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Rest in Peace, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

Rest in Peace, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

 

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Bigotry and the Free Speech Smokescreen

In the wake of this Duck Dynasty debacle, a lot of people are coming out of the woodwork in support of free speech. Interestingly, the actual story that everyone is up in arms about has nothing to do with anyone’s first amendment rights being violated. In fact, this outpouring of support has nothing to do with championing constitutional rights at all, and everything to do with a tacit, if not overt, support of bigotry.

Recent public opinion polling regarding same-sex marriage and homosexual equality have put people who share Phil Robertson’s beliefs in an awkward position: while they are in the majority when it comes to religious identity, their bigoted opinions about homosexuality are becoming increasingly marginal and less socially acceptable. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of those clamoring in support of Phil Robertson would never say the things he did publicly, at least not in mixed company. More than a few of these people probably even have a gay friend or relative. If pressed on the issue, a lot of these people would probably give something akin to the morally ambiguous “love the sinner, hate the sin” response that I’ve heard more than a few times.

But when the chance arises to put another face on what amounts to an open support of bigotry, these people come out in droves. The straw man that this crowd rallies behind is almost always “Freedom of Speech.” They obfuscate what they really support by making the issue look as if it is about anyone’s right to say whatever they want.  As another blogger succinctly said:

“You are not some sort of “Patriot, fighting for the First Amendment rights of all Americans” if the only time you get upset about a person’s “rights being trampled” is when it happens to people who think exactly like you.”

Where is the outrage from these champions of free speech when arsonists attempt to burn down an atheist billboard in New Jersey? I read stories like this every year, and I have yet to see the same crowd championing Phil Robertson’s first amendment rights raise their voice in outrage over this sort of thing.

Let’s be honest here. This has nothing to do with “Free Speech” and everyone knows it. It has everything to do with showing support for a belief that is offensive and unpopular, a belief that most people don’t have the courage to express out loud themselves. You people who are hiding behind the smokescreen of free speech to show your support for a bigoted view of homosexuality are no better than clansmen, hiding under hoods while espousing racist propaganda.

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5 Things To Remember When Discussing This Duck Dynasty Mess

I’ve been thinking most of this all day. Well said.

The Boeskool

“Just when I thought I was out…. They pull me back in.” ~ Michael Corleone

If you haven’t already heard, you will shortly: A&E has suspended some dude (I don’t know what his name is, and I really don’t even care enough to Google it) from the show Duck Dynasty for some offensive comments he made about homosexuals in an interview with GQ. I’m not going to focus on what was said in the interview…. If you care, you can read the whole interview HERE, or you can read some of the homophobic highlights HERE. Myself? I really don’t care what he said. There is absolutely nothing surprising or noteworthy about an old, white, southern, Christian hunter being grossed out about gay sex or believing that all the gays are going straight to Hell. There is nothing rare about this.

There is also nothing surprising or noteworthy about…

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Buy our product to keep this non-existent problem from happening to you (most of the time).

How many times has this happened to you: after finishing your business in the washroom, you look down and find to your dismay that little pieces charmin-bearsof the off-brand toilet paper you are using are stuck all over your ass. If you answered “never; this has never happened to me,” well then you and I have something in common. If this is a real problem and I’m in the minority  here, then I guess I should be thankful that I’ve somehow dodged this bullet with my bottom-shelf toilet paper.

Regardless of my own experiences, these Charmin Ultra commercials, with their creepy, toilet-paper-using bears, insist that this is in fact a very real problem. However, they don’t make a very compelling argument for me to switch to their product, because they don’t even claim that their over-priced product eliminates this issue that I suspect they made up just to sell toilet paper. Their ad only guarantees that this product will leave fewer pieces behind than some other brand, not the absolutely no pieces left behind that I already enjoy with my current, and considerably cheaper, brand.

I guess the guys over at Charmin are just trying to cover their asses (see what I did there?), not wanting to make some outrageous “no pieces left behind” claim and then later face litigation from irate consumers with little pieces of toilet paper stuck to their bums. You may be thinking, “That’s crazy. Who would sue over such a thing?” It turns out that the makers of Cottonelle would sue over such a thing. In fact, they “challenged [Procter & Gamble] to prove that the cartoon bears’ experience with Charmin was realistic.” I can see why the Cottonelle folks are up in arms about this, since their R&D department have apparently given up on the notion of “fewer pieces left behind” toilet paper as a scientific impossibility. Which of course explains why recent Cottonelle ads are all about selling us on a two part, baby wipe and toilet paper solution to this non-existent problem.  

And don’t even get me started on the latest Quilted Northern commercials, where the little girl is giving her younger sibling a lecture about the virtues of Quilted Northern, complete with a compression strength demonstration. If I walked into my daughter’s room and saw this happening, I would wonder where we went wrong as parents. I’m sure at that point how many Lego bricks my toilet paper could hold before ripping wouldn’t even be on my radar. 

I don’t know where I was going with all of this. I guess I’m just frustrated by advertising that invents a problem and then provides me with a solution. I’m frustrated that it apparently works too,  since someone somewhere has a job spending money inventing these issues that none of us should even give a shit about.

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Haunted Houses, Then and Now.

It’s that time of year when signs for ‘haunted houses’ and ‘haunted trails’ start popping up all over the place. There are dozens of these things nowadays. There were a lot fewer options in the haunted house/trail department when I was a kid, but I think there is a quality over quantity argument to be made as well.

Maybe I’ve just had the wrong haunted house experiences of late, but in recent years the few haunted houses and haunted trails I have been to have been sorely lacking. It seems like the majority of these things consist of nothing more than people in masks jumping out from behind obstacles and yelling at you. Furthermore, it seems like this is all arbitrary, with no theme (other than jumping out from behind things) tying anything together.

When I was younger, I can remember the best haunted houses being more theatrical than this. There were rooms with themes, and the people in masks had dialogue and acted out scenes. There was a tour guide who set the stage with a spooky narrative. A lot of the time there were people jumping out from behind things as well, but at least there was some kind of story behind the jumping.

When I was in Junior High, I went to the best haunted house I have ever been through. It was called “The House of Michael Myers.” It was based on the “Halloween” movies, obviously (not Shrek or Wayne’s World). This particular haunted house was rather unique, because it was set up in an old abandoned house that use to sit along the main street of my home town. This was perfect, because anyone who lived there already considered this house to be haunted.  The tour guide was “Dr. Loomis,” and he set the stage before the tour by reciting creepy dialogue from the movie: “I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.”

It was terrifying.

The tour itself consisted mainly of our group being placed in a scene – a girl is babysitting some children watching a movie with some popcorn Dr. Loomisor talking to a friend on the phone when it suddenly goes dead – and then Michael Myers busting in wielding a butcher knife as we ran to the next room. The tour ended with the group descending a flight of stairs that led to a small foyer, near the exit (which happened to be the same door the tour started at). At this point Michael Myers comes down a hallway, and after a few moments of trying to reason with him Dr. Loomis fires a cap gun at him several times before opening the door and imploring everyone to flee.

One time when I went on this tour – I must have went through this house a dozen times – I was with my friend Marky. Marky was tall and stout; you might say he was portly, meaning he was fat. He was a big kid, that’s what I’m getting at. Emotions were still running pretty high when we reached the bottom of that stairwell, and freedom was right behind that door – which was right behind Dr. Loomis. Marky wasn’t much of a gambling man, so when he saw ole’ Michael Myers coming down that hallway he wasn’t interested in taking any chances with Dr. Loomis and his questionable sidearm, no sir. Marky shoved poor Loomis straight at Michael mid-monologue and frantically threw open the door, freeing our tour group in a hysteric stampede. And even though Michael Meyers dropped his butcher knife so he could help keep a staggering Dr. Loomis from crashing headlong into the floor (what a nice guy after all!) the whole experience was still scary as hell.

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Shit Happens

I’m firing on all cylinders right now. I feel like I need to create things. To make things, with my brain.

And, it’s gone. 

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Cigarettes: A Love Story

Ahh, cigarettes.

Ours was a classic high school romance. We met one another at a young age and I was smitten. Cigarettes made me feel cool, like I belonged to an elite and discriminating club. We were inseparable; we went everywhere and did everything together. There was never any doubt that cigarettes and I would grow old together (probably not as old as non-smokers would grow, but relatively old). Then, a few years ago, cigarettes became abusive. I suppose it was easy to ignore at first because I loved cigarettes so much. I started to get winded after climbing a flight of stairs, I started coughing in the morning. This is just a phase, I thought. Cigarettes might not even be at fault! I would tell myself, “you don’t exercise regularly and you don’t have the healthiest of diets, right?”

But when I started wheezing at night, and needing my wife’s asthma inhaler, I couldn’t ignore the problem anymore. Unfortunately, you can’t just change your phone number or get a restraining order against cigarettes. And so, for about a year now, I’ve had a rocky, on-again-off-again relationship with cigarettes. For awhile I experimented with everyone’s newest darling, the e-cigarette, and found that while it helped me cut down on smoking real cigarettes, it was an inferior replacement and did nothing to break that hand to mouth habit that comes with a lifelong addiction to smoking. After I fell off that wagon I turned to the nicotine patch, and after a couple of months I was completely nicotine free. I stayed that way for a few more months, and was finally starting to feel like I was done with cigarettes for good. I was wrong.

I would still see cigarettes often, of course: they were hanging out at parties, having a good time with my friends. Eventually I decided to give one a try, for old time’s sake, and we had a wonderful time. The next day I was back to being a non-smoker. No harm done, right? I managed to convince myself that I could just see cigarettes on the weekends, while I was out having a few beers. We didn’t have to “go steady” or anything; we could just keep it casual. I should have known that a relationship like this with an old lover like cigarettes wouldn’t work out, and it didn’t. I was back to smoking full-time again after a few weeks of one night stands. The abuse started up again almost immediately. I couldn’t breathe at night; I couldn’t stop coughing in the morning.

Now I’m in a kind of “holding pattern.” I started the patches again, but I’ve still been seeing cigarettes on the weekends. There is a rational voice in my head that knows cigarettes will kill me if I let them, but often that voice is frail and feeble in the face of my addiction. I don’t think that using nicotine patches most of the time and smoking occasionally is a viable long-term plan, but it’s the best I’ve been able to manage so far with this cessation attempt. That has to change, so I’ve told myself that I’m not going to smoke this weekend.

Wish me luck.

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The best part of waking up has very little to do with Folger’s in my cup.

Ahh, mornings. There’s nothing like pouring that first cup of coffee, setting it on your desk, and then chasing down a toddler who’s ripping the cover off an old Hemingway novel. Then changing a diaper, preparing a fresh fruit breakfast, and reading some children’s books until nap time. Then dumping out that cup of coffee you sat down earlier and pouring yourself a second cup of coffee. I wouldn’t trade this routine for anything. Enjoy your morning, everyone.

 

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