Monthly Archives: June 2012

Not. Cool.

My hometown is #1 on the list, beating out El Centro. This is awful. I’m sorry, Yuma. Yuma’s economy was never what could be described as “booming” but we did all right. This affects people I know, and just further brings home the enormity of this disastrous economy and the policies that are prolonging it.

We were getting tired of all that freedom anyway.

Well, Arizona, I think yesterday’s events confirmed what we’ve always known: you’re on your own. And also, state sovereignty is effectively dead. Yay!

And so it goes…

This excellent piece by Mark Steyn touches on pretty much everything that annoys me about our Oprahfied memoir culture. I had a “mommy ‘friend’” who tried to get me to read all of those Oprah-approved “memoirs.” Even after half of the books she recommended me were proven to be fictional, I’m not exactly sure that she understood that. And I’m not sure it mattered. To a certain percentage of people, truth is less important than how the story told makes them feel. Everything is measured by how it moves you, and your response to these stories defines you. If you are moved, you are enlightened. If you are unaffected by a story that may or may not be true but has a “truth” to it, you are obviously unenlightened. If you insist that the truth be actual truth — well, you’re probably a conservative.

Southern Californians positively worship the singular, transcendent “experience.” Even church is all about how you feel about God, not necessarily the objective truth found in the Bible. One’s relationship with God becomes pop psychology-laden, self-centered claptrap, with less hard and fast theology and more egocentric, “God moments.” Church can become just one more place to “find” oneself. Forget about finding God.

So, I was practically cheering when I read Steyn’s words on our memoir culture. Silly me, I used to think that people who accomplished something were deserving to author their memoirs — now, apparently, just existing entitles anyone to pen a memoir, spiritual memoir, or whatever kind of memoir can be dreamt up by clever marketers.

Fake memoirs have won the Nobel Peace Prize and are taught at Ivy League schools to the scions of middle-class families who take on six-figure debts for the privilege (“I, Rigoberta Menchu”). They’re handed out by the Pentagon to senior officers embarking on a tour of Afghanistan (Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea”) on the entirely reasonable grounds that a complete fantasy could hardly be less credible than current NATO strategy.

In such a world, it was surely only a matter of time before a fake memoirist got elected as president of the United States.

It’s appalling, honestly, and the fact that it doesn’t matter to most people that Obama’s memoir is complete horsecrap is more than a little depressing. Try explaining to someone — anyone — about Maraniss’ findings and watch their eyes glaze over. Oprah has primed the culture for this moment. We were the dupes Obama was waiting for.

How enlightened of us.

As Steyn says, “And so it goes with public policy in the West at twilight.”

Read the whole thing and then cry yourself to sleep.

Sigh.

Maybe you’re just a pompous ass. What is the deal with foreign actors coming over here and talking sh*t? If there’s one thing the great unwashed masses of America’s flyover country love, it’s being lectured by privileged, overpaid, out of touch actors. Also, we love being told we’re dangerously stupid. Look, Ems, it’s not America’s fault if your new show sucks.

Seriously?

This angers me on behalf of the gay people I am fortunate enough to know. I cannot even imagine my friends acting in such a disrespectful way at the White House. It’s so childish, and it should have been discouraged. This kind of behavior is what turns “mainstream” Americans off to the gay community.

Being gay doesn’t automatically make you a juvenile, extremist, disrespectful dolt, but that is exactly what mainstream people will expect when prominent activists act like children. I have been blessed to know so many wonderful gay people in my life, and just like straight people, all gay people are unique. Imagine that! Gay people are individuals! Some of them are assholes and some of them are wonderful, some are immature and militant, some are just trying to raise their families and live their lives.

When prominent gays act like this — especially at a time when more mainstreamers are coming to accept the community as part of the patchwork that makes America great — it does serious damage the delicate inroads that have been made at great cost by those who have come before them. (I used to work for a man who was out in the South in the ’60′s. He was brave and sweet and so kind. He did some heavy lifting for the cause without being a brat.) And it is so stupid. What about all the work Nancy Reagan did to raise AIDS awareness?

The biggest problem I have is with the president’s tacit acceptance of such blatant disrespect. It’s obvious at this point that he has no respect for the office he holds, and it’s so sickening. He’s using the gay community, treating them like just another homogeneous special interest group to be exploited.

I think this story offers a nice counterpoint to the above.

“Simply by living their lives openly, honestly, and as authentic conservatives, they have done more to change hearts and minds in this country than any gay advocacy group,” he said. “This is one more way that they are demonstrating that gay Americans are just like everyone else. Good for them.”

The Cheneys have long been a wonderful example of putting family before politics. Congratulations to Mary and Heather. The Cheneys make me proud to have registered Republican.

Procrastinating.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Wye Oak lately. Their “Civilian” and “The Knot” albums are excellent. The EP “My Neighbor/My Creator” is also very good, with the song “I Hope You Die” being a stand-out track. It’s like indie-alterna-folk or something. I loves it. A lot of “indie” music is too cutesy-ironic, iPad-commercial-ish for me. Kinda makes me want to throw up. But Wye Oak has got a lot of clanging distortion-laden guitar that reminds me of my grunge days. (Which were awesome.) And their lyrics are great, vague enough to mean anything, weird enough to be provocative to a creative mind.

I’m a fan.

At the moment, I’m trying to get some work done on a project and this post is essentially me, procrastinating. I’m stuck, but I suppose that will change sooner or later. I am too distracted to make food, however, and I am starving.

Okay, so here’s my question:

A story that is essentially about disconnection and dissociation — does it need an external apocalyptic component? I’m of two minds on this. I love me some external apocalypses, but is it a necessary plot component when the apocalypse is evidently internal, and therefore in no need of symbolic reinforcement?

I’m torn, obviously.

I mean, every crisis in our lives is a potential Ragnarok. Is there a need to underscore it in a narrative? I like the idea of external reinforcement, because I enjoy reading a good end-of-the-world tale, but I don’t want to be too heavy-handed.

I just don’t know. I suppose I’ll figure it out sooner or later.

Reality.

Every “scary” allegation made by liberals about George W. Bush has suddenly become non-threatening and commonplace when lived out by Barack Obama. George W. Bush didn’t do half of what Obama has actually done, and yet W was the criminal and Obama is the savior.

Now, tell me why that is.

The guy.

I wish there was a way to wrap this president and his entire administration in the psychic equivalent of Depends undergarments. Or caulking. This leak business is bad — really, really bad.

I know that Obama has this compulsion to throw his allies under the bus while simultaneously aggrandizing himself, but someone has got to get this jackass under control. This is the real world, where actions have consequences.

Romney’s got his work cut out for him. All of the things Obama claimed had to be done after W’s tenure — restoring our reputation in the world, helping to stabilize the global economy, &etc — are the things that must be done in the aftermath of his presidency. Bush had his problems, (though I love that guy), but the supposed incompetence of his administration doesn’t hold a candle to the amateur hour we’ve got going on right now.

I’ve got confidence that Romney’s the guy to get it done. When it comes to turning things around and running them successfully, Romney’s the guy. He’s absolutely what we need.

Also…

I really, really liked John Carter. I love Edgar Rice Burroughs and I’m kind of starting to like Taylor Kitsch. He’s no Gambit, but he’s all right.

The marketing for John Carter sucked, as did the release day, but the movie is so much fun. My daughter loved it, which makes me happy. The more I can sneak some classic scifi into daily life, the better.

Go out and rent it for you and the kids, or just you. It’s great, great fun. Maybe if it makes u for poor ticket sales with great dvd sales, we can get a sequel.

The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Until recently, when I would be engaged in conversation with people I generally (and mistakenly) believed to be my friends, there would be a moment where I realized that the person talking to me just didn’t want to be around me anymore. While the interactions took place in an environment touted to be one of acceptance and safety, there was none of that in most of the relationships built there.

Whether it was a telltale eye movement or general body language, it was clear that my place was not within the imagined upper echelons of the juvenile class system set up by the emotionally stunted, self-absorbed, (and self-proclaimed) “A” team. Overtures were made intermittently, until it was deemed that I was not worthy of further investment. (I actually heard this statement uttered on more than one occasion: “My ‘friend card’ is full.” Meaning that the person had no desire to talk to the undesirables outside of their small circle of friends.)

In the end, checking out of this dysfunctional dynamic was a relief. I hated high school when I was there; I have no desire to revisit that stupidity. The entire experience (and this is a general recap — the in-depth examination would be exhausting to recount and inadvertently hilarious) served as a catalyst however for some serious reflection on the nature of adult friendships and their particular makeup.

What do adult friendships look like? All too often, “adult” friendships look an awful lot like our adolescent friendships — full of catty, passive-aggressive bitterness and unnecessary conflict. But this is to be expected in a culture that is extending adolescence to epic, European proportions. Our president refers to 26 year olds as “children”, a 30 year old feminist activist is presented as the average college student, and 32 year olds complain about the free condoms handed out by their school nurses.

We’re a nation of children attempting to relate to one another as adults when we have no idea what being an adult is. Does owning a home, car, credit card or having 2.5 children make one an adult? No. Many of the people I’ve known who have all of these items checked off on their lists are constantly measuring their possessions against the possessions of others, a decidedly juvenile way of looking at things. But it’s more than that. The insecurities endemic to southern California are another topic altogether. Adult friendships are about more than appearances and friend cards filled, they are about creating something akin to surrogate families, recreating the village community in a society increasingly isolated by its connectivity.

Your Facebook friends are not often your actual friends. Technology provides us with the ability to keep in contact with our distant acquaintances and relatives with less work than ever before, but that is no excuse for actual connection. After being hurt by acquaintances, I was forced to take stock of what really mattered, the conditional acceptance of self-centered, small-minded people or the real, unconditional affection offered by my own small band of gypsies. I’ll take my gypsies over the shallow, self-important fools I’d been concerned with.

One Friday night, I sat in the kitchen of my good friends’ house as our children ran wild and our dogs chased each other. One of my friends was sticking a toothpick in the residual hole in her lip left by a long-abandoned labret piercing while the other was regaling us with tales of his adventures in Idaho working as a fireman. Another of my friends and I sat side by side in the old theatre seats that line the wall of the kitchen, laughing at his dog as it sat on my feet and pretended not to notice me. We made plans to go to the fair, to meet up during the week, to take short vacations together and in that kitchen, watching these people I’ve come to care so much about, I felt that I understood a little more about adult friendships in this unfriendly world.

My job as a friend differs with each relationship. Sometimes my job is to offer the unconditional safety that I find lacking in many of the relationships I have had with others. Sometimes my job is solely to act as cheerleader to someone who may have none. Sometimes I have no job at all, just a place to crash and spend my weekend as their baby tries to take my phone and put it in her mouth.

A lot of fun was made of Hillary Clinton’s theoretical Village, but we miss out when we don’t have that kind community. We crave it anyway. And our village can’t only be populated by those exactly like us. If we overspecialize, we breed in weakness. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and a different outlook on life. It is important to understand that homogeneous societies do not truly exist, and without expanding our horizons, we risk becoming irrelevant. You don’t do your kids any favors by limiting their exposure to real people either.

But that’s beside the point.

The key to adult friendships is actually very simple: Don’t be an asshole, even if you think you’re being edgy or ironic. Asshole-ism doesn’t look edgy or ironic on a 40 year old. It just looks pathetic. And on top of that, you’re still just an asshole.

Nice one.

Really.

I hate repeating myself, but how can we work with these people? I know it’s difficult, but let’s try to look at things through something other than the reelection prism: The Taliban deserves nothing but annihilation. Holding Pakistani children hostage to force an end to the drone attacks made necessary by the Taliban’s actions is psychotic. The Taliban is a despotic, ruthless, murderous organization that uses religion to justify its cruelty. We should have ended it definitively instead of allowing it to restructure and resurface.

I know that we’re supposed to accept their resurgence and work with them or whatever, but if they’re running from drone attacks, it makes it a lot harder for them to be splashing school girls with acid.

And I will be taking a new picture, since I hate that one so much.

So I’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning around here, and I’m thinking I’m going to start posting some of my original material over on the Wasteland page. Like poems and short stories and stuff. I’m kind of over exclusively writing about politics, because I hate it so much. I’m just going to to what I want.

‘Cause you’re not the boss of me.

Don’t pester me about the Wasteland yet — I have no idea what I’m going to put there. It may take awhile for stuff to make the cut. This space here will stay dedicated to whatever I feel like writing about, so very little will change.

Just thought I’d let you know.

Really good, pretty weird short story thing going on.

I’ve got this really good, pretty weird short story thing going on right now and I’ve got to tell you, I’m stoked. Sometimes I start writing and think I know where things are going, and then the characters pull a major course correction.

… 20 minutes later, I’ve been hijacked by the internets and have read more than one article on Barack Kardashian’s (thank you, Rush, for nicknaming Barry so perfectly) useless speech earlier today. What a colossal timewaster that Barry K is.

I’m starting to think Romney’s going to pull this off with less effort than was anticipated. Just keep throwing his record back at him, Mittens. We all know you’re a brawler. Don’t pull any punches.

And now, I will retreat back into my short story rabbit hole.

Sorry.

So, I like trees. I love my velvet ash. I love the apple tree that gave us more apples than we could eat. I love the avocado tree and the sycamore and the one with the purple flowers. My backyard is actually magic.

On a more serious note, I got a new purse. And it’s pretty awesome. It’s made from recycled water bottles and everything fits in it. Even my kindle. And my phone. And two notebooks. (One for actual notes and one for planning workouts for my clients.) Also, I believe in being prepared, therefore I carry no less than 5 pens, band-aids, lotion and lip balm.

Okay, so maybe this post isn’t all that important. Maybe a list of the contents of my purse is unnecessary and, frankly, boring. It happens sometimes.

I’ve just got to get back in the habit of writing.