to buy anything. I thought this conclusion came from me starting to breed that terrible mental illness known as racism. But It wasn’t. Of course, I work in a linens-and-furniture retail store and it’s my job to attend to customers in the store as soon as I see them and attempt to sell them merchandise….and I did. She told me she was looking for a circular dining table and we started on our pre-determined path of no fruition. I showed her all that we have, each piece individually costing as much as open heart surgery, and last but not least, the cheapest round table we had, the quality of which matched the price. She, of course, left without buying anything and I stood asking myself why her race was able to tell me that this would happen ahead of time. The answer ended up being that it’s a dynamic consequence of the fact that our store is in a neighborhood that can barely afford anything we sell.

If I had to guess, the President of the company picked the location of this store, a lower class Hispanic neighborhood in the South Bronx, because renting the property would be cheap. It’s built over a sewer which odorously makes itself known to anyone who walks inside. It’s built next to a river that’s so polluted the fish would have better chances of survival if people fed them opium everyday. There are as many rats in the store as there are customers and employees combined. Cheap electric and heating bills. Cheap water bills. All to upkeep a franchise made for the economic class that lives in the Hamptons, Long Island, Manhattan and New Rochelle, while keeping money in the capitalist’s pocket. Makes perfect sense to someone who just considers their own pockets in their decisions. And why should anyone be considerate of anything else when making decisions? Years ago, a decision like this wouldn’t have made any difference in whether the President of the store made his millions or not.

Circa 1999, citizens of the neighborhood were able to afford all of the ridiculously priced things the linens-and-furniture was selling. Italian sheet sets flew off the racks. Classy handmade chandeliers were pulled off the ceiling almost as soon as they were hung. Brand name leather sofas were bought up like iPhones. Two years later, a couple of planes consecutively crashed into the Twin Towers, making an economic vacuum that sucked loads of cash right out of American (and international, subsequently) circulation. A certain Texas-bred Fascist used the media, anger and sentiment over this to direct the country towards more violence. And the war started, with him spending $80,000,000 of taxpayers money per month on this. Then concepts like bad mortgages and housing bubbles bursting started coming into reality. And now here we are. The company is not making any real money, because it’s still busy trying to force high prices down people’s throats.

I’ve heard billions of complaints from customers about the smell of the sewer over which the building is built. Billions of inquiries as to whether the neighborhood is safe to walk through. Plenty of people who can’t make it to the store before closing time because they live and work in Long Island or Manhattan or New Rochelle and then have to travel to the Bronx to shop (without a car). Economically, if we cater to these areas, shouldn’t the store be located there? If we are stationed in the Bronx, shouldn’t the merchandise be affordable to Bronx residents? Then we’d have customers. Even people with money are complaining that things are too expensive, although this could be because they think everything in life should be cheap, regardless of the fact that it’s not really doing them any real damage to purchase things at the prices that are already there.

I originally questioned whether placing this business in poor neighborhood was right or wrong. A co-worker says that question really doesn’t apply to the situation at all since there really isn’t any obligation to the community you enter. I say that you have no business being in the community unless you’re supporting it somehow or are not really affecting it in any major way. Of course, selling furniture and bed sheets is not about any moral obligation at all, but I also don’t see the point of entering a culture without positively adding to it. We could talk about the company hiring local residents so that a few more of them would have some income, but that isn’t even the case.

The co-worker said that you cannot put your beliefs on other people, and that free will should not be violated. So, the company is free to posit itself wherever and run however it likes. This is true, but when you have this as the basis for all other thoughts, it leaves all kinds of room for immoral activity. People who mow down forests to setup corporations and test products on animals and “constitutionally bare arms” that end up in high school shootings solely have the free will argument behind all they do. If the world is to heal somehow, good ideas need to be guiding those actions. Only thinking about how you would materially benefit is never a good idea.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The reason why crime still persists, not enough people allowed to be heroes."]The reason why crime still persists, not enough people allowed to be heroes.[/caption]

So, at my job, one co-worker was telling me and some others about how strange he found the bond between two of his friends to be. They were in a relationship, and he was absolutely boggled at the fact that they still considered themselves to be together, but were not having sex. "What are they doing???" he exclaimed with a shrug. "They been goin' out all that time, and they ain't f*** not once?? Nah, if I'm dating a woman, she gonna give me some he** or somethin'. If we ain't fu***n', what am I there for?" Me and someone else tried explaining to him that perhaps they weren't ready for that yet, or that it's possible that in this day and age, some people still do just enjoy each other's company. "What the hell are you talkin' about? What am I hangin' out with her for if she ain't givin' me no pu**y"

Some of you might be focused on the fact that he thought all of what he was referring to absolutely had to happen in a designated deadline of spending time with a woman. But I will say that that is no here or there, only because it's just one of a list of things some people of each gender still strictly expects from the other.

I was just talking arguing with an old friend over dinner a couple of days ago about the gender specific things she wanted in her own future family. The husband is being charged with throwing money at the house from his job as a construction worker/businessman/one-man army that's hired to destroy all socialist/communist nations and making himself dumb and muscle-bound in order to be a man (I'm totally exaggerating, she just said she was looking for someone to "protect and provide"). She as a wife would stop having an actual job and would instead stay at home to play with the kids, scrub the floors, cook dinner and be on demand to do what my unwitting co-worker was asking for in the first paragraph of this post (she really just said she'd be taking care of the house and child for a little while [but even after that stage of child-care is done, she'd only return to a "woman-friendly" job]). She, of course, slathered this shallow vision for herself with "I want a marriage founded on God, which is an indestructible foundation". Ok, I agree with the foundation part, but what she's describing is the annihilation of any kind of presence of a spirit in that home. What the co-worker shows is a complete negligence of humanity altogether.

Wars, depression, serial killing, famine, and 10 billion other rote forms of destruction to this world that I could list all persist partially because there really isn't enough people looking at past their own biological makeup for potential for solution-building. They're too busy sacrificing that potential to attend to infinitesimal-scale things in their own home or listening to jackasses like the Batman in the comic panel above and actually deeming it sensible ideology. Even in people who claim to be progressive, there is this illogical and toxic focus on what role this or that man/woman/alien/cat should be playing. Thus, I will venture forth and say that God is absent from this.

The strength and spirit of Christ was not in the title "Mary's son"1 or "Jew" or even "Man" for that matter. It was in the title "Carpenter", "Teacher", "Prophet" and "Son of Man (server of the community)". It is in these roles that he worked fervently to be. He fostered his 12 confidants on the basis of their titles as "Disciples", not "Men". He disliked what the Pharisees represented as "Teachers of the Law".

Thus, the answer to who we truly are, the places where are souls get their expression, does not lie in "man", "woman", "wife", "husband", "black dude", "homosexual", "parent", "Iraqi". They lie in the titles "astronaut", "writer", "teacher", "janitor", "dancer". There is not a checklist of things you add to a relationship as a woman or a man, but there sure is a journey you can take someone on or go into as a preacher, a musician, a social worker, an origami folder, an environmentalist or fireman. These titles coming together in a relationship are where the Foundation of God can be found and the spirit thrives.

Notes:
1) Go ahead, click on the link in the words "Mary's Son" above and tell me what you think of it. There's more than one example of Christ following something bigger than himself and not simply his own bloodline.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don’t Stunt*

So, this is very basic stuff. Save your money. But, upon thinking of Matthew 6 25-34, it seems to me that the act seeps much more in to the person existentially than I thought. However, in all reality, I wanted to post some new thoughts on the blog. So, if this is old hat, or boring hippie stuff, feel free to go somewhere else. Also, this is written through the eyes of a very cynical and sarcastic person. Thus, many things will be exaggerated to make points.

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I've been wondering how the hell people are able to travel to London, Africa, Mars, Saturn and other solar systems on their spare time without a single piece of copper to their name. I've read of novelists (actually just two, "Shantaram"'s Gregory David Roberts, who was an Australian criminal and probably hitched every plane or boat ride he got, and one of my favorite authors, Roberto Bolaño) who have been all over the world while being stark-raving poor. Everyone assumes it's in the drive to get more money. To get a higher paying job. To rob more banks per week or hack a few more checking accounts. Win more hands at the AC or LV crap tables. Play more lottery tickets. Sell more silly, insubstantial hip-hop songs for download to the Sidekick/Facebook teen ignorance-is-bliss masses. But the ability to travel or live an enjoyable life doesn't necessarily come from getting more money, but spending less of the amount you already receive.

A job isn't disqualified as a good job because it doesn't pay you enough. I mean, with this pending, you can get a second one or marry rich (I joke. Don't do that). But if you've found your niche in the labor world, I'd highly advise against leaving it for any reason other than it not being your niche anymore. Nowadays, your job is the primary source of survival, and if you found one that you like and is about something good, that is an occupation you should grip with the strength of The Hulk. Yes, there is a lot of people who are just glad to have a job…..or at least they say they are. But even they are picky at what they want to do. I know people at the absolute bottom of the barrel that do not just do any piece of labor handed to them, even when it seems like they may be good at it. A luxurious lifestyle of choice is infused in all of us. Even the homeless and poor refuse food they don't want, although there's obviously something to be said about this2.

Anyway, I think that the solution to this is a revolt against economic entities that try to corner society's needs and then charges top dollar for it. Against corporations and companies that do their best to employ the most amount of labor for the least amount of money. And that is to throw the luxurious lifestyle away.

I was thinking in terms of being able to depend less and less on that job as time passes, as well as you developing a strength of spirit and mind over the urges of the flesh.

A luxurious lifestyle can consist simply of being able to buy a huge bottle of alcohol every two days, or taking a taxi everywhere you go (I'm sorry, this is not a wasteful practice I understand, so it will get the label of 'stupid' from me). Or upkeeping the rims and soundsystem on your Lincoln Navigator, making the value of your car skyrocket over the cost of your house or child (I joke). Of course, you can keep this lifestyle if you're rich and can afford to pay $10,000 for customized Snickers bars. Per day. Per meal even. But this easily permeates everything in your life, and pretty soon you won't think of/do anything for yourself, which explains many of the upper-class figures you see on T.V., devoid of basic wisdoms such as tying your own shoes and knowing what a Native American or Chicken of the Sea is. You create your own prison of comfort in many ways. You stay where you are. You keep doing what you keep doing, thinking what you keep thinking. You do not grow. Even if you go somewhere else foreign, it's only with the presupposition that there is personal space for you to keep being you.

Christ says not to worry about the clothes on your back or if food will come. Others will tell you that this means to just throw yourself out into the world and be reckless with your own resources and don't worry. Just go outside and do what is that you do and, if you have a faith, a huge Caucasian hand will smack you with a box of millions and say "here you go!" to replenish your filthy lifestyle, and then leave. Others will also tell you that it goes against logic or faith to worry. Technically, it may go against faith, but this is as expected. A being who is omnipotent would expect you to be this way exactly. I think the message is, if you are doing what you're supposed to be doing, investing some of your time in what you're supposed to be investing in, good fruit will come. Be focused on the grace and talents God has given you, the culture of sustainability, of community, and others things that will appear in the "The More You Know" advertisements on NBC, and our wealth, particularly in the spiritual aspect but in others as well, will grow. Forget the $5 frappuchino every other day and just get a regular coffee. Forget eating out every week and eat out every other week. Just stop buying sneakers or shoes if your closet already has at least 12 pair that you haven't worn yet (there is no good reason at all why someone would keep this up. NO good reason). At the same time, pursue the opportunity to be something in the world.

Notes:
*Reference to the song "Stunt 101" by the rap group G-Unit.
1) I am not at all saying that this is some sort of excuse to not attend to them. If anything, we should learn some sort of discernment concerning this. I was "dissed" two Sundays ago when I offered a woman on the street food and she looked at me like I was asking if I could probe her brain for Iraqi government secrets, then said "no thanks" and immediately went back to sleep. Regardless of how poor or down someone is, we must still respect their choices. Also, just because someone is without a job doesn't mean they should just take whatever is handed to them. Makes no sense to work at something that is absolute, downright torture. Or demeaning. I cannot blame anyone for wanting to keep their dignity over surviving. I can be ok with judging someone who tosses away morals in order to make a living.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Technology = Spirit?

A week or two back while at work, the screen on my G1 broke. It's an slide open-and-close phone, as you would see if you clicked on the link I provided in the G1 phrase in the previous sentence. I'm not really sure what happened, nor would it be important. When it was closed, the phone would freeze. I'd have to turn it off and back on in the open position to get it to operate: a situation that immediately called for a replacement. I felt a sharp despair.

Although I'm not socially networking 24/7, I felt thrust out of all important loops in life because I no longer (really) had access to Twitter and Facebook on my phone. At least until the 3 to 5 business days passed before receiving the replacement unit. I tried to tell myself that not being able to see the address of whoever's birthday party/barmitzvah/goat-sacrifice event I had that night was a justifiable reason to be genuinely pissed that my phone died, but it was of no use. I was immaturely angry and felt helpless. I started to ponder what this suggests about our generation, or today's world, especially in the light of T-Mobile representatives rotely telling me "yeah, I hate when that happens, too. You feel like you've lost your whole life. Let's get that fixed as soon as possible." I thought that the beginning of all those hyper sci-fi worlds we've read of in Philip K. Dick narratives and Neal Stephenson writings has very much arrived.  Meaning that everything that has even the slightest importance in worldly matters will only fill space on the internet, and will be as tangible as you imagine them to be as you stab the keys on your computer's keyboard.

Anything that we have to affirm in this world will continually/ultimately be filtered through a wall post, or someone else's MP3s on our homepage, or comments on someone's status or a tagged picture. I'm sure the technological avenues will continue to develop. But, speaking as a person who is not a fan of live interaction with people, there is something to be said for it..........

Monday, August 17, 2009

[caption id="attachment_435" align="aligncenter" width="269" caption="Afore named practice, perfectly captured."]Afore named practice, perfectly captured.[/caption]

Matthew 6:25-34



Very interesting. A bit more depressing and angering, but still interesting I guess.

Currently, the newspapers tell me the filthy Repubs are fighting and protesting Obama over him wanting to use Universal Health Care, tax medium and large employers who do not provide health care to their employees, and use a single payer health care system1, due to it seeming quite "socialist" in structure. People are purportedly protesting at town halls, outdoor meetings and the like. The liberals are angry with the concessions he's proposing or actually making, I don't remember which.

Meanwhile, at my job, I had a conversation with my idiot Communist Eastern European manager. During a sale we're to have, she expressed that she wished employees were forced to work from some ungodly hour in the morning until 8 or 9 at night, always standing and running around to force customers to buy merchandise they obviously can't afford, without breaks or anything in between.

I told her what she said was disturbing. She said "my problem" was that I don't go after every opportunity to make money, not aggressive enough, because of morals or whatever (her words). I'm supposed to be all about2 survival. All this from a woman who needs help just pulling paper from copy machine jams, and has had more complaints from customers than I can count. All this to me, who probably has been working here before she learned how to spell the term "labor laws", who has never been greedy or aggressive about sales and does just fine.

I told her her problem is that she thinks we're all supposed to be a bunch of bloodthirsty creatures clawing at each other's throats for every possible 2 cent sale we could force out of people. She says that's not true, and then tells me to forget what she said and just do whatever I want, which is basically the opposite of everything she wants me to do. I said ok, getting on that right away.

Everybody wants to survive (to kick others aside to make sure they have enough money for keeping up appearances), but no one wants to live (to help each other). I'd bet money that you'd find this paradigm at the root of each and every single problem in the world.

1) A system where money is taken from our taxes, collected by the government or some public administrative service, and distributed nationally amongst the doctors. This is instead of the doctors relying on the patients directly to make their salaries.

2) You do need to survive, but the struggle for individual survival should never take precedence over living your life (which for the idiots, does not simply mean just breathing, but affirming your being).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Individually Individualized Individualism

13"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' 14They replied, 'some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 15'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' 16Simon Peter answered. 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.' 17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven.

--Matthew 16: 13-17

"You critics like to criticize,
but couldn't visualize,
individual's lives
through a criminal's eyes,"

--Eminem1

So, I am once again reminded of a general rejecting ethic of individualism in society and in my church. A little while back, I wrote about a woman I went on a few dates with who claimed to be individualist, but was not this at all. And even in my church, though the majority of the congregation2 means well and does indeed welcome other people's presences and participation in events and services (their hearts are correct), there is a tiny, tiny piece of group mentality that still, by nature, rejects assertions/notions that seem to stray too far from what Christ is about. Please note that I said "seem to".....to them, that is.

There is also this infesting phenomena of cliques, groups of people that work (consciously or subconsciously) towards being socially exclusive, forming in the church. Understandably, the church is located in Manhattan, a city completely symbolic of what I've described in Note 2. And so, being surrounded by an infinite number of things strange and new3, it would be relief to find people that are from the same background and singular culture as you are and to stick with them for comfort. Perhaps the run-off stream of emotion from this is the fear of judgment or persecution or mockery or condescendence they'd receive from putting themselves out there to people of cultures that are different. Perhaps they've been hurt in the past or have pieces of personal history that they believe would bring public shame or mockery. Whatever it is, their situation is obviously lacking the notion of God's glory and Grace, key elements in individualism. In addition, the church administration is working for the place to be of inclusivity that welcomes people of all viewpoints and emotions, and the cliques hurt this goal directly.

But I digress. If secular readers have not flipped to another web page by now, I thank you for you time. So far, it appears to me when the general person thinks of individualism, they picture either the inconsiderate, destructive capitalist who just goes around stomping, stealing and cutting through everyone else possessions to make a large stash of their own (for a great visual of this, play "BioShock" on the XBox 360. Or look at George Bush). Or they picture the noisy, emo anarchist who works to blow ideals into ash for the sole purpose of causing discomfort, confusion, despair or even pain. Now, while these caricatures unfortunately do exist, it is ridiculous to paint this picture on each and every single person who wants to use a bit of your resources for another end4 or to cause you to look back at yourself and ask questions. The rational individualist does these things for good reason or to good ends.

The point of individualism is to go against the mind that treats every man, woman, Black, Chinese or Australian with the same broad stroke of human application. To end the monumentally absurd notion that what applies for one white man, one Indian woman, one black boy, one purple alien, etc. applies for all of that biological breed. 5 Individualism recognizes in each and every single person their talents, struggles, grief, complexes, and guides them to a better place based on those elements.

Somebody could argue: "well, if this is done according to this person, and that is done according to that person, and everyone is just doing their own thing, how would there be any unified whole to progress?" But just because each and every individual existential case is recognized and supported doesn't mean that there can't be a transcending whole that people adhere to. Individualism recognizes the key talents in each person that adds to that whole. So, the first person can focus on the fact that 50 Cent's lyrical skill is that of a drunk baby sheep with autism. The second person could argue that selling C.D.s with nothing on them but Bill O'Reilly 6 listing hundreds of ways in which people can kill themselves with homemade poison would probably do better for the sake of Hip-Hop as a culture than what 50 Cent is doing. The unified whole they both contribute to is the fact that 50 Cent has no business on anyone's television, radio, wall, movie screen or mind.

Up there in the book of Matthew, Simon Peter was glorified because he came to know God himself, and not through a bunch of images and concepts that other men told him. He didn't tell him to talk to the most voluminous or popular group that worships Me and make sure you do things the way they do it. He said He was proud that Simon came to know God himself. We should all be doing the same, and respecting and learning from each other what the other has "come to know". Perfect world peace or whatever will not come immediately after adopting this approach, but there will then be a tangible welcoming community.

Notes:
1) The point is, he painted the picture of a group of people who could place themselves in other people's shoes. You can take or leave the "criminal" part.
2) This is not necessarily their fault. I, myself must always remember that they come from a more culturally traditional and homogenous background and atmosphere where values and emotions and thoughts are handed to you by elders to have. Where as I was raised in the city, a thriving thing that is culturally varied by hundreds or even thousands of shades, and values and emotions and thoughts are ascertained through self-discovery.
3) Another difference: the rural person is usually encouraged to stay away from the "strange and new", while the urban person knows that if there is to be peace in the Metropolis, the strange and new must be embraced.
4) I speak of the NGOs or the Non-Profits who want to use your money to preserve a particular arctic area or rainforest or species, or perhaps campaign in Civil Rights.
5) In addition to the note in my last post, this ethic could also be argued as part of the basis for violent insurrections, revolts and school shootings.
6) Right-wing political commentator, author, T.V. show host, and all-around waste of time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Village Taken

Alternate Title: The Teacher's Advocate

I've recently read a most curious and refreshing post by a Brazen Teacher some days back about, for the most part, group parenting. It talked about the formative years of the child and how it1 learns what it lives. Indeed. It talked about how many people go into parenting thinking that it will be easier than it looks: perhaps because of some imagined "oneness" with the child, perhaps because they think children will be more obedient to their friendlier approach, perhaps because they think raising a child and assembling a Lego Castle are one and the same2. The post spoke on how this consequence reflects in the formative years. Conclusively, the article spoke on how the tribal groups in New Guinea, Africa, perhaps South America or a few places in un-modernized China or The Golden Triangle3 are perhaps doing something right in having the village raise the child instead of the parents alone. Now, she made quite the point and I think the argument was very well put together. But, as always, a few details not mentioned in the post resulted in this Devil's Advocacy to the vision she proposed.*

The village could raise the child, instead of the job being solely on the parent. And it's a lovely little sentiment for the people of the community to share that responsibility. Perhaps then, young parents can just shoot them right out and expect everyone else to pick up the slack, since the village would look forward to the opportunity to do so. The article does say that "Children are not [completely] taken away from their biological parents, but they are not left with them to fend for themselves either", but in today's world and generation, where becoming a parent is envisioned as weighty a prospect as putting together model airplanes4, when the full reality of child-rearing hits that young or naive couple, I'm pretty sure they'll resort to letting the community take over the job. We could then ask, if the potential parents are going to do that, why even bother having the children at all? That is psychological guesswork for another time, but the scenario does happen.

Also, village parenting would work in a world where every adult was a properly trained potential parent and had room in their lives, emotionally and physically, for the task. This is not that world. Of course, it is that kind of world for the New Guinea and African tribes, but I'll get to that later. We must assume the village is unified enough to be a clear, solid presence in the child's life and all of its constituents on some sort of level with each other. They can all teach the child different things about life or a different skill or any kind of range of things, but most importantly, disciplinary measures will have to be shared by most if not all. You can't have the child getting one message here and another there. But, since one adult believes in hitting their child and another doesn't, another believes the child shouldn't risk hurting themselves in the playground and another thinks the child should explore, and another thinks the child should pick up labor as early as possible and another thinks they should focus on their studies, etc. ad nauseum, the "village parent" would self-destruct before it even began, since the variance in message is inevitable.

How does the village parent effect the child's formative years? Well, in one aspect, if that unity were to be achieved, I imagine it would end up looking something like a small rural town or a commune in its group psychology, which in turn would destroy the child's drive to rationally search for the true self/individual. In these kind of social environments, the focus is usually on preserving inherited values, making sure to practice customs, instilling and conserving a specific set of beliefs, so on and so forth. Since the elders and adults of the community have, by default, more experience and embodiment of these things, any kind of purpose or passion for the growing child will be emptied and replaced by respect, worship and the carrying out of the will of the elders, which the child eventually grows up to be, for the sole purpose of pointlessly repeating the process in the future. It becomes much less like a vibrant and vivid person or people raising a new human being to embrace life, and more like robots gearing and tooling another for future self-replacement. Any venture out of set programming will result in dire consequences to be discerned in another discussion.5

I haven't bothered to go into issues such as there not being any kind of real source of intimacy for the child or other ways this affects its formative years because in the end, I think those points are really just derivatives of everything said here. And while I will state again that I don't think what the Brazen Teacher suggests is wrong per say, I will say that I disagree with it. I do not believe the Village Parent can work or is an answer to the problem of new parents facing hardships. As implied in the last paragraph, the tribes of New Guinea and Africa have specific ideals, values, practices and beliefs for the child. They have a specific envisioned being they want that child to be, for the sole purpose of that child one day teaching their own child to be the same thing, so that the cycle continues to roll........albeit with no real direction. The village may coax the biological parent's responsibility, but will the child be raised right?

Notes:
*For the sake of the argument, the rest of this post will not refer to a literal village, but rather any kind of geographical community or group.
1) Yes, I will call the child "it". It is hypothetical and has no gender. So shut-up.
2) In all cases, the parent deserves each and every moment of rude-awakening, ball-busting hardship in parenting that God wills. As a matter of fact, I pray for the experience to be downright traumatizing. Why? Because the worst kind of parents are the ones who likes to sugar-coat life to keep themselves happy instead of addressing problems like they're supposed to.
3) The article just mentions New Guinea and Africa. I wrote all the other places.
4) Meaning in this generation, both of those things have become something people could just do in their spare time and not really take that seriously.
5) Now, I'm not saying that isn't possible for someone to be traditional and pursue rational self-interest at the same time. I'm sure it's done often. But even more often, [today's] culture clashes with tradition. I will also venture forth to say that environments of this form are what produce school shootings, but I digress.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Porn: This is not Invasion of the Body Snatchers

So, recently, in my life, there have appeared a stringof attacks on that most profuse film genre, known to you and me as pornography. A guest pastor at my church spoke a sermon on how it is an epidemic. Of how sex is a majestic and awesome thing, but only when had in the right context. He pointed to passages and symbols in the Bible of how sex symbolized a holy union. A holy act. Elsewhere, a blogger (who is not Christian) had written about how she was disgusted by porn. Disgusted by the fact that it was so accessible on the internet despite the fact that the sites ask if the user is of age2. She blamed porn addiction and the appeal to sex involving vomiting and crapping and pissing3 and probably World War 3,4 and 12 all on porn. I think the public consensus is that I, as a Christian, am supposed to just wholesale agree with all of this. But that principle, just like the beliefs listed above, ventures into weakness and stupidity. It's porn, not Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

There's no alien seed or hypnosis or secret brain-altering message in porn that forces people to continue to watch it and send its film makers money4. People do that themselves. You're not going to turn into a genital-crazed fiend if you pass by a flyer or a poster in the street displaying a 3/4 naked woman or man. You give that attention to it yourself. The outrage and stomping piles of DVDs and videotapes5 in the street all comes from you. Any kind of support or attention or addiction porn gets is all in the people.

First, I disagree with the notion of imposing on someone's free will. If people want to go make and star in porn, we must let them. We can inform them that it's not very productive or moral, but it is ultimately still their decision. Priests or idiot conservatives or whoever going to shut down studios in the San Fernando Valley or wherever they make porn will only give cast and crew members an even more vigorous drive to produce films somewhere else, and will give the public a greater interest in what all the hype is about. Ultimately, one must find what they're doing wrong within themselves, not because someone else is repeatedly beating their moral values over their heads.

Secondly, interest in the......unconventional things porn portrays does not wholly define the "degradation" of humanity. This belief would stem from the basic belief that there is only one or a few ways that people should enjoy themselves. Technically, (preferably) after a couple becomes married, they can do whatever they feel. There is no on-the-book, official way for intercourse. I'm not saying that people should go into the psychotic6 or exhibitionist, but there is some media of a sexual nature that may actually produce interest or drive or "spice" in the couple's sensual life.

And last, addiction to porn is not the pornographer's fault, unless you can prove the existence of the elements I listed in the second paragraph above. Everyone is different: has different reactions to different things, experiences things and views things differently. I was having a talk with the security guard at the store I work at, who is a staunch Christian, and he was telling me that sexuality is ruining man. He was saying that it was sinful and destructive to the Kingdom of Heaven when a woman appears dressed in the amount of clothes that would probably equal someone else's washrag, because it tempts the man. Now, these things are bad, but the fault of the man's temptation doesn't fall into the woman's lap. That connection is made willfully by the man himself. It is his own task to defeat those thoughts and urges, not to say to himself it's ok for them to be there because he's a man and he's going to do it when these situations arise. Personally, and then ultimately, my attention is not kept to something that is not intellectually or emotionally in-depth in some form or fashion. I believe it is man's fault for not having this general standard; the addicted person fault for not giving themselves this viewpoint or visual range.

Porn may be highly immoral, but it is not to be blamed for any sexual deviancy on society's part. We let it into our households and let it stay on our televisions. The parents themselves hold the responsibility and risk of letting children's curiosity carry them when they don't educate them or keep a sharp watch over their own child's life7. In the presence of a truly elite and progressive society, porn's exposure would be reduced to some far off nook or cranny of the world. But who's fault is it that this society is not [truly] elite and progressive?

Notes:
1) By string I mean two people have talked about it.
2) All you have to do is say, you're 21 and they'll let you in.
3) This purportedly shows how degraded today's humans are.
4) Why people are doing this when you can get plenty of it for free on the internet is beyond me. Perhaps there is some sort of nobility in paying the studios for their "work". But I digress......and also don't endorse.
5) These things still exist?
6) Whatever that means.
7) The world does not bend to your family's life. It shouldn't ignore it, but it shouldn't bend either.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Gran Torino"


So, here, Clint bring us a modern, more dramatic version of "Dirty Harry". My assumptions of this intent are evidenced a bit by the fact that there was a long advertisement for the "Dirty Harry" collection, meaning all 5 parts (I thought there was only one movie!) on DVD prior to the film starting. When I first seen the trailer for this, I thought it looked to be a bit weak, sloppy and self-indulgent, especially for Mr. Eastwood. After watching it, I found all three of these traits to be present, but generally it was very good film. Racist, so I thought, but very good.


Walt Kowalski1 (Eastwood) is a recently widowed Korean War veteran living in a Michigan suburb. He dreads the day-to-day interaction with his cold and distant family of sons trying to rush him to a funeral home and granddaughters waiting to steal his stuff when he dies. But things start to change when his life crosses path with the lives of a Hmong family (from which country it is never stated) next door when he stops their boy, Thao, from trying to steal his Gran Torino in the name of gang initiation. From then on, the bitter, gruff and grizzly voiced Kowalski2 finds his peaceful life of upkeeping his house and sitting on the porch with his dog more and more interrupted, but his connection with the Hmong family more and more strengthened.

The story ended up being a lot more in-depth and substantial than I expected it to be. I guess, the action hero in his retired life would be the proper theme to labeled this with. Eastwood's character still has that "make-my-day.....punk" energy, but now he'll only put a fresh hole in your head after he cleans his gutters, sweeps the porch, mows the lawn and fixes a neighbor's sink. A man constantly trying to find purpose for himself, big or small, in his day and age which takes place after a larger purpose for himself has incinerated to ashes and blown away in the wind3. All of this came across with great clarity and grabbed my sympathies immediately.


However, I think, when it comes to filming stories about foreign Asians, Eastwood cannot bring himself to see them as.....you know.....actual human beings or characters4. I did not see "Letters To Iwo Jima" but I was reading somewhere how his filming of the Japanese side of WW II in the story was a bit unfair and bias. In "Gran Torino", besides his character being a "lovable racist", there's no particular bias or anything but the Hmong characters are severely under-developed. It could be the lack of experience amongst the two main Hmong youths, Sue and Thao (this is the first time both actors, Bee Vang and Ahney Her, appeared in a film professionally), but it seemed to me like Eastwood was the only one following an actual script. The actors had no scenic rhythm, often repeated the same lines over and over, stumbled over each other in performance and had no real characteristics. Sue's intelligence peaked out a little bit, but Thao was a sloppy character altogether. In one scene he's afraid to speak up after being repeatedly insulted, in another he's taking it upon himself to touch things that aren't his, in another he's making demands and treating elderly people like they're fellow teenagers. In addition to this, there was about zero sympathy for his character. Yes, we know he did not have any direction in his life prior to meeting Kowalski, but he was nothing. Didn't like to play sports or read or write or....just.....didn't have anything going for him. Like he was some sort of..........Hmong stand-in instead of an actual person.

Generally, the movie was really good, though I would not say it was Eastwood's best. The whole duration of the movie (which is also the same amount of time Kowalski's face is on camera), it seemed to me that Eastwood just wanted to prove to the world that a sprinkle of take-no-sh** gunslinger still existed in his soul. The entire cast just lived in his shadow, and nothing even seemed to be of any real importance unless he was involved. A little self-indulgent if you ask me, but still worth watching.



Notes:
1) -sky, makes me think of Buchinsky (Charles Bronson) for some reason.
2) Right. Never seen Eastwood play this role before. Never.
3) "Dust in the wiiiiiiind, all we are is dust in the wiiiiind" - Kansas - "Dust In The Wind" (1977)
4) Well......I mean.....he is Conservative.....but I digress.....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Seriously Joking. Just kidding, but for real........

Hello. I'm the Clandestine Samurai. You may have seen me in such films as the Oscar Award winning masterpiece "The Curious Sword of Benjamin Samurai", the slapstick comedy "Dude, Where's my Blade?" or the action-packed thriller "Brokeback Mountain 2: Breakin' Backs with a Vengeance, Bitch!". Studies have shown that, in today's society, a very large amount of witty and graphic jokes go clean over the heads of a large portion of the young and old. Great pieces of irony, sarcasm and satire are delivered with great rhythm and tone, but unfortunately do not touch the funny bone of most of this population and symbolically go speeding to a crash landing right on the cutting floor. However, studio execs have paid me $3000 and a Ziploc bag of Nicaraguan Brown1 to appear in this instructional blog post and tell you a little bit about joke structure and mentality. So please, sit back, be enlightened, and aid our mission to reduce the abortions of fresh snarky joke babies.

No, but seriously. It's a bit of a let down, disappointment and question of general intelligence when I hear someone or myself be sarcastic in everyday life and it gets lost on whatever audience is present. I'm not saying they have to laugh, but there is a sharp absence of evidence that shows that the person or people understood that a joke was just told. At the same time, or, on the other side of the coin, there are people who express things that are absurd or insanely stupid by default, but take themselves very seriously. My guess is that people who are exposed to the latter situation train themselves to be sensitive to people's various personalities, and so mistake sarcasm for someone being serious. But both situations are funny. Confused? Bored? Genocidal? Let me give you an example:

Picture a woman sitting somewhere: a park bench, a bus stop, the throne of 18th century Japan. Now picture a man approaching said woman and saying "Girl, you look so good that I want to start a magazine just to put your face on every issue, and then be my only subscriber!" or "Girl, you must be a potent seed, because you make the tree grow in my forest reaaaaaal quick." or, "Girl, you could be the violent video game that makes me shoot up my high school anyday!" Now, this man could be quite serious or he could be playing around. We don't know his intent. But we do know that in both cases, it is perfectly ok to laugh.

When things are this exaggerated, you must automatically turn off the serious switch. You have to have the I.Q. of a glass of Jim Jones' Kool-Aid2 to think a serious conversation can start like this. I mean, a serious convo can start from anything, but you cannot consider yourself attempting to start one with those lines. The man can be very serious when saying these things, but then you'd have to find comical the fact that he thinks living beings other than badly written aliens from any given Star Trek episode actually talk like this to each other prior to engaging each other socially.

So, I guess the point here is, when exaggeration is present, it can be considered funny. As a few skillfully literary artists3 have illustrated, sometimes comedy even appears in the tragic and devastating. But then the comedy is in the fact that someone else thinks they are logical in their own exaggeration. So, take this bit of wisdom with you for start of your next day or even now. Look at the people around you. Examine the ironies and paradoxes, the strange and bizarre, the so-empty-it's-absurd, and remember, you have permission to laugh.

Surgeon General's Warning: This is unless, of course, someone is telling you they are going to kill themselves or are about to do a suicide bombing or something, then you help or seek help. Double unless they're telling you they're about to do this because they ran out of staples or pens or they lost an important "Halo 3" tournament, then you can definitely laugh. But make sure it's short and you seek help right afterwards.

Notes:
1) A type of marijuana I totally just made up. Feel free to replace with: Panama Red, White Widow, Lumpy Bullet, Cyclopian Green or Nashville Dirt.
2) Jim Jones - the leader of the "People's Temple", an organization in the 1950's in Guyana (South America) infamously known for performing a mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Over 900 members killed themselves.
3) I want to say Shakespeare, but no particular work comes to mind. Chuck Palahniuk is certainly a master of this, though.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back on the Business

Here I am. There we are. Thus we go.

Alright, so, over the years of having to clean up behind the completely ridiculous messes of infant-minded managers, in addition to doing the work they have some sort of problem putting their own hands in (regardless of the fact that they're so pressed about things getting done when I'm not there), I've noticed something about the customers. They think there's some sort of link between morality and luxury. Like they are one in the same or something.

I get the usual pointless rote responses from people who look at the prices of some of our merchandise: "Don't you guys know this is a recession?" "Rich, white folk probably shop here." "This duvet cover is beautiful, but it's way too much." "Did you know that lighters were invented before matches?" But the one response that truly shows the product of being raised to shoot Cristalup their veins and study for Harvard mid-terms by doing lines of China White in their friends' dorms is: "This isn't fair. This is supposed to be cheaper."

Really? So, you're own greed and imaginary knowledge of what our company's money is like told you this? You think this duvet cover is supposed to be cheaper because you.....just...think so? I mean, besides the business not really giving a crap what YOU think you should pay for it, why not just ask for it to be free? If you're going to make up a price, why make a price at all? Because you think we still have to make money on the sale? You don't even know how much we paid for it prior to selling it to you...........

Whatever. That's all here and there. My point is, for all of you that walk into stores and ask to pay for headphones or bedsheets or food or books some price that you think you should pay: please take your delusions and selfishness somewhere else. Preferably in front of a speeding truck.

All that's happening is your greed is competing with the company's, and neither one is greater or more sympathetic. A business does not care about you being able to pay your cell phone bill, keep gas in your car, keep your daughter in Catholic school AND be able to match the lilacs on your curtains with your blanket. The world does not bend to your lifestyle problems. Nor should it in the least bit.2 In return, if you do not like the numbers you encounter in your shopping experience, you should a) take your business elsewhere. It would be the company's fault for the loss from ridiculous prices. Or b) go straight to the underground sweatshop in China or India or whichever country the President of the business threw his dart at on the map on the bulletin board, and get your stuff straight from the manufacturer. The goal of the company is never to make things easier for you to buy, it's to get as many Federal Reserve Notes out of you as possible. It considers itself trying to survive in the Recession just as much as you do. At the same time, it is completely pointless to sell things to you if the company does not profit from it. There is no such thing as "If you give me this for half off, I'll buy it." or "Here's a deal! I'll definitely buy this for $150, instead of $2,500." or "Did you know Mark Wahlberg was supposed to be on the plane that flew into the World Trade?" These questions are just stupid. If you see something you like but don't like the price being charged, find it for cheaper somewhere else. If you don't, purchase or do without.

Notes:
1)Cristal - A expensive champagne made popular in Hip-Hop music in the 1990's. Rappers usually mentioned being able to buy bottles of it "in da club" in their songs to show that they had a lot of money.
2)Respect it? Yes, definitely. Go out of their way to cater to it? Go suck an egg.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Descending from the Mountain

Alright people, I'm coming back.
I've been going to a string of people's events without time to read or write, in addition to having writer's block anyway.
But lo! I have ideas for two new posts about subjects that need addressing. A third if I count a film review that I was supposed to do a long time ago.
Hopefully I'll have more ideas in the midst of writing those two. I will get back to reading your blogs.
And since this is my 100th post, I will have to erase it and put something much more substantial in the future. I shall returneth!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time is your enemy and friend

Ok, so once again, some sort of attempt at an ordered life has fallen to the wayside and I feel a little oppressed and useless from the fact that I am currently going nowhere with myself. Need some sort of simple schedule for progress. For some reason I've started thinking of "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind*. Bloody Hell.

I'm not sure if I'm on anyone's RSS Feed, but if I am, you may or may not have noticed that two blog posts appeared there but are not here anymore. I had posted twice, both on subjects negatively involving someone from my church: one about what I thought was a fruitless idea to attend to the homeless, and one about still believing in gender roles. But I felt a bit guilty and rift-causing by writing them, even when telling myself that they were objective issues like any other. So they were deleted. Not really sure how this is important to any of you.

I was also compelled to post them because I haven't been at blogger in long time. Mornings that I'd usually spend writing something here, I've been using to attend to the novel. But I guess I'm just posting here to say that I will try to make time. Try to make time to read everyone's blogs and to post regardless of whether I actually have something to write about or not. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take Pelham 123 to get to work.

*"I want something else, to get me through this, Semi-Charmed kind of life, baby, baby"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Noting The Day*

*This was originally titled "You Are The Resurrection", in reference to another blogger's post title, but I realized the title had nothing to do with anything.

5-22-2009:
Ah yes...........today was quite notable for me, although I'm not sure I can pinpoint why. So here, I began to "journalize". Today at the job, we (some of the employees) were subjected to a particularly malodorousness coming from the basement, where people eat and rest. It appears the water fountain down there began issuing forth this nauseating smell. Over the past few weeks it had been mysteriously clogging up more and more rapidly as people used it; less and less of the water was actually making it down the drain. But today, the drain vomited up flakes of grime and dirt onto the stainless steel basin. Of course, I figured some Draino was in order, but someone else told me about changing the filter, and someone else said something about something else, so I'm not sure how that tidbit was solved.

Tonight, I met some friends for a purposeful dinner on the upper west of Manhattan. A friend was supposed to throw a rooftop party with musicians and comedians and all kinds of theatrics. I'm not a party or a late night person, so I wasn't going. But because I did not (and two others couldn't) pick up the sound guy and his equipment for the party, my friend cancelled it altogether. He felt sullen about this, so we had a dinner get together to pick him back up. But the part that interested me was the trip there. My mother took the car to Conneticut, so I took the train to the East Side of Manh. and walked.

Now, talking to friends from church, virtually all of whom have moved here from some rural area or a farm or small town, made me feel ashamed. They've come with an objective view of the city, and so, took some time to study and know a lot of the areas and parts. Which places of Queens or Manhattan are cheap/expensive to live in. Where goods Japanese or Indian or BBQ restaurants in Brooklyn are. All kinds of stuff. I, master book/video game/movie/hermit guy, never cared about any of this until recently. My old friends would always talk about going to dance at this club, or hop around these 20 bars at forsaken hours of the night, and I hated both of those activities1, see notes below.
In my defense: it's good to explore and get to know things geographically, but telling someone to explore certain parts of New York City is like telling someone to explore Compton2. Unless you have a purpose for being there, it would be much more sensible to just be aware of the place. Example:

I'm on the east side of Manhattan and the restaurant was on the west, on 109th street. I had plenty of time to kill after work before meeting them, so I figured I'd just take the train down to 109th and walk across. Getting off the stop, I came up out of the station......where the Projects3 sat and greeted me with a nice, bright figuratively mocking smile. Groups of guys in red4 playing basketball. Others selling copies of bootleg DVDs and incense on the street. The typical resident sitting outside their apt. window with a cigarette and Bacchata5 or Hip-Hop blaring out. Another group of people playing dice on the handball court wall. East Harlem. I went up to 109th and began walking.

One avenue had bodegas, liquor stores and check-cashing places abound, of course. At some point, I came across a church building that looked like nothing more than a generous backyard doghouse, replete with boney, skeletal folk wearing haggard faces, sitting on the stoop and watching the world spin. However, the total of 2 avenues being crossed, I was immediately hit with towering, crisp, clean buildings behind a street semi-full of running clean-air, hybrid buses and a bustling park6. I've always been aware of this geographical lopside, but it never ceases to amaze.

So, I get to the restaurant an hour early. Luckily, it had a bar where I could sit and kill both time and my liver7. I began talking to some Yankees fan who was throwing back his own glasses of Bud and we began talking about Pacquiao, a recently famous boxer from the Phillipines who is "considered God in his country". We talked about the YMCA (where he works) and about how they've begun taking kids to the library to read books and only go on one trip every two weeks, due to the hail of lawsuits from parents8 whose kids have been hurt on various past trips to places that have actually heard of the word "fun". Hmph.

I shook his hand and left to join my own party. Friends arrived. Food was had. Cheering up was done. I went home and hit the Moleskine to jot notes. Quite the day.

Notes
1) It might also have something to do with the fact that I hate people. Yes, I said "hate". What? You wanna fight?
2) A suburb in Southern California, notoriously plagued with gang warfare and drugs.
3) Housing Project–(noun): a publicly built and operated housing development, usually intended for low- or moderate-income tenants, senior citizens, etc. These usually also have the items listed in 2).
4) I suspect these were the Bloods, but I could be stereotyping.
5) A genre of Hispanic music.
6) gen⋅tri⋅fi⋅ca⋅tion [jen-truh-fi-key-shuhn]–noun: the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.
7) Kill two birds with one.......glass of rum? Efficient.
8) Read: lawsuits from dirtbrained knuckleheads. You don't want your children to get hurt from life? Tie them to a chair next to the water heater and only feed them every 6 hours. Actually, don't feed them.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shadow Of The Day

Bollocks. New day, different dynamics.

Waiting for a cab, a nice man handed me the obligatory "WatchTower" booklet. As I took it, I wanted to peruse through it because it made me think of this cutaway joke in this one episode of "Family Guy". Peter was a Jehovah's Witness. He went to someone's house and when the man answered and Peter asked him something along the lines of "Would you like to hear about the word of the Lord?", the man said "Ok, sure." Peter, who is used to the door slamming in his face, was at a complete loss for words......so he just described the plot line for "Quantum Leap" and put Christ as the main character. There was also another joke where the evil monkey that haunts Chris became a Witness, but I digress.

The cab driver arrives, a loud, frail man with a salt and pepper moustache and sunken in cheeks. He asks where I'm going and I tell him the address of my job. We began to drive. "Do you work there?" is what he starts with before he launches into having gone through 3 ex-wives, him furnishing "yet another" apartment, and him telling his last wife to "just give him the 19" T.V. that they use the least and she can have the rest". I get out at my job and pay him. As he drives off, I curse my faulty memory for making me leave "Watchtower" in the car.

Subtly interesting day. I'm not sure if I've written about this here before, but about three weeks back, the woman at my job who was a complete nuisance (to put it without vulgarity) was fired. She called another co-worker at my job a "stupid black woman". So, I've pretty much been working the sales floor myself. But one day last week, the nuisance came back to pick up her check. I stood by in my section and listened as she argued with the manager that she got paid less than she was supposed to, because, in her mind, she was supposed to be paid for a week after she was fired that she did not work. Perhaps, she made the bed in her house and, since it was any ole' work, any ole' person should pay her? Perhaps she has three imaginary friends like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind" who told that she should just be magically paid for no reason? I don't know, but at the end of her fussing I heard "I'm so sick of this (didn't hear).......that's why I'm glad I don't work here anymore." And she stormed out, purportedly murmuring to herself that she could beat up the manager anytime, anyplace. Bloody Hell.

A day in the life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Star Trek"


Magnificent. Excellent. All films henceforth will live in its shadows. No, I'm not a Trekkie.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, who helmed "Mission: Impossible 3" and "Alias" (the T.V. show), "Star Trek" is the story of a young James T. Kirk and Spock as they first board the USS Enterprise and battle against a from-the-future vengeful Romulan (alien species) named Nero. The narrative revolves around Kirk's and Spock's histories, dilemmas, personalities and finally, the beginning of their friendship.

James T. Kirk is portrayed by actor Chris Pine, who before this starred in nothing I'd remember because he seemed like a completely new face to me. Apparently he's been in a cornball Lindsay Lohan project amongst other children or teen based movies before this. At any rate, his performance was more than enough to bear the weight of main character status as well as filling in William Shatner's shoes. He was definitely funny, charming and rebellious, channeling Kirk's future spirit but not making fun of Shatner at the same time. Spock is portrayed by Zachary Quinto, who was formerly a serial killing villain on the megahit show "Heroes". His performance was also riveting, although he did not stand out as much as Pine did. Whether this is due to Spock's inherent flat and soulless nature or the way that Quinto chose to portray the character is up to the viewer. Other notable roles include Karl Urban's "Leonard McCoy", the paranoid and constantly frustrated doctor Kirk befriends, and Eric Bana's "Nero", the vindictive Romulan. I think he was a bit overshadowed by the rest of the cast, although he did effective come across as a heartless and bloodthirsty threat in character.



I guess the quality of scriptwriting would be up for debate by viewers and critics alike. I thought that it was brilliant, although a friend of mine believed it to be horrible. According to him, the plot pretty much progressed on a string of unlikely coincidences (Kirk ending up on Delta Vega and meeting with another important character afterwards, Spock timewarping to the moment the USS Enterprise takes its maiden voyage, the fate of the planet Romulus, etc.) Except the Delta Vega meeting, I didn't notice any of these things. The story, especially Spock back(forward?) story and the idea of the mining ship and red matter, as well as the cast's acting, pretty much held my attention throughout. I also enjoyed the history of all the sayings and quirks the Star Trek enterprise is known for ("Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!", "Live long and prosper."), as well as the Vulcan neck pinch, the invention of teleportation during warp speed and Uhura's first name. I have to warn you though, if I remember correctly, Kirk does not say "Beam me up, Scotty".

Pretty short, straightforward review here. I, for the life of me, cannot find a problem in the film to nitpick on. So........go see it if you haven't.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Light In The Murk

I'm going to write about something I was thinking about last night. Usually, because of its heavier religious tone than my normal posts, I'd put it into the journal instead of here. And this, in addition, is not because of any shame of being Christian at all, but for fear of alienating readers (which in itself I'm ashamed of fearing). Reading it back, it seems to have some corny, melodramatic parts, but such is the nature of the content itself. I've come to the conclusion that it's plain English and not anything that you need a particular viewpoint to understand. The only crowd that I write for is the intelligent one.

In last night's church service, instead of a sermon we had a panel discussion between three members about our church community and what we can do to outreach to the people in that neighborhood (when I say outreach, I mean make a positive difference with food or awareness or one of those things). To open up the discussion, a woman who used to be an actress and was a member from the church's first opening came up to tell her story. It was probably one of the most fascinating talks I've heard at that church thus far, listening to her talk about the conscience and listening for a voice of light to bring you up out of the darkness of self-doubt and pity and absence of rational pride. The disillusionment of your life being perfect and happy after you accept Christ.

This woman, she used to be a cutter. She tried to kill herself once. She went to the doctor at some point, to discover that she is bipolar along with some mental disorder. At 19, she began drinking heavily. Under the influence, she got into a car accident and tried to drive away from it, only to run smack into a pole a few minutes later. She was hospitalized, arrested and jailed for a few days. She came out and went to rehab for her alcoholism and her mind………and then went right back to drinking.

On Easter service at my church a few weeks back, she was supposed to show up and say something to the audience before our sermon. But the night before, a friend invited her out for a few drinks at a bar and she accepted the invitation. They went. She binged for 9 hours. I didn't even know it was humanly possible to drink that much, not to mention how much money she probably spent that night. But I digress. The usual occurred: someone volunteered to put her in a cab from the bar to her house. Someone called one of her roommates so they could tell the cab driver where she lived, since she herself was nowhere near able to put forth this information. All the buildings she passed by just look like various blurs, and she was too busy with vomiting on herself anyway. She got home. Her friends undressed her and washed her. She cried. They said they loved her. All she could think was "I'm a failure." But she said she could hear Christ say "I still love you. Come back."

She is now in a mental health program and rehab, working to get better and deal with her illnesses. I think that she as a person will be much better for it though, because she knows Christ will help her cope with everything that's there, and doesn't expect Him to "delete" it all.

I think……a certain kind of Christian uses Christ as an illusion to keep themselves happy. A run-to, in order to not address the uglier aspects of life. The drinking. The smoking. Sexual addictions. Suicidal tendencies. Crack and ecstasy. Attention from men/women. Money. Perhaps even murderous tendencies. They keep an image, an impression of the person of Christ in their minds in order to sweep all of these things under the figurative rug. But I think what Christ actually does is quite the opposite. I think that part of the purpose of accepting Christ into your life is so that you'd be able to face all of these things head on. To see what's being expressed in these actions and to reconcile them in something better, healthier.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Own Summer (Shove It)

Title to an old alternative song by Deftones.
It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you…….without a blog post to step to.1

Summer is a comin'. This means good dining outside with white tables of champagne and Italian dishes. Preferably at a place with a backyard and not on the public sidewalk, where cars'll be coughing out black fumes and people on cell phones will accidently flick their cigarette stubs into my plate. This also usually means heavier bar circulation with friends (not that heavy). I will try to get to more concerts this year, preferably of the mosh-pit, crowd-surfing, head-thrashing kind (perhaps Killswitch Engage will play this year, although Paramore live would be great). More book and poetry launches. And all of this done while trying to save up for the bigger goals in life. I figure I'll stop monetarily supporting all the unnecessary habits, like eating, buying clothes or carfare, cell phone.2

I also really have to start drilling into the novels. Writing them I mean…..which reminds me. I watched an episode of a show last night called "Flashpoint", with Amy Jo Johnson, who used to be the Pink Power Ranger, and Enrico Colantoni who was on "Just Shoot Me!" and "Veronica Mars". The episode, called "Perfect Storm", was about a bullied kid who decides to bring a gun to school to make the bullies pay. The SRU (Strategic Response Unit) has to storm in there, look for the kid and defuse the situation before things get bloody. You know, I have yet to see any creative media capture the high school shooting theme right. In this episode, the bullies were cheesy and stereotyped (I guess, for the purposes of getting the point across in a short time). Simple strategic fighting back would've gotten these idiots off of the main antagonist. There was no real oppressive feel for him to result to grabbing the gun (although in the show's defense, the kid never did any severe damage to the student body). I will attempt to fix this though……….fix the high school shooting story, not the damage to the student body.

  1. Reference to an old hip-hop lyric by Rakim.
  2. I'm sure there are people who will not realize I'm being sarcastic.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Signs…….signs……..

Signs, like the Mel Gibson movie.

Walking from an alternate train station on Sunday, due to my normally express train going local that day, I walked past a gated dirt hill leading down to what is probably one of the most contaminated rivers on this Earth. But anyway, I walked past it and seen this hanging behind the gate:


Whatever, normal piece of corrugated cardboard.

Later on in the afternoon of that workday, a half Jewish, half-Puerto Rican woman came in and was interested in a particular piece of furniture. She liked the wood (I forget what kind), the shiny coat that our workshop guy put on it, and it's Asian handmade look. She would basically just use the drawer in the front foyer to deposit her keys and things in when she came in the door of her home. A quick, decorative depository. However, one thing repelled her a bit. The drawer had this on the bottom of it:


I, at first, stumbled a little bit at the fact that this sat in a warehouse ran by a practicing Orthodox Jewish man. But remembering context, I explained that the drawer was made in and imported from China. Buddhists and Hindus had extensive use of this symbol as a good thing in their religion before before Fascists took it and perverted it in their campaign. In addition, the symbol was at the bottom of the drawer, and carved in above it was a huge Yin/Yang circle that should've offset the "bad energy" that had been culturally placed in the symbol you see here.

She bought it. The symbol is below mid-shin level, so she figured that no one would really notice it anyway. If they do, she'll quickly give them a more detailed explanation of its history than the one I put above.

Life: The Irony.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Prayer of the Refugee/Opium of the People

Couldn't decide which title to steal, so I put both.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Content

Wondering about my two managers. One is from Afghanistan, with experience in watching relatives and close friends be destroyed the tanks and copters of Communists Russians during the Cold War (see "Charlie Wilson's War"). In present day, he is quite forgetful and afraid of confrontation of any sort. In order to get out of it, he often does stupid things like ignore protocol or give merchandise away virtually free. The other manager either embraced or just simply live in a country of Communism (Czechoslovakia). After coming here in the midst of married life, she's had to grapple with Breast Cancer. Is often short-sighted in her managerial administration, which leads her to doing infamously dumb things. Often, if she doesn't see something happen in front of her eyes, it doesn't exist at all. Is their respective histories or current personalities the reason why they don't get along? Was thinking about this while washing my hands, and having to be subjected to hearing the bowel movements of two construction workers and a stock guy. I think one was cursed with Montezuma's revenge.

It wasn't really a busy day yesterday, and that struck up fears of a fresh wave of employee budget cuts happening again. I do not feel secure in this position, but I'm glad I still have it for the time being. After a morbid day's work. I came home and borrowed the car to get Wendy's food. I came back home and watch an episode of "Law and Order", about white people who were taking small children from Haiti and using them as slaves. While dipping chicken nuggets in cheese sauce, I found it, for some reason, quite difficult to fathom the idea of slave trafficking Haitians under the administration of an African president. People say the world is a beautiful place because God made it. That would make the Earth a lovely planet, but the world is nothing short of rat's bile.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Anthem Of Our Dying Day

This title being the name of a song by one of my favorite emo bands.

Bollocks, mate. Another day, another dollar expression. Woke up this morning and went into the bathroom, only to find that the maintenance department for our buildings shut the water off. I held my toothbrush under the faucet and turn the knob, just so the faucet could clear its throat and cough out a lukewarm drop before turning silent. Looked in the mirror, and felt compelled to kick myself for forgetting that I read a notice saying this will happen two days ago and said to myself "alright, shower Monday night". But Monday night, after driving home from a fun social gathering with people from my church, I threw myself into the bed whilst watching "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show. Great Job!" and just told myself I'd shower in the morning. Bollocks.

Going without water for a few hours felt like life came to a complete halt. Couldn't wash the dishes. Mom couldn't do her laundry. Had to go to the bathroom, but remembered that the toilet wouldn't flush, and even if it did, how would I wash my hands? Washing before starting the day has become such an instilled habit that I could not fathom a thing to do without using water first. After asking myself why maintenance didn't shut the water off at midnight last night and just do their business then, I started to think about the many people who have to live without water everyday. Right here in New York City. In third-world countries. On planets in other solar systems with creatures who probably brush their nostrils with mercury. They live. Not in remotely desirable conditions, but they live. I imagine……if they were to see me whining about not being able to shower for a few hours, they'd want put my head where JFK's upper back was on November 22nd.

World's still spinning. Investors still investing. Bosses still being bossy. Squirrels still in pursuit of a tangible nut stash. Obama's still nubbing away at the mile-high stack of global problems.

Theaters are still being flooded with comic book films, completely damaging the novelty of them. "Watchmen", the unfilmable story, was recently released (although it was good). A sequel to the Punisher before that (which I will pass judgement on although I haven't seen it, that film should have been aborted as soon as it was brought up as an idea in the studio board room). Another Hulk film before that, and Iron Man. Samuel L. Jackson has just signed a deal to do 9, count it, 9 Marvel Universe films as the character Nick Fury. I love comic books and films, but Hollywood is viciously murdering the excitement for them. Ack……

Still looking for new work in an economic atmosphere that severely lacks it, despite the fact that huge pockets of money are just sitting and collecting dust in various parts of the country. Of the globe. I still have hope. Not hope that I'll find a job, but hope that I'll be alright in general. I hope and pray for everyone that change will come. The Revolution will not be televised!........well, actually, with everything from Brad Pitt's toilet visits to a low-budget reality series about old people being hit by speeding ambulancesnote below, nothing goes without being televised at some point.

Bollocks.

note:This content was completely imagined and made up by the author of this post, although evidence exists that shows that people are stupid enough to both film and be entertained by both of these things.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Welcome Home

The title being yet another song that's on my mind as I write this (the Coheed and Cambria one, not the Metallica one). A murky day is staring at me through the window. I'm here at the usual journaling spot, in front of the flat screen monitor with a steaming cup of lemon tea. I still have a response letter to my Southern friend, and guitar playing to practice, and blogs to read. But I'm thinking about the fact that I have to move.

-I came home one day, and my mother started to nag to me about the fact that I drunk up all of the tea and didn't tell her.
-I tried explaining that there was no logical reason for me to tell her all the tea was gone. I bought the box of tea, and after it finished, I would've simply gotten around (at some point) to buying a new box of tea.
-She rambled on about there always having been tea in the house as long as I've lived there. And at that point, I was yelling at her, so she told me not to raise my voice at her.
-I said I was yelling because she never listens to me. Ever since I was young, she's never listened (See "The Good, The Bad and The Anxious" for explanation of this feeling).
-She said she was listening and then she said if I raise my voice at her again, I'll be looking for a new place to live.
-I said it would probably be better if I was homeless. At least they (the homeless) know how to listen.
-She said if you feel that way, then you got 6 months to find another place to live.

We've talked and gotten over all of this………..but I think I should still move.

In no kind of relation to what I've just mentioned, I read a newspaper article yesterday, handed to me by a co-worker, stating that new Afghan law says that Shiite (Islamic) men now are permitted to ask demand sex from their wives every 4 days. If the wife does not submit, the man is allowed to take it from her. In order to attempt to cater to the obviously oppressed gender, the law also states that a woman is also allowed to demand sex from her husband every 4 months. I thought, this is entirely too monstrous to be real. If the Islamic nation was seeking to invite people to their religion, they should perhaps think about hiring a new Public Relations team.

In other events sought after to keep my mind off of the fact that my ideal self is nowhere close to being realized, I think that Latin American authors are the new move. This is author that I'm currently reading, Roberto Bolaño, is a master of the narrative. I am currently reading "The Savage Detectives", which is a sprawling work about two poets named Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, seeking another well-known but under-published poet named Ceserea Tinajero (I think I spelled that right). The story is told in excerpts, like daily interviews or journal entries, from the viewpoints of many characters in the novel. Very accessible and interesting read. I can only attempt to mimic his writing style here.