J. C. Mogensen

Reality with a Healthy Dose of Humor

Ramblings

We're All Awesome

Posted on November 18, 2012 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (4)

It's easy to get all doom-and-gloomy about the human race, which is why it's nice to be reminded from time to time that we aren't actually devolving back into single-celled protozoa, especially when you hear about some Florida tanning salon owner offing himself because he didn't like the way the recent election went (I mean seriously, WTF Florida? Maybe you're taking the idea of being America's swinging cock a little too literally, you excitable little peninsula, you).


 

 America Just Got A Good Look Up Europe's Skirt

 


Politics


Here's the thing though: If you didn't get the guy you wanted in office, you need to accept that the rest of your countrymen thought someone else was better suited for the job. Maybe you need to communicate your message better, or maybe your party's brand is a little tarnished (*cough* Akin, Mourdock, Limbaugh, Santorum, Coulter, Bachmann, Walsh, Broun *cough*), but the fact of the matter is that this country needs a competent and realistic conservative party to keep us liberals from running naked in the streets – we'll do it. The losing party will reboot, because they have to, and come back re-energized and, just maybe, with better ideas in the future. And hey, at least the people who are riled up are passionate and that's not nothin'. I did lose a few friends during the course of the recent election, which was a bummer, but I was mostly impressed by how much people on both sides actually care about where things are going. The bottom line is, we don't have to agree in order to appreciate one another's point of view. So take a breathe and maybe hold back on those secession petitions for a while.


 

 Ridden to Death by Sean Hannity

 


Charity


My youngest daughter is a Girl Scout Brownie and part of earning her community badge involved touring the local Catholic Charities. Now, we could make a list a mile long of all the rotten things the Catholic church has done, not to mention the smelly shenanigans they've been up to in my state, but their charitable wing is a shining example of decentness. According to the Volunteer Director, who gave us the tour, the local Catholic Charities food shelf gave out nearly two million pounds of food in 2011 alone and helps out 2,000 families a month on average. They aren't the only food shelf in Saint Cloud, but they are the biggest, and they let needy people "shop" for a week's worth of groceries instead of just handing them pre-sorted rations. Families are only allowed one visit a month, but they also have access to free clothing, blankets, and other necessities. There is a group of older ladies who volunteer once a week to knit quilts from donated materials. They make about 14 a day and all are given out almost immediately.


 

 No Joke Here, Just Good Folk


 


Here's the really impressive part: while they do offer their services on an income-based scale, they don't actually require a person to prove that they're poor. It's basically on the honor system. When one of the Brownies asked what would happen if someone was caught stealing, the Director said it had never happened, but if it did, they would take the person aside and ask what it was that they needed. My daughter asked what time of year they needed the most help and I was surprised to hear him answer, "Summer." Apparently, the kids who get free meals during the school year are in real trouble during the summer months. Winter is a better time because that's when most people are in a charitable mood and churches have their big "Feed the Hungry" drives.


By the way, you don't have to be Catholic to get help from these folks. While a heathen can't get a vasectomy at the local Catholic hospital (because rerouting your plumbing is affront to the Lord), they can feed their family and keep them warm thanks to the truly good people at Catholic Charities, no matter who they pray to.


 


 

Healthcare


Speaking of truly good people, I have always noticed that it's the nursing staff who do almost all of the heavy lifting when it comes to patient care. The doctors swoop in at the last minute like Batman with a scalpel and disappear just as suddenly, leaving the brunt of the caring and 'splaining to the nurses. Paying the doctors a higher salary than the nurses is like paying the Texas Board of Education more than the teachers who have to unravel the bullshit they send out to schools. Now, I don't want to disparage the doctors too much. When my oldest daughter's knee exploded a couple weeks ago (the doctor refused to tell me whether or not there was an 'Acme' label on it, so I think we know what that means), the surgeon was fired up about what a bunch of fuckwits (his word) the insurance company was for requiring prior approval for a twelve-year-old's surgery.


 

 "We're losin' him! Quick, get the Bat-Paddles from my Utility Belt!"


 


If I ever had any doubt about whether the people who dedicate their lives to making people feel better were serious about their jobs, the care and attention they gave to my kid made it clear that their patients really do matter to them. Yes, hospitals and clinics are busy places and not the kind of work environment I would ever want to be in, but the fact that they are able to take the time to give personal attention to the sick and wounded is nothing short of inspiring.


It's a little too easy to get into a "people are shitty" mindset, but when I take the time to notice, I'm impressed with my species more often than not. It turns out that for everything that divides and polarizes us, there's even more that brings us together. Everyone out there, give yourself a high-five.


 

 



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The Unchanging Evolution of Marriage

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Can we stop pretending that the institution of marriage is some Rock of Gibralter-esque thing that has never changed since God originally invented it with his "My First Chemistry Set" 6,000 years ago (4,539,994,000 years after the Earth actually showed up)?


 

 "Hey Jesus, I spilled a test tube. Looks like these monkeys are gonna be hairless afterall."


 

Same-sex unions were common throughout the Mediterranean, with ceremonies generally taking place in churches, until they were deemed "unchristian" by Emperor Andronicus II in 1306 along with sorcery (http://bit.ly/JY34U4). The idea of marrying for love is a relatively recent change that occurred in the 17th-18th centuries thanks to the Enlightenment. Up to that point, marriages were a way of uniting warring tribes and increasing property holdings.


As recently as 1948, interracial marriage was illegal in most states. The laws banning mixed marriages were not completely struck down until 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned them nationwide (http://bit.ly/foqYTS). Likewise, polygamy was not made specifically illegal in the U.S. until 1862 (http://bit.ly/7sQdNM).


In many Native American groups, homosexuals are held in high regard as having received a special blessing. They often became the shamans (healers) of the community. They are referred to as the berdache or "two-spirited" people (http://bit.ly/Q7x5Tk).


Here's a brief rundown of the Biblical definition(s) of marriage:


 


 

The idea that we are drastically redefining marriage by allowing same-sex couples to get married is laughable from a historical perspective. What marriage is today is not what it was only a few generations ago, and it most likely isn't what it's going to be a few generations from now. It changes to meet our societal demands. Sorry folks, but those are the facts.


 

 

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The Greatest Generation

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (1)

In 1996 I turned 20 years old. Being 20 is awesome because you're too young to realize that you're a complete idiot, which means that you find yourself doing really dumb shit like trying to set a new land speed record on a 1973 Honda CB350. Luckily, hitting my twenties in the mid 90's meant that I had what is arguably the greatest soundtrack in the history of ever by which to score my mortality-taunting stunts. I got to thinking about the good old days recently and, after unbiased reflection, can declare without hesitation that there will never be better mix-tape fodder than what the 9-ot's delivered.


 

 "Warp Factor: Holy-Balls, Mr. Sulu."

 


It's not there wasn't any good music in the years preceding or following the 90's, it's just that, by comparison, those years were an auditory wasteland. If you did the math, you know that I was born in '76 - the height of the disco craze.  The 70's gave us the only music white guys could dance to until Hannah Montana's dad invented line dancing. It was also when great bands fizzled out (The Beatles) died (Lynyrd Skynyrd) or were just getting warmed up (AC/DC – who can also count as having died in the 70's). There was some good stuff, don't get me wrong, but for every Led Zeppelin and Queen there's at least three Cat Stevens or Bee Gees. The 70's also gave us The Eagles, a band who put forth the ridiculous notion that drummers should sing lead and Neil Young, who is exactly as melodious as the squealing power steering belt on a 1983 F-150, so, I guess, fuck the 70's.


The 80's were better, but only just. There were some great acts, but the bad ones were some of the worst ever. Anything by Metallica (except The Thing That Should Not Be because it's stupid) or Guns 'N Roses, that song by Phil Collins where he watched some guy let some other guy drown and then totally called him out on it by singing the song to him in concert, and Michael Jackson's Thriller – completely awesome, but we also had to listen to White Lion sing about crying kids, and pretend that The Cure didn't make us want to fall deliberately into the warm eternal embrace that darkness brings. It was a mixed bag, is what I'm saying. I can sum up the 80's by saying that a junior high classmate once tried to convince me that Stryper was a kickass metal group and not just a bunch of jerkoffs dressed like bumble bees singing about Jesus. Fuck the 80's.  


 

 "Whatta ya mean 'Christian Rock is an oxymoron?'"

 


I really can't speak much about the music from this millennium since, other than new releases from the bands I already know I like, I pretty much just stick with NPR for the most part. I'm not gonna trash the 60's either because, well, I mean, Motown was cool and that's about it.


Which brings me back to the 90's. With a ridiculously over-priced Pioneer home entertainment system kicking out a weird mix of tunes from its thirty-two disc changer, my friends and I were primed for a good time. One of my roommates worked at the unfortunately named Jahnke Foods [ˈyoŋ-kē] and brought home several cases of expired All Sport which we immediately mixed with cheap vodka. We would fire up Super Mario Kart on the old N64 and, between gulps of our candy-colored libations, dished out the most vile video game trash talk ever heard while Sublime, Alice in Chains, The Black Crowes, Nirvana, Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots, Dave Matthews Band, and Sarah McLachlan played on random. The cops actually showed up one Wednesday afternoon because the neighbors had reported a domestic disturbance. When I answered the door, the cop asked me if everyone was OK. I was trying to think of what we might have done for the couple next door to sic the fuzz on us when one of my roommates screamed, "I will rip you head off, fuck your eye socket and use your hollowed out skull as a toilet if you shoot one more goddamn turtle shell at me!" to the other one. We were given a warning.


Was there shitty music in the 90's? Of course there was, but it was also when bare midriffs hit their pinnacle thanks to Gwen Stefani. Hair metal had been bludgeoned to death by "Alternative" - a category that encompassed everything from Ska to Grunge, Metal got meaner and the local top 40 station played music that was mostly good.


 

 Yup

 


I got married at the end of that decade, had a couple great (but strange) kids, and finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I still miss the 90's. And Super Mario Kart. And All Sport.


At least we still have Gwen Stefani's abs.



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In Defense of Lazy Slobs

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

(Author's note: I try to keep things inappropriately snarky and acerbic on this site, but I decided to dial it back a notch for this post. This does absolutely not represent a more mature me, however.)


There's a picture that's been making the rounds on the various social sites lately. I've ignored it, but it just keeps a comin'. I know it doesn't pay to get bunched panties about every single ignorant post that people make because they eventually fade away and because I don't want to be the guy that spends the entire day debating people. This one doesn't seem to be in any hurry to piss off though.


 

And if your parents can afford cable television and central air, you don't need student financial aid.


 

This picture perfectly reinforces the "God helps those who help themselves" mindset. I don't for a second believe that every social conservative is a heartless asshole, but there's a quote by Michael Parenti that goes "Conservatives are fond of telling us what a wonderful, happy, prosperous nation this is. The only thing that matches their love of country is the remarkable indifference they show toward the people who live in it" that I think is pretty apropos here. I wonder if the people who like this picture really believe that a smoker should have their welfare benefits immediately revoked.


A pack of smokes costs about $5.50, a six pack of cheap beer isn't much more. Feeding a family of four costs about $150 to $175 a week if a person is thrifty. A person working full-time and making minimum wage earns about $290 a week before taxes. Even with two working adults in a family, that's not enough to live on once you factor in housing, travel (car, gas, insurance), utilities, childcare, etc. Is a hardcore conservative really going to tell a person that they can't splurge on a pack of Pall Malls and an Old Milwaukee if they get government assistance? Should a person on welfare not be able to spend money on a little personal luxury or vice? A minimum wage employee may not have enough money to buy groceries, but they may have enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. After all, that $5.50 pack of heaters represents a whopping 3.6% of their $150 food budget.


Yes, I know that smokers generally buy more than 1 pack a week, but my point is that not treating oneself to a bad habit isn't going to automatically put the family budget in the black. The idea that welfare recipients love being on assistance because it frees up money for lottery tickets and heroin is just stupid. Thinking "If they'd just spend their money better, they wouldn't need help" betrays an insidious kind of classism and a frightening lack of empathy. Maybe a pull on a cigarette is the one thing that a working mom has to keep her calm in between working a thankless job at a fast food restaurant and taking night classes at the local vo-tech.


And that's another thing. The whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" theory fails to take into account just how short those bootstraps are. Tuition at a public college is around $7,000 a year for a two-year school and $15,000 a year at a four-year school, on average. That means that earning a Bachelor's Degree costs more than a person makes before taxes at a full-time minimum wage job. In order to better themselves, a poor person has to go in debt first. That's like saying that a drowning person should swim down and put both hands on the floor of the ocean before they try coming up for air. It's easy to get judgy about those lazy food stamp moms when you don't have to wade through a sea of "Final Notice" envelopes every time you open your mailbox.


The idea of drug-testing welfare applicants is sad to me, especially if testing positive means they are on their own. Does having a parent with a drug problem mean that the kids don't get to eat? Poverty is a subtle and nuanced problem that demands something a little more grown-up than an "all or nothing" answer. Are there people who take advantage of the system? Of course there are, but there are corrupt cops and arsonist firefighters too – they are the exception that proves the rule, not the other way around. Look, the current welfare system is far from perfect, but making blanket statements about the people who rely on it does nothing to make it better.


I'm not completely OK with the idea that a person can cash advance their EBT card and I don't like seeing assistance used to buy junk food, but I have to remember that maybe a frozen pizza and a juice box is all the cooking that a working parent has time for in between jobs. How do I know that the couple buying hot dogs and potato chips isn't trying to find food that their kids can prepare themselves because Mom and Dad are at work when supper time rolls around? I doubt that they're buying stuff that's fast and easy because they just don't feel like preparing a four course meal using fresh ingredients from the Farmer's Market. Shitty food is cheaper and easier than the wholesome stuff in this country.


What really is disheartening about that picture is the number of people who claim to be good Christians that like and share it. I guess that 'feed the hungry, clothe the poor' bit doesn't apply if you think they aren't trying hard enough to be the millionaires we are all destined to be. I know I've already warned against making blanket generalizations, but it does seem that it's the conservatives who post opinions like the one above the most frequently. Since the Republican party is the one most directly ran by the Christian Right, it isn't really a stretch to call them out for falling so far short of their religious ideals.


Perhaps what bothers me most is that there is an underlying feeling in posts like these that poor people should be shamed whenever possible and reminded of the fact that they are unabashedly sucking on the teet of government instead of becoming job creators. They should never have anything close to comfort until they start being better 'Mericans. In my experience, however, I have rarely seen someone using food stamps in a flaunting way. Instead, they seem to do it as inconspicuously as possible since - this is a shocker -  those lazy poor people don't actually like the fact that they have to take hand-outs in order to survive.

 

 

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Sexy Is As Sexy Does

Posted on August 6, 2012 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (1)

What's sexy? Who's to say, definitively, but everyone with a pulse has a list of things that cranks their respective gears. I know what I like, what I don't like, and what makes me wrinkle up my nose and mutter something about terrible decision making skills. The weird thing is that what I like now is not what I liked way back when, generally. Torn stockings and combat boots just don't work on me the way they used to. I remember back when the only thing more exciting than finding out that a whale tale was a thing was spotting my first one in the wild. Now I'm more inclined to wonder if the gal flaunting one is too short to replace the light bulb in her closet. Maybe I've grown as a person, maybe I've learned the difference between a chick and a woman, or maybe having daughters rapidly approaching you-are-not-going-out-dressed-like-that age has forced a change of perspective. At any rate, here are a few things that are sexy and a few that are most definitely not.


 

 


Sexy: A Loose, Low Ponytail

 

While a high and tight ponytail screams severe; a loose, low one tells the story of a girl who is fun and mellow. It's the ultimate no muss, no fuss hairstyle. If your substitute teacher walked into the classroom with a ponytail on the tippity-top of her head pulled so tight it made her look perpetually surprised, you knew she wasn't gonna tolerate any funny business. Hell, she'd probably assign even more homework than the regular teacher just to prove she could. But, if it was loose and low, she'd probably insist on being called by her first name.

 

Not Sexy: Words On Your Ass

 

I'm gonna get right to it – if there's room on your ass to write "Bootylicious," it isn't. Your backside is not a billboard, ladies. If you're gonna advertise back there, at least get paid for it. (Note to self: million dollar idea – start rear end advertising company. Possible names – Buttvertising, CanMercials, Tail-Talkers, Rear View Ads.) Look, Victoria Secret may be great at stuffing lady-bits into uncomfortable under things, but they missed the mark when they encouraged the fairer gender to wear sweatpants that said "Pink" on the rump. There are no slogans or catchphrases that can make a lady's backyard more interesting than it already is.

 

Sexy: Knit Sweaters

 

This might just be me, but I love a baggy knit sweater on a gal. They just look so cozy and cuddly. Like the low ponytail, a knit sweater is sexy because it isn't trying to be. They hang just right on the female form without ever giving too much away. Some guys yearn for the warm bikini weather of summer; I like the cool, sweater-worthy air of fall.

 

Not Sexy: Duckface

 

I won't pretend to be the first to mock this trend, but I am going to bring it up because, seriously, what the hell, girls? The New York Times said that Megan Fox is the only person who has ever looked good doing the duckface. The New York Times is a bunch of damn dirty liars. Not even Donald Duck wants to kiss Daisy until she stops doing that dumb thing with her lips. If you absolutely must look like a woodland creature, maybe try frog face or fish lips – they aren't better, but at least they're different. As long as we're on the topic of girls going out of their way to look as unattractive as possible, could you please hit that mirror with some Windex before your next cell phone photo shoot? You'd be amazed how the flash on an iPhone catches every water streak and pimple carcass on a mirror if you don't clean the shiz off first. Or are you trying to distract from that weird thing your lips are doing?


Sexy: Glasses/Being Smart/Having An Opinion

 

Yes, I know putting on a pair of glasses doesn't automatically raise a person's IQ, but it sure looks like it does. Glasses are adorable. Honestly, the only reason anyone fell for Sarah Palin was because her glasses were cute and made her look like she could outwit a stump. Of course, she opened her mouth and blew the illusion, but I digress. If looking smart is sexy then actually being smart is off-the-charts hot. A gal who has an opinion about the political scene, society, current events, or where to go for dinner is infinitely better than a yes-man doormat. Before we go any further, I should clarify that having an opinion and being opinionated are two very different things. Anyone, male or female, who equates being the loudest with being the smartest should probably shut up and put their helmet back on.


Not Sexy: Uptalk, Vocal Fry, Or Saying "Like," Like All The Time

 

This is not just a teenage thing, I wish it was. There are scores of professional twenty and thirty-something women who talk like they just missed being cast in Clueless. Ending every sentence like it's a question bugs the shit out of me, mostly because I'm not the best listener and it makes me wonder if I missed part of the complete thought. Vocal frying is when the last syllable of a word gets really growly and just kind of trails off. Now I like a gravelly voice in a gal (I loved it when my ex wife got a sore throat), but vocal fry makes it sound like a girl's batteries are dying. As far as saying "like" all the time, well, I propose that anyone who comes in contact with such a person uses "similar" in the same fashion to get the point across.

 

Sexy: Driving A Stick

 

No, this is not a cleverly disguised innuendo. I honestly mean driving a car with a manual transmission. For me it has nothing to do with the phallic nature of the shifter or the sweet purr of an engine as it's revved through the gears. This particular skill is sexy precisely because it is a skill. No one knows how to row their own gears anymore. Even criminals pass over shifty cars because they were too lazy to learn how to drive one. A gal who knows that the clutch pedal isn't just an extra brake is a girl who can drive me around, if ya know what I mean.

 

Not Sexy: Spitting

 

I'm not talking about chewing tobacco, although that is a special kind of nasty, I'm talking about regular old saliva spewing. When a guy spits on the sidewalk or hocks a phlegm bomb, I just assume he was raised by monkeys who hadn't evolved to the level of shit tossing, but when a girl does it, I die a little inside. I have come to terms with the fact that pretty girls fart and poop, but there is nothing less lady-like than spitting. Nothing.

 

So there you have it. It's an odd list, sure, and by no means complete, but don't pretend like you don't have your own version tucked under the bathroom sink of your mind. If you're lucky enough to find a gal who checks "Yes" on every one of your "Is She Sexy" boxes, and possibly even a few you didn't know you had, make sure you treat her right, because having a type makes finding the right girl even harder. 


 

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Toilet Trouble

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (1)

First of all, let's all agree that public bathrooms are gross. This is more of a reflection on us, as a society, than the people charged with cleaning up after our biohazards. (Unless we're talking about Wal-Mart bathrooms, which I have to believe are constructed using bricks made from kiln-fired feces. How else do you get so much nasty concentrated in such a small area?) When otherwise decent humans go into a public restroom they lose all morality and ethical responsibility and start pissing like their genitals are the sprinklers at the county park. Bathroom anonymity leads to upper-deckers and peed-on toilet paper rolls.


An author/mad scientist friend recently posted on Facebook about the need for two classes of bathrooms in office and professional environments – one for droppin' a deuce and the other for going numéro uno. Ideally, the plop-and-squat bathroom would be located far from the work area so that you could sit and growl in peace, while the whizroom would be nice and close so that the coffee-fueled drones have easy access. According to her, anyone caught bombing the bay in the "If it's yellow, let it mellow" restroom instead of the "If it's brown, flush it down," one would be subjected to severe beatings at the hands of his or her coworkers and public shaming. I may be exaggerating her position, or possibly even fabricating the whole post, but I think the reasoning stands on its own.


 

 The butt-burrito bathroom is down the hall, Bitchacho!


 

Of course, restroom problems go far beyond just our tendency to turn into filthy animals as soon as the door closes behind us. There are some things that simply baffle me. Heads up pub owners, this one's for you: If you can afford to keep the lights on in your dumpy little dive, you can afford to throw up a small dividing wall between the urinals. How much can they possibly cost? I mean for Pizzas Hut's sake, what makes you think I need to talk to the stranger next to me while I'm doing the deed. Just because we have our business out, doesn't mean we're suddenly friends. And what the hell is with the ice in the urinals at bars and restaurants? Is it there to give fellas something to aim at or is hot pee just really hard on the pipes? Also, if your establishment has one of those troughs that run the length of the wall in the men's room, I hope the whole joint burns to the ground with you in it.


 

 Am I making myself clear?


 

Yes, I am one of those guys that will wait for a stall. I make no apologies for that. It's not because I have a shy bladder or have high standards for privacy, there are just some things a person likes to do on their own. I will conversate with anyone (almost) about anything (almost), but not when my bits are in my hand.


And ladies, your restrooms are probably even worse than the fellas'. I used to help my Dad with his cleaning business when I was a teen and the women's bathrooms were always the most disgusting. Maybe it's because of their penchant for hovering, maybe it's because they liked the idea of a man cleaning up after them, but it was just total chaos in there all the time. One office in particular had little trash cans mounted on the wall in each stall so that the ladies could 'periodically' dispose of certain items that had served their purpose (you see what I did there?). The women clearly had no regard for the poor schmuck who had to deal with them after they were done. It's a testament to my sexuality that I retained my hetero status after emptying those. Women are every bit as vile in the water closet as men, my ex-wife can tell you a story about wearing a one-piece jumpsuit and trying to use the stall in a bar at 2 AM where some dumb sorority girl had just tried to spare her guts the hassle of digesting a night's worth of pink cocktails.

 

So here's the thing, we can do better. I know we all have the occasional restroom emergency and even the best sharp shooter misses the mark occasionally, but maybe if we all made a concentrated effort to not be so damn disgusting then establishment owners wouldn't feel like they have nothing to lose by putting ads above the can.


 

 Yes, this is a real bathroom ad. I found it in the men's room of a senior center. I think they nailed their target market.



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Stale Marshmallows

Posted on July 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I remember, as a fourth grader, looking forward to Library Day every week. The librarian would read McGruff the Crime Dog stories using a puppet and quiz us about it afterward. Every right answer earned you a marshmallow. I always paid very close attention because I freakin' loved those marshmallows. He kept them in a flat round tin (the kind that comes filled with awful sugar cookies or even awfuler peanut brittle and are given out during the Holidays) but, since it wasn't air tight, the 'mallows were just a bit stale. They were the perfect combination of chewy and soft. I swore to myself back then that, when I grew up, I would buy the biggest bags of marshmallows I could find and leave them open to go stale so that I could have some whenever I wanted without having to memorize lessons taught by an anthropomorphic hound first.


 

 Hey kids, let me tell you a story about murderers, rapists, drug pushers, child molesters, kidnappers....


 

When you're a kid all you want to do is grow up. Adults will tell you that being a kid is imminently better, but these assholes have a have a history of telling you whatever it takes to get you to shut the hell up, so why would you believe them? I'm not going to get all poetic about how wonderful the mind of a child is, but I am impressed when I see the fantastically absurd imagination of my kids at work. My 7 year old and her BFF, a separated-at-birth neighbor girl, can do whatever they want simply by saying the magic word. In their case that word happens to be "pretend." "Pretend this cat is a bird now," one will say. "OK. And pretend this Lalaloopsy built a time machine so he could have this dinosaur instead of a car to ride around," the other responds. And just like that they're off and running until the next "pretend" happens and, like a drunk who missed his exit, they change directions again.


As an adult, my instinct is to correct the glaring mistakes they're making during playtime by saying, "No, no, no, that's all wrong. First of all, a mammoth isn't a dinosaur. Second of all, you're playing with the Strawberry Shortcake Splashin' Petal Pool playset, which tells me that you're in a warm climate, otherwise why would all your dolls be naked? That is far too warm for an animal like a mammoth to be hauling anyone around. Get it together, girls." But, I don't because she may very well be responsible for my care at some point so it's in my best interests to stay on her good side and because making shit up is the best part of being a kid.


My oldest daughter is at the awkward age where kid stuff just isn't all that much fun anymore. For her last few birthdays she's asked for jewelry instead of dolls. It's kind of a bummer watching her trade Littlest Pet Shop toys for earrings, but that's what happens when you start tweening. I want to tell her to stop growing up, but I know she won't listen. She's gonna have to learn for herself that being an adult is evolution's biggest practical joke – by the time you can afford your own toys you have kids of your own. Even though she bristles when I tell her to go play dollies with her sister, I know she'll miss it when she's older. I mean, if you think I wouldn't rather be sitting criss-cross-applesauce in my room right now staging a three-way war between my Battle Beasts, G.I. Joes, and Transformers, you have seriously misjudged who I am as a  person.


 

 To the Death!!!


 

Recently, my kids went on a five day "camping" trip with my folks. I put camping in quotes because they go in a giant RV that is to camping what ATVs are to quiet nature hikes. While they were gone I ate French Fries and nachos for dinner, slept in, and stayed up late watching Arrested Development on Netflix. I basically took the opportunity to act like I had no rules because my parents were gone. It felt good to act like a kid. But not as good as finding that someone has left the marshmallow bag open.

 

 

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Religion Is Weird

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

OK, so I wasn't going to touch the subject of religion again because A) I just did it a few blogs ago, and B) I really am not that hostile to other people's beliefs. I do find faith to be a many-splendored thing (by "many-splendored" I mean fascinating, but ultimately pointless) and am happy to let people be people without ever expecting them to qualify their particular brand of sky-daddy to me. Unless, of course, they want to push it on the unsuspecting masses, in which case I feel I have every right to have a little fun at their expense. What I'm saying is: If you knock on doors, hand out flyers, take part in mass-mailings, or post about it on Facebook, don't be surprised if some godless asshat turns it into a punch line.


Let the asshattery begin.


A lot of my old classmates are of the good church-going type and freely admit that they let Jesus take the wheel whenever they're too tired to drive. This means that there are a lot of thank-gods and god-bless-us-everyones whenever a job is found or a baby is born or dinner is cooked just right. Everyone assumes that the term "God" is synonymous with the Judeo-Christian belief system, but, since there have been as many as 30,000 gods throughout history, I like to pretend that my Facebook friends are thanking Quetzalcoatl or Baʿal for their good fortune. That isn't possible when a certain West Texas friend posts a picture like the following birthday present, however.


 

 Rollin', Rollin', Rollin', Keep them sins a rollin', Rawhide!


 

First I want to say that the craftsmanship looks to be top-rate. But, I don't remember the sermon about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a bucking bronco so that he could lasso the money-changers and hogtie them outside the temple, or whether or not he threw 302 completions for a total of 3,445 yards during his career-best season with the Cowboys in 1992. Of course, the sophomore with the giant boobs five seats over and one row up may have distracted me from those particular readings in church, but I think it's more likely that this thing is just a tad blasphemous. Not that I want to tell anyone how to make their God all smiley, but you can't get pissy about the sanctity of your religion if you're gonna decorate a tiny version of the murder weapon used against the main guy with a rodeo scene.


Then there's this gem that some random stranger handed my ex-wife one day while she was tending to the people she takes care of:


 




And that's the story of how God ruined brunch


 

 

The first question I had when she showed it to me was, "Did you ask the guy why he was handing out pamphlets with pictures of mirror-mounted foreskin and a cup of scabs on it to innocent passers-by?"


If you didn't take the time to read it, I'll hit the highlights for you. Apparently about 1,300 years ago there was a monk who was something of a scientific whiz kid, which meant he wasn't quite the Christ fanatic he should have been. As a thinking person, he was having some doubt about whether or not the bread and wine (Eucharist) at communion were really the flesh and blood of God. Now taking a step back from the fact that a bread and wine god would give the FSM a run for his money in terms of deliciousness, Catholics actually believe that they are eating and drinking god on Sunday.


After praying for a sign, God thought the best way to get through to this heathen was to scare the shit out of him by turning the bread into skin and the wine into blood right in front of him. In this story God has the same sense of humor as Freddy Kruger. The monk saved it because it was a miracle and because he was done eating forever since he could never trust his food to not fuck with him again. Catholics, being Catholics, did the rational thing and turned the disembodied flesh and blood into a macabre centerpiece or trophy of some sort instead of tossing it out and having the Health Inspector re-evaluate the sanitation of their buffet.


I'm not saying that this isn't evidence of a miracle (it isn't). There is a bit in there about how it was scientifically studied (I doubt it) and everything is totally legit (nope), but the real take away here is that religion is weird. So, thanks old classmate and well-intentioned stranger, but you can go ahead and keep your rodeo God and coagulated cocktail, I'm good.


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Soul What Now?

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I don't believe in the idea of a soul mate. The entire notion that there is only one person in the whole wide world who is right for you is nonsense. If it were true, finding that special someone would be like winning the goddamn lottery. It would also imply that there was someone up ↑ there offering the slightest chance of real happiness (at best) or just fucking with us (at worst). There are no fairy tale endings - true love's first kiss is not the end of the story, it's just when things start getting messy.


If there is any truth to the soul mate fantasy, it's that it can happen eventually. You take two people from drastically different backgrounds, different genders (no offense you same-sex cheaters), and even different parts of the country, or even the world, and tell them to make a life together and there is going to be a shit storm. Most couples never make past the first few laps, let alone through some of the rougher parts of the marathon. You show me a couple who hasn't thought long and hard about throwing in the towel and I'll show you two people in persistent vegetative states.


Marriages, or domestic partnerships for the hippies, are a full time job. Getting to know the real person behind the pretty face, building up a tolerance to all the weird habits they have thanks to less-than-great parenting, sharing your carbonated beverage at a fast food joint when you told them to order their own - those aren't things for the faint of heart. If you get lucky you might just find someone who will put up with you and who you are willing to put up with; if you really strike it rich you may also find that they are exceptionally easy on the eyes as well.


So, good for you. You managed to snag a good one and outkick your coverage at the same time. Now what? Even if you do your best, life will get in the way from time to time. Debt, kids, houses – they can suck the romance right the hell out of your happy union faster than you can say "Hey, what does it mean when the bill is pink?" There's also the risk of forgetting what made that person so special in the first place. You start to take for granted that they will always be there, no matter what, and quit putting the effort in to make sure they have a reason to stay. Plus, people change, meaning that you and yours are not quite the same as you used to be. New interests, new friends, a few extra pounds - it can start to feel like you have a stranger next to you.


Most marriages don't end with a bang, but with a fizzle. Things go south so slowly that the folks in it don't realize until it's too late. The biggest marriage murderer isn't a strange shag, it's pride. Too proud to admit when you're wrong, too proud to accept good advice, or just too damn proud to honestly and openly say "I love you" when it counts the most. If you get the chance, do what it takes to keep it alive. Make that person feel special, wanted, protected, listened to, attractive, but most of all, loved. Change yourself for them and make their happiness the priority. Don't let something good slip away just because you think you're fine how you are. We can all use a little reinvention now and again.


And that's the rub. You won't meet your soul mate until you've been with them for quite a while and put in the work. But it is worth it. It has to be, right?

 

 

 

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The Gambler

Posted on April 27, 2012 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Actor, poet, prophet - Kenny Rogers really does do it all. What makes him especially impressive is the fact that, even with skin stretched tighter than Saran Wrap over last night's casserole, his words are truer now than they were back when he uttered them to a Muppet in a train car.

 


 He's smiling. Or surprised. Or made of wax.


 

"You gotta know when to hold 'em,

Know when to fold 'em,

Know when to walk away

And know when to run."


I never count my money when I'm sitting at the table, not because of my unflappable manners, but because I have a debit card. Foldin' money? What am I, a caveman? The thing is, as Kenny so eloquently pointed out, there are times when a person has to fight (possibly for their right to party) and times when it's better to just let the current take you along. This isn't so easy when the unmovable object is, well, unmovable, and your unstoppable force is getting winded.


You can counter, "Nothing worth doing is easy," or "The key of persistence opens all door closed by resistance" or "There is no life without struggle" or "If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak right now." All valid points and I applaud your encyclopedic knowledge of platitudes, but sometimes that silver lining is just the radioactive sheen dancing in the light on the edge of a mushroom cloud. The line between perseverance and stupidity is razor thin and we all do the foxtrot on it from time to time.


 

 You totally got this

 

You can usually tell it's time to quit pissin' against the wind because you've finally reached your goal. But, because human nature seems not to have gotten the evolutionary memo, it isn't always so cut and dried. Maybe a person needs to leave a corrosive work environment, a toxic relationship, or something as basic as a system of belief that doesn't make as much sense as it used to. No matter what the specifics are, it's crucial to remember that there are some unwinnable wars and there is no shame in giving up and living to fight another day.


So, to all the quitters out there: Don’t hang your head in shame, throw those shoulders back, stand up straight, and let everyone know that you're not weak, you're just pragmatic.



 And that's an ace you can keep.

 

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