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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Henson nostalgia

If he were still alive, Jim Henson would have been seventy-seven on September 24th.  That was also the day a new biography about him was released.  I got it on my Kindle and took a look at it this weekend.  I didn’t even make it through the prologue before the tears started flowing.

It feels weird to think this way, but his death had a more profound effect on me than any other I can think of (including people I’m related to).  The fact that I still get choked up over the death of someone I never met and who has been gone for over 20 years is amazing.

I grew up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  I saw The Dark Crystal in theaters.  And even though I was probably a little older than the target audience, I watched every bit of Fraggle Rock.  When something gets into your psyche at a young age, it gets ahold of you.  These can be good or bad experiences, but they become a permanent part of who you are.

I think what had me tear up as I read about Jim doing a Kermit bit in the prologue was that there would never be anything new from him ever again.  His children still run his company and I thoroughly enjoyed the new Muppet film but something was lost forever back in 1990.  That’s just the truth of it.

If I had the power to resurrect any one person that has ever lived, I can’t think of anyone else I would choose.  Not one leader or writer or brilliant scientist.  Just him.  I wonder what that says about me?

Who means that much to you?

kermit

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Don’t make me be an asshole!

“Don’t make me be an asshole!”

This little bon mot came out of my friend’s mouth during a conversation we were having.  We were musing about how we are generally good people, kind and compassionate, generous and thoughtful.  But if you do something incredibly stupid anywhere near us, woe be to you.

I’m quite self aware, fully in charge of who I’m being at any given moment, but there are things that make me lose my shit for several seconds at a time.  Someone driving really badly in front of me is one of those things.  Seriously, I feel like my mantra in life has become “Get the fuck out of my way!”

One of the craziest things I do in my irrational moments is get really close to someone and then fly around them – basically I buzz their tower.

I’m hoping they will realize they almost caused an accident (by going way too slow or stopping for no discernible reason) but I have no idea what my impact is on them.  And it’s not really my job in life to teach them a lesson.

That’s where I think a lot of asshole behavior comes from.  Thinking it’s our responsibility to teach other assholes how to behave properly but then we end up being the asshole ourselves.

I let people not paying attention, bump into me when I can easily avoid them, just so I can give them that indignant stare.  How very dare you?

This is a universal trait and it’s probably why humans have such a strong (almost pathological) need to exert control over the behavior of others.  Sometimes it’s in direct connection to how that behavior is affecting others which is understandable.  It’s not OK to injure or kill others or take their shit.  That’s just not cool, man.  Traffic flows better when we all agree to drive in a set manner.

But you cross the line when you try to tell people how to live their lives when what they’re doing has no real effect on you, except that it upsets your sensibilities.  Your religion is not my fucking problem.  I don’t have to adhere to its rules.  I didn’t agree to them.  If you don’t like the way I look, well I’m not here to decorate your world.  Not my fucking job.  Not anybody else’s job either.

billquote2

Exactly!

So when you find yourself getting the urge to teach someone a lesson you think they should learn or to stop them from doing something you don’t like (and they aren’t hurting anyone by doing it),  shut the fuck up and go about your day.  I’ll try and do the same.  Then we can eliminate at least 50% of the assholes we encounter on a daily basis.

hicks1

Working for the Weekend

It’s Monday and I’m sleepy.  I didn’t even stay up late last night.  I think it’s become a Pavlovian-type response to beginning a new work week.

Thankfully, I don’t have a job that I abhor but there are many times I’d rather be doing something else.  I often wonder why we set things up this way.

We used to be told that being a hunter/gatherer was a much harder life but more evidence is coming to light to disprove that notion.  They worked fewer hours to get the nutrition they required and it was more varied.  But then they didn’t have all of our modern conveniences.

What price convenience though?  I feel like a slave to a system that I neither created nor can escape from.  I do see the pros and cons of it, but it is restrictive in many ways.

The first way is that all things are dependent upon money: the accumulating and spending of it in order to have the things one needs.  Even if I wished to return to a simpler, barter-like system, I don’t know if I could find enough others to engage with me.

Secondly, if the film “Into the Wild” taught me anything, it’s this: Living off the land is a noble idea but not really that good in practice.  Ingest one wrong plant and it’s game over.

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

Lastly, humans are not solitary creatures.  We evolved in groups and are designed to function best in that arrangement.  Some animals spend most of their lives alone, only to come together when it’s time to mate and then off again.  Humans, on the other hand, can go a little nutty if left alone for too long.

None of this is to decry what life is currently like, just to ponder what other ways life could be like.  As the world advanced, many people thought our work hours would shrink as more and more jobs were automated.  That hasn’t quite happened yet.  But the question has always been, if people don’t have to do those jobs anymore, what do they do with their time now?

I find nothing wrong with being idle but it is thoroughly looked down upon by most people.  People say things like “Idle hands make the devil’s work” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  I just don’t feel the need or desire to be all that driven anymore.  I don’t see what’s in it for me.  If I feel like I have what I need, what exactly am I working for?

the-hammock-1844

I used to be very attached to ambition, drive and all that jazz.  Now I just listen to people describe all of the things they are “up to” and I get a little tired from imagining myself doing it.  Sometimes I check out completely because it has all stopped making any bit of sense to me whatsoever.

I also find nothing wrong with wanting to be busy.  We actually need all kinds of people to make this thing we call civilization run.  My curiosity just can’t help but wonder, where exactly are we going?  And what happens when we get there?

Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

Stupid Racists

1379301382000-missamyellow

I know to call someone a stupid racist is pretty much an oxymoron but something about a bigot who lumps all brown people into one category, like the idiots who are calling the newly crowned Miss America (who is of Indian descent) a terrorist, just pisses me off on a whole different level.

There’s a great scene in the film “Porky’s” that I always remember when a racist gets his/her slurs all wrong.  The redneck kid is taunting the new Jewish student but he gets it all wrong.

Tim: “Anybody wanna go fly a kite with me tonight? I hear it’s great weather for flying KITES! I wonder if there’s any KITES around here we can fly!”

Brian: “Hey listen, Cavanaugh. It’s not kite, it’s KIKE! K-I-K-E, “kike.” You know, you’re too stupid to even be a good bigot!

Hatred by nature is irrational.  I can think of no benefit whatsoever to hatred, either evolutionarily or morally.  It’s instinct to be suspicious or distrustful of someone who is not from your tribe/group because they might be a threat.  However, even if they are a threat, hating them does nothing to protect you.  It’s just a poison that keeps you from seeing the truth.  Probably why when it gets really bad, it just becomes “blind hate”.

I seriously dare someone to spout this kind of bullshit in my presence.  I think I’m done being civil.  I will call you out just as fast as those words leave your lips.  That’s what we should all do.  Point your fingers and laugh at the stupid bigots because they deserve nothing more and nothing less than absolute ridicule.

I think we’ve kid-gloved them for far too long.

White Flour!

clown-kkk-racism-4

 

Privilege. Yeah, it’s a thing.

fish

From a speech by David Wallace Foster:

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?'”

Privilege is a lot like the water you’re swimming around in, all day every day.  You don’t generally notice it as long as you are the one benefiting from it, but it can be quite suffocating for those who are on the wrong side of it.

What the hell am I talking about, you might ask.  Well, I’m sure you’ve heard these terms bandied about – white privilege, male privilege, thin privilege and the like.  Or perhaps you’ve heard the more common terms of racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry, misogyny, and so forth.  Whenever one of these kind of words is used, it’s all directed at one thing: Privilege.

priv•i•lege (ˈprɪv ə lɪdʒ, ˈprɪv lɪdʒ)

n., v. -leged, -leg•ing. n.

1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or a restricted group of persons.

2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities.

3. a grant of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.

4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.

5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government.

6. an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person: It’s my privilege to be here.

v.t.

7. to grant a privilege to.

8. to exempt (usu. fol. by from).

9. to authorize or license (something otherwise forbidden).

[1125–75; Middle English; earlier privilegie (< Old French privilege) < Latin prīvilēgium orig., a law for or against an individual =prīvi- (comb. form of prīvus one’s own) + lēg- (see legal) + -ium-ium1]

syn: privilege, prerogative refer to a special advantage or right possessed by an individual or group. A privilege is a right or advantage gained by birth, social position, effort, or concession. It can have either legal or personal sanction: the privilege of paying half fare; the privilege of calling whenever one wishes. prerogative refers to an exclusive right claimed and granted, often officially or legally, on the basis of social status, heritage, sex, etc.: the prerogatives of a king; the prerogatives of management.

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Being a member of a privileged group does not make you a bad person.  It’s all a part of the lottery of birth.  You didn’t have any say in being born white or male or into a wealthy family.  Those are inherited privileges.  But to pretend they don’t exist does make you ignorant and kind of a dick.

I know that I have both privileges and disadvantages that I have no choice about.  I am white in a society that is set up to my advantage.  I’m essentially middle class so I don’t have it so rough in my day to day existence.  However, I am a woman and I am overweight.  These can be disadvantages in many circumstances.

For women, being considered beautiful can be both a privilege and a disadvantage.  It’s truly a double-edged sword.  You get treated better for your looks, but sometimes if you are deemed too pretty, you can be seen as dumb or frivolous.  Or you can get fired if your boss is sexually attracted to you (remember that pretty dental assistant in Iowa recently?).  The court ruled in the man’s favor!  Seriously?  Talk about privilege!!!

I don’t have the answers to privilege.  They’ve just been on my mind lately.  So much in the news has brought them front and center.  All I wanted to do today is point them out and encourage you to look for them in your own life and in others.

You can see the playing field is not now nor has it ever been level.  Yet, to pull a Harrison Bergeron (forcing it to be level by bringing everyone down to the same level) is not the solution either.

harrsion-bergeron-shite-jpg

I agree with Robert Frost when he said, “I am against a homogenized society, because I want the cream to rise.”  And with my favorite Robert A. Heinlein character, Lazarus Long, “Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.”  There is growth and creativity inherent in conflicts and challenges.

But I also don’t like seeing people held down while their oppressors claim they have nothing to do with it and that it’s the oppressed’s own damn fault.  That’s just bullshit on a level that I cannot tolerate.  Every advantage you have often creates a disadvantage elsewhere.  It’s all cause and effect.  Just like the great lifestyle I have is paid for by the people working slave wages elsewhere in the world, living below the poverty line so I can buy cheap goods.

It’s time we get honest about how it really is even if it makes us look bad.  Humanity will stagnate and die if we continue on this path.  When those with privileges can’t see beyond their own circumstances, they will do nothing to rectify the inequality.

It’s time to see the truth and to tell the truth.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinham

Once we can speak the truth, then we can look for ways to share privileges or do away with them altogether.  Perhaps a re-reading of one of my favorite stories of privilege is in order.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

Hump Day

“Why do they call Wednesday Hump Day when most people get laid on the weekends?”

When I was in high school, I was in my computer science class one day (probably Wednesday) and this little bon mot popped out of my mouth right in front of the teacher.  I had recently heard it on a comedy special, and I was highly amused by it along with another one – If women ran the Pentagon, would missiles be shaped differently?

It pops up around the 5:00 mark.

I’ve always had a bit of a dark and twisted sense of humor, but I was never seen as anything other than the sweet nerd-type.  I must have exuded innocence because I totally got away with this joke and that same teacher even referenced it when she signed my yearbook.  She thought it was hysterical.

I also got away with calling Hitler a dickhead in my political science class.  The assignment was to find one word that would describe Hitler and that was the only word I thought could truly sum him up.  I also made the teacher laugh and got a decent grade that time too.

I got an A on an essay in college English that was all about “bullshitting” when writing.  And to top it off, I wrote it the night before and my typewriter ran out of ink, so half of the essay was handwritten (which furthered the point I was trying to make in the essay).

It took me many more years before I realized that it actually endeared me to people or they seemed to like me more when I was being candid and off-color.  Usually this side didn’t come out unless I was intoxicated.   I always felt a little nervous that people wouldn’t like me when I actually said the things I was thinking but if I say them without being mean about it, I can pretty much get away with anything.

The best part about getting older and caring so little about other people’s judgments is that now I can dance and be funny completely sober.  My liver is probably glad I got this lesson sooner rather than later.

honey badger

Fuck the French!