Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Annoying Gnats of Our Natures (Active Fists in the Faces of Activists)

If I asked Cindy Sheehan to shut up and go home, I'm afraid she'd interpret my advice in entirely the wrong manner. But I really wish she would shut up and go home, along with all the other protestors and counterprotestors (counterprotestors! stop and think for a moment about the fact we actually have such people). Maybe these self-important folks on both sides can get together and start their own country called "Stridentia." In the DSS--Disunited State of Stridentia--marching in protest would not merely be a right granted by the Constitution, it would be a daily requirement. All people on one side of the protest would be "heroes" and "patriots" and everyone on the opposite side of the cause would be "traitors" and "ingrates."
Whoever won these power struggles would immediately deport the opposition back to the United States, but that's okay because the next day we'd deport them right back to Stridentia!

Am I the only one not convinced that taking off work, carrying a sign, and chanting some simplistic slogan makes one a superior citizen? This has nothing to do with rights. Certainly, all the people in Crawford, Texas have the right to assemble and protest, but I have the right to wear a platinum blonde wig, run backwards down the street and shout "The Kool-Aid Man was a communist!" (after all, he was red); that doesn't mean people won't say I'm a goof if I do it.

If you're looking for intelligent and thoughtful discourse on the war in Iraq, I have very little to offer. Part of this is due to the sheer scope and multifaceted nature of the issue itself, but mostly it's because I'm neither thoughtful nor intelligent. And since when are people interested in thought and intellect, anyway? I sure can't tell. For the sake of "taking a stand" and "making a difference" or any other cliche', however, an abbreviated version of my position is this: War is justified only when the cost ("cost" here can refer to the loss of liberty, body count, monetary loss, etc) of not going to war exceeds the cost of waging it.

No doubt there are many people on both sides who would not accept my rationale for war to start with, but even assuming they did, the pro-war faction would probably insist the war was worth the cost and add that the media coverage of Iraq highlighted only the most grisly and brutal activity, neglecting any positive developments. The anti-war faction would counter that the war is, if anything, proceeding worse than the media portrayal, that the justification for war was exaggerated, perhaps even fabricated. There will be no meeting of the minds between these two sides anytime soon.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "better angels of our nature" referring to the wisdom, the prudence and the kindness lurking somewhere within us all--well, most of us--and he insisted these qualities would ultimately see the folly of hatred and division and vanquish them. It was a pleasant thought and a truly eloquent and moving speech, but some division is inevitable, perhaps even desirable. Hatred we can probably do without, but don't tell that to our friends in Crawford; they're too busy calling President Bush a terrorist and a war criminal or expressing empty support of him and shouting "God Bless America" and dismissing anyone who would criticize the war effort as a traitor. The really galling thing is that many of these people have lost family members in the war and are willing to exploit such a sacrifice to advance a particular political agenda. No one has the market cornered on patriotism here. Losing a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a cousin, aunt or uncle in the war does not make you qualified to tell the rest of us how to think. My Uncle is in Mosul and I think he'd want me to have my own ideas about this affair, regardless of his opinions or what happens to him. These people are the annoying gnats of our nature! They buzz around our heads and insist we pay attention to their grandstanding and self-promotion.

We have no choice but to tolerate these gnats. They are as much a part of this country as the rest of us. But sometimes I think it would be just as well if they were all eaten by birds. Okay, not really. I was aiming for that "to the gut" closing line, but you see how badly I pulled it off.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Not Funny

Anything can be a joke. This is not a sanctimonious raving about how some things should be above ridicule or mockery; this is about things that are not funny. Or "clever" or "witty" or "pithy". Some of these things never were funny, while others simply stopped being funny due
to overexposure.

1. Old People Using Teenage Lingo
No variation of this is funny, not the parent saying "fuh shizzle", nor the dorky white guy employing any manner of hip-hop lingo. No matter how amusing it might seem when your Grandfather asks you not to "diss" him, this sort of thing has the comic potential only in real life, only extemporaneously and only once per old person. In radio commercials, sitcoms, films or any other contrived or written setting, it is tired and boring. So enough with the "heh heh, Derek Jacobi said 'fuh shizzle' " nonsense!

2. Hot Chicks Fighting
I don't know if this was ever funny, but it certainly isn't now.
"Dude, it's so shocking and totally unexpected. No one expects two hot chicks to fight."
Not anymore, it's not. With the explosion of talk shows, reality television and female boxing, two women fighting can't be played for comedy anymore. Okay, so it can, but not well. Give it a rest!

3. Humor by Humiliation
I suppose I could come up with an unfunny word to describe this idea, one commensurate with its unfunnyness, like "humorliation" (tee hee hee). I don't care to see people punk'd, trick'd, hoodwink'd, fool'd, embarrass'd--yes, I know the apostrophe "d" bit was only funny the first two times, but that's the point, you know--anymore. I don't even care if they're dirtbags who might deserve such debasement; to me, it's like Mussolini playing a practical joke on Hitler. "Ha ha, he shaved half of Adolph's mustache." Look who's pulling the pranks, arranging the stunts, telling the lies, setting the traps; they're at least as much sleazeball as their victims.

4. Swearing Children
Enough, dammit! I'm not here to tell you kids can't or won't curse or you're a bad parent if you tolerate such language from your children or even that filmmakers, directors, writers, producers who give us foul-mouthed kids are morally bankrupt. But it bores me. It's the new handbuzzer, the new whoopie cushion, the tack under the teacher's chair. Tell these cursing kids to shut the @#$& up!!

5. Morning Radio Shows
Here's what I want: A straight-laced morning radio program. These dweebs in their 40s and 50s playing teen pop music, feigning hipness and insisting they are "zany" and "whacky" and "crazy" must think we are "stupid" and "gullible" and "non-discriminating radio listeners", which we must be since they're still on the air. Can you do another penis joke, please? How about a bathroom gag? Or something about women's breasts? That stuff always leaves me in stitches. Better yet, how about a crank phone call? Oh, man, that stuff's rich and innovative!

This is far from a complete list, but it's a start. The scourge of unfunniness has no boundaries. It's almost enough to make you want Pauly Shore back. Almost.