Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How Did You Die?


Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there – that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t that fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

-Edmund Vance Cooke

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Closest Friend

Jeepers
I remember coming home from elementary school one day and going to the backyard and not seeing my miniature schnauzer, Jeepers, anywhere. My little brother and I searched everywhere and eventually thought he might have ran away. I called my mom at her work and she said she took him in to be put down earlier that morning. And just like that, Jeepers was dead.

Greg and I never got to say goodbye. Never got to pet him or feed him one last time. In our little tiny frames of rage, we destroyed Jeepers' doghouse with hammers. Out of what, I'm still not sure. Anger, of course, but directionless and without specific reason. Maybe reducing that little wooden house to kindling was our way of instant closure. It never worked, as we still resent her for it to this day.

But as I got the "privilege" to be there for my cat Jag during his final moments, I realize now that there is no easy way out; Whether you're there for it or not, when a loved pet dies, life fires a nail gun into your soul and leaves it there to rust until enough time has passed for you to jostle it free many years later.

My sister and Lynx
We got Jag and his sister Lynx before my sister was even born, which means Jag lived to be at least 16 years old. It was always an unsaid rule in the house that Jag was "my" cat. There was his sister Lynx, and they had kittens (Tiger, Puma and Foo), but Jag was just always mine.

Him and I were a lot alike. We liked being alone away from everyone else, but we never minded each other. I'd wake up with him pawing at my back, and when I woke up, he would lay down on the carpet in the sun coming through the window, waiting for me to join him. And I did. We'd lay in the sun on the floor, and I'd  tell him everything. Just talk. About life. I suppose this was my version of prayer; Confiding in a source your deepest fears, regrets and hopes. I knew he couldn't understand what I was saying per se, but I know that he knew I was communicating with him and only him. After all, we were the only two things in the room and he would look at me while laying on my belly, falling asleep to my heartbeat. When I was sick, he'd lay on the piano and watch over me. When I was in a bad mood, he stayed out of my way. And when I was just sad - even on days I was sad for no reason at all - he'd jump up and rub his head all around the hair on my head and purr until I sighed and just let all the bad shit in life fade away.

Away from each other, Jag and I did our own things: I did my best to go about my life with as little contact with my family as possible; Jag would sit on the roof, watching the city silently, not concerned about chasing birds or other cats. And when I got home, he'd be at my sliding glass door, waiting to come in. I'd sit down, do my homework, then watch a movie while he sat on my head.

Lynx eventually disappeared years ago the way cats do when they're too prideful to let you see them wither away. One day we just simply never saw her again. We kept the screen door ajar in hope of hearing that familiar sound of soft metal scratching and mewing, but it never did. It was sad for a few weeks, but it was a calm and underlying sadness where everyone knew the truth of Lynx, and we all accepted it quietly in our own ways as life went on.

I left my home years and years ago under, shall we say... acrimonious terms. And while living on my own and finding my own path in life while I become a man has been rewarding on many levels, one regret I always had was that I had to leave my cat, Jag, behind in hopes that my little sister would take care of him in my stead.

When I returned home years later to pick up an amp I had left in the garage, I found a box in my old front porch. In it was a figure I couldn't recognize. Just a bag of bone and fuzz barely moving. I tiled the box and heard Jag's meow, but it was weaker now. Barely audible and full of air. I could see his skeleton through his fur. As I reached out with both my arms to pull Jag in, he made that whiny groan that cats do in their throats when they're displeased with something but are incapable of doing anything about it (i.e. car rides). He was light as a feather. The heaviest thing about him was his collar. I could touch his tail, his belly, pet his back, move his paws, and where he would normally hiss or pull away, he simply just laid in my arms, now purring.

I couldn't understand. Jag was such a big cat. The biggest on the block. I've seen him take on three cats at the same time and they ran away. He turned dogs on their back if they even approached me. He jumped fences in single bounds and could get to the top of our chimney in seconds. How could such a powerful and beautiful creature be reduced to... this? So quickly?

I called my sister and asked her what happened to Jag. She said they took him to the doctor and there was something about his kidneys no longer working and he wouldn't eat. I broke the lock on the garage and opened some cat food, and sure enough, Jag was so weak he couldn't even lift his head to bother eating. He just looked at me. A few soft blinks, and then went back to sleep in his box.

I knew what was coming.

A few days later my sister called me and told me that my mom was taking Jag to the vet to put him down. I drove there as fast I could, speed limits be damned. She won't do this to me again. I parked and marched in. There was my mom and my sister with a box in her lap. Inside, Jag was standing awkwardly, half up and half crouching, in a confused state of awareness. I reached in to turn him around and he stayed in that position, like a doll. His eyes were open but he wasn't looking at anything. I squatted down to make eye contact, but even when I lined us up, he just wasn't... there.

The vet called Jag's name. I signed some papers on a clipboard. Let the pen hang off it's string. I carried the box, somehow still not comprehending the events that were happening. I was just carrying a box.

And then I saw the metal table around the corner. The sterile air and florescent lights gave everything a harsh, dull tone. The vet put rubber gloves on and gently dragged Jag out of the box. I heard his claws scratching the cardboard. A groan. Jag stumbled. Even though he couldn't physically react, somewhere in his mind I knew he wasn't liking the cold surface. The doctor asked me questions, but I was in my own world behind my sunglasses, looking at Jag, wondering what all of this meant. Just keep nodding.

The vet pulled out some clippers and shaved some of the fur from the inside of Jag's leg. More questions. More nodding in oblivious numbness. And then I saw the needle.

And in one full, entire fleeting moment of our flashbacks, it all came crashing down on me.

Jag is going to die. Right now.

The first needle went in. Jag reacted immediately. Out of nowhere he came to life and began twisting and turning with all the strength of a feather. I remember the veterinarian's command to "Hold him down," echoed in my head. So I grabbed what was left of the scruff of Jag's neck and held on.

I held on for as long as I could. At the same time, I could feel him letting go.

And Jag, for the first time in weeks, looked at me.

A tear fell onto the lens of my sunglasses, blurring my vision. But I knew what was going on. Jag looked up  - at his owner of 16 years - and suddenly, after all the petting, the movies, the talking, the hours of laying in the sun, the sneaking of food, the park, the vacations... suddenly he had to be confused as to why this giant who had loved him for so long was suddenly holding him down as he was dying. Why isn't he helping me? Jag looked up at me and only me with wide eyes, pupils constantly widening and narrowing, looking for a reason why I was doing this to him.

My teeth felt like plastic as I clenched them. I hadn't exhaled in some time. A green saucy fluid began drooling from the side of Jag's mouth.

And then...




There is no happy ending to this. No cute moral of the story. No heart-warming final thought. Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what people may say to me, all I know is that Jag looked up at me and, in that little primal brain of his, his final thought was, "Why?"

And his green eyes closed for the last time.

My Jag.
Hope I see you soon, buddy. I'll explain when I get there.

-HKR

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hungry and hollow

The night van Gogh let go.
These... "plans" we have, they are never truly born. They're simply evolved from other failed plans, other scarring mistakes, other lessons that are still - and quite stubbornly - unlearned. So many people worry about the script and where they fit in it they become obsessed with how their movie is going to end. And that's fine. But a few very rare people have already seen the end of our movie. And that's okay with us. Because that some of us live in trilogies. Because for us, the end of the movie is really the beginning of the saga. Where the second part gets even darker. And the third one amplifies the triumph.

So the real wonderment is not what your ending is; It's asking yourself what you're going to do when all of your plans culminate in to one, colossal, life-altering proposition when its offered to you while fate's back is turned. Will you shrink into the corner of your life? Or will you take it and make as much noise as possible?

Well, the back way is always quieter.

But it's an exit all the same.

-HKR

Saturday, November 12, 2011

There's a weird bird in all of us.

Setting: Spring, 2004, my house. My 10-year old sister calls my name from the kitchen while I'm in my room cleaning my desk.

[from far away, a little girls' voice] "Neeeeeeeeeiiil!"

What!?

"Come here!!!!"

[I walk to the kitchen and over to the bay windows] What is it, Lindsey.

"Lookit. Those two birds are fighting."

Where?

"Right there. By the pool, on the slide."

...

"Why are they fighting like that?"

*blinks* Well...

[She looks up at me, awaiting an answer]

Well those doves are fighting in that particular way because they like each other.

[twists face] "Because they like each other!?"

Eeyeah. It's a good fight.

"They've been fighting forever just now. What happens when one wins?"

Well, they both kind of...win in that fight.

[makes a face] "Birds are weird."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Annoying Types of Drivers

People Who Are Scared To Death Of Concrete Barriers
Sometimes, when freeway planners don't have a lot of faith in the driving skills of ordinary citizens (which is completely reasonable), they put up concrete barriers to keep drunk and stupid people from driving into oncoming traffic or off a cliff.

And that's fine; Knowing your limitations is a good thing, as anyone who has watches American Idol can tell you. But the sensible thing to do would be to get out of the scary lane, instead of constantly hitting your brakes in terror and veering so far to the right that your car has half changed lanes anyway.

Why do these people do this? Apparently it's really important for them to stay in the "fast lane" despite their pants-shitting fear of the barrier causing them to slow down so much they would probably be going faster in the next lane to the right anyway. Or maybe they're just too scared to think of what to do.

Listen, barrier-phobic people, it's okay to move over. The concrete barrier can't smell fear. It's not going to chase you.

People Who Think Bicycles Are Massive Vehicles

The literal mirror image of those people are people who are terrified of bicyclists. Whenever they come across a single bicyclist riding on the right side of the road, they give the bike the berth that most people would normally give a bus, or in some cases, a Galaxy-class starship Enterprise.

And let me just say that bicyclists do really appreciate the fact that you care about not running them over. And that's very sweet. But bikes are as wide as... people. When there's a bike lane, in particular, the bike lane is plenty big enough to contain the bike or three, and the car lane is just fine to fit your car, so all you have to do is stay in that car lane, as opposed to veering into oncoming traffic or slowing down and driving behind the bike the whole way home.

I know sometimes there's no bike lane and the road is narrow, and sometimes there's inconsiderate bicyclists that don't stay to the right, but throwing out those cases, there's plenty of times the bike is safely contained in a big fat shoulder or bike lane, and all this driver can see is apparently some kind of whale rolling sideways down the side of the road.

People Who Pass You For No Actual Advantage

There's a lot of people out there who will be very rude or dangerous about passing you, we all know about that, but in most cases they're gaining something, at least according to their priorities. They're passing you to get into an open lane where they can go ahead and keep driving 120 mph, so that they can die faster.

But what if there's clearly already a red light 200 yards in front of you? Why would someone pass you just to get to the red light faster? Do they enjoy waiting at red lights? Apparently so, because this happens way more than it should.

Or if there's a slow car, of course people want to pass. But say you're going slowly only because the car in front of you is going slowly. You would pass that sleepy old man but there's no room to pass in the other lane. Then Mr. Speed Demon comes up behind you and starts tailgating you like it's your fault you're going so slow.

Apparently convinced it would be smooth sailing if he could just get around you, he zips around you and settles in neatly right behind the actual slow car. What the fuck, buddy? What did that gain you except spending some extra gas and giving someone who now hates you a good chance to memorize your license plate?

That's right, pal. You better watch it because if I see you again on the road, I am going to quietly not think very highly of you.

People Who Let EVERYBODY In

A lot of times we bemoan the lack of civility on our roads, but sometimes an overdose of civility can be an equally annoying pain in the ass. When you merge onto a freeway or something, you are supposed to merge like a zipper, one car from either side, alternating.

Sometimes one soft-hearted driver will let one car in, and then, oh no! There's another car there. Well how did you get there, little fella? You can come in too! Oh, wait, there's another car behind him! Imagine that! Well, you get yourself in there too. After a while, you can actually see it dawn on them after a while that the stream of cars merging in is actually infinite, and after a couple moments pussyfooting forward hesitantly as they fit these new observations into their worldview, they will drift shamefully forward and free up traffic.

A similar problem can be seen at stop signs, where some people completely ignore the actual, universal laws about who gets to go first and treat it like some kind of exercise in "after you" chivalry. Instead of making things faster, this actually confuses the other person and often sends them into a stop sign standoff, as shown below:


This repeats until both cars run into each other.

People Who Camp Parking Spots

These people have apparently reserved a parking space with a credit card somehow, because they stubbornly camp out spaces where the occupants obviously aren't going to be leaving in the next couple of minutes, as they pack their month's worth of Costco groceries away or disassemble their extremely complex baby-carrying apparatus and pack it in the car.

The worst thing is if they pre-position themselves in the middle of the aisle, at an angle, to most easily turn into the parking space, oblivious to the fact this blocks traffic in both directions. "Fuck this shit," you will probably think, "I'm backing out." But then when you look behind you, a line of other drivers drawn into this horrible nightmare has appeared, completely blocking you in.

And then if you turn to the inconsiderate nexus of this whole clusterfuck, sitting there with their blinker on, and express some kind of impatience, they'll just turn to you with a, "I know! What can I do?" kind of look and shrug at the people who aren't leaving, like this is their responsibility. Yeah, sure, it's not the fault of the dumbfuck sitting in the middle of the aisle, turned 45 degrees with his blinker on, because that space is obviously his destiny. Looking for another space could completely alter the course of history and destroy life as we know it.

Or maybe he would just have to walk 15 more seconds to get to the store entrance. Either way the consequences are just unthinkable.

People Who hang Out In Your Blind Spot

If you are a responsible driver, you know there are "blind spots" around your car that you can't see using your mirrors, and that it's bad for another vehicle to be in them, at least if you consider it bad to be completely unaware of a one ton machine going 70 mph right next to your car.

Sometimes someone drifts into your blind spot, which is not a problem. You just speed up or slow down to get them out of it. But some drivers, for some inexplicable reason, insist on staying in your blind spot. You speed up, they speed up. You slow down, they slow down. What the hell is going on here?

Speeding up might be explained by typical chest-thumping driver competitiveness, but slowing down? That's just weird. One possible explanation is that they're just not paying attention and unconsciously tend to match speed with the nearest car. For those who prefer more paranoid explanations, it could be one of them crooks who stages accidents for the insurance money.

How to tell which is which? I suggest pointing a gun at the other driver. If they react to it, they were clearly paying attention to you and therefore must be an insurance crook.

Slow Drivers In Denial

Most slow drivers are pretty oblivious, but a few of them are in active, aggressive denial. If you should pass them, as you normally would to a slow driver, they suddenly wake up, become incensed, and speed up, as if to say, "Hey! I'm not a slow driver! Who says I am!" They may have just drifted off for a bit, they seem to be saying, but how dare you judge them by that speed they were going. That's not their real speed. They're really a fast driver, you just caught them at a bad moment.

Of course, 30 seconds later, after you reluctantly settle back in behind them, they are back to crawling along like a tortoise. And do you dare pass them again? They are clearly fucking sensitive about this. You don't want to start a road rage thing here. Hell, they might be one of those crazy people that keeps a gun in their car.

People Who Time It Just Right So You Miss the Green Light
Just fuck you.

-HKR

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Anam cara


Right now. You're sitting down. And perhaps a few of you are standing up. You have your eyes looking at a piece of glass that emits light and images for your to process and understand.

a

b

c

You just read three letters. And you didn't even really read them; you just saw them and recognized them and continued down to the next mass of words. And that's just you.

Somewhere, outside of your window, on the other side of your door, under the same sky you look up into, someone, right now, this very second you read this bolded word, two people are having the best and wildest sex of their life. Someone is tied up to two bed posts and sweating and breathing and moaning in time with someone whose muscles are tightening and clenching every second. Right now. This second. Promise.

Somewhere in the world right now, someone right now is having the best day of their life. A woman just obtained a large sum of money and got a promotion and their kids won an award while their husband bought them a new car.

Right now, a boy is coming home from falling in love with a girl and is smiling just thinking about her. He can't forget her scent. He will not do his homework tonight, and for the first time in his life he's worrying about what he's going go to wear tomorrow. That could be happening on the other side of your block right now.

Right now someone is starting a diet. And someone else is giving theirs up.

This exact moment that you're sitting safe in your chair at home with your music on, somewhere in the world there's a girl getting raped by a man she doesn't know. And she will probably be killed in about ten minutes. Her body will be stashed away by some demented means and she won't be found for some time. This could be happening in India. This could be happening in Africa. This could be happening across your street. My street.

Somewhere at this very moment that I made you aware of your blinking, two kids are fighting and bleeding. Somewhere else a couple is laying in a park on a blanket smiling, secretly thinking about marriage but not telling the other. A band is breaking up and yelling at the lead singer. Elsewhere, a man is at a table with a pen and paper in hand, writing three verses, a chorus and a bridge to a song that you will hear on the radio and be singing in a few months.

A baby was just born. A mother is smiling through tears from nine months pain and unfathomable agony and wouldn't trade any of it for the world. A baby has just died. A teenage girl will be walking out of a clinic with her head down in about half an hour and will never forget this moment - the same moment that you read my blog- for the rest of her life.

It's a rookie's first time flying a plane. Someone just got fired. Another is retiring. Millions of people are praying this instant. A homeless man needs money. A woman needs her hair to come out right. A girl wants a pair of shoes to be one sale. A man would like nothing more than to have the woman he met last night call. And he's waiting by his phone right now.


By the time you've finished reading this entry...

...the s/m couple just had the best orgasm they've ever had. And one of them is smoking a cigarette.

...the married couple is getting ready to go out somewhere expensive. But the husband has already reserved a table as a surprise.

...the boy is still smiling.

...that girl is dead right now. The man is standing up, suddenly frightened at himself and what he's done. In a few minutes, pure panic will set in. In a few weeks, he will be behind bars and sentenced to life in prison.

...the baby is a boy. The girl aborted a girl.

And you sat here and read words. What will go on unnoticed around you after you're done reading this?


Someone could be writing writing about you right now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Unite.



"I'm sorry. But I don't want to be an emperor; that's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.
"We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful.

"But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

"We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in; machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: 

"More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

"The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

"The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

"Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines. You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty!

"In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ”....the kingdom of God is within man” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

"You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

"Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Apartment drinking water tainted by corpse"

Pussies.
"More than 500 residents in an apartment building in Yungho City, suburban Taipei, were reportedly drinking water from a communal roof-top tank containing a corpse for three days until yesterday.

"The residents had been puzzling over their water having a strange smell. When they checked the tank they found the body of a 27-year-old drug addict identified only as "Kuo" who lived in the building.

Yesterday, television reports said doctors were checking residents and also people involved with a restaurant on the ground floor which had used the polluted water to wash rice, meat and vegetables.

After the body was found yesterday, health workers disinfected the water tank, but residents have shied from drinking the running water, hauling water in buckets from a nearby building instead."
(Source)
My question is: Would Mufasa still consider this the Circle of Life? 'Cause this still falls under that whole, "...and the antelope eat the grass, and so..." monologue he gave Simba. And if this doesn't fall under that rule, then he's lying. A lyin' Lion. HA! Get it? Because they sound the same.

Anyway. Drinking water in Taipei. Crossing that off my list.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Johnny's Depth

 

Pop quiz. The people chasing Jack Sparrow in the above picture are:

    A.) Native cannibal islanders who believe Jack is a god.
    B.) About 700 cast members who will also be a pirate and/or plot lines in the next movie.
    C.) Members of the ancient "Scissorhand" samurai tribe.       

Answer: D.) People wanting their $15 and 3 hours of their life back.

Okay, so I watched 'Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest' for the first time since it was in theaters back in 2006. Now don't wanna spoil it for anybody who might not have seen it yet (all two of you) so I'll just tell you this one little thing, just to give you some context.

It's actually a horrible movie.

I went and did the research on how they came up with the structure of the movie, and the best I can tell is, they loaded about four or five different screenplays into a shotgun and just pulled the trigger. And then they just sent somebody, like a PA, to crawl around, pick up random words and piece them together and then handed that to the actors. And then even that script was lost about halfway through shooting, so the director just made up something everyday. It was just like, "Um, and then today... this person shows up and... they're a pirate, too now."

The other thing about this movie is, EVERYBODY WAS A PIRATE. Just, everybody. If you were in the first movie and you weren't a pirate, you're now a pirate in this movie. Everybody gets to be a pirate. It was ridiculous how many pirates there were. Some of them were fish pirates, some of them had always been a pirate, then some of them were half-dead pirates, some of them were full-dead pirates, some of them were just pretending to be pirates...

The only thing to which there were more of than pirates in this movie are plot lines. Everybody gets a plot line in this movie. If you're a dog, you get a plot line. If you're a ship, oh, you definitely get a plot line. All the ships get a good plot line. Um, the ocean gets a plot line. If you're just a single body part, a lot of times you get your own plot line. Like if you're just an eye or a heart or something, you get a whole story. But they don't finish any of them. They think about it... but then they just keep adding more plot lines. Like, literally, the last line of the movie is a new plot line. It's a never-ending story. But with no Luck Dragons.

One other overall note about the movie that I thought was very interesting was that the entire cast - with the exception of Kiera Knightley - were women. And I thought that was a bold choice. All the pirates you could tell were chicks, because of all the heavy feminine eye make up and long-haired wigs. And if you don't know who Kiera Knightley is, she's kind of a slightly more man-ish version of Orlando Bloom.

And the direction... uh, I don't know if there actually was a director? But I'm told a name came up at the credits and it said Gore Verbinski. And I'll tell you this much: it could have used a lot more gore and a lot less "Verbinski" (which i think is Russian for, "bad dialogue").

The big thing they're fighting this time is this Kraken that nobody can beat. A Kraken. Trust me, I have fought a Kraken. It's not that hard, really. If this movie was called 'Samurai of the Caribbean', samurai wouldn't just amble around doing bad Keith Richards impersonations. They'd get the job done. If there's a chest, it doesn't matter if there's a dead man in it, a dead man on it, or if it IS a dead man. They're gonna get the chest and get it back. ' Samurai of the Caribbean' would be a great movie. And by the way, there's this alleged "pirate code"? I don't think it exists because they always go against it. Honest. There's no honor amongst pirates. Johnny Depp actually slams Orlando Blooms face in with a rowing oar. A rowing oar! Who does that?

Actually, come to think of it, that was pretty cool. Ctrl + C on that one.

Here's my advice to you regarding this movie: Save your money. Just, just dress up like a clown, jump into a giant aquarium, and sing the lyrics to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benetar. Backwards. At least that would make more sense than Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Wait a minute, there wasn't even a dead man in the movie...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

C'est la vie

Good morning.

I just had a dream where my teacher asked me what I wanted to be and I said artist, but not just a hippie. So he gave me card that would let me into a secret parking lot. When I drove my truck out of it, it caused a bike crash, which caused another bike crash, and so on, and chained bike crashes all the way to France. So then me and Charles Barkley went to France to find Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat and start a fight, but they were in Europe. So we drove a roller coaster to France and went to to Euro Disney, and that's where I looked into a window and found out I was actually Julia Roberts. But then we wanted cake because everyone who saw us wanted to party. We overheard some married couple make a cake joke like, "Do you want some leftovers from last night? Hahahahahaha!", and when I went to buy cake where they mentioned, my credit card didn't work but my debit card did. And I can't remember how, but the single largest plate glass in the world was involved.

This all probably means I'm gay.

-HKR

Friday, August 26, 2011

30 Guy Facts

One of my female friends said I write about girls a lot and that I rarely ever talk about guys. I reminded her that I'm straight and I'm much more interested in females and their psychologies and philosophies than males, since I'm a guy myself and I already understand the facts on how we work. She said I should share those facts. "Sure, why not," I thought. So here's some stuff you girls should know about your normal guy:
• As much as you may want to talk about past relationships, zip the lip. When you tell a guy you are still good friends with an ex, that translates to, "We still hook up occasionally." Whether it's true or not, it runs through our heads.

• Always wait to hear how many people he's slept with before you reveal your numbers. Anything above 7 is generally considered slutty, and anything below 3 is generally considered a lie.

Working on a car...
...and secretly playing World of Warcraft.
• Every guy has one "dorky" hobby; some guys play video games like Halo, others build paper airplanes or work on their cars. While you may be desperate to change them, let them have this one thing and you can keep yours. It'll keep everyone sane.

• Guys like it when it's bare. You know where.

• We don't like your drunken alter ego. If he's really nice he will hold your hair back while you puke, but you're still The Girl Who Puked.

• Never walk into the bathroom without knocking first; there are some things that guys just don't want you to see (or smell). If they're in there for more then 10 minutes, you should wait about 20 before you walk through that door.

• Unless it's jeopardizing your relationship and involves large sums of money or violence, don't criticize a friend of your man unless he brings it up first.

• Try not to go through our shit. But you will anyway, so once you do, don't tell us.

• Guys like compliments too. If you tell us you like our shirt, we will actually remember and wear that shirt again.

• Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
• Stop saying we're complicated. We do simple things - both sweet and stupid - for simple reasons. It virtually always boils down to us being either a.) hungry b.) horny c.) bored, or d.) seriously, we just forgot. It's not that we don't care. We just... forgot. We don't want you mad at us anymore than you want your period. And we don't want that, either.
"But I spent years trying to change you.
Why aren't you the man I once knew?"
• Men don't like to talk face to face as much as women do. Especially if you're arguing or bringing up a sensitive subject. Wanna make things easier? Sit next to him (and not in front of him where guys are subconsciously confrontational) when discussing an important matter. 

• Unusual spots for sex turn us on. Men like to get out of the bedroom. They'd like you to offer up your bathroom, your kitchen, and other unusual spots for a special afternoon of love-making. There's nothing like sex in the afternoon. And when it comes to fantasies, they're more than happy to play along with yours, and they love for you to indulge theirs. Another guy request: They want to talk to you about sex, openly and candidly. Think of it as giving him updates. The way ESPN does. 

• Just like knuckles, some guys can "crack" their penis. Just ask 'em. 

• Yes there are nice guys out there. And yes, it pisses us off when you girls say we don't exist.

• Both genders have their insecurities. Whether it's true or not, just tell him he has the biggest penis you've had. Hey: We always say you're the most beautiful, right?

• Guys who like girls that are into religion do so because it gives them something to believe in - and something to scream during sex. Corruption can be a sexy challenge. 

• They don't want to hear about your period. Period. 

• Sometimes sports take priority over sex. Especially during playoffs. Before you and your fragile ego get hurt, how often would you rather be doing something else instead of sex? Bingo.

• If your guy's Facebook or online status says "single", he is not your boyfriend.

At least, not a good one.
 
• A guy will silence your calls when he is a.) At a sporting event, b.) At the bar, c.) He's pissed at you, or d.) Hooking up with another girl. And yes, sometimes c and d can go together. 

• If a guy seems into you but doesn't act on it, one of his friends wants you.

• Some guys pee sitting down. 

• They like getting head more than giving it. ALWAYS. 

• If a guy you like asks you to hang out, it's okay to bring a friend the first time - from then on, save the sidekick for parties and other social events. 

• If a guy has small hands or feet, don't comment on it unless you're prepared for an awkward situation. 

• If you approach it the right way, you can get any guy to watch Sex and the City with you. 

• We look at porn on the internet. Yes, we do. 

Seriously. Yes we do.

• If they smell like pot, they've probably been smoking. If they smell like booze, they've probably been drinking. Put your interrogation flashlight away.

• He secretly thinks at least one of your friends are hot.

And you secretly know which one it is.

-HKR

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Suicide and sex and other things that mix.

ssde

For the most part, I fail to see the issue with suicide.

Life sucks? End it. After all, when you don't like what's on TV, you turn it off. And when you don't like what's on the radio? Punch the knob. Did you fuck up on a drawing? Throw it away.

Put those torches and pitchforks down. I'm not saying I wouldn't care. If someone I know commits suicide, I'll admit if I was close to them of course I'd become completely unhinged and then furious at them for doing it. But while I'm on this honesty kick, I also have to admit that while anger would immediately surface via finding out my friend is dead, it would also fade within - I'd say - a week. Very serious. Be honest. Could you really be horrifically angry for more than a week straight? The pain would still be there, sure. That's not a question. Even if it was your husband or wife that committed suicide, you would be bed-ridden and barely eating for a month at most. And then one day you'd get out of bed. And walk around. A couple weeks later you would walk outside. And eventually go back on Facebook and see that - lo and behold - everyone else has moved on. And by the end of that year you'd be working again, laughing at jokes again, and maybe even dating. A decade later you'd fall in love, maybe have a kid, and so on. Twenty years later, maybe a song would pop up or someone would say his or her name and you'd feel that twinge - happens to me all the time - but you'd hardly be paralyzed in misery the way you were the week after. In fact, you wouldn't even think of them that often. There might even be days or entire weeks when that person didn't even cross your mind. This is not a bad thing; it's the natural effect of time passing. Bottom line is: everyone is eventually fine.

Look, suicide isn't for everyone. I know the arguments: "What about [insert family/friend here]? How would they feel if you left them behind?" Well first off, the term "leaving behind" implies dying is going forward, so that's fine. Then they should be happy. And second, the people who lived on? How could I care? I'm dead. If I'm in Heaven, I'm happy. And if I go to Hell, then chances are I've bigger things to worry about than what kind of brownies aunt Linda made for the reception. The third alternative? Nothing. Absolutely nothing could happen after you die. No Heaven, no Hell, nothing. Curtains drop, fade to black. That's it. And in that case, I won't even see any of you later anyway. I'm dead. I will have ceased to be, as Monty Python put it. Alone. Except for the worms, of course.
Which is why I've never subscribed to the silly philosophy of, "God only gives you what you can handle." Clearly that's not true, or the mere notion of suicide wouldn't even exist. If people were only "given" what they could handle, then no one would ever feel so helpless and out of control that they would rather just give up and punch the Off button instead of pressing on. To make things worse, people defend it by saying, "Well, suicide is man's choice, not God's." Well first of all, no one said anything about it being God's choice. And second, God made the person and the person's soul and brain and had him born in that particular time in that particular part of the world. God created that person in that environment of family and friends and susceptible to their ideas and behaviors. If everything is God's plan, then that means he knew before he even created this person that what would happen in their life was more than they could emotionally handle. Getting fired, amputated, bankrupt and having the wife and kids die in a car accident all in one day? That stuff happens all the time. Some people have the mental fortitude to withstand that kind of onslaught from life. Some don't. The people who commit suicide are the people who didn't. And all they ever did was get set in this rat maze called "God's Plan."

Which is why I tend to leave "God" out of these conversations. When people insist on using him on these issues, he tends to come out of it looking like a huge asshole; And I prefer to think of whoever created us - God or otherwise - as someone with a bit more wisdom, patience, and forethought under its belt.

To put it simply: I have more faith in our creator than that. If there is one.

rough sexIs suicide wise? Most of the time, of course not. Look, I'm not condoning the act. Life can be the most gorgeous thing to ever happen to you. Like my father used to say: "Try to wish you were never born when you're making love to a beautiful woman," - which is probably why I do enjoy women so much; They keep me in track. Sex gives me a meaning for life. And I don't mean that in some shallow, nymphomaniac angle. I mean that in the quintessential light of romance. Truth is, there's nothing in life like sex, fucking, animalistic screwing with abandon, or especially, passionately making love. Nothing.

There's nothing so absolutely chaotic and beautiful that you can do as sex. It's an absolute mess. Your body is out of control, hitting that hidden 7th gear that you suppress 99% of your life. Your senses flare to unimaginable heights, you start sweating like animals, you hyperventilate, every nerve ending buzzes with every twist, turn, pumps, arch and grip. You don't act anything like your normal self. One human is inside another. And you don't stop. You just go faster, and you get addicted to the moment and you simply want more. You encourage with sounds, yelling, moaning, clawing with your nails, biting, wrapping your legs around them, and the bed, well... you kick the shit out of that bed. You become an animal. It's the human soul at its most primal. You have one goal and, for the one and only time in your life, you have a clear goal. An easy target. A natural method. And you have the time of your life doing it. Everything is simple. And when you get to the summit, that delicious peak of tightness, you go blank. There's a fraction of a second where you lose consciousness and any and all thoughts disappear. They shatter and scatter and cease to matter. Religions use to believe the climax was the closest man could get to God without actually dying. It's the purest moment of life.

Suicide is as romantic as it can be cowardly; just for a different reason. Sex can save your life if you see it that way. It's probably dangerously unhealthy to let another soul be a safety net for yours. But to each their own. We're all wired differently. If someone is in such anguish that that make the choice to press the off switch, I can't really judge them - I didn't live their life. And while I might like to regurgitate fortune-cookie lines like, "You have so much to live for!" or, "Life will get better!" I don't know that for sure. People die old, miserable and alone all the time. Go to a dive bar and you'll see half a dozen bitter 60-year old men in flannel shirts bitching about life and heartbreak. Who's to say my friend wouldn't end up like that? I can't. Because in truth, I only want my friend to keep living so I don't feel sad. Because him dying would hurt me. I'm not considering the fact that he or she just might be saving themselves from a longer, worse life with an agonizing ending. All I know for sure, is that if they die, they won't be sad anymore. That's a harsh truth.

Sometimes, suicide really only affects one person. And no one else.

In the end, it always does.

Even stars die.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Feet Fashion Fascism Fetish

Girls have very strange habits. They may make fun of guys for watching TV or playing video games all the time but at least it's free. It's not costing any extra money and a least we're not bothering you. We're just quiet, not arguing and most of all, we don't ask you to hold our purse and sit in a chair while we try our games out.

Now I admit that a boyfriend who plays Xbox all the time, doesn't work, go to school or even try in life should probably be broken up with. Because first of all, Xbox sucks. And second of all, if a game is more important than your girlfriend, then maybe you should just duct tape that rumble pack to your crotch and be single for the rest of your sad, online life. But again, the pro to that con is that, hey, it's free. Guys by nature are not high maintenance. Some turn out to be, but that's a different (metrosexual) story. Girls have, ever since the invention of fashion, been strangely competitive when it comes to clothes and jewelry.

It used to be, a fair maiden in the medieval times would want to look pretty for her knight when he came home after months on a crusade. A pretty veil, maybe a little tiara, a simple necklace, and viola! You're hot, perfect, beautiful, and ready to get lanced-a-lot. But slowly over the decades and generation, fashion has been less and less about looking pretty for guys, and more and more about trying to be prettier than that other girl.

Girls, for instance, buy things at the store in hopes that they go to school or a party and another girl goes, "Oh. My. GOD. Where did you get that!? That's soooooo cute!" They want to be the first and only ones to have it. And shit, God forbid they find another girl wearing those same earrings or that same cute purse the next day. Because they want fucking credit for starting that trend. "Bitch stole that from me. I wore that last week!" That's what they say in their heads. Unless one of their friends is around, in which case they'll rant to them. I hate people who rant.

[pause for irony]

He'll look at this picture over a hundred times,
and he still won't be sure if she even has feet.



Anyway, another thing that I don't get about women's fashion is the painting of the toenails. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad you women make yourselves all shiny and smelly-nicey. But you paint your fucking toenails and then what do you do? YOU WEAR SHOES! Not flip-flops or sandals. You wear fucking shoes. That's like wiping before you shit. And even when you do wear something that reveals those cute little digits on your feet, I have never, ever, EVER, seen a guy walk up to a girl with a drink in his hand and go:
"Hiiiii... you know, I saw your toes over there from across the club... and... I pretty much want to give you my credit card so you can max it out on a shopping spree, let you have half of my possessions, never talk to my friends again 'cause you said so, give my entire life to you and basically become your bitch for the next fifty years."
Doesn't happen, ladies. Us guys don't get turned on by your feet. They're cute, but we like them the same way we like a cool display in our car's sound system; It comes with it, but it's not why we're interested.

That's not to say we don't care, but if your hair looks and smells amazing (this is very underrated, by the way), your makeup's perfect, your eyes are shining, your lips are sultry, you're wearing a shirt that shows most of your boobs, your stomachs showing, and your pants wrap around your legs so it looks like you were poured in them.... hate to break it to ya, but those fuckin' zebra-striped toes don't come into play.

Girls may defend, "It's not for you! It's for us! We just wanna feel pretty!" Bullshit. Your girlfriends tell you that you look pretty so they:

a.) know what to copy or
b.) know you look bad but won't tell you 'cause that makes them look better.

And you've all done that at some point, don't even lie. And I don't care what you say, how bisexual you think you are, or how feminist/retarded you want to act, nothing in the world make you feel prettier than when a handsome man quietly smiles, looks deep into your eyes and softly tells you, "You look beautiful." No girlfriend of yours can do that. The opposite sex's acknowledgment makes you feel attractive. Your friend's opinions just keep your head above water.

So here's my guess: Women paint their toenails not because they want guys to notice them. Or to feel pretty. But because WOMEN. HATE. FEET. They do. I've never met a girl who went,
*gasp!* "FEET! I LOVE mine! Can I kiss yours!? Feetfeetfeet. I wish I could just cut mine off and wear them around my neck like a necklace. Or a feetlace. Is that a real thing? OGAWD WE SHOULD MAKE IT A REAL THING! I love feet!!" 
Women hate feet. I don't know why, they just do. They even go so far as to slip into denial about the size of their feet. If they're a size 8, they will fucking cram their entire foot and each of those toes into a fucking size 5. WITH A POINTED TIP. Which is bizarre, considering our feet fan out at the ends, instead of taper into a point. Why do they do that? Listen, women, you have smaller feet so you can stand closer to the stove.

Relax, I'm kidding.

But you can ask a girl about her middle name, her number of sexual partners, or her weight (which are more things girls are strangely defensive of) and they'll grudgingly tell you. But they will kick you in the golly bong bongs with their stilettos if you over-guess the size shoe their wearing.

Well I have some news for you, ladies. After everything you put them through, your feet probably fucking hate you.

-HKR

Friday, August 19, 2011

How I'll meet your mother.


I saw old people today.

Not that they're some strange anomaly or something. But it's rare (here at least) to find two elderly people together, sitting on a bench, looking at the ocean on a 78 degree southern California day, and not stuck in a retirement home eating pudding underneath a TV hanging from the corner of a ceiling.

To watch a couple who have been together for so long just sit silently is the real life equivalent of magic - happening very slowly, blossoming and revealing itself only to those patient and deep enough to watch and listen.

You could pass them by. But watching them causes you to realize things about yourself. You become more aware of your life and what it's not only missing but what it could be...

An old man sitting next to his wife of 50 years is amazing. He's denied leaving her, pushed through hard times of money, pride, guilt, loss, and the pressures of divorce and infidelity. And he has stayed by her side for half a century. And the woman has tolerated his mindless fumbles, his bad habits, smelly laundry, her own physical transformations of children and growing up, and the pressures of divorce and infidelity as well.
They are the heroes of our time. And here they sat; quiet, unassuming, letting the world scream, fight, shoot, blast, and complicate itself on by. That's why when one of them dies, along with greiving, there is a new peace. Peace in knowing their soulmate is moving on to a better existence - somewhere they'll meet soon. Peace in knowing they've lived a full life, and a life with the one they love most in the world. And that is the holy grail we all seek every single day in our lives.

We work to make money. To be able to support ourselves. To move out. To find someone. We get dressed, wear makeup and cologne to attract a partner. We write to get noticed. Sing to be heard. We do to be seen. We feel to be felt. We live to find the best possible way to die. And this rare and sacred instance of two old people I never knew was not something to be glanced at, walked on or passed by. It was to be cherished from the concrete wall fifty feet away, left of the #13 lifeguard tower with my sunglasses on.

These are the moments you observe, watch carefully and absorb. Let the incredible luck of finding a glimpse of true love in its afterglow - and yet its quiet peak - soak in. And one day, hope you'll be there too.

-HKR

Monday, August 15, 2011

Everything bad is good for you

The intellectual nourishment of reading books vs. video games is so deeply ingrained into our assumptions that it's hard to contemplate a different point of view. But the problem with judging new cultural systems on their own terms is that the presence of the recent past inevitably colors your vision of the emerging form, highlighting the flaws and imperfections.

Video games have historically suffered from this syndrome, largely because they have been contrasted to the older conventions of reading books.

To get around these prejudices, try this thought experiment:

Monday, August 8, 2011

and i want life in every word to the extent that its absurd

its a whole new ball game when you try to figure out your worth with other people. a lot of times i lay on my floor - sometimes next to my heater, sometimes next to my piano, aimlessly tapping the 4 highest keys in the dark - and i wonder where i stand with friends, family and the like. actually, that more or less a lie. i dont wonder. its more like thinking about where i know i stand with them. i guess we all want to matter very much to those we love and care for. but the world isnt always fair in that regard.

there are half a dozen souls on this earth whom i love more than my heart is even capable of; i swear, if my heart had a love cup, it would pour itself empty for these people, and when its gone, somehow there would be more in the reserves to pour out for them. but i think my biggest problem is that ive never known exactly how to show the people i care about exactly just how indispensable and essential they are to me. ive lost a few because of my failure to do so. i constantly hold people in pristine condition in my heart ... but i never figure out how to get the same treatment from anyone else. i always mean less to them than they do to me. could that be a good thing?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Please stop.

I do not like having to turn the TV up when I hear your yelling slipping under my bedroom door and dropping from the vents.

I do not like having to remember where the vacuum is because I know I'll have to use it on the carpet from the glass I just heard smash.

I do not like having to lie to my little sister who's crying, cuddling her puppy, while I tell her it's nothing serious.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

.com.bin.a.tions.

There are 93 keys on a standard computer keyboard. 26 of them are letters. 20 of them numbers. There are symbols, hotkeys, arrows, and buttons to save and buttons to delete mistakes. There are over 65,000 words in the English language, not including slang.

I stare at them all - at this black keyboard with white print - and I cant find one single combination of letters and words that could convey how much I love you.

There are 6 strings on a classic acoustic guitar. 21 frets. Unless my math is wrong, that's 126 different notes. Push or pull any one of the strings and tuning knobs in any direction and you begin multiplying that number exponentially by 126 again. The variations and options multiply again when you consider the different amounts of pressure you apply when holding down the string or strings when you play it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Are atheists better Christians than Christians are today?

Posting a holiday message for Easter entitled “Why I’m A Good Christian” in The Wall Street Journal, Gervais, a professing atheist, revealed that he is a “good Christian” compared to a lot of Christians.

To prove his point, he outlined the Ten Commandments and analyzed how he faired against each law. Giving himself a 10 out of 10 – passing all counts of murder, idolatry, and blasphemy – Gervais considered his perfect score “not bad for an atheist.”

The thrust of his message, however, was not focused on his own tallied “goodness,” but rather the lack of goodness in Christians today.

“It’s not that I don’t believe that the teachings of Jesus wouldn’t make this a better world if they were followed,” the 49-year-old actor stated. “It’s just that they are rarely followed.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Velveteen.


"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Scars Are Souvenirs You Never Lose


I do my best to make things look easy.

I laugh a lot. I make jokes about everything, especially myself. I find solace in making people smile and breaking the ice by saying the most inappropriate comment at the worst moment possible. I don't yell or act stressed or angry. I let things fall off my shoulder and flick them aside. I walk slow, drive fast, and embrace silence and solitude as much as I adore being in the spotlight of a group of good friends. I don't cause drama, but I'll share my opinion if asked. I don't argue with people who know more on a subject than I do. I ask questions and listen patiently. I soak in time alone on my roof watching the sunset the same way I would immerse myself in the moment of laying in bed in the morning, with a woman in my arms, sound asleep. I appreciate the big picture in life just as much as I crave dissecting the details and variables everyone else tends looks over.

But what I have a hard time doing... is sharing all of this.

And it's taken almost three decades of living, but I think I'm starting to pinpoint the reason.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Titanic Equality

You're on the Titanic II. It has just hit an iceberg and is sinking. And, as last time, there are not enough lifeboats. The captain shouts, "Women and children first!" 

But this time, another voice is heard: "Why women?"

Because she let you draw her naked.
Why, indeed? Part of the charm of the cosmically successful movie Titanic is the period costume, period extravagance, period class prejudice. An audience can enjoy these at a distance. Oddly, however, of all the period mores in the film, the old maritime tradition of "women and children first" enjoys total acceptance by modern audiences. Listen to the booing and hissing at the onscreen heavies who try to sneak on with--or ahead of--the ladies.

But is not grouping women with children a raging anachronism? Should not any self-respecting modern person, let alone feminist, object to it as patronizing and demeaning to women? Yet its usuage is as common today as it was in 1912. Consider these examples taken almost at random from recent newspapers:
Dateline Mexico: "Members of a paramilitary group gunned down the Indians, most of them women and children... "
Dateline Burundi: "As many as 200 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed... "

Dateline Croatia: "Kupreskic was named in an open indictment... for the massacre in Ahmici in which 103 Muslims, including 33 women and children, were killed... "
At a time when women fly combat aircraft, how can one not wince when adult women are routinely classed with children? In Ahmici, it seems, 70 adult men were killed. Adult women? Not clear. When things get serious, when blood starts to flow or ships start to sink, you'll find them with the children.

Yup, even this kid gets to go before you.
Now, children are entitled to special consideration for two reasons: helplessness and innocence. They have not yet acquired either the faculty of reason or the wisdom of experience. Consequently, they are defenseless (incapable of fending for themselves) and blameless (incapable of real sin).

That is why we grant them special protection. In an emergency, it is our duty to save them first because they, helpless, have put their lives in our hands. And in wartime, they are supposed to enjoy special immunity because they, blameless, can have threatened or offended no one.

"Women and children" attributes to women the same pitiable dependence and moral simplicity we find in five-year-olds. Such an attitude made sense perhaps in an era of male suffrage and "Help Wanted: Female" classifieds. Given the disabilities attached to womanhood in 1912, it was only fair and right that a new standard of gender equality not suddenly be proclaimed just as lifeboat seats were being handed out. That deference--a somewhat more urgent variant of giving up your seat on the bus to a woman--complemented and perhaps compensated for the legal and social constraints placed on women at the time.

But in this day of the most extensive societal restructuring to grant women equality in education, in employment, in government, in athletics, in citizenship writ large, what entitles women to the privileges--and reduces them to the status--of children?

The evolutionary psychologists might say that ladies- to-the-lifeboats is an instinct that developed to perpetuate the species: women are indispensable child bearers. You can repopulate a village if the women survive and only a few of the men, but you cannot repopulate a village if the men survive and only a few of the women. Women being more precious, biologically speaking, than men, evolution has conditioned us to give them the kind of life-protecting deference we give to that other seed of the future, kids.

The problem with this kind of logic, however, is its depressing reductionism. It recapitulates in all seriousness the geneticist's old witticism that a chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg.

But humans are more than just egg layers. And chivalrous traditions are more than just disguised survival strategies. So why do we say "women and children"? Perhaps it's really "women for children." The most basic parental bond is maternal. Equal parenting is great--it has forced men to get off their duffs--but women, from breast to cradle to cuddle, can nurture in ways that men cannot. And thus, because we value children--who would deny them first crack at the lifeboats?--women should go second. The children need them.

But kiddie-centrism gets you only so far.

What if there are no children on board?

You are on the Titanic III, a singles cruise. No kids, no moms, no dads. Now: Iceberg! Lifeboats! Action!

Here's my scenario. The men, out of sheer irrational gallantry, should let the women go first. And the women, out of sheer feminist self-respect, should refuse.

Result? Stalemate. How does this movie end? How should it end? Hurry, the ship's going down.

"Rock Paper Scissors for it?"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From recess to pieces.

It's becoming more and more apparent than not only am I getting older, but so are the rest of my social circles. I can tell, because the circles are getting smaller and smaller. And while having less friends the older you get isn't anything new to the human life cycle, I've often wondered why; Usually attributing it to the standard rise in senility and the gradual degeneration of naivety the longer someone remains alive on this planet.

But the more I thought about it - while watching all of my friends fragment into a dozen factions and groups of 1 or 2 instead of the original 20 or so - the angrier I became. And attending Westwood as an older student (I'm almost 30 while everyone else is 19 - 22ish), I've seen first hand a condensed timeline of a typical group of friends:

Step 1: Civility.
Step 2: Common interests acknowledged.
Step 3: Time spent establishing roles (leader, wise one, quiet one, smart one, joker, etc.).
Step 4: Personal opinions shared.
Step 5: Fragmenting into groups for social events.
Step 6: Back-avenue dialogue shared between "groups".
Step 7: Rumors swirl.
Step 8: Factions are made.
Step 9: Enemies form.
Step 10: Then either back to Step 1 or a fight ensues.

"You said my financial portfolio sucked!? FUCK YOU!"
And this goes for both boys and girls, men and women. People get together, figure out where they belong, information crosses, and shit happens. Antelopes, grass and Mufasa be damned; That's the real circle of life. But what I find sad? That it's not only natural, but inevitable.

As we get older, life has more and more opportunities to give us the ability to define ourselves as individuals. And we gladly take them because, well, growing up is all about becoming self-reliant and independent. Becoming a self-contained force of life. So we take what we feel empowers us: Opinions. Opinions give us a sense of self, a sense of direction. Opinions are the needle in our compass. And that needle was given to us by our youth.

When we were young and in daycare and going to elementary school, we never had our own opinions. Not really. Nothing outside of our favorite color, we didn't like to take showers, recess was too short, and what cartoons we watched while eating our cereal. But through our random gauntlet of teachers, we eventually leaned towards which subjects we enjoyed. If we liked the teacher while we were young, we understood the subject more, and hence, we enjoyed doing what we knew. And vice versa, if we didn't gel with the instructor, we hated the class, and therefore the subject, and ultimately never really "got" that subject as well as the other ones (mine was History. Fuck Mr. Spagnolo).

And our parents - biological or not - were huge influences as well. Whoever was raising us instilled into our mind the philosophies of life. Maybe you had a strict father who told you time was the essence of everything and how, no matter what, things had to be done whether you liked it or not. Life sucks, get a helmet, and finish your job. Or maybe you had a kind and gentle mother, who constantly reminded you that there's more to life than working and stress. Relax. See the bigger picture. Focus on being happy. Or any point in between the spectrum of those extremes. Your parents are the ones that laid down the tracks for your behavior. Good or bad.

View from a fat kid's perspective while
his "friends" kick him while he's down.
When we hit our teens, our friends became the most important influence in our lives, much to the chagrin of our parents. Whoever raised you (mom, dad, grandparents, step-parents, uncle, aunt, etc) did so by sharing with you their own rules of life; The rules they grew up with and found worked for them. Unfortunately for them, becoming a teenager means becoming an individual. And if no one's prepared (few are), it ends up being hell for everyone at some point - and usually the singular phase in your life that defines your mind, body and soul.

No longer playing dodgeball and sharing sandwiches from lunch boxes and losing your thermos, sexuality bubbles to the surface. And that changes the rules to the game entirely. Suddenly how you look plays a monumental role is who you are. When you were a kid, there was basically only 4 groups of physicality:

• Fatty McFattingtons
• Four-Eyed Nerds
• EwThatGirlHasBoobs
• and then everyone else. 

But around 14 and 15, the levels between ugly and pretty get divided up pretty quickly at an alarming rate. Suddenly what color hair someone has, how they wear it, what their voice sounds like, how they walk, how they smile, what sport they play, if they play an instrument, the clothes they wear, how smart they are, how dumb they are, how good they smell, and what they drive are all factors we subconsciously take into consideration when our minds decide if we're attracted to someone. Not to mention their body. So a hierarchy is formed a round the campus, and now we're back up to my 10-Step List of how shit gets started.

From there, how we see people, how we judge people, what we find important, how we have fun, and who we avoid are all learned at lightning speed because it's crucial to our social survival. And it's these lessons - not those silly Algebra, Spanish, and Biology courses no one remembers - that are the most important to our growth. The best and most important things we learned during high school were in between classes: Break, lunch, and who we hung out with afterwards. Maybe we had bad, terrible, vindictive friends. And from that, we learned what patterns and deceits to avoid in future friendships with other people. Maybe you had a girlfriend or boyfriend who cheated on you. And that's when you learned to be skeptical if your significant other is hanging out with and calling their ex every day. Or maybe you were lucky and made great, wonderful and caring friends, in which case, you're probably still friends today and have mutually benefited from that friendship.

But I bet you don't remember what your fourth paper was about in your Freshman English class.

Point is, this is where our differences between everyone else gets ignited. High school. Becoming a teenager is the catalyst. From there it's on to college and learning about politics and history and wars and economics and love and relationships and global diplomacy and religion and... everything else that ends up being shit in this world we never agree on (because there's 7 billion of us).

And now that I'm at the age I am, I can see the clay that was once so soft and malleable in my friends slowly starting to harden and become concrete. The older we get, the harder it is to change our minds. When we're young, every day is a new lesson, a new epic drama, a new color on our palette. Our minds are soft and still able to be shaped by teachers and friends and family. Growing up, that piece of clay starts being carved into, one opinion, one lesson at a time, until you have who you are and what you believe in. Once you begin entering your 30's, it starts solidifying. This is why people who are in their 60s and 70s often seem so stubborn. You'll very rarely - if ever - hear an elderly person say, "Hmm... you have a point. I never thought of it that way. I think you're right!" I haven't. Never happens. But how often do you hear kids at school, while talking with their friends, see or hear something new and they go, "Ohhhhhhhh!" and smile? Every day.

See, the world has so many ways of turning us against each other. From music, to pro-life/choice arguments, to Republican/Democrat, to religions, to cars, to jobs, to income, to sports, and so on; Why is everything tailor-made for us as a species to pick a side against each other? I guess that's just the way it's always been. From cavemen and Indian tribes, to Roman and Greek empires, to countries and superpowers now. I suppose humans have an inner need to compete with each other to establish an ethereal sense of ego and respect. It's just a shame that it claims our innocence and friendships in the process.

I hope my heart never turns to rock.

I hope I'm always that kid on the playground, thinking, learning, and still becoming something new.

Every day.