Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Nasty

So that guy with the beard from that show with the ratings was interviewed by GQ (two articles, here and here), and he said some things about homosexuals that were neither shocking nor unique.

A&E, the network that hired this talking neanderthal, have now suspended him. I don't know what exactly that entails, and I don't really care. Since the news broke (the news that he had been suspended, not the news that he's a simple-minded homophobe), legions of fans of both Duck Dynasty and outspoken bigotry have been rallying around their myopic martyr. This legion apparently includes Louisiana Uncle Tom Governor Bobby Jindal.

I suppose they're angry that he's suspended from the show, perhaps for the sake of some kind of principle of theirs. Or maybe they just don't know what they're going to do with their spare time, considering the fact that lynching is illegal and NASCAR doesn't start up again until February. I know that's a crass and unoriginal comment for me to make, but fuck it, it's not like you fat frying hillbillies give a shit about that, right? Free speech!

And that's the most laughable part of all this backlash. The cries of "free speech!" are superfluous, as A&E (unless I missed some BIG news) are not the government, and the Duck dick has not in any way had his speech suppressed.

Let's pretend this were a matter of free speech, shouldn't Martin Bashir have his job handed back to him? But that's the funny thing about hypocrisy, it's only okay when the hypocrites are doing it.

The moaning and groaning around the suspension has less to do with duck hunting, free speech, or even the Bible than it does with an abject refusal to accept change and diversity. The people defending this man's words (not merely his right to say them) are afraid of the normalcy of homosexuality. They are on the wrong side of history, as they always tend to be. Any highly publicized incidence of this intellectual struggle of theirs will result, on their part, in an abundance of bitching and moaning.

The rest of us get to sit and watch as America's lowest common denominators proudly assert themselves as the voracious consumers of insipid garbage that they are. These people don't need Duck Dynasty, they need stimulation. A&E, and all other peddlers of such piss porridge will be more than happy to provide for their viewership the next big brainless distraction. All of the backlash, of course, will ring rather hollow as soon as these folks have moved on, which they will do with haste.

Monday, December 2, 2013

"It Doesn't Take a Village" And Other Moral Failings of the Wrong

Recently, I've noticed a common response on the internet to any question pertaining to the role of the government (sometimes the public school system, other times SNAP benefits) in regards to the wellbeing of children.

"It does NOT take a village, it takes a family."

This, of course, is a reaction to the proverbial idea that "it takes a village to raise a child."

I used to think this was a pretty common proverb, so much so as to the point of being cliche or platitudinous. As much as I groan in the midst of unoriginal thought and expression, some cliches and platitudes achieve that very status for a good reason.

Being the unrepentant leftist commie that I am, I usually stereotype the more conservative members of our society as speaking in cliches and platitudes. There is comfort in the moral sanctimony of repeating things that are good because other people before you said them with the same confidence, and those people were not harmed for saying such things. There is order, a veneer of meaning, and a facade of wholesomeness.

I did some light digging, figuring that's all that would be required, to get to the root of the right wing reaction against what I thought was an otherwise reasonable and common sense proverb. Here's what I've found thus far, having only barely struck the surface of the dirt wherein such thoughtlessness is sustained:

A.) It's considered an African proverb. So it's probably from Kenya. You know what that means!

B.) Hillary Rodham Clinton published a book in 1996 called It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The book, apparently, expands upon the idea of the proverb itself. As it's written by (well, credited to) a Democrat and then-First Lady, it's obviously Marxist propaganda.

C.) Communism. A village? Chipping in together as one community? How can it be anything but?


It pains me to say that today's batch of vitriol, as there was plenty enough to go around when the book was originally published, is most likely a result of option C. That's "C" for "Communism." See (different meaning, same sound), I'm teaching you how to read. Doesn't that just scream "gulag!"?

My vision of an idyllic Leave it To Beaver America is one where communities band together and help each other out, and they are especially inclined to help the weakest and most impressionable among them. Maybe you volunteer as a tee-ball coach, or a crossing guard, or perhaps you babysit, or carpool, or bring the orange slices to the soccer game, or donate toys to Toys For Tots, or are content with paying your property taxes.

But no, a struggling single mother needs help feeding her son and daughter, and it's obviously one-hundred-percent her fault. She shouldn't see a dime of a assistance. Kid can't pay for his lunch at school? Obviously they should just throw it away. Why should I have to pay a little more to help the world around me flourish? I have mine, and everyone else can slag off, right?

Wrong. We're in this together. Like it or not, here you are and so is everyone else. If you want to live in solitude, find a shack in the woods. Or an island. I know I'd prefer an island.

Even if you are going to take the utterly selfish perspective on this issue, at least consider how much better your life will be if the children around you grow into healthy, educated adults. You can't blame them for becoming desperate if you don't support them simply because, in your eyes, their parents weren't perfect. I am completely in favor of not having children, but that's what people do, because that's what people have always done. We've also always adapted. And adopted. Why let a little vowel confusion get in the way of a plug for a perfectly acceptable means of raising a child?

If nothing else, simply stating the opposite of the proverb as an argument against it is stupid and lazy. It's the "I know you are, BUT WHAT AM I?" bullshit that too many fully grown adults seem to think is a reasonable, cogent response to something they disagree with. I'd say these adults are the exception that proves the rule.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Facebook Hiatus

Hi,

You might remember me. I'm that guy with the facial hair who likes soccer. I also enjoying espousing my political beliefs, sharing memes I find amusing, and 'liking' your pithy statuses. On more than one occasion, I've been called a bigot, an asshole, a fat ass, an ass, etc., you get the point.

I've been gone from Facebook for roughly a week. I'm not exactly sure how long it has been, as that is the nature of the oblivion my life has become since attempting to kick such a nasty social habit.

Actually, I'm kidding. My life has not fallen into oblivion, it's been five days, and I had no delusions of kicking this habit.

You may have noticed my absence, but you probably haven't. I'm assuming you haven't, because I supposedly have 564 Facebook friends (I think I lose some every week), and there's no way in hell I'd notice if most of them suddenly stopped posting.

Tiffany and I challenged each other to give it up for a week, but I've been cheating. I've looked at my newsfeed many times, but have successfully resisted the urge to interact. I know I must seem like a real wimp for coming back so soon, and I am. But after five days of not telling anyone else anything on here, I HAVE SOMETHING I'D LIKE TO TELL YOU!

Stop. Seriously, just try it. Give it a break. Give it up for one day. It's amazing. Coming back will feel much better. Or don't come back. All I can really articulate regarding my "experience" (insert heavy sighing) is that Facebook is not only narcissistic (you knew this), but as cynical as Milton's Satan.

I know it's not just the pages I 'like.' Trust me, I've seen your shit too, guys. It's overwhelmingly negative. You think you know this already, but I'll merely disagree.

And that's really the worst thing I could do, right? I disagree, and how awful is that?

I'm sure the media is more responsible than anyone else, but I'll save that rant for another day. As my internet derived cynicism inclines me to think, you've already declared this deserving of a TL;DR.

Facebook can be used for good, and that's why I'm back. I anticipate participating with less frequency, and I challenge you to not only do the same, but to hold me to it.

Now it's time for me to go make middle America chuckle.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Vibes, Goodbye (Winter Wonderland)

This past Sunday, Tiffany and I had the pleasure of seeing the conclusion of the Good Vibes Tour, featuring Zion I, Collie Buddz, and Rebelution.

Matisyahu couldn't make it, and that was fine with me.

We had an amazing time. Sure, the rum runners helped a whole lot, but I think the show would've been awesome enough without the intoxicants. The St. Augustine Amphitheater is a fine venue, run by excellent and passionate staff.

Unfortunately, today I woke up with some bad vibes. They were the kind of vibes that had me reading the comments on news stories and Facebook posts and taking said comments seriously.

I told you. Bad vibes, man.

One such article (rather, the comments) that pissed me off pertained to the St. Augustine Amphitheater's decision to no longer continue having a "Winter Wonderland" ice skating rink during the winter season.

Here's the article: http://staugustine.com/news/2013-09-23#.UkIxQbyyyME

The rink isn't making enough money, and the manpower required is simply too much. One woman commenting on the Facebook link had the nerve to say something to the effect of "well maybe the employees should find new jobs."


Others expressed equally selfish, narrow-minded, and misplaced outrage. The employees would like to spend more time with their families on the holidays, but hey, maybe they should just pick a new religion. You don't see Jews staying home from the movies on Christmas.

For the most part, people are just upset that something is changing. Anytime anything new happens here (and most other places), people take to social networking to express their knee-jerk opposition to deviation from the normal routine.

Here's a suggestion for the folks who want to see it continue. Instead of making a big stink, why don't you just volunteer to work "Winter Wonderland" yourselves?

Or is it not that big of a deal?





Friday, September 6, 2013

Gender Flipping is Funny, But Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves

I've seen a lot of excitement over the educational hilarity that is "gender flipping." For those who are too afraid to google this (duckduckgo.com is a great, anonymous search engine), it basically involves taking advertisements, music videos, or really any visual media wherein women are blatantly sexualized, and replacing the women with men.

It's supposed to be great because it reveals gross inequalities between men and women in terms of who is more sexually exploited for the sake of marketing. What appears as hot and sexy to the "male gaze" (bet you didn't think you'd have to contend with that kind of outdated terminology since undergrad) is goofy, awkward, and wholly unattractive when the roles of gender are reversed.

I find nothing wrong with it, but I think its power as a tool in addressing the real problems of gender inequality is overrated. First and foremost, if you don't already perceive a wealth of gender inequality, specifically in terms of sexualization, I don't see how gender flipping can effectively make you more cognizant of the issue. If the viewer of the gender-flipping is, say, a twenty-something heterosexual male (or hell, even bisexual), his preconceived notions of women being sexy and men being goofy (when dressed up as sexy women) will not be challenged.

Sorry, just putting a man in a bikini doesn't change the fact that a woman has breasts, fuller hips and thighs, and is typically lacking a penis and scrotum. I realize simply pointing to a Calvin Klein ad, or any romance book in which Fabio graces the cover, does not compare to the saturated sexualization of women, but a more accurate "gender flipping" would be something less silly.

The silliness is supposed to be part of the point, that society has preconceived notions of what is and is not considered sexy. But I don't think (and I'd like to be proven wrong on this) that ALL of what is considered sexy is a fabrication. Otherwise, holy shit did I miss a LOT in biology (and, perhaps, sociology). There are fads and trends from the past, such as different types of thongs and short shorts, and once upon a time skinny was the new fat, but there has always been a sexual appetite based partially on appearance.

So, of course, society has different expectations for men and women as far as what is considered sexy. I think this has more to do with inherent biological differences between men and women than socially constructed inequalities. But I'm not citing any research, that's just my bullshit opinion. I didn't take women's studies (but I was a cheerleader for five years, for whatever the hell it's worth). I do believe men are more visually inclined in terms of what arouses them.

None of these are excuses for the over-objectification of women. Rather, these are reasons why gender-flipping can be nothing more than a conversation starter. But it's really only a conversation starter if you're interested in the topic of objectification and gender inequality to begin with. Otherwise, it's just goofy. And it's getting old.

So the broader point, I suppose, is that the aforementioned expectations are higher for women. Again, fair point. It's inarguable. Women are more frequently expected to possess a kind of sexiness (but also not to use that sexiness in any tangible way, lest they be considered a "slut"). It's unfair, and I knew this before gender-flipping got really popular.


I guess I'm just confused as to what I'm supposed to do next. I don't support the over-objectification of women, or anyone for that matter. But to exist in a capitalistic society means I must benefit from the inevitable objectification of human beings (as welders, singers, mining engineers, beet inspectors, butchers, delivery dudes, etc.). I think the issue is broader than any feminist fad can account for.

EDIT: And while gender-flipping is funny, as a kind-of-comedian, I have to say from experience that merely making someone laugh can only get you so far in terms of changing the way they think. It's funny, but it ain't that funny. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Parking (Please Try Harder)

I saw this on the window of a van downtown: http://www.amazon.com/Please-Not-Park-Within-Feet/dp/B00635GSYI

For those who cannot be bothered to click on links, it's a handicapped sticker that reads "Please Do Not Park Within 8 Feet."

When I say it's a handicapped sticker, I mean that it comes with a "handicapped" symbol and implies a wheelchair or other such device requires an eight foot clearance (from, presumably, the side of the vehicle upon which the sticker is placed). I don't intend to say that the sticker itself is in some way deficient, but I will anyway.


First, I don't think I'd be compelled to read the bumper sticker unless I am already within eight feet of the sticker (which I was). Second, most people probably can't read the sticker unless they're within eight feet of it, so you're already asking quite a bit. Third, don't you already have your handicapped hanger tag/handicapped license plate? Don't you already get that amount of clearance when you park in a designated handicapped spot?

To be clear, I've not been inconvenienced by handicapped drivers (or in this instance, parkers) at all. But I'm hard-pressed to imagine a situation in which such a bumper sticker would be necessary. I GUESS it's more polite than taking up two parking spaces (I've been tempted, on numerous occasions, to take my keys to the finish of such vehicles). I GUESS I'm a huge asshole for even bothering to base a rant off of this sticker.

But hey, people thought "Baby On Board" was a good idea. Until one of you convinces me otherwise, I'm going to keep on thinking this is equally pointless. I get it, you're handicapped, and that's an inconvenience. But so is finding out you have an ethical obligation to pass up on the one parking spot left in the lot (just so that some other inattentive schmuck will take it up without seeing the eight-foot radius sticker).

I have lots of bumper sticker ideas, one of which is "Raw Deal? Please Try Harder!"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guns (my other OTHER perspective)

I've written one or two pro-regulation/anti-NRA posts, and I think I've made my opinion in regards to those two subjects quite clear. I realize I may come across as a "gun grabber." This is inaccurate. While I know some individuals on my end of the political spectrum would very much like to ban all guns, even they (most of them, anyway) recognize that any legislation of the like is unfeasible, if not impossible.

I don't want to ban guns. Believe it or not, I kind of like them. But before I elaborate on those feelings, I'd like to address the pro-gun crowd once more.

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

If you've ever read a news article on the internet that is about, or even tangentially related to guns or shootings, you've read this in the accompanying comment section. And you've seen it over and over and over again, either as a response to a pro-regulation comment, or an inb4. 

 The two most common counter arguments that I've seen, mostly just on my facebook newsfeed, are as follows:

"We know. That's why we want background checks on people. That's why we want laws for people."

And...

"Guns don't protect people, people protect people."

I think most gun owners would agree with both counterpoints, much like how most of them disagree with the NRA. It has to be frustrating having an organization with so much influence and visibility, claiming to represent you, making you look fucking bonkers. I understand this frustration, because I've tried talking to foreigners about our government. You think you understand how convoluted and degraded our political process has become, but the international perspective is pretty damn sobering. I recommend trying it. If nothing else, it is therapeutic.

But I digress. Gun owners, I'd like to ask that you make an effort to control your urge to prove yourselves responsible. If we're having a nuanced, intellectual discussion, or even just a quick back-and-forth on Facebook, I am more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I think a lot of unarmed citizens feel the same way. We don't buy into the stereotype, because we've grown up with guns as a part of our culture (a totally different topic for a different day). We're used to seeing people from all walks of life protecting their property with guns. In your efforts to prove yourselves sane and responsible, you sometimes come across as too eager (crazy). You've almost created a new stereotype. Almost. I want to do my part to stop you before it is written in stereotype stone.

That being said, I'm both happy and proud to say that the only gun owners I know are indeed sensible and responsible. A few of them are good friends, and apart from their friendship in general, I am ever grateful for their knowledge and perspective. They've shown me the awesomeness of firepower, and I appreciate how this has influenced my view of the weapons themselves.

Guns are not toys. They are meant to kill people. When you fire a gun, you feel that power. Your ears ring, your bones shake, and you know on a visceral level that the power to take life is smoking idly in your hands. I've only ever gone out shooting twice in my life, and both times I struggled to contain my evil grin. In short, both experiences were both fun AND educational. Some folks have an irrational fear of guns, just as some folks have an irrational fear of their neighbors.

Guns can be cool. I object to the NRA's fetishism, but I do fancy weapons. I have no intention of owning one just yet, but my weapon of choice would be a revolver. It's the novelty of the thing. There is a wide array of more accurate and efficient handguns available, but I could do worse. I didn't watch a lot of Westerns growing up, so I suppose my fascination lies in the simplicity of the revolving chamber. There is beauty in there, you just have to be extra cautious looking for it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why I Used to be More of an Asshole, and Why I'm Still Kind of An Asshole

As a freshman in college, I came out as an atheist. I was very vocal about it. I'm still an atheist, but if you think I am as scathing and critical towards religion today as I was five years ago, you haven't been listening to me.

And that's fair. Maybe we've lost touch. Maybe Facebook only shows you the few articles and statuses I post that pertain to religion. Maybe you're inclined to accuse me as having some sort of clearly stated anti-religious agenda, based on minimal evidence, because rash conclusions are part and parcel with your worldview.

It's okay, we've all been there.

I have two thoughts I wish to express.

Foremost is that while I make no bones about being an atheist, I'd like to invite all of us to calm down. I'm not nearly as much of an asshole about it as I was before. But of course, religion is a sensitive topic. That's part of the problem.

I don't claim to speak for all atheists, but I do believe I know very well why I was so very, very angry those first few years.  I felt I had been betrayed, plain and simple. I know I've expressed as much, because I've read my own words from that time.

Compulsory belief in anything is a cheap way of winning over anyone. Sure, you have numbers. But "quality over quantity" is a cliche for a reason. Some Christians view challenges to faith as a kind of "test." I suppose that's a much more positive spin on it, but it's still presumptuous and can be kind of condescending.

So basically I felt like I was being scared into a certain set of beliefs. But I found ample reason to not accept the core ideology. Pardon me for feeling frustrated and let down when the best response you had to offer was "oh, well, we weren't really trying to SCARE you."

Sorry. Too little, too late.

But the other idea I've been bandying about, which is only tangentially related to anything written above, regards abortion.

"Whoa there. Slow down, cowboy."

Long story short, it seems compulsory for certain groups of Christians to be against abortion. It also seems such an absolute view of that matter may run contrary to other beliefs Christians have regarding helping others, caring for the already living, etc.

But maybe it's not so contradictory. The absolution has its place, as the brands of American Christianity I've had the most experience with do not lend much credence to the realm of ambiguity (perhaps they should, but that's another topic for another day).

Suffering is essential to Christianity. Remember, Jesus died on the cross. You don't even need Mel Gibson to paint the picture for you. Jesus was up there for a while, and all popular accounts of the event make it sound pretty awful. If not for the fact that Jesus suffered as a man, his sacrifice (as God killing himself/his only son) would ring rather hollow.

One of the biggest arguments in favor of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion is that the child may suffer so many more times over in life than they would if they were never born at all. It's about quality of life over quantity. The same goes for the mother.

If suffering is not necessary (regardless of how realistically unavoidable it is, because remember, we're comparing a non-absolute worldview (pro-choice) to an absolute worldview (anti-abortion)) then maybe man did not fall so hard when he ate that damned apple.

Man could not have fallen because he had nowhere to fall from. He is mortal, and that's the big bummer that Christianity seeks to address. Man is and always was an animal. When Republican politicians compare homosexuality to bestiality, we giggle because they (have established a certain precedent for) sound(ing) like closeted goat fuckers. And while that's probably true in some instances, I think it largely has more to do with homosexuality (being completely natural, and all) reminding these good, Christian men of their own mortality.

If two people can love each other outside and beyond the purpose of creating new life, then we might as well be animals. We are. And if suffering can be prevented, then perhaps nature is more awesome and complex than we are willing to comfortably give it (and ourselves) credit for.

So while I may not be willing to call it a "tenet" or an absolute, I will have to say that by and large, I really do prefer quality over quantity.

Unless I'm boozing. Then it depends on my mood.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I am a Floridian

Today I got my driver's license renewed. I am no longer a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I now belong to the State of Florida.

Everything that is wrong in Florida is wrong somewhere else.

The DMV was beautiful, by my departmental standards. It was highly computerized, it had a cafe. It was easy to find!

There were some snags in the form of me not possessing the proper documents, but it was nothing a few phone calls and faxes with my father could not fix. Yes, in the highly computerized and automated DMV of St. John's County, the clincher in me getting my license was a fax. Ass backwards, it felt.

Tiffany laughed at me for referring to the process as declaring "citizenship" rather than residency or domicile. I guess I gave off the vibe that I was expatriating to a new country.

 Florida is weird, and everyone is from everywhere else. The northern part of the state is mostly "the South." The southern part of the state is, likewise, "the North." Northerners never think of the North as the North, but that is besides the point.

What many like to view as the Confederate States of America, I prefer to think of as the Microcosmic States of America. It seems like everything America is bad at, the South is the worst at. Education, pollution, pregnancy (and associated care), mental health, etc.

Florida has been cast in a negative light recently, and deservedly so.

But it is important to remember that, while the craziness might be cooped up in Florida, it's coming from somewhere else. It's a part of something else.

I still see a lot of beauty and potential in this state. I could have easily renewed my license at the DMV last week while I visited Pennsylvania. I hadn't been back for eight months, which is apparently my longest stretch away from Berks County. I figured, given my current situation, it was most logical and most critical for me to become a Floridian.

As a Pennsylvanian, I can merely bitch about Rick Scott and his fascist cronies. As a Floridian, I can vote against him and them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(Less) Crazy

A girl stopped me on my way to work to ask if I had a few dollars (for once, I'd have given her money, and for once, I didn't actually have any on me). She then proceeded to follow me and talk to me.

I guess what really struck me about this one particular transient, of all the mentally ill individuals I come across on a daily basis, was how "together" she was, and how "normal" she seemed. I knew something may have been wrong when I saw her running over the bridge in flip-flops, stopping occasionally. Running. Walking. Stopping. Running. Repeat.

The running wasn't so crazy when it dawned on me that she was chasing pieces of her collection. The bridge is very windy, and if you're collecting paper with no proper storage receptacle, it's bound to the mercy of the breeze. The running was quite crazy, however, when she admitted (with no prompting on my part) that she collected garbage. She said it with a smile.

I said, "surely there's a reason."

"Yeah, there's a reason."

"And what reason is that?"

She was stumped.

It's hard not to jump to the part of the story where she handed me a Bible, which was one of several tattered books she kept in one arm (with all other forms of trash in the opposite arm). She claimed she was going to a devotional on the lawn of the Presbyterian church.

"Are you a Christian, have you read the Bible?" she asked.

"I'm not a Christian, but I've read the Bible, and the Koran, and even the Book of Mormon, which I happen to have right here in my backpack." 

I then went into "out-crazy" mode, which is a tool in the arsenal of the rational and sane (but just barely) in dealing with crazy people. You simply "out-crazy" them and they almost always leave you alone. I told her the story about how I obtained my copy of the Book of Mormon, about how I had a roommate who couldn't say no, and how they were in my house for three hours. I told her this story with zest and refined energy, because it's also a stand-up bit that I've included in my routine.

She didn't flinch. She handled it like a normal person. God damn it.

After following me into the store, looking around, leaving, coming back, leaving, popping her head in one more time, and leaving for the last time, my coworker noted that she "seemed harmless."

He also commented that he's always surprised whenever young and attractive homeless girls aren't being exploited into sexual slavery. I haven't ruled out the possibility that she's probably already experienced some degree of this, or will be exploited at some point in the future.

I may or may not see this person again, but she will always follow me around in some form or another. We give to charity and we think we're solving a problem. Whatever we give to our homeless, whether it's a cheap meal or the cheap promise of a fair and just afterlife, we're only treating the symptoms. This young woman is both a symptom and a symbol for how very little we, as the public, care about mental health.

But I can't keep talking about the mental health of others without looking a little more closely at my own. This post was originally going to be about how much I think Rick Scott deserves to be assassinated. With that in mind, does anyone know of a good therapist in North Florida?




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Black and White Skittles: Taste the Status Quo Rainbow

I'm going to be using a very general "you" pronoun because it does seem to apply to so many people.  I understand that not everyone who disagrees with me will feel exactly the same, but I believe it is part of the larger overall problem that you'd even think that would be among the best reasons to discount what I'm about to tell you.

Write me off as a nobody. I'm just some bitter, opinionated, over-privileged faux activist who uses his detachment to mask his crippling anxieties regarding his worthlessness. It won't be anything I haven't already said about myself, and it won't be anything you haven't already projected onto multitudinous others who've tried to tell you "Hey, wait..."

I wanted to not write about Trayvon because I really wanted to be cool. But then I realized a bunch of you had already beaten me to it. I've heard it said and seen it written, over and over again, how unimportant this whole Trayvon thing is, how blown out of proportion it is, and how we should just let it go. People kill people all the time in our country, so why are we letting our media blow up one case, dividing us all in the process?

I'm willing to ignore the tacit suggestion that we're better off just not caring about acts of violence, but I have to point out the hypocrisy of even commenting at all if that's what you're going to say. If this whole Trayvon thing is just something cooked up by the monolithic evil media, you are only perpetuating the very process which you are bemoaning. But, oh no, it's everyone else who is distracted. YOU are special. YOU can see beyond the petty controversies. You have a strong sense of conviction to your ideals, which are not at all affected by the rest of the sheeple, right?


If you get the sense that I might be mocking you, then keep patting yourself on the back. You're doing great. Hang in there. I know this will be a long one.


You have insisted, with great bitterness and maybe something even resembling passion, that you don't care, you're better off for it, and I shouldn't care either. But you change your tune at the drop of a hood when it suits your convenience. You are so very loud about your apathy that you will not entertain for a second the possibility that something might be wrong.

"Move on," you chide. To what, exactly?

Are we to move on to complete and utter desensitization to our citizens killing each other? Yes, the thought of people being angry enough to riot is very scary.

It's also hysterical. How dare the media cause people to become so impassioned that there might be a riot. Riots are rare and frightening. Shooting deaths? Who cares about shooting deaths? THERE ARE RIOTERS OUT THERE, MAN! THEY'LL GET YOU!

Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant race riots. BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING VIOLENT THOSE NIGGERS GET WHEN THEY'RE ANGRY, RIGHT? 

That last sentence of all-capped rage is obviously a caricature. I feel the need to explain this to you, because I think you are shallow and obtuse. I know that you think that you're not racist, because you don't hate black people. The mere indirect suggestion that you might be racist must be so hurtful and traumatic. I really feel for you, fellow middle-class white man.

You very well know the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. When it is suggested to you that racism may be more complicated than sheer and unadulterated hatred, you seem to get very confused and want to claim silly things about how the word no longer has any meaning and how people use it as an empty pejorative. Your refusal to acknowledge the subtleties of racism does not mean it does not exist, it does mean that you are complicit.

Even if you're not overtly racist, it's more convenient to pretend that racism does not exist. The fact that you're not even willing to entertain the notion is cowardly. You have nothing but excuses. Even if this case is not an example of a white life being privileged over that of a black life, you are still the victim of a consumer culture that insists everything must be as simple and palatable as possible. Comfort is king.

But it IS an example of a white life being privileged over a black life. "Oh, but Zimmerman is Puerto Rican." Yeah, you say that as if race is about something more than skin color, which is exactly what a a racist might think. It's funny how you're only willing to entertain details when they are trivial and you can hide behind them.

"Oh, but, that's the law." Yeah, and that's the problem. You may have been caught up in the media circus that was the trial itself, but you're using that drama as an excuse to ignore a greater systemic and cultural problem.


It's not a big deal if you are not an emotional wreck over the death of Trayvon Martin. But if you don't care at all, or found yourself taking the side of the man who killed him, you value comfort, convenience, and order (no matter how unfair it is to everyone who isn't you) over the well-being of your fellow humans. Racist or not, it is repugnant, but it is very marketable.

The media IS dividing us. It pits lazy cowards with power against everyone else. The dumber, lazier, and more cowardly you are, the easier you are to market to. If they have to sell you the idea that they're causing the division elsewhere, and that it's people like me who are the problem for pointing that out, they will happily feed you the fear, hate, and apathy that have kept you coming back for more.But I'm not blaming the media so much as I'm blaming the people who bought tickets to the circus and then left early, bitching about how "it was just a circus."

"Move on." Fuck off.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Last Thirty Minutes

I'm going to tell you about three things that just happened. They "just" happened, as in they occurred within the last half hour.

First, I bought a cheesecake from a recovering drug addict. He represents such and such a charity ("Hogar" something or other), and once a month these men and women descend upon our hallways awkwardly selling cheesecakes to raise funds for their recovery center. I bought one, ate the entire thing, just wrapped up a text message regarding how awful an idea that was (to eat the entire thing) and another cheesecake appeared before me on the display shelf.

So, either a miracle occurred, or my stuttering salesman managed to sneak into the store, stood NEXT to me, and slipped me another cheesecake gratis, on the recovery house. I neither saw nor heard him.

*insert Arrested Development reference*

Before I could even piece of pie together what had just fucking happened, I was summoned to our other shop.

I saw a midget sitting in a public ashtray.

I say "public ashtray" so as to distinguish between the type of ashtray you might find on a coffee table, and one which a human being (at least a midget) could conceivably sit inside of. The imagery was whimsical nonetheless.

Last, and probably least, I saw a t-shirt with an American flag on it that said "Proud." This struck me as redundant. No one waves a flag out of shame. Maybe you wave a white flag out of shame, or you experience some degree of humility while doing so. But no one is shoving a national flag in my face because they've realized, to however marginal a degree, how inconsequential their own existence might be. It's ridiculous. We get it. FLAGGY MCFLAGGLETON.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Being Correct (and Angry)

There's a big difference between being "politically correct" and "technically correct." Typically, those who complain (read: bitch, moan, and petulantly groan) the most about how they're "forced" to be "politically correct" oftentimes have the most tenuous grasp on that difference. But who am I to expect them to be technically correct about being technically incorrect?

So that's why I like to complain about how I'm "forced" to live in a society that takes such steadfast pride in its own ignorance. I've said it before, and I'll happily reiterate to you conservatives who, while claiming to love America, actively hate every part of it that doesn't look and sound exactly like you; more than anything else, take comfort in the fact that hippie dippie commie lefties like me love peace so much, and don't own any guns.

Consider my frequent and blatant (over) use of the first amendment. How do you think I'd use the second? 

There's nothing funny about this post, because there's nothing funny about the fact that I could make just a select few wrong decisions and end up hurting a lot of people. I won't. But others like me might not be so careful. And it's all perfectly acceptable, courtesy of the gun lobby. 

Thanks a lot, America. Thanks a lot, fat, stubborn, cowardly assholes who have no concept of empathy or any semblance of foresight. 

Even if you believe in heaven, do you seriously think St. Peter is going to let you through that gate with pockets full of blood money? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tampa, Denis...you hurt.

We've done enough free writing exercises by now that you'd think I'd be able to jump right into this with no issue, but I don't know how or where to begin.

I'm back in Tampa, where I've been for the last week, and I'll be leaving in a couple days.

I miss Tiffany, I miss Former President Andrew Jackson, and I miss the not-quite-as-oppressive climate of the First Coast.

I've had wonderful and engaging conversations, both intellectual and sophomoric, with the likes of Brock Clarke, Steve Kistulentz, Mikhail Iossel, Kevin Moffett, Erica Dawson, and many others who are just as worthy of namedropping (but maybe not hyper-linking). Our seminars and readings have been top-notch, as always.

There was, perhaps, more drama than in previous semesters. This had to be expected, due to the increasing size of the program. I also may or may not have been paying closer attention to the social aspects of the residency. There were grievances and issues, but I also felt a stronger sense of camaraderie (which was ironic).

I was in the same room (multiple times!) with Miranda July.


There was the usual fawning over our more famous guests, and such behavior always grosses me out. I was not alone. I was not the only student with mixed emotions regarding the presence of a certain Denis Johnson.

Though he and Miranda were both the most anticipated guests of the semester, the buzz around Denis was amplified by his absence (back injury) during the previous residency. From my understanding of the events, he approached the university, not the other way around, for a chance to try again this semester. That's damn cool. On top of that, Denis' body of work is beastly and diverse. Jesus' Son is incredible. It hurt me, in all the right ways, much like this residency.

However, my confusion in regards to Denis, stems from his standoffish behavior. Writing is solitary. Artists are weird, and many of the greats are pricks. Denis was paid to be with us (and joked about this with a degree of self-deprecation that I will always respect), but as I've mentioned, he is the one who asked for the mulligan. Given the context of the situation, it was odd and unsettling that he showed almost no interest in interacting with students outside of his seminar, and of course, the reading.

I won't go into detail regarding the specific examples of his social disinterest, because again, writing is solitary, artists are weird, and traveling/teaching/performing is tiring. I just couldn't help but think that, had he not been a big name, but still approached us with the same schtick/demeanor, he'd have upset and insulted a lot of people. Instead, because we writers so desperately crave success and validation of our art, most people just laughed it off. We give the successful people a pass.

I'm glad, to an extent, that the events transpired as they did (and this is how I have viewed every less-than-positive experience at the residencies thus far), because it was educational. It also further served to bolster my view that the art and artist, though very much related to one another, cannot be viewed as one and the same.















Saturday, June 1, 2013

More Inhuman Than a Human

I want to be a character.

The problem with being a character is maintaining him. You have to keep it up. The more you draw people into your character, the more you fail them when you lapse into yourself.

The character ought to be a genuine extension of yourself, expressing, however removed, genuine anxieties and absurdities. But he can't be you. He must be a character.

So when an artist seeks to become the portrait, does he forfeit some degree of humanity? To fully embrace the artificial, must the artist be something above and beyond a mere creator?

How much of his humanity must he lose? How detached should he allow himself to become from his authentic knee-jerk reactions, and from the dulled senses of those around him?

Must he become delusional? Crazy?

What of himself is acceptable for him to be rid of? Does the general public ask itself that question? No. What would compel it to? Do artists ask themselves that question? I assume yes. So is it from the authority of other artists, of other mere creators of the artificial, that I can begin to find the mean of acceptable degrees to which I can destroy myself? Is there any way to effectively gauge the consensus opinion?

I suppose just fucking doing it is a start.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Self-Importance of Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor can be a great resource for planning an excursion, or gathering a consensus opinion of a local eatery.

It can also be a haven for self-important, self-righteous snobs.

For a spell, I'd occasionally check the forums to see if anyone was saying anything about the Comedy Walk. Way back in February, a user had this to say:

Comedy walk?
I just posted about the Groupon, now I see that they also have a deal for a "Comedy Walk" tour by Cajobri. Has anyone ever heard of them?
We are frequent visitors to St. Augustine and would be interested in trying something new.

A destination expert for the area replied with this:

1. Re: Comedy walk?
Well it would be something new. It's by ghost Augustine. I should give it a whirl so I can report on it!

He never got around to reporting on it, and that's the way things remained. Until last weekend, when a young woman had THIS to say:


2. Re: Comedy walk?
I received a gift of a 4 person pass for this weekend. We called before it was bought yesterday and they told us there would be a tour on Saturday at 8pm. Called today to reserve and the (rude) manager told us there is no tour this Saturday. No explanation, no offer of another night. Customer service definitely needs to improve from the top down.

As you can probably tell based off the first two sentences of the post, this person is lying. What really happened was that her and her mother purchased the groupon before calling to check for dates/times. Remember a few blog posts ago when I raved about how wonderful the average groupon customer is? Hooray for more evidence!

Last Saturday, I was to be out of town. Last Saturday was also apparently the last full day of this family's trip to St. Augustine. I know that my manager, the gentleman who took the call, would have offered another evening. Namely, whichever day they called, he would've suggested they instead go that night. The real kicker is that had they purchased the tickets through us, they could've gotten a full refund, because they were outside of the 24-hour no-cancellation limit. Also, my manager told me that both the woman and her mother called at separate times, and were very nasty to him.

Shocker. I found this out after I posted my reply. I'll admit, I lost my cool:

3. Re: Comedy walk?
The Comedy Walk normally occurs Thursday-Saturday. I sincerely doubt you weren't offered another day, but FYI, you can use your tickets for any other Thursday-Saturday.

4. Re: Comedy walk?
And to clarify, there is not one going out this Saturday. Occasionally, the comedian has other obligations.
Sincerely, your completely serious, business-oriented, unfunny comedian.

I know what you're thinking, "Ben, how could you be such a monster?" I honestly have no answer for that. All kidding aside, I forgot to say "sorry for the misunderstanding," which is always to imply "how can I bend over even further for your petty convenience?" This, apparently, was a problem for the Don Quixote forum-dwelling crowd.

5. Re: Comedy walk?
You weren't kidding. He does seem rude.

6. Re: Comedy walk?
Benjamin, you may want to consider saying something like, "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding." Impugning the customer does not come off well.

I always love the single, solitary monolith that is THE customer. THE hive-mind. THE entitled. THE master.

I responded:


7. Re: Comedy walk?
Alas, I should know better than to feed the trolls.

And what I was referring to was the woman who was very obviously lying about my company. I should've just stayed quiet. Don Quixote responded:

8. Re: Comedy walk?
Sorry, Ben. I'll keep my advice to myself.

And I'll do the same. But I replied with this, instead:

9. Re: Comedy walk?
It's cool. I'm very open to advice. I don't know what more you could possibly suggest based on our scant interaction, but if you came on the Comedy Walk I'd love to know your honest opinion.


But then the real TripAdvisor troll crawled out of the woodwork, and offered up this projection of self-worth. She/he had not been involved in the discussion prior to this remark, but is very active in the forums for my area. Of course:

10. Re: Comedy walk?
Sarcastic, rude, mean, not funny and not professional has been my opinion so far from this thread.
My peeps on a comedy walk in St. A doesn't look like it is happening. It is amazing how many people are
reached on this forum....forever and forever, based on my scant observation.

What do you think this person is more interested in defending, the importance/legitimacy of the opinions of forum dwellers, or THE persecuted and put-upon "customer?" I'm going with the former. The entitlement, the self-importance, the butthurt...this just oozes with it.

But you know what? I don't want money from these people. If they don't think "sarcasm" is a positive quality in comedy, they're not going to appreciate my tour anyway. If they're so easily offended, if they think I've been just so irredeemably rude, and that I've committed such a great injustice on their highest and holiest of internet forums, what could possibly make me think they'll laugh at my jokes in person?

So even though it irks me to no end that someone can slander my company with absolutely no consequences whatsoever, perhaps this forum HAS served a purpose. It's a win-win. I'll have less humorless, self-righteous twats stinking up the atmosphere on my tour, and the aforementioned twats will sleep a little more soundly feeling as if they've served some kind of noble purpose on their favorite website.

Now, if you've been on the Comedy Walk, and had a good time, write about it in the thread: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g34599-i346-k6134537-Comedy_walk-Saint_Augustine_Florida.html

If you haven't, however, just stay away and let it die. I've done enough damage.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Insignificance

"I wish I'd never been born."

Well, too late.

A sign on the grounds of a nearby church once stated, along with an approximate amount of abortions per year in the USA, that the fetuses did not choose to die.

Of course, they did not choose to die. At no point were they presented with a choice.

You exist now. You didn't exist, and you'll cease to exist, but that is only according to what we can observe and comprehend through linear thought.

If you had not been born as yourself, you'd have been born as someone else, but you would not have been you. Also, you have been born as someone else. You've been born as everyone else. It's not reincarnation. It could be a miracle, but it's not any more of a miracle than anything else that exists. Miraculous or not, it is truly wondrous.

I think we'd do well to abandon our delusions of specialness. I, for one, am not special.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't try to be special. That doesn't mean I don't have special or unique characteristics.

It doesn't mean I should give up on any of the hopes or dreams that I can still comprehend. I should just know that there is nothing magical about them. The universe owes me nothing. It owes you nothing. According to Carl Sagan, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Only we possess the capacity to care for one another. It is called empathy. When we act on our empathy, at our most giving, we are considered selfless. But to be selfless is not to merely give "things." To be selfless is to be at peace with insignificance.

To be at peace with insignificance is something you could actually call significant.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Capitalism - We're Just Not That Into You

External beauty. Let's fret over that, shall we?

"Love at first sight." What is that? Perhaps, more accurately, it is lust at first sight. Or intrigue at first sight, with a healthy dose of selective memory. Thank god for our brains. Without them, we would be unable to revise our own history in our heads. We might actually have to experience a useful degree of shame.

Beauty. Dove tells us you can be a fat chick and still be beautiful. Well, that's convenient for Dove, isn't it? You can be beautiful too, AS LONG AS YOU STILL BUY DOVE PRODUCTS, YA FUCK.

Either way, the message is that you still must be (physically) beautiful to have any value. We're blithering morons, so our natural assumption is that it's either beauty or UGLINESS, and that there is no room for complexity.

Commercial advertisements harass and belittle us. They manipulate our standards and our perceptions of our needs and wants. How come we're only ever privy to this when they exploit our sexuality? Is there not a certain degree of hypocrisy in the magnitude to which we respond angrily to attractive people being used in advertisements vs. all other forms of stereotypes, simplifications, generalizations, and otherwise absolute fabrications?

Modern marketing treats its "consumers" (human beings under the guise of cogs and tools) as children, and us kiddies eat it up. People love being told what to buy. Perhaps we miss that parental direction. Perhaps we lack any form of direction whatsoever.

So it's underwhelming to me when the only criticism anyone can offer up against the majority of advertisements is in the form of "that model is too skinny/curvy/made up/shopped/etc." or, "HEY LOOK HOW MUCH MORE IT MAKES MEN WANT TO FUCK WOMEN. SEXUAL ENTITLEMENT BONER."

I'm in favor of gender equality. That is, I'm in favor of treating individual human beings as such. For example, I wouldn't exclude the possibility of having a woman play on my favorite professional sports team simply on the basis of her being a woman. I wouldn't expect it, but I'm not against it at all if that individual athlete can be competitive. Natural inequalities exist between sexes and between genders, and of course we're prone to making way too big a deal out of those differences. We use them to justify arbitrary differences that we construct socially.

I do recognize that it is bad that advertisements objectify women. But where is the outrage over the way in which humans are objectified by capitalism in general? It's present, sure. But this is a voice that is not nearly as damning as the one screaming "GIVE THAT MODEL A SANDWICH...PREFERABLY A BURGER...FROM BURGER KING. I LIKE THOSE."

Is it because other forms of objectification are more fulfilling to us? Is selling blow pops more personally gratifying than selling blowjobs? Why is that? Is there any more inherent value in selling someone useless shit they don't need, or did we just kind of make that one up to compensate?

Or is using our sexuality to sell a product still bad, but better in smaller doses? I really don't know! I just wish we hated our bodies a whole lot less than we do! It's tiring, the anxiety, and it restricts us from a lot of enjoyable and FULFILLING experiences in life.

I suppose my problem is that there is an awful lot of bitching and moaning that falls into the same patterns of thought that advertisers always manage to benefit from. There's a legitimate gripe, but it's too shallow in its execution for it to hold any positive sway over the ways in which we're marketed to. As long as we're willing to be dipshits, we will be treated as such.

The recent Abercrombie & Fitch fiasco shouldn't surprise anyone. At least, the attitude should not be of any surprise. The fact that the dude came right out and said it, however, is weird.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What was that thing you said about "valuing life"?

You're against abortion. You believe "life" begins at conception.

Okay, cool. Riddle me this:

Why do you support war (of any kind)? Why do you support the death penalty? Why do you own a gun? Why do you eat meat? Why do you take antibiotics? Why do you enjoy violent movies, television, and videogames? Why do you occasionally hit your children? Why do you sometimes yell and scream when you're angry, or sad, or happy?

What is your earliest memory? What is your favorite memory? What is your saddest memory?

How are you feeling?

What we've just explored is a slim portion of the peaks and valleys of human experience. Life is dense, rich, and confusing.

Life is not simple. It doesn't matter how much you wish it were, or how many times you belt along to the chorus of "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. No matter how monotonous and banal you've managed to make your own existence, you've got some complicated shit to deal with.

Imagine someone who completely and utterly lacks the ability to comprehend any of the above. They may have something very generally describable as feelings, but only if we're willing to call a plant experiencing photosynthesis "emotional." More realistically, they have biochemical reactions to stimulation.

Granted, we all have biochemical reactions to stimulation, but we experience ours in the form of a complex menagerie of subjective feeling. An unborn fetus has none of this, but yes, it's alive.

You may now protest: "But wait, you're reducing life to its mere components! Life is so much more. It's a miracle!"

But you only value a human fetus purely on the basis of its being alive. Don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal. You see it as perfect and innocent. It has done no wrong, so why shouldn't it deserve to live? Perhaps because life is neither perfect nor innocent.

Consider the many questions above. How often are you willing to accept death as a natural consequence of life in your answers to such questions? How willing are you to kill an imperfect, impure human being? What about an imperfect, impure non-human being? It's alive just the same!

Do you think the goal of  love and marriage is to have children?

Really? And you wonder why so many pregnancies are ultimately unwanted. Have you considered that maybe not everyone should be having children? You might be tempted to preach abstinence-only sex education. Have you considered that the states where this method is employed have the highest number of teen pregnancies?

But gays can't get married, because they cannot bear offspring. Never mind that plenty of straight parents are horrendous parents. Never mind overpopulation.

But yeah, have babies, because you can. And because life is a miracle.

I'm sorry, who is reducing life to mere components, again?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mormons: They Can Take a Joke, Why Can't You?

If Trey Parker and Matt Stone have taught us nothing else, they've at least made us aware of how good-humored our Mormon friends can be.

Has there been any significant backlash from the LDS in response to South Park or the Broadway hit, The Book of Mormon? Trey and Matt have already lost longtime voice actor Isaac Hayes to the cult of Scientology (and, ultimately, death...but that was bound to happen regardless). They've had to retroactively censor and remove South Park episodes featuring the prophet Muhammad, because Viacom is...Viacom. Occasionally, Fox News has had bones to pick with them regarding their depictions of religion in general. Never mind how Fox News usually dismisses South Park/The Daily Show/The Colbert Report as silly toilet humor. When religion is targeted, IT'S SERIOUS, DAG NABBIT!

But have you heard a peep from the Mormons? Last I checked, they're totally cool with being the butt of the joke.

The reason I'd like to establish this as the nearest thing to fact as possible, is because I have a Mormon joke in the Comedy Walk. Of course, I've not yet had any Mormons on the tour (and I don't necessarily expect to see them any time soon). But as soon as I whip out The Book of Mormon (the scripture, not the soundtrack from the musical) there is gasping, laughter, gasping laughter (gaspher?), and anxiety.

My boss, after checking in on the tour for the first time in months, asked me if it was possible for us to be sued for religious discrimination. It's not, but it's a good question for him to ask, being the boss and all. I can forgive him, as he is from Northern Europe. I consider this region of the world to be superior to the United States in almost every way imaginable, save for the food and the lack of concrete protection of freedom of speech.

But he's not the only one who has expressed some concern, and has suggested that maybe I shouldn't lampoon Mormonism. The bottom line for me is this: everyone knows that there are Mormons who go door-to-door (this is the only part of Mormonism that is being mocked in the bit, by the way). Nearly everyone has either hid behind the couch, scratched their heads in confusion, or slammed the door on these nice, clean-cut lads who just want you to be as happy as they are. Okay, maybe not everyone has hid behind the couch, but I was frightened by them as a child.

Don't give me this line of bullshit about not wanting to offend, when you yourselves have such a nasty and vitriolic reaction to their arrival at your doorstep. And isn't this so very often the case? The most religious among us, by my own anecdotal experience, react the most negatively to door-to-door proselytizers. What the fuck is that? How insecure are you in your beliefs that you think two dudes in short-sleeve button-down shirts are going to ruin heaven for you? 

And no one ever even bothers to ask how I obtained The Book of Mormon. Duh, I got it from MORMONS! Yes, they were in my house, because I had a housemate who couldn't say "no." They're like vampires in that regard; they cannot come in unless you invite them. I would not have let them in myself, but I would have at least been very cordial and polite. I can confidently say I'd react this way, because I've had proselytizers from other faiths at my doorstep, and I've been nothing but nice to them.

Seriously, Christians, why can't the rest of you be as cool as the Mormons*?


*Minus the funding of anti-gay marriage propaganda, of course.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

HEY I HEARD MINNESOTA IS COLD IS IT COLD? I HEARD IT'S COLD. YUP I THINK IT'S COLD.

I feel that, lately, I've been walking the ever-narrowing line between goofy and crazy.

My work hours compel to eat lunch a lot later than I've become used to, so maybe that is the sole contributor to my madness. Or maybe not.

I'm always trying to find time to read/write/do what I'm in GRAD SCHOOL to do, but other obligations/distractions continue to feast away at my focus. My girlfriend is now living with me (Flagler needs those dorms empty at the termination of the semester ASAP, so they can sit empty for months and get cleaned at the last minute...you know, the BEST kind of clean...C-C-Cocaine!), and our living quarters are a bit cramped.

Oh, and we now have a cat. His name is Former President Andrew Jackson. Of course, I named him. What kind of question is that?

DOUBLE OH, Tiffany is not only done at Flagler, she has GRADUATED. On top of that, she's been accepted to every graduate program she's applied to. I happen to think that's pretty awesome, and I'm proud of her. She'll be pursuing her MFA at Hamline University, which is in Minnesota, and I'M NOT SURE BUT I THINK IT'S COLD UP THERE HURP DURP MCGUIRK. (Yup, everyone she tells feels compelled to let her know that it gets cold in Minnesota. As if she didn't just graduate college. As if she's not pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts. As if no one knows anything else about that state. Granted, all I knew was that it has a huge mall, tons of lakes, twin cities, and relatively relaxed cannabis laws.)

But I'm still going insane. I completely bombed Friday night. No, not homemade-explosives-at-a-marathon bomb, I mean I bombed on the Comedy Walk. I did much better on Saturday, albeit for a much smaller audience, but I essentially used the exact same delivery with the exact same jokes and achieved a much more positive result. I suppose I can conclude that a great deal of my insanity is probably caused by my insatiable desire to please people, even if I simultaneously want to eradicate their existence from the fabric of reality.

Seriously, some people just aren't satisfied by anything, and occasionally they travel en masse. The last I'll say about it is that my coworkers and I have noticed a trend: people who pay via groupon (or any other discount/coupon service) tend to suck a lot more than other customers. It's not exact, and there are exceptions to every rule (should we decide this is even a rule), but it seems like maybe seventy percent of groupon customers show up with the object of expressing disapproval with any given service rendered.

I'm more prone to screaming and lashing out. I bite my hands and my fingers to calm myself down. I'd bite my tongue, but I need it to eat and drink (ALL THE BEERS). The Union (my favorite soccer/football team stateside, for those who aren't subjected to my obnoxious Facebook posts) have been basking in mediocrity. The manager, John Hackworth, seems content with starting lineups that lack fluidity and basic abilities. Fucking thing sucks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hunting


It's really tempting for me to say something like "the only acceptable use for a gun purchased at a gun show is to shoot a senator," but that's hyperbolic. (I'm not Sarah Palin, so I'm actually held accountable for the stupid shit that I say.) Saying that is also more likely to get me in legal trouble than purchasing a gun at said gun show, because the guaranteed votes of a bunch of insecure twats + SWEET LOBBYING MONEY is way more important than anything that makes any amount of sense whatsoever.

But God Bless America, the land of the free (so long as you are straight, white, and affluent) and home of the brave (so long as you're packing heat and making kids down the street fight your wars for you).  

Even gun owners, exasperated and stereotyped as they are at this point, seem to be mostly in favor of background checks and closing the "gun show loophole." Hell, the majority of the SENATE voted in favor of the Toomey-Manchin bill, just not enough of the Senate, because we live in a Republic or something like it.

I should probably reiterate that violence is not the answer, but it's really hard to maintain that belief when your  social/political opposition is essentially saying "Yes, violence is the answer, AND it's what the founding fathers wanted." I'm also a slave to irony. I don't believe in God, but I'm not opposed to calling irony a deity. So, of COURSE I'm tickled by the thought of mowing down those Toomey-Manchin "No" voters with an AR-15.

I've become so bitter and desensitized to tragedy, that at this point I think such an awful and ghastly thing would be pretty fucking funny.

I won't do it. I will not buy a gun at a gun show for the express purpose of killing a bunch of senators. I won't even advocate that anyone else does it. Please, don't do it.

But the thought fills me with joy and confusion.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Influenza

Technically, I still have the flu. I probably shouldn't be at work, but then again, I probably shouldn't be typing a blog post at work either. Maybe I should flip that...I shouldn't be typing a blog post at work, but for fuck's sake, I have the flu and shouldn't even be at work anyway, so keep calm and carry on! That's better. You feel more sympathy for me that way, right?

In all seriousness, and I'm saying this as a white twenty-three-year-old male in America (with health insurance), getting the flu isn't that bad. Sure, when my fever picks up, I truly feel as if I could die at any minute. When I cough, I consider calling a local priest, because there is no mistaking the sensation of a demon trying to escape my chest through my nasal cavity.

I had to miss an entire weekend's worth of Comedy Walking and beer gear selling, and I've had to attempt to stay on top of my schoolwork. But as the dust and the phlegm seem to settle, I have to admit it was nice taking a little bit of a breather...even if I could barely breathe.

No one told me that it got really hot outside while I was trapped inside. Like, instantly-sweating-upon-leaving-the-apartment hot. Thanks a lot for taking away spring, climate change. The last thing a guy with the flu needs, after finally deciding to go back to work, is to be dehydrated. It's a good thing I work next to a bar. Or maybe it's a worse thing that I work next to a bar, a bar stocked with over 150 imported bottles of delicious dehydration. Well, shit. Now I'm thirsty.

Is it sad that I feel healthier because I've gone so long without drinking? Like, yeah, okay, I have a virus, but my liver must be doing better than ever! But maybe I'm just one of those really optimistic, glass-is-half-full, people you hear about so often and yet never seem to encounter in person. But I can't wait to start drinking again!

Anyway, you should probably come see me on the Comedy Walk this weekend.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cynicism is Dead

At first, I thought my anger towards the average Comedy Walk audience member was a result of their cynicism. Most people have a genuinely good time following me around the city, and I don't even have to touch them! But occasionally there are the few odd people who have to ruin it for everyone, themselves included.

It seems in today's society (which feels like code for "every society ever, but you only ever experience one of them anyway, you spoiled American crook") no one is ever convinced of the monetary value of anything. As a child (also as an adult), I had a catchphrase, appreciated mostly by my parents. "That was worth it," I'd say, after having spent no money of my own on ice cream, or an arcade game, or fixing the brakes on my car.

I appreciated a lot. Not enough, but a lot. Now, after having worked retail for a considerable amount of time, as well as the aforementioned Comedy Walk, I certainly have formed a relationship with my bank account. Unlike the images that fat women like to pretend society oppressively demands of the average female, I happen to prefer my bank account portly. No, I've gone too far. Society may have unrealistic expectations for all of us, but I have no such expectations for my bank account OR for women. Especially women (I'M A JOKESTER!).

I've now come to realize that I am the cynical one. So, obviously, being cynical can't possibly be bad, RIGHT?!

Well, now that would be a very confusing and contradictory position, would it not? It would be, unless you really love Ayn Rand. I feel indifferent towards Ayn Rand, selfish though her game may have been, for she is dead.

Full disclosure: I'm a baby. A wimp, if you will. I love the spotlight, the sound of my own voice, and I hate being wrong (though not as much as people who hate other groups of people hate being wrong, got that?). That being said, I like to think that my cynicism is doled out in proportion to what is necessary.

Meanwhile, some stone-cold creepy woman hears a penis joke (Anything but that. That's lowbrow, I'm not lowbrow. Remove this jester at once!), and glares at me in bitter silence for forty-five minutes. Most people think they're better than they really are, so if they hear a joke that offends their arbitrarily selected sensibilities, the "fun" part of their personality self-destructs. REAL stand-up comedians all seem to agree that this is the big difference between doing comedy in the US and the UK, respectively. Americans will immediately recoil at anything that crosses their line, whereas the rest of the English-speaking world seems more inclined to hear you out.

The prevailing attitude of the sourpuss seems to be: "I heard a joke that offended me/wasn't funny to me, so this was not worth $15. I'm now going to be hypercritical of every little detail in order to further validate my idea that this was not worth $15."

The sourpusses are only a minority group of any given audience. But, you must remember, I'm a baby, so I take it personally. Every other member of the audience has paid the aforementioned $15, so they sometimes take it personally as well. Occasionally, the sourpusses seem intent on making sure that NO ONE gets any value out of their money. "I don't like it, so you shouldn't either." Seriously, people stifle their laughter so as to avoid upsetting the other people that they perceive as being bothered. It really, really sucks when that happens.

My grand observation, from this cross I bear intentionally upon my baby back, is that our society is indeed cynical, but also that our cynicism is often misguided or misplaced. Yes, I'm getting paid with your money for a thing you suddenly realized isn't perfect. Nobody's perfect, but more accurately, we're always doing something wrong. Perhaps, in my endeavor to make you laugh via dick jokes, self-deprecation, and observations regarding the irony and absurdity that is inherently our lot as human beings, I've offended you. Perhaps, you're taking yourself too seriously. Perhaps, through my efforts to make any sense of your sensibilities, I'm taking myself too seriously.

Can we please just take our dicks and our hearts out of our wallets? It looks really silly. It's probably not worth it.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Corporate Athleticism

At what point did we decide that arm movements and hand signals are not good enough, and our referees need to say out loud, damn it, what the penalty is that they are calling? "How about we just mic the sons-a-bitches?" someone probably said once.

In association football, which we call soccer, the referee never talks to the audience. His dialogue is to remain between himself, his assistants, and the players on the pitch (field). If he needs to stop play (something that happens a lot less in soccer than in American football or hockey), he has a range of signals and motions at his disposal to make the crowd aware (at the off chance they themselves have missed the infraction) of what has gone wrong. Some referees are stoic and some more flamboyant, just as some are strict and some seemingly prefer breaking up brawls to preventing them. Either way, the man whose voice you never hear over the stadium's PA system is very much a human being. This doesn't mean that some fine folks at a Lebanese lower-division match won't try to kill him, but these are rare and isolated incidents, of course.

My point in these observations is not to say that association football is absolutely superior to the sports preferred in the whiter portion of the Americas, but to highlight a difference that I find compelling. Soccer is, in essence, a very simple game. American football, in essence, should be the same, but simple doesn't afford enough commercial breaks. In fact, while American football has grown increasingly more complicated (in terms of rules and regulations), it's still not complex enough, and there are arbitrary television breaks imposed upon 80,000 fans at any given stadium because, ultimately, some fat fuck's wine was not fine enough, his jet not fast enough, and his underage prostitute not underage enough. Absolute power corrupts absolutely...and it turns a single Division 1 college football game into a 4.5-hour-long event that makes accomplishing anything else on Saturday out of the question.

Professional soccer is by no means innocent of commercial corruption, it just doesn't seem to be as utterly dominated by it as other sports. In some countries, players can resemble NASCAR vehicles with the amount of advertisements choking the free space on their uniforms. Many stadiums have super suave digital boards that run the length of the pitch and display a variety of different ads throughout the duration of a match. But in soccer there are two halves of play, each at least 45 minutes in length, and the day they are interrupted by anything other than imminent destruction by mother nature, or a player dropping dead, is the day that the sport itself has died.




Friday, March 1, 2013

"I'm offended"

"I'm offended."

And I just burped. Why should I care? No one ever seems to have a very compelling reason. It certainly depends on the context of the situation, but merely expressing that your sensibilities have been offended is about as meaningful as saying "I have thoughts and feelings on this issue." Okay? So, what are they? Why are you offended?

Someone once tried telling me that it is not the offended party's responsibility to examine the things that offend them and why they're offended by those things. That offended me, but I attempted to reply with something of substance. If you want to be a spineless reactionary twat, that's your prerogative. You just need to understand that it's a weakness of the mind to refuse to attempt to understand the things that bother you. You're essentially whining that you have a problem, and what's worse than the high-pitched and obnoxious manner in which you are whining, is the high-pitched and obnoxious manner in which you refuse to actually fucking do anything about it.

So, now that we have that out of the way, The Oscars...

My two highlights of the aftermath were Amy Davidson's claims that Seth MacFarlane was being sexist (you know, in his comedic commentary on sexism in Hollywood), and that The Onion is HORRIBLE, FOUL, DIRTY, AND NO GOOD for apologizing when they shouldn't have (or for calling a little girl a "cunt," but you can already tell which aspect I'm more upset about).

Yes, a blogger for a magazine whose name rhymes with The Jew Porker (a magazine which I bear no bitterness towards whatsoever), Amy Davidson, decided that she would completely ignore the context through which Seth MacFarlane's hosting of the Oscars most properly be viewed, that being reality, and declare him misogynistic. She described him as being "self-satisfied," which I thought was a very poignant example of projection on her part.

Ultimately, this uptight sourpuss could not comprehend the satirical nature of MacFarlane's delivery. This is an all too common side-effect of lacking a sense of humor.

What really pumped the blood to my hate erection, however, was The Onion's apology for calling Quvenzhane Wallis a "cunt." Congratulations, Quvenzhane, I would have neither heard of you nor cared about your existence had it not been for The Onion twitter handle's mockery of our universal adoration of children in cinema (whom we subsequently stop giving two shits about once they become adults, good luck with the rest of your life).

Am I uncultured for not having heard of her or the film she featured in prior to the ceremonies? Probably. But at least I'm not obsessed with the life of a nine-year-old simply because she's in a film. At a glance, I thought The Onion's tweet was chuckle-worthy. It was, after all, a live tweet. It was buffered by countless other live tweets. Under the pressure of no one in particular (though I'm sure a lot of Amy Davidson's mouth-breathing readers were tweeting with rage, which, in fairness, is probably a normal day for them), The Onion promptly apologized. If they'd apologized for their moment of being less-than-funny, I'd buy it. But no. They apologized for jokingly calling a nine-year-old a 'cunt.'

"But Ben, how can she possibly understand the joke?" I don't know, probably the same way in which she understands every single aspect of the movie she's in. Why are we so worried about confusing our children, anyway? Isn't confusion an integral part of allowing a mind to develop? "But Ben, why did they have to say 'cunt,' why not any other word?" Well, it seems you've answered your own question. You give the word power with your feigned recoiling, so it magically becomes super-duper offensive. If you're really that offended by the word 'cunt,' you probably are one.

Oh, and if you think 'cunt' is anywhere near comparable to 'nigger,' I'd like you to imagine one woman calling another woman a 'cunt' out of anger. It maintains its power and sentiment just fine. Now, imagine a black person calling another black person a 'nigger' out of anger. I'm sorry, it just doesn't have the same sting as it does coming from the ignorant mouth of a white racist. If anything, it's antiquated. Black people reclaimed the power of the word 'nigger.' Woman have not reclaimed the power of the word 'cunt,' because its power lies beyond the distinction of gender.

Now, the above bit is definitely something I'd love to discuss further with any open-minded participants. Meanwhile, The Onion jokingly called a young actress a bad word, and it's nowhere near as bad as people are making it out to be. The end.




Friday, February 22, 2013

"I've Smelled Better" and Other Possible Auto-Biography Titles

Jack of All Trades, Master of Jack(ing) 

Allergies, And God's Other Subtle Ways of Saying"Fuck You, But Not As Much As Africa" 

Another Spoiled Douche Who Doesn't Know Dick About Africa Writes a Book 

Running Out of Ideas

Resorting to Dissolving the Fourth Wall (A Self-Help Guide For Fiction Writers Who Just Want to Be Understood, Man)

I still think I'm going with I've Smelled Better.






Saturday, February 9, 2013

Idea for "Intervention"

If I've already told you about my idea for jazzing up the television series Intervention, pardon this instance of regurgitation (if I begin to regurgitate something else at any point, however, do grab me some form of receptacle).

The show focuses on crippling drug addictions, but I want to see them broaden the scope of the addictions that they encounter. I'm talking less about crystal meth, more about nuts. No, not someone addicted to eating nuts (though that could work, that's not where I'm going with this), or merely someone addicted to porn, but someone who is actually quite nutty. I want an episode that focuses on a person who is undeniably addicted to their own craziness.

I think the perfect candidate for an episode of Intervention would be a conspiracy theorist. Seriously, imagine the bulk of the episode focusing on some pudgy, non-drug-addicted white guy who goes to work and completely isolates himself from his coworkers by denouncing them as "Bilderberg sympathizers." Later, he gets drunk with his one friend who he shares books with, and very jovially tells the camera,"but what I really mean by 'Bilderberg' is JEW! HAH!" His family has to disconnect the internet just to get him away from his Alex Jones videos and seated at the dinner table. They watch in horror as he twitches, foams at the mouth, and screams about the New World Order. Worse, they can't save any leftovers for him, because he's already used up all of the foil. He'll show the closet where he stores his homemade "exquisite, Jew-loving" hats that he's crafted from all the foil, as he clumsily tries to fold and hide his swastika flag.

The best part, of course, will be the actual intervention. Picture the pudgy protagonist, the one who believes everything is a conspiracy and ostensibly everyone is out to get him, surrounded in one room by everyone he knows. As George W. Bush would say, "nük-yul-urr!"

To find out what happens, Intervention actually has to make this episode, and you have to tune in (or just find the clips from the end online, even though I bet you wouldn't steal a car!).



Sunday, February 3, 2013

NRA-Fucked Skull

I know I've said that the gun control debate is less relevant to me than most any other issue, but there is one recurring argument that I've been seeing for years. It gets stuck in my head, like a Rihanna song, and it actually makes me want to buy a gun.

If you seriously think that "cars kill more people than guns, so why don't we just ban cars?" is a good argument against any kind of gun regulation, you've probably had your frontal lobe (among other previously functioning parts of your brain) dislodged by Wayne LaPierre's calloused and chaffed cock. He's fucked you; through your nose, and into your cranial contents, you've become the NRA's little bitch pussy.

What the flying fucking cunt makes you think a CAR is in anyway comparable to a FIREARM? Aren't you the same people calling a firearm the "great equalizer"? Aren't you the same trembling puddle of LaPierre-puss that wonders how anyone can possibly protect themselves and their family, from CERTAIN and OH-MY-GOD-BLACK-PEOPLE doom, without a gun? Could it be that a gun has no purpose other than killing or seriously injuring human beings? Could it be that cars are far more, however regrettably, valuable to our society than you feeling like you're in control?

And how shallow is your appreciation for detail that you assume "gun regulation" or "gun control" means the absolute outlawing of all guns? It doesn't. It never has. Obama has never once been "coming for your guns," and he never will. Yet it's not surprising that you're so hysterically afraid of something so unlikely.


Friday, January 25, 2013

MFA in Whale Flying

I'm not normally one to tell you about my dreams (that's Tiffany).

I'm also not normally one to blame you for the mean/scummy/abusive things you do in my dreams, but I'll save that passive aggression for another day, Tiffany.

Two nights ago, I had what I call a "Tampa dream." A dream is specifically a Tampa dream so long as it adheres to the basic premise of seeing me, the protagonist, attending the residency period of my low-residency MFA program. I frequently experience such dreams in the nights leading up to the residency, as well as during the nights of the actual residency. A dream about what happens earlier in the day is trippy (and it's exhausting if you've been drinking most of the day), but a dream about flying whales will always take the trippy cake (mmm, trippy cake).

Rather than attending seminars focusing on elements of craft in creative fiction, or gritting my teeth through disheartening Q&A sessions regarding the nuts and bolts of the publishing world, I was mostly just attending workshop sessions. For many, the workshop sessions were the highlight of their real-life residency experience. For absolutely no one except for me, in my dream, the workshops consisted of tying rafts to whales and flying above the Hillsborough River. Instead of focusing on word choice and narrative voice, each workshop group was focused on which rope was strongest and yet also good for handling. During dinner hours, my fellow hot-shot whale flyers and I would discuss the distinct attitudes and philosophies of our respective whale flying mentors. Tony D'Souza flew a sperm whale as passionately and as beautifully as Mikhail Iossel handled his killer whale counterpart. Yes, that's right, we dabbled in multiple whale genres.

My dream existed as a self-contained metaphor, albeit a sad and clumsy one. It was sad because it's just as easy to explain to most people what I do in real life, and clumsy, because, as I'm sure my workshop group would be the first to tell you, it condescends to the average reader.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fake Blog Post

Because Manti Te'o's girlfriend, the fake one, is playing as important a role as any nonexistent person can in today's society (yes, Jesus, that one was directed at you. At least have the decency to return my calls), I've decided that I should carry out a hoax against the American public. I'm not yet sure what I should do (or not do), but I figure this blog is a pretty safe place to divulge my plans (or plans for more plans).

I'm sure I'll figure that out eventually. In the meantime, everyone is weighing in on why they believe a Hawaiian Mormon, who plays football for a Catholic university that can't pronounce its own name, is lying. A lot of people think it's because he's gay. Closeted gay men associated with homophobic institutions do probably tend to dig themselves into some pretty deep holes. But nearly everyone has found themselves, at one point or another, stuck in a similar hole, even if its not necessarily a gay one.

My theory is based on an article about the hoax, as well as a few seconds of a video (on the same page) that ESPN felt would best allay my suspicions regarding the importance of the content contained within that article. ESPN was so certain that I needed to hear, watch, and read the story unfold, all at once, that the video began playing without my consent. To spite ESPN's uncomfortable advances, I paused that shit and continued to read. To spite the rest of the media, I ceased reading anything else regarding the incident, and decided to write a scummy blog post about it.

The real hoax may very well be that Manti Te'o has a lot of girlfriends. Whether or not these women are aware that they belong to a Mormon harem is more relevant than whether or not Te'o has ever met them in person. Perhaps, one of them found out about the others, or any number of the others, and decided to blackmail the standout linebacker. This, in turn, would make Notre Dame look very bad. After all, they managed to overlook Te'o's religion in favor of his athletic ability, and look at them compared to a school like BYU. Sure, the Cougers have a lot of pent up aggression from their sexual abstinence, but ultimately it is their abstinence from all other outside influences that distracts them from athletic achievement.

If nothing else, the harem would have to break up. In order to garner the sympathies of his accuser, as well as the American public, Te'o had to have one of his girlfriends killed. After many sleepless nights, he concluded that simply using the internet to create and kill a fake persona would be a lot easier than killing one of his other girlfriends, if only because he never knew where any of them actually lived.

So in order to protect the sanctity of pluralistic football at the University of Notre Dame, and to keep the Te'o harem quietly intact, Lennay Kekua was created. It was easy to sell such a story to his future wives/blackmailer, because his relationship with Kekua appeared just as genuine as his relationship with the rest of them. Killing her off was just as easy.

Everything was going smoothly, until some asshole with a last name that I don't even care to look up how to spell, slipped up.

I'm sure in the coming days we will see whether or not anything I said was true. In the meantime, you can poke all the holes in my theory that you'd like, but then it would appear as if you're actually taking this seriously.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Striking the Balance (Art Bubble vs. "Reality")

I am happy to report that Christmas was celebrated as scheduled. Just as reliable was the coming of the new year.

For the first time in my life, I celebrated New Year's Eve outside of the PA/NJ area. For those of you who have never experienced this, do try it. This was also, as I found out at the bar (just before midnight), the first "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" to not prominently feature the shell of Dick Clark since the year of his stroke. Additionally, Dick Clark is dead, and has been since April.

Amidst the readying of champagne and mutually recognized obligation to stare wordlessly at the nearest television, the woman who told me all of this, (so I'd have enough context to fully appreciate the"New Year," because you never want to just jump headlong into a new television series without first understanding the complex struggle of its well-rounded cast of characters), mistakenly referred to Ryan Seacrest as Carson Daly. No one else cared enough to correct her, and that's the way it should be.

Shortly thereafter, I spent ten days in an artistic and alternative-academic bubble. I began the second semester of my pursuit of an MFA at the University of Tampa. As with my first semester, I spent ten long days reading, writing, work-shopping, networking, and drinking. You may not have known this, but holy shit, writers can drink. Or maybe I only followed around the ones who drank a lot.

Regardless, my experience during this semester's residency period was significantly better than that of my first semester. It certainly helped that I had friends from the previous residency, as well as a much better idea of what to expect with regards to the program, the school, and the city. It was also nice going into the residency with some semblance of personal direction, artistic "vision," and an apartment to return to when all was said and done. Last semester was the first time I'd ever even been to Tampa, and it was also the first time I realized I had no desire to ever live in Tampa.

Of course, there was a hurricane on the final day of my extended stay (I booked two extra nights in my hotel room for the sake of finding somewhere to live), and it would have made apartment hunting insane, if not impossible. But more importantly, it seemed silly to live three hours away from my girlfriend when it was entirely unnecessary. I wanted to move to a bigger city because I thought I'd find more opportunities to make strangers laugh. While that may or may not be true, I managed to get a job doing that in St. Augustine. Somehow (and by "somehow," I mean most certainly with the love and support of my friends and family, as well as the nifty-looking education on my resume), it worked out. MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED!

Having that anxiety behind me allowed me to focus more on the residency experience itself, which I could write about forever (or I could apply the education that I'd ostensibly be raving about, and revise that shit into something worth reading). Instead, I'll state that my current objective is to maintain the focus and momentum of the residency period throughout the remainder of the semester (officially recognized as the "tutorial" period, but alternatively referred to as the "real writers write at home and have responsibilities beyond academics, so you should too, hot shot" - period).

I still tell people that my ultimate career goal is to become a professional asshole, as I've said since my junior year of undergrad, as a canned response to those who have the nerve to ask. And for those who are not too taken aback to press me for additional details regarding just exactly what kind of asshole I'd like to be, I am finally starting feel as if I have more to say. Most people will continue to not have any fucking clue what I'm talking about. They'll never grasp why I feel I need an MFA to more lucratively make an audience feel ashamed of itself, or why I even bother with that kind of painful endeavor at all.

And that's okay. If nothing else, I'm learning that it's okay that "most people" do not understand what I do or why I desire to do it. It's okay because people who respect the pursuit of art do, in fact, exist, even outside of my grad school bubble. And these particular people, we'll call them "readers," have an insatiable appetite. They are not mere consumers of books, though they are certainly willing to pay money for the words of others. Yes, readers are seekers of books for the buying, but they are also seekers of truth, beauty, and shared experience.  If that makes them sound like assholes, again, that's okay. To translate that into business terms, I am targeting my demographic.