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, July 16, 2006

We All Hate America

Don't pretend you've never felt that way at some point. Nearly every thinking person--and a good number of non-thinkers, too--has hated this country and most citizens of every country have hated their own somewhere, some time. It happens. The feeling doesn't make you a bad person nor does it mean you live in a bad country. You almost have to hate it just to love it sometimes, because the United States is a nation of contradictions. There's almost no statement you can make about this place that isn't simultaneously true and false. There's plenty of opportunity; there's not enough. Racism is dead and alive and in every different phase of health, good and ill. We're warmongering, peace-loving, God-fearing atheists. We're selfish and charitable and vindictive and forgiving, stupid and ignorant and brilliant and innovative. America really is like one of our uncles, the one who combines all the traits of uncles into one huge and enormously confusing pacakage, like an uncle who, say, has dedicated his life to charity and works all day in a soup kitchen, then comes home, gets drunk and beats his wife. But I love my Uncle dearly.

When I'm not giving tambourine lessons over the Internet, I spend a lot of time thinking about these contradictions, these odd tendencies we have, and I ponder matters that confuse or confound me. In doing so, I have concluded that if people got what they wanted in every case, they would ultimately have nothing at all because their wishes would cancel one another out. Here's an example: the Honda motor company recently announced its plan to construct an auto plant near the small Indiana town of Greensburg and while many people were pleased by this development, there was also a fair amount of griping heard over the fact a foreign company was moving into the area.

The refrain: "We need better jobs."
Give the people what they want.
The reaction: "No, not a foreign company!"

The refrain: "We don't want all these Mexicans here."
Give the people what they want.
The reaction: "I'm not picking tomatoes and mopping floors!"

The refrain: "Pay us better and we'll take those jobs immigrants take now."
Give the people what they want.
The reaction: "15 dollars a pound for tomatoes? These companies are gouging us!"

Are you getting the picture now?

Want to know what I'm tired of? Stop reading here if you don't. I'm tired of these people who claim to be Americans, but display a different flag in their windows and on their cars and speak an incomprehensible language. That's right, I'm talking about Confederates!

The things we allow ourselves to get upset about are sometimes mystifying as well. The President of the United States overheard swearing in a discussion with Tony Blair is a matter so inconsequential, I refuse to give it anymore than one sentence. His impromptu massage of the Chancellor of Germany is nearly as irrelevant, unless it comes out that Ms. Merkel was offended by it. It may strike some people as behavior unfit for a world leader, but Bush is famous for that sort of thing. And I'm not citing that merely as a criticism; his informal manner can sometimes be a strength. It was probably not the right decision in retrospect, but no commentary that Ms. Merkel felt violated or offended has appeared and unless it does, it's not the end of the world. If she sues him for sexual harrassment, that'll make two Presidents in a row who have fallen victim to the charge. We're on a roll!

Something worth being upset about is Bush's recent veto of the stem-cell research bill. That is, if you disagree with him, which I do in this case. Save your criticism for the important stuff. Wait, what am I saying...? Sweat the small stuff or I'll have nothing to write about.

Now for my tambourine lesson:

Step One: Place tambourine in one hand with flat side facing outward

Step Two: Strike flat side of tambourine against other hand

Step Three: Repeat

If this goes well, I'll add maracas.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


You know what sucks worse than reading this blog? Standing in line at any filling station or convenience store waiting for the cigarette and lottery addicts to conduct their business. How many times have you heard "I want two dollars in gas, five packs of Marlboro, and six quick picks" when you're waiting at the back of the line to pay for your petroleum and Gatorade? And you cringe with disgust, half-tempted to say something to the person behind or in front of you, except you're reasonably sure each of them is about to trouble the cashier for deathspikes and lotto numbers, too! You're an island, and one consumed in a miasma of smoke at that.

As far as I'm concerned, lottery tickets should be sold in machines only. Merchants make no money off of them, except incidentally, and they hold up the line something dreadful. If state lotteries are as awash in revenue as they imply--if they can make license plates cheaper and help to fund schools--it surely wouldn't break them to purchase more sophisticated machinery in order to curb delays in retail establishments.

The same goes for tobacco. Cigarettes should only be sold in machines and if they're out of your brand, tough turkey! I'm friendly with a good number of smokers and most of them recognize the dangers of their predeliction. I'm not out to get smokers; as often as I'm mildly scornful of their habit, I'm sympathetic, too. My Grandmother essentially smoked herself to death. It was painful to watch and I think it's a pain most people can relate to because who hasn't had a relative with emphysema or COPD?

But there's no reason I should have to wait in line while the clerk finds Brand X--no, not Brand X Soft Pack, Brand X in a box, no, not menthol, no not Brand X Lights, Brand X Light 100s! Why do they make so many different kinds? What's the difference between Lights and Light 100s? And who came up with these "I Smoke and I Vote" bumper stickers? I haven't seen them much lately but about ten years ago, they turned up on primer-colored 1978 Cutlass Supremes everywhere. What were these people trying to say? It isn't like being pro-choice or pro-life because every election features a healthy selection of both pro-choice and pro-life candidates. Where are the pro-smoking candidates? Or at least, where are the ones who are openly pro-smoking? Did they mean they were planning to vote against practically everyone? Or was it a coded message? Could "I Smoke and I Vote" have really meant "I Smoke, So Chances Are You'll Still Be Voting After I'm Dead!" Sheesh, everything has to be politicized, doesn't it? Pretty soon, everyone will be a political faction all his or her own and I'll have to get a bumper sticker that says, "I Write a Blog and Have a Boring Day Job and I Vote... Sometimes."