Monday, March 31, 2008

Blackheart’s Endless March

Well, it’s the last day of March, and that means the last day for my two other blogs, at least for a while. This one marches on.

Last night I hung out at Ema’s place, and he gave me some ideas for next month, which I’ll list. I’m not really going to take votes or anything, since I seem to have an average of about 5.5 readers right now, but your comments are welcome. If there’s enough interest on one particular blog idea, I’ll do that for a month, otherwise, I’ll just plug a piece or two from each idea into this blog for the coming month.

Yin and Yang – There is balance in the universe. For every one thing about this world that pisses me off and makes me wanna go primal, there’s one really cool thing that makes up for it. For example: Halitosis is a horrible smelly disease which leaves sufferers with almost no social life. I certainly don’t want to talk directly to them, though if we’re separated by two inches of thick glass I’m pretty down with it. To restore balance to the universe – dentures. Just think of all the cool places you can leave your false chompers for comedic effect. In a jar by the door, on top of your cat’s head, around your neck, floating in the toilet. And guys, don’t be discusted by the toothless ladies. Think about what that woman could do for (to) you. Think about it. I won’t lie; it’s putting a grin on my face. This is a blog about balance in the universe

80’s Crap – It’s no secret that my house is completely full of old crap. On top of my monitor right now are a pair of Battle Beasts. You remember those? The two on my computer are the lion and the tiger, or beasts #1 and #3, respectively. Everybody’s got a number.

Sequels – In this one, I come up with sequels to movies that have no business having sequels, or some film that died in obscurity that I feel really deserves one, or frankly even one that should have been made. Or Crossovers. Batman vs. The Terminator. That’d be pretty sweet.

What ever became of _____? – There are so many instances in the media of really great ideas that simply died because of a lack of marketability, but things that were cool nonetheless. This might be along the same lines as 80’s crap. Who remembers Inhumanoids? Who doesn’t love to dwell on something that’s obscure, meaningless, and pretty cool to an 8-year-old mind?

A Daily Roast with the Ghost – There are so many people I’d love to just rip into, like one particular aunt I have, or my favorite president who’s named after a part of female anatomy.

My one solid goal for April is to write my fantasy short stories. Even though I still feel I don’t know enough about them, seriously, when am I going to know enough about them until I actually get started? Par for the month is 50,000 words of story. It doesn’t matter which story I work on, but one of them must be done by the end of next month. That’s the goal. I’ll be keeping a daily word count to log my progress. My fantasy short stories, which are likely to evolve or change in the month ahead, will now be listed here in no particular order.

No, no wait. Tomorrow. I’ll save that for tomorrow. See you all in April.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why Write Stories?

Yesterday, a fellow blogger asked me what makes me want to tell stories.

When I was younger, I always felt I had something to tell the world, I just didn’t know how to give it words yet. Years later, I still don’t, but I have a general sense it has something to with making the world a little bit brighter for everyone in it. I believe that most people feel this way; they genuinely want to heal the world, but don’t know how. And I believe that many of use will succeed, in our own ways, because the will and abilities are there.

Why I think writing stories is my ticket to doing it, is that it’s the one thing I really feel like I’m good at. Even when I was six, while the other kids were playing tag and ball at recess, I was making up stories in my head, complete with music. It was like there was always a movie going on in my head. 22 years later I’m still like this. For me there is a really powerful story in everything. There are also a lot of boring ones, which is what separates a true writer from the drones and whiners. Who talks about dry cleaning for half and hour? Seriously!

A great filmmakers that I admire said, (I believe it was Kiyoshi Kurosawa when I saw the festival premiere of his film, Pulse) said that if you see his movie and then you hold your wife a little more tightly, that he’ll feel his done his job correctly. Ironically, I just realize I’m bringing up a film that was intended to depict the internet as a wasteland for ghosts. Kiyoshi explained that he found the internet was having the opposite of its desired effect. Instead of bringing people closer together, people were shutting themselves off in their rooms rather than being social, and there’s certainly some truth to that.

My goal is to write stories that inspire people to be good to one another. People need to know what parts of their lives really need fixing, and what parts that upset them, but actually shouldn’t. Everyone is constantly under tremendous stress, and nature never intended for us to be so callous to one another or cruel to ourselves.

I want to inspire as many people as I can to make the world a better place for all of those around them, even if they don’t know how.

So many people are so afraid to change. I often hear people say things like “that’s just the way it is” or “that’s how it’s always been.” Excuse me? We’ve always had automobiles, television and machine guns have we? And then they’ll say “well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.” That’s the human condition. Technology around us constantly moves forward. Industries boom and reshape the world. The way we interact and communicate changes, but our emotions stay the same. People have been hypnotized into thinking the world is out of our hands, spiraling out of control, and we need to take it back.

I still have this feeling that there’s something the world needs me to figure out, and that’s my part. I don’t know what that is, or how I’m supposed to figure it out, but for now, my plan it to keep up with this blog, and see if the next step presents itself. I’m not entirely sure I even answered today’s question, but for now, hopefully, I’ve said something.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Education, Assembly Lines, and Dreams

Last night I had a dream I was back in school. Ever have those dreams? Of course you have. I hate those. The thing I remember most vividly is taking notes – looking up at the board, reading a few words from a list, jotting them down, and repeating. The teacher came by and looked at what I was doing. He asked me why I was copying notes from the “brainstorm” board. I was supposed to be copying notes from the three side projectors. I hadn’t really been paying attention, because I was too busy trying to write everything down, hoping somehow it would all make sense later.

This is, for the most part, the way I treated school throughout my childhood, something I’d somewhat forgotten before this dream. I sat in class, tried to keep up with note-taking, which was a struggle because nobody taught me how to hold a pencil properly, so I’d press too hard. Any lessons I didn’t understand, I just had to copy down and make sense of later. There was no time in class.

Whether or not they mean it this way, school aren’t designed to help children like me, they’re designed to weed them out. It’s been awhile since I’ve really thought about that, primarily because I hated school so much. It’s a memory I’d rather just forget.

Learning should be rigorous. It has to be. But that doesn’t mean it can’t fun. I read another blog a short while ago, called Diary of an Anxious Black Woman, which stated that the public schooling system in the states is failing African Americans. This wouldn’t be the only place that I’ve read this, nor the only race I’ve read this for, but I think it’s failing just about everyone, even whites. Whites are perhaps slightly more used to this mass education system, but that only comes from generations of angst and intimidation from our well-to-do white parents. Or the not so well-to-do ones. “Don’t you do as I do. Do as I say.”

There was another portion to my dream, and it involved being at a cafeteria, looking for a drink, which I couldn’t find. I woke up thirsty. Go figure. But in the dream cafeteria, there were bins filled with frozen glasses of orange juice. I recall it being explained that, in order to save time, students could pick up a frozen glass of O.J. and just take it to class so they had something cold to drink with breakfast. What I really wanted was a soda. When I woke up thirsty, and went down to the fridge, I saw what I’d eaten last night: take-out pizza and wings. It dawned on me how well I’d been eating of late, so having nothing but pizza and chicken wings last night right before bed seemed to trigger that association of soda with pizza and wings. It was as if chemical association advertising had taken place in my dreams.

I remember waking up wanting soda, and thinking about assembly lines. I don’t recall dreaming about them, but there I was, gazing around my dark room at all the mass market consumer goods in it. A stereo, CDs, books, video games, my computer, a TV, a phone, and the list goes on. I thought about the Ford automobile, and assembly lines. So much of what we have today comes from the awesome power of the assembly line. A piece of machinery that costs millions to make, but that can be replicated for nothing more than a few dollars can be yours, or anyone’s, and it’s become an excess of sorts.

I though about how education has become like an assembly line. It too has become a mass market good, or I suppose a sponsored public good, but it’s really all the same. I picked up my young cousin at his private school yesterday, (which might explain why I dreamt about school), and he told me he’s going to be happy when he’s done grade six, because his parents will be able to afford a new car. He told me his school costs $10K a year. I couldn’t believe it. I was impressed that my uncle Harlequin, probably the least financially successful of the three brothers, would be spending the most on his son’s education. Perhaps it is because of his second wife. He has other children, but this is her only child. But it seems to be a decision they are unanimous on. It’s just weird for me meeting a child that seems to be in on the financial decisions of the family. At least at that age, grade five. It wasn’t like that for me.

I was a public school kid, for the most part. (There was a one year exception, but I won’t get into that now.) It is like a giant assembly line. You stand in line. You raise your hand when you need to go to the bathroom, and you all sit there in class, staring at the board, while your teacher writes a lesson on the board from a standardized coursebook.

Standardized. Standardized testing. These are terms I remember hearing, but never fully appreciating while growing up. I still shudder when I think of the concept. You take a thousand students, you test them. You get a bell curve. This is your sample, and you adjust the scores accordingly so that the mean average, (I always though it ironic they actually called it “mean” average), adjust it to 71% and presto, you’ve got your standardized test. Now it’s ready to be mass produced for the other millions of kids in your part of the world. Sure, you’ll have half of your students who’ll fall below, but the other half will be smarter, right? It’s all a numbers game, and I think it’s heartless and mean, and I don’t think it does the generally population any good to make half of them feel stupider than the other half.

Let me put it a different way, if somebody takes an IQ test and scores 130 or 150, do you think it’s likelier they’re some sort of genius, or someone who has way too much time on their hands and practices IQ tests? I can consistently beat any single one of my friends at chess and scrabble. It doesn’t make me a genius. I just spend a lot more time playing games.

Do we really benefit from all this? I can appreciate that mass marketing can increase our ability to produce things, things that arguably improve our quality of life, like medication and more accessible food. But is it healthy that our schools are designed to treat people like things, things to be molded and “standardized.” We’re not all built the same.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What would N/A think of me now?

What would N/A do if she knew I thought of her daily? What would she say if I told her?

I haven’t seen her for two years. It doesn’t make sense that I’m still thinking of her. She’s gone. She’s gone because I wanted her gone. I no longer know why I wanted her gone, but she’s gone. She’s gone because she wants to be gone. I’m sure she wants to be done with it all because feeling it was too painful for her. She was never meant for pain, and I should never have caused it.

I have not seen her in two years, yet I feel like we parted only yesterday. I still burn for her, as if she were still there, waiting for me.

What would she think of me if she knew this? Would she be disgusted? Would she think I am creepy? Does she think that already? Is that why she has made herself so difficult to contact?

I feel like we said goodbye only yesterday, and that we could just pick back up, if only she said it was okay. But even if she did, what would say to her. It has been so long that I can’t think of a single thing to say, other than things I shouldn’t, or can’t possibly mean. Things like “I miss you,” or “I still need you,” or “you haunt my dreams.” They all feel true, but are they? How can they be? And even if they are, I cannot say them. The last time I tried she made me regret it. She made it clear that I couldn’t. I don’t remember what she said, or how she said it to make it clear, but it’s been over for ages. Yet for me it isn’t. Is it because I love her, or because I hate myself? The latter is a stupid reason, and I would never hate myself on purpose, but this is something I’m not sure I can control. Maybe I have to let it run its course. Maybe I have to find someone new. Maybe I have to rush back to Toronto and throw myself at her door. Maybe there’s a way, some way that I can repent for all that pain and waste I laid to our relationship. I have committed no crime, made no betrayals, except to my own heart. I have made my peace with all of those who have wronged me, except myself.

What would N/A do if she knew how tortured I was over her? Would she laugh at me? Would she be glad I’m so miserable for what I did? Would she smugly say “I told you so?”

What would N/A feel? My worst fear is that she would feel nothing at all.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Bad Fairy

The other day, my uncle Harlequin told me about a concept he likes to call “The Bad Fairy.” I’m not certain from whence the expression originates, as my own search gave me images from the popular clothing line of the same name, like this one. The picture has nothing to do with my story, but, I like looking at it. If it helps put a smile on your face, (as it does mine), imagine your bad fairy looks just like that. Or heck, imagine two of ‘em making out. Even better. Anyway…

The bad fairy is anyone who imposes a negative influence on your life. (This is somewhat of a lead-in to the blog entry I keep postponing, and will enter another day.) Typically, the bad fairy is someone in a position of trust, someone who gets you to lower your defenses and confide in them. It could be a friend, or a mother, or a teacher. And when you let down your guard they attack your self-esteem. They feed you negative energy while pretending to be in your friend. They’ll say things like, “I’m just telling it like it is.”

Never let anyone have the arrogance to tell you they “know it like it is.” Anyone who tells you they everything there is to tell about you is a liar, and frankly, is not trying to help you.

Harlequin told me of a writer’s workshop where a female instructor had been flirting with him throughout the workshop. She talked about “the bad fairy” and how she always let her mother discourage her from being a ballerina, telling her “your thighs are too big.” Now, years later, it is far too late, but she still resents her mother for crushing her dream, which is now apparent in this teacher’s writings.

“You have to rise above this,” she said. “The bad fairy is nothing more than an obstacle in your life. If it helps, turn them into a despicable, contemptible character in your writing. You are in control now, and you must allow yourself to grow beyond them.” Okay, maybe I’m paraphrasing a little, but she said something like that.

During the break, as the teacher flirted with Harlequin, my aunt, in a combination of shifty cleverness and total lack of mercy, approached for the kill.

“Show me your thighs.”


“Your thighs. You said yourself you need to get over that fear. Let’s see them, they can’t be that bad.”

The instructor reluctantly pulled up her thick heavy skirt, revealing her thighs.

“Oh my, they are big,” my aunt quickly remarked, faking surprise.

My aunt’s a real stinker, isn’t she? But that’s what uncle Harlequin loves about her. She tells it like it is.

Years later, in another book by this instructor, this exact conversation takes place, except my aunt it older, and obese. And that’s the tale of the bad fairy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Distractions #1: Tarot Reading

I came to a realization last night, but I’ve been putting off posting it for six hours, so I’m going to take a day or two to go over it a few times before I make it public. Who knows? In a few days things my get better for me, but I highly doubt it.

In the meantime, here’s something distracting that’s fun; give it a shot. Apparently I’m the devil, but I think most of us already knew that, didn’t we?

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Next Month

It occurs to me every day while writing my film reviews just how bored I am with myself while I write them. Yesterday, I reviewed Dan in Real Life, a story about an advice columnist, and it occurred to me that I’d much rather write a second article in my advice column each day that write a single film review. It’s great, every day I have a brand new problem, and I come up with a brand new solution.

With the film reviews, I tend to either like or dislike the movies for the same reasons. After under a month, I’m already finding it tedious. Basically I’m just summing up the plot and giving my opinion.

Anyway, next month rapidly approaches, so I’m considering my new blogging routine. I’m sticking with the daily Ghost/Writer, and I want to take on one new project for next month, so I figured I’d ask you my readers (all three of you!) what you think.

Here are some of my ideas. Feel free to second them or make suggestions of your own.

A Story a Day – What constitutes a story? A story is about a character, and has a beginning, middle, and end. The end should signify some sort of change or revelation in the main character.

Literary Device of the Day – There are so many great literary devices and story elements, I think it would be a great deal of fun to take about them.

Genre of the Day – Similar to the literary device of the day, but instead I’d talk about what I like about various genres, and maybe some examples. And pictures, if they apply.

Joke of the Day – Where I talk about religion and politics.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Old Huntress

I like to think of my eldest cat as a dignified old woman. Totally deaf, completely disinterested in anything other than eating, sleeping, and periodically howling in her gruff old voice, but living about her old age in quiet dignity.

So imagine my surprise today when I saw her running around with a small squeaky toy in her mouth.

“That’s so kitten-like,” I thought. Then, “I don’t remember that squeaky toy. Maybe it’s new. Probably a squeaky catnip toy. Cats never outgrow catnip.” And finally, “that’s a bird, you dumb-ass. But it’s so tiny…”

When I realized that it was a mouse she was holding. My first reaction was to say “cool.” I seriously thought her hunting days were behind her, and that all she did now was sit around, talk a lot, and not clean herself. You know, like most old women. (Haw!)

For a moment I though I might try to save the mouse, but by now it looked pretty mangled – and you know that point where an animal has been attacked and you know the most humane thing is just to let it die as quickly as possible? That’s the point I decided we were at. With nothing else to do, I grabbed Spot, tossed her outside so she could eat the mouse there and not get blood all over the carpet.

So, while I watched through the window as she ate every last piece of this poor little creature, I thought about her age. She’s 18, which translates to about 90 in cat years.

I had lunch with grandma Depressia today. She’s almost 90. I can’t picture her jumping on a small helpless creature and eating it. Actually, I kinda can, and now I’m too distracted to continue writing. Peace out, y’all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Enter: Harlequin

Enter: Harlequin

Okay, so today’s entry (yesterday’s) is a little late, but I was sleeping because I’m sick, so suck it. What? I know that’s a lame excuse. Get off my back!

Today I went out for brunch with my uncle, aunt and some of my cousins. My uncle, whom I’ll refer to as “Harlequin” is a writing teacher. One of his courses essentially gets the student to write a novel in a month, not that my uncle has ever done this, but he sure reads a lot of books on producing writing. (He says that whenever he reads something, the first question he asks himself is, how can I make money off this? His favorite quote: “The good writers borrow, the great ones steal.) I guess it’s high time he wrote his own book, huh?

So over brunch he told me that he has plans to write a Harlequin romance set in New York City, and involving a romance publicist, fittingly enough.

After brunch, he and I went to Chapters, where he pointed out some of his favorite books on writing and publishing.

I thumbed through Ronald B. Tobias’ 20 Master Plots, and it occurred to me while reading this that I still have a bit of figuring out to do when it comes to my stories, since a fair number of them are combinations of these essential 20 plots. I can just hear my old writing teachers scolding me now. “Just pick one. The rest can still be there, but they’ll take a back seat. They’re subplots. Your story needs a center. What is at the core of your story?”

While we stood there with our books in hand, Harlequin made a joke about simplicity. Once at the bookstore, he found a self-help book on simplifying your life. It was all by itself on the shelf. I thought that was funny, and added that my plan is to own as little as possible. As I’m sure I’ve said many times before, and will many more, I hate clutter. He says he’s just the opposite. He wants his life to be as complicated as possible.

“It keeps it interesting,” he concluded.

“That is interesting,” I said, because it’s exactly what I was thinking. Some crave complication, some crave simplicity. Who’s to say what’s right?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Online Dating

Okay, so today, for lack of anything better to rant about, I’m going to take a swing at the online dating scene.

There’s one particular site I’ve been using the most frequently over the past 16 months, the infamous “Lavalife.” Now, while in all this time registered on the site, I haven’t necessarily found what I was looking for, it has at least gotten me laid.

Part of the problem with the online dating scene is the only thing you have to go by are personal descriptions, with often start with “I hate these things,” or “I’m no good with these things,” or even “im better ni person beleive me you will like me message me i am worth it.” The last of these three is usually an automatic pass for me.

Then this is often followed by a shopping list of what they want, and what they don’t need, coupled invariably with the lines “I am a working professional who loves my job. I love to laugh. I love life.”

You know what, bitch? You sound boring. Pass. I seriously had to stop myself today from posting the following as my new profile description:

Wow, there sure are a lot “working professionals” on this site who “love their jobs” and “love to laugh” and “don’t like to play games.” Guess what? The vast majority of you are not professionals who actually hate your jobs, jerk me around and lie about your age and weight, posting pictures of yourselves from like five years ago. If I’m describing you, get a life, and get off this site. It’s bad enough that the ratio of guys to girls is already 2 to 1.

It’s funny, because when you think about it, by age 17, women outnumber men. So my question is where the hell are they? They don’t seem to be anywhere. Most of the dating sites I have tried have a ratio of 2 to 1. What the hell is the secret? Where are the chicks?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Misheard Lyrics

Everyone does it. We hear a song, and we swear we heard a particular phrase that gets locked away in our heads. Years later, your favorite line from an old song turns out to be something your own crazy mind made up. Here are my top ten. Let me know some of yours.

Tell me if any of these sound familiar, or if I’m completely off my rocker. Some of these I had wrong for years. Others, I was pretty sure I had wrong, but thought they were funny.

#10 “Purple Haze” by Jimmy Hendrix

Misheard: “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

Actual: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

I just learned there’s actually a website named after this. That figures. There are so many people that mishear this one, I thought it really needed to be in my top ten. I am another person.

#9 “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors

Misheard: “I know why the prince would have the heart to be Cid.”

Real: “I know what a prince and lover ought to be.”

Yeah, not all of these funny, but for years I couldn’t figure out what this line was.

#8 “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads

Misheard: “We are fain and we are blind. I hate people when they’re not blind.”

Actual: “We are vain and we are blind. I hate people when they’re not polite.”

It was only when I decided to sing this one at karaoke about a month ago that I realized I had the lyrics wrong. The song doesn’t make sense anyway, but I was disappointed that these weren’t the actual words; I thought they were brilliant.

#7 Gay Bar” by Electric Six

Misheard: “Jew! I wanna take you to a gay bar!”

Real: “You! I wanna take you to a gay bar!”

#6 “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Misheard: “Streetlights, people, loving just to find some moonshine, hiding some wine in the night.”

Actual: “Street lights, people, living just to find emotion. Hiding somewhere in the night.”

Frankly, there are a lot of people out there who whore themselves to get by just so they can get wasted as cheaply as possible, so again, I like the misheard one better.

#5 “Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen

Misheard: “Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night”

Real: “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.”

What the hell does that even mean?

#4 “Jump” by Van Halen

Misheard: “Jump, Maxwell jump”

Real: “Jump! Might as well jump.”

My ex-girlfriend, N/A made relentless fun of me for this one. For years, I seriously thought Van Halen was telling his buddy Maxwell to jump. This is part of why I tend to keep this stuff to myself. I was 26 when this one was brought to my attention. Come on!

#3 “More Than a Feeling” by Boston

Misheard: “More than a feeling, when I eat that old sundae its cold.”

Correct: “More than a feeling, when I hear that old song they used to play.”

#2 “The Summer of ‘69” by Brian Adams

Misheard: “I got my first real sex dream.”

Actually: “I got my first real six-string.”

This is another one that apparently gets confused a lot. Frankly, it makes more sense. I knew what a sex dream was long before I knew anything about guitars.

#1 “Bohemian Rapsody” by Queen

Misheard: “Spare him his life from his mom’s sausage tea.”

Correct: “Spare him his life from this monstrosity.”

Gimme a break, I was a kid.

And finally, this isn’t necessarily a misheard lyric, but rather a misinterpretation. I could almost swear “Green Eyes” by Coldplay is about a toilet.

Honey you are the sea upon which I float

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter, now I’ve met you
And honey you should know, that I could never go on without you

Think about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

These Four Walls

Just now, my father came into my room to voiced his discontent with our living arrangement. Here are bits and pieces of what he said today.

“I’m sick of coming home and finding out that you’ve done nothing.”

“Your grandmother gave me a note telling me she wants you to see a psychiatrist. She thinks I’m holding you back.”

“I know this is all irrelevant. What we want you to do really doesn’t matter. It’s your life, but you should do something with it. It can’t just be these four walls. It’s like that line from Ferris Bueller’s day off. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around, you might miss it. You’ve been looking around for six years now, so what’s happening?”

“Your mother yelled at me this morning because I wasn’t talking to you about it. But the problem is I never know what to say. Sometimes you’re on your way out, sometimes you’re working on something.”

It’s funny, I don’t remember hearing any yelling this morning, but then again, I do my best to ignore what happens beyond the four walls of my room.

Every time I have one of these conversations with one of my family members, I die a little inside, because while I know that they’re right, and that they’re only trying to help, they aren’t actually telling me anything I don’t already know.

The only thing I’m actually tired of is being nagged. Well, that and not having money, and living with my parents. And the no sex thing. Okay, so that’s really a lot of things, but done of them seem to empower me to find work. I do look for work, just not very hard. I keep coming back to the reasons I’m looking for work, and that dreaded question at the job interview, “Why do you want to work here?” I’m certain that I’m not unique in the real answer being “because I want money.” Yet there are people out there who are able to create reasons and are at least able to pretend they enjoy their jobs. That’s never really worked out for me.

“Do you have something to tell me?”

“I don’t really have anything intelligent to say to right now, no.”

“Well, think about it, but I want you to tell me something. It can be this week-end, it can be Monday, but let me know.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

So, now I’m wondering what I am going to tell him. Because it’s not like this is a new question. I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for years. And it’s not like I feel like I have to answer to him. Because really, there aren’t any consequences if I don’t.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Enter: Depressia

Today I had lunch with my grandma at the retirement lodge, and now comes my favorite part of blogging, coming up with nicknames for all the characters in my life. Let’s call her my grandma “Depressia” because she is the most incredibly manic depressive Polish Jew on the face of planet Earth. Over the week-end when my mom and I went to see her, she complained about some itch she’s had the past few days as well as her usual horrible constipation, which has been a problem for as long as my mother can remember. Depressia says the medication she’s on makes her constipated, but it’s clearly the lack of roughage. She whined that I never see her, which is, of course, a complete lie, (or should I more lovingly say “exaggeration”?) I’m there for lunch all the time. (Okay, now I’m exaggerating, but I’m there every week.) And she complained about how my sister never calls her, and that she never hears from various other relatives. And so my mom piped up.

“Maybe no one wants to see you because you complain all the time.”

“I never complain!” Depressia’s exact words. Mom and I just burst out laughing. I don’t know what she thinks the word “complain” means. She’s either deeply in denial, a terrible liar, or this is the brain damage from a stroke about five years back talking. I suspect some combination of all three. Really, that day she was so upset, that I thought something must be wrong upstairs. She doesn’t have dementia like my other grandmother. She’s just stubborn, manic and completely incorrigible.

So today at lunch, she asked me the same questions she asks me every time I see her. She asks what the friends of mine she can actually bother to remember are doing. The same friends, every time.

“What was the name of that friend of yours? The taller one.”

“They’re all taller than me.”

She was asking about a friend of mine whose name is the same as a university. Then I tell her he’s in university, but not the one he’s named after. She finds it very confusing, and I find it rather tedious.

Then she asked me about Spike. I got sick of telling her he was taking radio broadcasting, so this time I made up a lie. I figured if I made it more colorful, she’d remember and she could ask me something else next time around. Of course, part of memory is proper hearing, which she doesn’t have.

This is verbatim, our conversation. Three old ladies at the next table were all laughing at us, repeating each word to one another, as if I couldn’t hear them.

“What is you he doing these days?”

“He’s going to clown school. He’s wants to join the circus.”

“He’s going to be a lawyer?”

“Yes, grandma, he’s going to be a clown attorney.”

“Like your mother. You know, your mother used to be a crown attorney.”

“Yes, I know, grandma. I was there.”

We went back to her room, and I ran some errands for her, reading her incoming e-mails, writing replies back on her behalf, (which beats the heck out of watching her do it), and fiddling with her knitting machine, an ancient, broken down piece of Dutch technology from the sixties. Before I left, she told me to promise her something. And this is where I brace myself because I know she’s about to ask me to make a promise I either won’t or can’t keep.

“Will you go and see a psychiatrist?” For awhile now, she’s been obsessing that I need to see a shrink, basically because I don’t have a job. To not have a job for this long means you must be crazy, or unhappy, or something. I’m not sure she’s even ever seen a psychiatrist herself, so what the hell does she know?

“No, I won’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to.”

“Please, it’s important to me!”

“What’s important to you is totally irrelevant. It’s not important to me, and that’s all that matters. Psychiatry is designed to help people who want it. I don’t. Maybe you should see one. You’re the one that’s depressed all the time.”

“When you were little, your mother didn’t nurture you. She was too tired, and you father was working too hard. I had to nurture you myself whenever I could. I went crying to (auntie Twiggy) and she said that later on, life would get better for you. You may not remember it, but you were always afraid of your father, and it’s still affecting you.”

“Right. Goodbye, grandma.” She’s given me this strange explanation before, and she’ll probably do it again. The great thing about being me is, when I’m ready to leave, I just leave.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Love, or, Religious Rant Numero Tres

I have a few things to say about theology, and none of them are particularly loving. I’m sparing no feelings today, but it’s not like I have that many readers yet, and hopefully none of you are particularly religious. Not any of you who actually know who I am, anyway. Not that I’m making excuses. Wait, let me start over.

The other day, I got an e-mail from a friend of mine, an ex-theology professor, let’s call him “Big Love,” asking for biblical quotes from his friends, Christians and atheists alike. He has a Christian website that he’s been chipping away at as a person retirement project for years.

I, in all my youthful atheist ignorance, I thought I’d respond with a quote I felt speaks for hate-filled propaganda the bible is, adding a footnote that I wouldn’t be offended if he simply ignored it.

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

Translation: Kill all gays. Homosexuals have been hiding from their own friends and loved ones, affeared and ashamed of themselves, because of religious bigots whose minds have been twisted by passages such as this.

Obviously, Big Love opted not to use it. It doesn’t exactly suit his paradigm. His exact words:

Thank you for this. Your verse won’t make it in my project :o)

One thing, if I may. The Old Testament is absolved and accomplished by a man called Jesus of Nazareth. It’s over. He took care of it.

So reverting back to a verse belonging to a different dispensation is never good. You are simply not up to date in Revelation (if indeed Revelation exists). In other words, you may be lacking, dearest, some info. I probably sound paternalist and that is the last thing I would want to do. So if so, do as you asked. Ignore this email.

God did reveal Himself in a progressive fashions through men. The Christ brought it all up to date.

Now, I probably should have known better than to send my friend Big Love the quote in the first place, but I know a potential religious fight about to start when I see one. There are so many ways I could respond to this, but I don’t want to, because even though I don’t respect his religion, I do respect his feelings as a person. Not that his resolve would waver in any event.

His religious motto, and foundation upon which everything revolves is actually rather sweet. “God is love,” he explained once, as we sat at a campfire. And as far as religious people go, Big Love is far from the enemy. In fact, I’d venture to say that if all Christians were like this man, there would be no war. However, he isn’t reading this, and I really do love ranting against religion, so here goes.

For starters, I wasn’t aware you could pick and choose which books to obey and which ones not to ignore. Who’s to say some other jackass can’t come along and throw out your new books too, and say this is the even newer one, with an updated forward by Douglas Adams, and 187 colorful illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano. Oh yeah, Mohammed already did that, well, minus the pictures and forward, but he didn’t have the resources then that we do now.

And if the old testament is “absolved” now, then why is it still in there? What passages say that the old bible isn’t valid anymore? And think about it. This is the conversation these books are having:

Torah: “I am the one true text. Any future text comes from a false god. The messiah will come at the end of time.”

New Testament: “The old text was false. I’m the real text. Oh, sure the messiah came, but time didn’t end. Next time he comes, then time will end.”

Qur’an: “That wasn’t the messiah. It was just a prophet. And here’s another prophet. And he’s the last one, really. End of time after this, I swear.”

Blackheart: “Come on, guys. This is getting a bit silly.”

Anyway, Big Love, don’t you think that dodges the issue? The New Testament is just as homophobic as the Old Testament. I found a number of quotes in both the old and new testaments, it just so happens that Leviticus 20:13 is the most unabashedly belligerent and hateful of homosexuals, or “Sodomites.” (Actually, I don’t think the tale of Sodom and Gamora is even about homosexuality at all, but rather about abuse, piracy and bullying, but that’s a rant for another time. I’d prefer to keep this as short as I can.)

Religious people will use any strange rationale to justify whatever they want. This is part of why I won’t argue with them. The argument I’m now trying to avoid with Big Love is one I had years ago with a different younger friend of mine. His theory, (or rather the one he was regurgitating at me), was that animals are robots, designed by God. Sure they have instincts, and can feel hunger and pain, but they don’t have souls because they don’t have a concept of right and wrong. Forget all the evidence that supports the theory of evolution. Forget how similar human and dog DNA is. Even if they embrace the possibility of evolution, which they won’t obviously, then humans evolved with a soul, and dogs evolved without them. Why? Because a miracle happened, or something, they’ll say.

And this is part of the largest problem with religion, isn’t it? The whole forget-about-the-evidence thing. “Just go back to the text. It’s all in there.”

Another friend of mine says his chief problem with atheists is that we’re not “rigorous.” He thinks we’re lazy, and that’s why we’re atheists. We just can’t be bothered to look at the text. Now, while I’ll be the first person to admit I’m lazy, that isn’t why I’m an atheist. Even I want a little credit there. My problem with theology, to counter his against atheist, is that no matter how rigorous you are, you’re doomed never to make progress, because all you’re doing is interpreting and comparing and contrasting incomplete texts. These texts don’t read as though they were written by a divine being. They read as though they were written by brainwashed, inexperienced writers.

You know what I liken theology to? The rigorous, but highly illogical and unscientific study of a fresh, steaming dog turd.

“Hmm… It sure smells like a dog turd, but a man I respect has insisted that it is not, so I had better take a closer look. I know in my heart that isn’t dog shit. It sure looks like it, but it’s not. I already know that it isn’t dog shit, even though it looks like it is. I just have to twist logic until I can prove it. I know. I’ll take a bite out of it. Augh! Pah! Gross! Well, it certainly tastes the way it smells. But that still doesn’t mean it’s shit, because God may have made it taste like shit to test my faith. Therefore I can throw out the evidence of sight, smell and taste, because they don’t support the conclusion that I already know to be true.”

And this is exactly what makes me angry about how “rigorous” they insist we need to be when it comes to our religion. We can’t seriously be expected to investigate every outrageous claim that comes our way. Whether it’s a theory that there are ten invisible Martians living in Dolly Parton’s cleavage, or whether the universe revolves around Donald Trump’s Hair, it doesn’t take much of a brain to say, “nuh-uhn. That’s stupid.”

To theologians, the lesson isn’t obvious. You have to work hard to “interpret” the text.

Yeah, right. “Interpret.” Like interpretive dance. Like that painting Voice of Fire was “interpreted” to be worth 1.8 million dollars. It is the idea that if you interpret the text in just the right way that it will somehow all make sense.

You know what? No. If reading it cover to cover doesn’t make sense, I can’t imagine what will. I don’t care how many times you pray to it, bow to it, place flowers around it, or do an interpretive dance around it. It looks, smells, and tastes like shit because it is shit. How many other pieces of garbage literature could we waste our entire lives debating about? Why the Holy Bible of all things? It’s not like it’s particularly good literature. Every fourth sentence seems to be “the Lord our God, praised be He.” Doesn’t that seem a little tedious to you guys? Why don’t we debate about whether or not Lord of the Rings happened? It’s just as long, but overall a better book, with better characters, cooler villains, and stronger themes. Who died and said the book we need to study this one?

“Jesus did. I’m sorry to sound paternalistic, but if you’d read the bible you’d know that.”

“Aaaaaaahhhhhhh, bahahahhahahahahaha!” I scream as I run away, laughing and pulling out my hair, and lighting my trousers on fire. Now I feel like I’m going crazy.

Anyway Big Love, I love ya, man, but you have a lot to learn about logic.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blogs that are Better than Mine #2

Every new day, I have a new idea of what it is to have a blog. Today I read about a blog called Petite Anglaise. Check it out. Seriously, check it out; this is the stuff a bloggers dreams are made of.

It tells the story of a bored, middle aged Englishwoman in Paris, working for some intimidating English douchebag whilst trapped in an emotionally void relationship with a workaholic. You know this is a recipe for angst, drama, and torrid love affairs.

Anyway, long story short, Catherine Sanderson got herself fired because of her indiscretions on her blog. (Her boss knew her from her profile picture. This is the sort of reason why I don’t have one.) The uproar this caused among her readership is the stuff of legends. Now this woman has $900,000 book deal. Who’s on top now, douchebag?

This is exactly the sort of blog that does extraordinarily well because it tells a story. And it’s honest. The author has no reason to lie, as in theory, she’s anonymous, thus she has nothing to hide. It is incredible how much more interesting people can be when they aren’t worried about offending someone. And as it turns out, once her identity was revealed, offending those people is the best thing she could have done with her life. That’s why this Catherine Sanderson is my hero of the day.

Though my blog does, in its own way, tell a story, it’s not a particularly interesting one, primarily because right now, there’s not a lot of sex in it. So I rant about things that piss me off, and how I want to be a writer. Who doesn’t?

Also, I’m lazy, and it’s Sunday, and because I’m going out in an hour, and won’t be back until after midnight, this is as long as this entry can be. Don’t give me that look. I kept my word, didn’t I? One entry every day. The story continues…

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dating a Stripper

For years, I dated a stripper in the big city.

While traveling to the East Coast with my friend “Lilith,” we met a very friendly Iranian realtor and at one point he said he really wanted to date a stripper. I told him I had actually dated a stripper once, and that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Actually, she would more accurately be called an escort, a prostitute, and a mistress, because of the range of things she did for money.

He asked me how I got a stripper to go out with me, and I explained that she was my girlfriend first. We met in high school, and the reason why I was her boyfriend, was because I wasn’t one of the frequenters of the sorts of establishments she worked at. To her, I was special. I was different. What she liked about me was that I saw the real her, and no matter what she did, I still respected her. To put it another way, I was her fantasy. I was the comfortable guy she could always rely on.

Lilith doesn’t have a lot of respect for these women. She says they’re just shy girls with mediocre faces, but nice bodies, who were ignored in high school, but have now discovered men will go crazy for them, if they just show a little more skin. She finds these girls stupid and weak willed. Personally, I find them to be either quite layered, and somewhat emotionally damaged, or often enough, they’re just really shallow. I don’t think it’s about will power for them. I think it’s about turning their sexual prowess into profit. It is sex turned into math, and it’s cold and calculated.

Guys who’ve never tried it seem to think that dating a stripper is really hot stuff, and truth be told, physically, my ex really was a marvel to behold. But emotionally, she simply wasn’t there. This is where you have to start sorting fantasy from reality. This is a woman who is always ready to switch into sexual fantasy mode, catering to the particulars of whomever she’s with. This is how she earns her bread, and often a lot can be made for very little effort.

At first, the whole experience of being an escort / dominatrix / sexual entertainer gave her a huge rush, and I’ll admit it was a rush for me too. I’m very much a shy guy who’s never been inside a strip joint. As tough as I talk, and as much as I like to joke about perverted things in person, I am very shy when it comes to all things sexual. It probably has something to do with my English heritage.

At first, she was a vixen in the bedroom; lots of new ideas for us to try out when she got home, and the money she was making was phenomenal, for a student, anyway. We were taking cabs everywhere, and she was dropping sometimes eighty bucks to get us and another couple into some swanky club.

But gradually, it all started to change. Over the course of about a year, her sexual drive died. She always faked it, and I could tell. She often cried about it, and I think we both knew that working in the industry had completely worn her out. But the money was so good, and she’d become so accustomed to the lifestyle, that she found it difficult to stop. Of course, by then, she also had “private clients” who would call her on a whim, so we often got interrupted.

She was so emotionally vacant by the end of our relationship that she hardly noticed when I broke up with her. She laughed. She thought it was funny that I was taking everything so seriously.

There is a link here to my ghost/writer project. The fantasy novel I’m working on features a stripper as one of its protagonists. Well, perhaps it is more loving to call her an exotic dancer. And by exotic, I mean erotic. These two terms seem to get tossed around like they’re the same thing, and they’re not. What many people call an exotic dancer is an erotic dancer. So she’s an erotic dancer, although she is exotic to most of the character because of her albinism. I think I’m getting sidetracked.

My issue with the character at this point is that in reality these girls break down before they can break away. I don’t want this character to be weak-willed, or stupid, or damaged. I merely want her to see the mathematic prospects of doing this in order to break out of poverty. She is effectively stripping her way through magic school. But unlike my ex, this character doesn’t have a man as a crutch, and instead she keeps a mental barrier between what she does and how she feels. She’s the virgin stripper with the heart of gold, if you will. Does that sound too cheesy? Am I slowly lowering myself into clichéd hell here? I suppose I could explore the grungy side of it all, but I think that takes away from the “heart” of the story. I want her to remain a romantic at heart, in other words. Her fantasy is that she is saving herself for a man she has never met, who would never know the world of sin in which she’d dabbled.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Easier to Break Than to Make

So today, while poking around some of the other blogs, I couldn’t help but think, “These blogs are so much funnier than mine. Not that I’m always trying to be funny, but I’m aware that if I want a readership, my writing should be at least somewhat entertaining. All these other blog authors have to do is find random things and make relentless fun of them. There’s one blog I read, by a clever writer named Copyranter, which is entirely devoted to putting down Capri pants. I love it; it’s simple, but it’s effective.

Why is it so much easier to insult things than to praise them? I myself find it easier to write a more entertaining film review on a film I think is garbage, because I can point out how stupid the filmmakers are and what they did wrong, and then I top it off with some nice metaphors along with a joke title for the film. When a truly exceptional film comes along, I’m left with little to say other than “I’d watch it more than once.” Today I said “this film has heart.” What the fuck does that even mean? Lots of films have heart.

But I think in the end it is harder to praise than to insult, for the same reason it is easier to break something than to build it. Sand castles take time, but can be kicked down with ease. It takes a fraction of a second to sever a finger, and eight hours of intensive surgery to get it back on, along with months of healing, and even then it’s never quite right. It takes nine months from conception to birth, but death is one breath. One heartbeat.

I’m also troubled by the fact that by anecdote blog is often the blog I leave for last, because I can’t think of anything to write. It’s much easier to find starting point for the others. I’m not entirely sure why.

Maybe part of it is that the more people I’m aware are reading this, the less I feel like saying what I’m really thinking. Or maybe it’s this desire of mine to be interesting, so that I’m not just free when I write what I please. It is as if the reader is more important than the message. I suppose this is true to some extent anyway. No matter how clever a writer is, he can never amount to anything without his readers. A marginally funny guy that doesn’t have a lot of fresh ideas, but has a lot of charisma and is heard, is far more valuable.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I don’t believe that houses, apartment, cemeteries, churches, or any other inanimate space can be haunted. I believe it is the people that inhabit them who are haunted. I am haunted, particularly by the dream I had last night.

In my dream, my last girlfriend was in a car with me. Her friend “Julie” was there, too. The two girls were in the backseat, my mother was driving, and I was in the passenger side. She was telling Julie about her current boyfriend, who apparently the nephew of a very successful artist “Amano.” Apparently she and he hated all the attention they got because of it, and the two of them were actually still quite poor, and living in Japan. All the while, I was pretending to sleep. It was as if I wanted to give the pretense of not caring that she was so far away and not available. For simplicity, I’m calling her N/A.

Somehow we were now on a bus, along with my father and my cousin “Al.” Al went over to talk to her, and gave her a cigarette. I didn’t know that she smoked. The two of them smoked and chatted for a bit; I couldn’t make out what they were saying. My dad was so disgusted by all the smoking that he got off the bus.

Al comes up to me finally and tells me that I really screwed up. He was really smug about it too. I believe I had a clever comeback, but I can’t remember what it was. It can’t have been that clever, and he did have a point.

Finally, it came time to get off the bus, but I couldn’t get off, because I was naked. I guess no awful, anxiety-ridden dream is truly complete without nudity. I’m surprised I wasn’t on my way to write an exam. Or losing a tooth.

So I woke up trying to make sense of it all. Very quickly after dreams such as these, the only sense I can make of them is that I’m thinking about her. That I miss her.

Why would she be smoking? Why would Al be there? Who the hell is this “Amano” artist guy, and does he even have a nephew? Why of all of N/A’s friends, was she traveling with Julie? I always liked Julie; she always made N/A smile. Why were my parents there? Why did my father get off so early?

Actually, that was pretty spot on with his sentiments. Smoking killed his father, that’s not an easy thing to watch someone die of. It takes years, and this is how it all starts – with young, innocent passive puffs, interlaced into ordinary conversation. My parents, particularly my mom, were very fond of N/A. I think it goes without saying that they’re fond of my cousin Al too. That is why my dad couldn’t watch.

The thing I remember thinking most clearly in the dream, was the moment I discovered N/A smoked. What a complete change of character, I thought. Did I do this to her? Is this the effect I had on her, when I yanked our love out from under us?

In the last real conversation I had with N/A, she said some very hurtful things to me. Things I keep thinking that the N/A I know would say to anyone. That’s not what she’s like. She cares too deeply to ever do that. To anyone, let alone me. Yet she said them, and not with emotion, it was all passive. It was as if she wasn’t really all there. That’s what made it hurt the most.

Now years have passed. I don’t know much at all about her current life. Why can’t I talk to her? It’s been so long that at this point I’d just come off as desperate and creepy, yet it only seems to get worse. So here I sit, haunted by the crushed spirit of a woman who is still alive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Plans for next month

I’m pretty happy with the way things have been going with this blog thus far. Even though I’m often scrambling to get my entry out just before the stroke of midnight, at least I’m doing it, right?

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about what to do for next month. I’m pretty certain at this point that I’ll keep up with the daily Ghost/Writer blog, but the advice and film review blogs will probably take a back seat, dropping down to once a week, or whenever I’ve got enough material for them.

In stead, I’m going to introduce a new project: Short Fairy Tales. I don’t have a proper title for it yet, but it’ll give me a little more meat to dig my fingers into, creatively speaking. I also have this idea for a “literary device of the day” blog, but we’ll see how I feel by the end of the month.

Also, and bear in mind this is just a seed of an idea, I’m thinking of touching up and/or finishing off a bunch of my screenplays and taking them to Hollywood later on this year, looking for a way into the industry. There’s really no better time, as there’s not much else going on in my life. You know how people often say “keep the day job” when they don’t think you’re talented. What day job?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Class Distinction’s a Bitch

While writing up my advice column today, I was reminded of my wealthy aunt. In accordance with the secrecy surrounding this blog, I’m calling her Twiggy.

Twiggy married into her wealth, to a man who in turn, inherited his investing firm from his father. I want to make it clear that I am not jealous of them for this. I am actually quite used to this. Some people are born into money, some are born poor. Some are born handsome, others are born with cerebral palsy. This is all a part of life. What gets me is the lack of understanding that comes along with uncontested privilege.

Recently, my parents went to Florida to celebrate my wealthy uncle’s birthday, (an event that only happens once every four years, thanks to the leap year.) While they were there, apparently Twiggy spent a lot of time worrying about me, so much so in fact, that it was all she spoke about, and that they had trouble enjoying themselves. My mother explained that this was part of why they were in such foul moods when they got back. While I can appreciate everyone’s concern, I think it’s hardly any reason to get upset about, particularly because of the kvetching of a rich old Jewish-American princess.

Twiggy married into her money, and her husband inherited it. He puts in maybe one day of real work every week. (He goes into the office for three hours Tuesday through Thursday), and Twiggy herself has never worked a day in her life, which is why I tend not to have any respect for them when they ask me why I’m still not working. In truth, I’ve had a number of jobs, all of which I was fired from or forced to quit, or were merely temporary, and even some which just didn’t pay me in the end, but they can’t really understand this since once again, they’ve never actually had to look for a real job.

They have two daughters, one of whom has followed in her mother’s footsteps and bagged herself a wealthy husband, who also inherited his money. The other is, for the lack of a more loving description, a well-kept perpetually recovering drug-addict.

None of these people ever contribute anything to society, so why is it that I’m supposed to feel guilty for not doing my part? I have probably worked harder and more than all of these people combined. I just don’t have anything to show for it, that’s all.

Again, I’m not jealous those who inherit their wealth, but I absolutely refuse to feel guilty because I didn’t. I’m trying very hard to carve for myself in this world, which is something people like them could never possibly understand.

It kills me that the leaders of the world don’t come from people like me, or like my sister, or my parents, or my N/A ex-girlfriend. They come from people like my uncle, and aunt Twiggy, and they always will. Fucking aristocrats.

Monday, March 10, 2008


This is a story from my childhood, to give you an idea of just how bad a procrastinator I can really be. Early on, it wasn’t clear how tall I would be, how much hair I would have, or even whether I was gay or straight, (or something else), but it was always clear that I was a king procrastinator. Possibly even a god.

Today I babysat my cousin, who’s in grade five at a local private school. I have a standing arrangement with my uncle to pick him up from school and look after him for the evening once a week. We all like the arrangement, not just because it’s an opportunity for me to get paid, and my aunt and uncle to get the rambunctious little rascal out of their hair once a week, but he and I have a great deal in common. Perhaps too much in common.

Most of the time, we just play video games and/or zone out on YouTube. Theoretically I’m supposed to help him with his homework, but he never seems to have any.

A few weeks ago, he needed me to help him come up with a question for his science project, and I recalled the last time I ever did a science project. I was in grade eight, and for months my science teacher kept telling me I’d better get cracking. The night before the science fair, I mulled over what I was going to do about this huge daunting project that I had to complete before I went to sleep. I collected some cardboard, and some blank paper, and piled up all the resources in my room. By two in the morning, I still had nothing written, and passed out. The next thing I remember is my dad coming into my room telling me that the school bus was waiting, so I grabbed all my materials, shoved them into my backpack. I poured myself a glass of water, drank from it, then held it up to the window, letting the sun shine through it. This was my science project. Light refraction. I drank the water and kept the glass, and climbed aboard the bus.

On the bumpy ride there, I began drawing pictures of light refraction, along with labels, and ways this knowledge might be used to better humanity. In homeroom, one of the other kids turns to me and looks at what I’m doing.

“Are you seriously making up your science project on the morning of the science fair?”


“You’re unbelievable.” A bunch of them laughed. To some of them, I was a lazy loser, and to some, I was some sort of hero. Perhaps more of an anti-hero. But still, they were all impressed that I somehow pulled it off, as was I. I even passed. I got a D, which I think is fair, because I do understand how hard some of them worked. Maybe I would have been willing to work hard too if only I’d had someone to give me a bit of guidance from the get go. Maybe if I’d been on the right track, I would have put together a project that was worth marking. Maybe.

Now, some fifteen years later very little has changed. I had all these goals I somehow thought I would fulfill by now, and that the way would somehow show itself, but clearly it hasn’t. I finished high school, and then university, all the while putting off the figuring out what to do until I was finished. But even now, I’ve still no idea.

I started off with this blog assuming it might lead me to the next step. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. I’m a third on the way through the month now, and I’m finding it hard to contribute to all three blogs every day, but at least I’m still at it. I’m not a quitter. I’m just not necessarily a winner either. Not yet. Next month I’m going to switch up the blog a little. At this point I’m thinking of keeping my daily anecdote, (this blog), but making the other two weekly or biweekly, and perhaps adding a new one. I might do book reviews, and maybe some short stories. Wow, what a meandering conclusion.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Womyn in India

A female friend of mine, and advocate for womyn’s rights worldwide, was sexually assaulted on a bus while she was trying to get some sleep on an overnight bus to Agra. She awoke to find his hand up her skirt. Screaming and punching; she fought the guy off. The other men on the bus, of whom there were perhaps 50 or 60, just laughed at this. To them it was all a big joke. The few other women remained awkwardly silent.

So, there a number of things wrong here. The population is seriously skewed in India, with 47.5% women, when normally it’s closer to 51%. Female infanticide is partly to blame for this, because “good Indian families do not want girls.” Okay, I’m not actually quoting anyone, but you get the idea. And 60% of their women are being married off there at 12. It is as if by 15 they are old and unmarriageable.

Womyn worldwide are outraged by these sorts of statistics. (Frankly 0.1% of a population in Canada is a huge amount of people. 3.5% in a country like India is… forty million people! 40,000,000 – See all those zeroes? That certainly scares me. That’s more unmarriageable men than the population of this country. Don’t believe me? Go to Wikipedia, look at India’s demographics and punch up the numbers on a calculator.) I think everyone should be offended by these statistics. Especially Indian men! Think of all those lonely men who can’t find wives, because there aren’t enough to go around. And forget the dating scene, man. Try the schoolyard.

Surely they must see what a disservice they are doing themselves. Of course they do, but the small number of them with any power already have they 12-year-old wives, so what they hell do they care? It’s all very messed up. It has to change.

Also, lesbians don’t really have a voice in India. Obviously there are lesbians, so why not recognize them, love them, educate them, and give them some clout in the political world and in the economy? Lesbians like to spend like everyone else, it’d do the economy good. And it’s great for population control, which, let’s face it, India is in dire need of. We could have like a lesbian Bollywood festival MCed by Ellen DeGeneres or something like that. Lesbians love that shit.
Well, that’s my rant for the day. Hope you enjoyed it, or learned something, or felt something, or were reminded of another completely unrelated story, or whatever.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Keep on Smiling

Ever since my dad got back from his trip to Florida, he’s been in a bit of a pissy mood, slamming doors, and screaming at telemarketers. (Okay, that telemarketer thing only happened once today, but it freaked me out. I mean, I hate them too, but his decibel levels were freakishly high.) When I came back here in December after a short trip to Vancouver, I wasn’t very happy either. Coming back to this much snow is quite off-putting.

While typing up my daily film review, my dad stopped by to pick up the monthly rent check, and as asked for it, he smiled at me, bearing his teeth. I know he wasn’t really smiling. It’s this fake smile he gives when he’s stress out, and it frankly gives me the creeps. You know it’s just a matter of time before he snaps, and suddenly the smiling man becomes the shouting man.

My mother stopped by my room too, to tell me that she wants to talk to me later. When I asked her about what, she said “a number of things.” I can’t imagine what would be out of the ordinary, so, at some point I’m expecting another lecture on how my life isn’t going anywhere. It’s a conversation I’m sure we’re all tired of, but until I’ve found whatever it is I need to make me complete, we’ll keep coming back to it. Who knows, maybe it has something to do with my father’s mood. Maybe it’s all connected, but I digress.

What I want to talk about today, the “keep on smiling” mentality. I find there are essentially two kids. The first kind forgets his sorrow or anger. He just lets it roll off his shoulders. He chooses to be happy, despite unhappy events surrounding him, knowing that things will work themselves, or at least, they’ll work out better if he stays cool about them. This is what I like to think I am able to do most of the time, though I suppose no one is always able to shake away the shit that gets dealt to us in life.

The second type suppresses his anger. He grumbles about it under his breath, and keeps it to himself, smiling through their flustered demeanor. This method of dealing with anger isn’t very good, and I expect most of these people wind up having heart attacks.

I don’t believe you necessarily need a way to “release” the anger, like hitting a punching bag, or running, but that’s certainly one way to blow off steam. Just try to take a moment to remember the things in life that you live for.

When my mother comes home and she’s on edge, we all know it, and nothing seems to calm her down. In fact, when you try, she just gets madder. This invariably gets worse until my dad is doing the fake smiling thing. Then she’s not mad anymore and he is. And simply holds it in, releasing it in short spurts at whatever is in front of him to be mad at.

I used to get so stressed out about it when I was in school. I had a lot of problems, particularly with dodging irritating pointless assignments, and then I’d get blasts from them, whenever they were annoyed, and their words were very harsh. They’d always have ammunition for me when they felt like taking a shit on someone small. As long as I was living on their dime, what could I do.

Now because I pay rent, I treat this as a tenancy, and as such it’s doesn’t bother me anymore. Now I know I can leave whenever I want to. Now in stead of being scaring, I just think less of them. They’re just embarrassing themselves, because it’s obvious that letter other stresses cascade onto us, (my sister and I, as well as the cats), and it’s both tedious and pathetic.

My sister and I have so many more problems than they do. We have our whole lives to plan and work towards. All they have to do is keep doing what they’re doing. They’re lawyers, and well paid ones too. And their kids aren’t junkies or inmates. They have a good marriage. They have lots to smile about. And they do often enough, but I find they forget perhaps a little too often. And when they do, and they blast at me, I just think about how easily I can leave, and that makes me smile. When my sister and I live, who are they going to blame for their pissy moods?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Religious Rant Numero Dos

Okay, so at 5:00AM today, I go downstairs to make my sister and myself some soup, and what do I spy in today’s paper? Yet another story about some crazy religious fundamentalist who murdered a bunch of unsuspecting, and largely unimportant group of people.

This time it was an Islamic militant with an assault rifle raiding a library, killing whoever he could manage to shoot, finally being gunned down himself by Israeli soldiers. Afterward, a bunch of Palestinians assholes took the streets in celebration, apparently proud of this civilian massacre.

These are the sorts of stories that make me exhausted with the world.

First of all, morality aside, somebody gunning down a bunch of students in a library isn’t a challenge, nor is it much of an accomplishment. It’s not like an assault on a military outpost or a supply line. It’s just plain making families who don’t have any actual power miserable. That’s not strategy, that’s sadism.

From a religious standpoint, this couldn’t possibly be seen as a virtuous act. It causes suffering without any step towards a greater good. How in their right minds, or even wrong religious minds would think that’s what “God” wants?

The only reason left is hatred. It makes me sick how much hatred there is in that part of the world, and the only reason they general populace of Jews and Palestinians hate each other is because their leaders keep telling them to. Some of them claim it’s about land, but small as the country look on the map, I’ve been there, it’s quite big. Others claim it’s about economics, or politics, which I’ll never understand.

This is yet another reason why there clearly isn’t a God, because if there were, He would clearly smite all these belligerent warmongers.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

“Not Good Enough!”

Hello, and welcome to another edition of me ranting about what’s wrong with the world.

I went out for a drink with a very close male friend of mine today, we’ll call him “Spike,” and we got onto the topic of depression.

His chief complaint seemed to be that far too many doctors like to play a game of name with their patients when they come in complaining of depression. They’ll take the ten minutes that they have for your annual visit, and say “you have a ____ disorder,” and then they write you some prescription for the rest of your life. I’ve been hearing the same sorts of things in the news lately – that 1 in 5 kids are clinically diagnosed with depression. Doesn’t that seem a little odd? And of course, guess who benefits from their misfortune? The pharmaceutical companies.

A number of skeptical scientists have done their own studies and found that placebos seem to have the exact same effect on depression as prescription drugs, but the really interesting thing is that they’ve found that these so-called prescription drugs are placebos. I remember shouting at my radio when I heard this, as though someone were listening, “duh!”

Parents, why do you listen to doctors when they tell you your child is clinically depressed? Do you know how often they do that? It blows my mind when parents put their own child through these ordeals, in the name of combating a “chemical imbalance in the brain.” Wake up, people! The human body is basically a great big sack of chemicals. Everytime there’s anything wrong with you, technically, it’s a chemical imbalance. That doesn’t mean you should stir more chemicals in. You’re just adding a chemical addiction to their already difficult life. I’ve known so many people, particularly females, whose young lives have been distorted and somewhat ruined by iatrogenic chemicals.

You want some real cures for depression? Get more sleep! Eat better, and/or when you’re hungry. Hunger and sleep deprivation make people unhappy. Get some exercise! As they say, a healthy mind needs a healthy body.

Maybe part of the problem is that in the old days… you remember the old days, right? When we rubbed sticks together to create fire and when instead of courting our woman and buying them wedding rings we were tying them to trees so they couldn’t run away? In the old days, we were far too cold or hungry to be depressed. I can just picture it.

“I’m depressed, Madge. I feel like I’m losing touch with my inner child. And for a wife, you don’t hug me enough.”

“God dammit, Frank! Go kill something! The kids are starving! And untie me from this goddam tree! We have six kids, I’m clearly not going anywhere!”

And Spike was complaining about his own winter depression. Personally, I don’t get depressed about winter. Here’s my trick. I just take a moment to fantasize about how nice it’s going to be when I move away from this frosty hell-hole, and it puts a big smile on my face. And if that doesn’t work, I think about two chicks making out. Either way, it doesn’t take very long for me to restore my content, though somewhat offensive demeanor. Spike went on about how he acknowledged that he knew he wasn’t doing anything to battle his depression; he isn’t exercising, and he isn’t eating right. And now he finds himself dwelling in the world of regret, and this is where I get to the title of today’s entry.

He talked about how he’s lonely and wants some companionship. He brooded about his ex-girlfriend, and how she left him because he didn’t have any ambition, and smoked weed all the time. Of course, he still has no direction in his life, and he still smokes weed all the time, so if he gets a girlfriend, he can foresee the same pattern repeating itself. Of course, it doesn’t help that his ex-girlfriend is being nailed by his roommate now for some strange reason. Honestly, I don’t think she’s particularly attractive, nor is she terribly bright, and I’ve no idea what he ever saw in her anyway. And I mean, come on. It’s not like her life went anywhere either.

And I feel sorry for the poor bugger, I really do, because the best sex Spike ever had, was with my ugliest girlfriend. That’s why I don’t even hold that particular betrayal against him. He’s got an ego made of glass. And this ugliest, (though I wouldn’t say she’s ugly), cheating girlfriend of whom I speak, she broke up with me citing the exact same reason Spike’s ex gave him. She claimed she need someone who was going somewhere in life. I mentioned none of this to Spike, of course, but he got me thinking, and on the way home, it occurred to me, this business of people dumping “losers” seems to happen an awful lot.

Funny story: The father of one of my female friends dumped a girl once because he though she was a “loser.” Turns out she was Shania Twain.

So, the question is, what is with this obsession with “going places” in life? Obviously they don’t mean literal places, because that isn’t particularly hard to do. I’ve been to Jerusalem, but somehow I don’t think anyone’s impressed.

So, what is the point? Is it pointless careerism? Because that’s what our world seems to be oversaturated with. Surely you’ve seen all the banners advertising “be the top 40 under 40” or some such careerist non-sense. No wonder everyone’s depressed! Everybody’s obsessed with being on the right career track to be CEO. You know how many people get to be CEO, or a big music star, or the next dot com billionaire? A hell of a lot fewer than there are people working at McDonald’s, or as secretaries, warehouse workers, or any other nameless dead-end job that offers no future, so the pressure of succeeding in life continues to haunt them, even as they toil their asses off full-time. These are full-time workers who all went to university, hoping somehow that their educations would pay for themselves, and get them somewhere in life. Then they become insurance adjusters.

The words that came to mind while walking home, and running all of this through my head was, “not good enough.” My ex broke up with me because I’m not good enough. Parents and teachers tell their children they are not good enough. Bosses tell their employees they are not working hard enough. Woman hate their bodies because they don’t feel thin enough, or pretty enough. Mediocrity is not to be tolerated. Average is not good enough. Whoever first decided we should all live in fear of being a regular joe obviously didn’t excel at math. Most people are going to be average. That’s just a truism. So what kind of sadomasochistic society is this that normal people are actually supposed to be disappointed in themselves?

Wake up, people! Depression doesn’t come from a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s coming from in imbalance in society.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Recently I read that Robert Latimer is finally being released after being convicted of murder for the 1993 mercy killing of his severely disabled daughter. For those of you unfamiliar with the case I’m talking about, here’s a bastardized summary: Robert Latimer, a canola and wheat farmer, was the father of a quadriplegic and severely mentally stunted daughter named Tracy. Every moment of this girl’s life would have been pain, and there would be no light at the end of this tunnel. In 1993, Latimer used carbon monoxide to end her life. He was convicted of murder, and during his trial, and throughout his entire prison term, he maintained that he did this to end her pain, and was motivated by love, and nothing else. Those of you who want to read more can do so on Wikipedia.

Personally, I think he should have just shut the hell up about being justified, not because of controversy, but because it would have gotten him out of prison faster. The parole boards want to hear that you feel remorse and that you’ve been rehabilitated. They do not want to hear about how you excuse your actions. I agree with his reasons, but I don’t think it’s worth it to keep yourself incarcerated, trying to prove the system wrong. Wait until you’re out, and then speak your peace.

Both my parents are lawyers, and while that doesn’t make me an expert on law, it does give me a quick window into it, complete with two jolly green law giants to give me a tour, and it wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about the Latimer case. For a long time I was torn up about which way I felt about it, but I had concluded that the law was the law, and that regardless of whether it was “morally” right or wrong in this particular case was perhaps not as important as maintaining the law itself. If you let just one person justify the willful killing of another person, then you set a very dangerous precedent.

A few months ago, I was dining with a group of lawyer friends, and one of them brought up a fact that completely changed my mind. I was reminded of this yesterday when I watched 12 Angry Men.

No matter what the law says, it is a jury’s right to give a verdict of not guilty. Even if all the facts are in, complete with a confession by the accused, the jurors can still concluded that the defendant is not guilty if they feel what he did was not an evil act. In law, there are a few clever provisions such as this for judges and jury alike that allow for them to throw out aspects of the law if they achieve an absurd result. For example, in some states adultery can be penalized with a ten year prison term. Now, while I don’t approve of cheating on your spouse, ten years is the sort of sentence you give to bank robbers, and other mid-level psychopaths. Falling in love with another person is hardly the worst thing in the world.

Here’s the catch. A lawyer is technically not allowed to instruct the jury that they don’t have to convict. I don’t know why this is so. It makes no sense to me. I would think a jury should be advised of all of there rights. Of course, that might wind up being a book, but there must be some middle ground. I mean, I think this particular detail is pretty important, and if you were to give a jury a list of just ten things they need to know, nay five, this would be on it.

Many people seem to think of the justice system as a means of punishing criminals. I think that sort of a savage and selfish approach to it. I don’t think it’s about vengeance or retribution. It is about public safety. You ask the question: Is this person a danger to society? And if he isn’t, you lock him up until he’s no longer a threat, hence rehabilitating him.

So, what are the chances Latimer will be a threat upon his release? Well, let me put it this way, how many other severely mentally disabled daughters does he have? Morality aside, the chances of recidivism are nil to none.

But morally speaking, I’m a little tired of the dogma surrounding the idea that all life is sacred. Some people’s lives are clearly not, (to themselves, anyway), and keeping them alive is not an act of kindness; it is an act of cruelty. Allowing them to die, that is an act of mercy. And I know it can be very difficult for people, because we tend to want to hold on to our relatives way beyond their expiry dates. I’d like to think when I’m terminally ill, and vomiting up everything I try to eat, that someone will have the decency to give me a morphine overdose or something, so that I can just slip away in a nice dream.

Well, that’s my rant for the day. I don’t really have a conclusion, because for this issue, there really isn’t one. It is one of those things that will be the point of human contention for a very long time. I will say that I approve of the release of Bob Latimer, and frankly think it’s about friggin’ time. It’s absurd to put men like that in prison. It’s certainly doesn’t make the world a better place.