Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hyperbole is Literally Giving Me Brain Aids

I understand that online news aggregates depend on tricking the maximum number of people into clicking the links as possible to drive ad revenue, but the phenomenon of the increasingly salacious hyperbolic article title is so far out of hand that it's worse than the most recent Ebola outbreak.
Image source

There are no amount of artful nudes of people of all shapes, sizes and state-of-genitalia that will get me to "change the way (I) see beauty forever." Whether that's my cynicism, societally ingrained prejudices, or my hyper-enlightened acknowledgement of the subjectivity of beauty in all forms, is inconsequential, as inconsequential as inventing a tampon for a dinosaur. Their headline overreached, like cloning a dinosaur just to have a reason for the dinosaur tampon to exist. 

Whenever a celebrity "slams" another celebrity I am plagued with the compulsion to click (I love celebrity beefs like deities love highly specific mass murder) inevitably I'm disappointed as the celebrity-in-question is saying something so innocuous that it is as though they heard the celebrity have the daintiest of farts and called it crapping their pants. 

Image source
Example: "Taylor Swift Sharts in Public. CLICK FOR GRAPHIC FALLOUT PICTURES," then you click and it's her daintily tooting and the article writer speculating like a crazy person, "well, we don't know for sure it wasn't a blart (don't look that up) resulting from an experiment with a light bulb and John Mayer's twisted imagination. We just do not know that is not the case."

The pre-editorializing these headlines do are preventing us from creating informed opinions. This makes me sad. Sadder than a mule that just found out it is the result of interspecies erotica. (" dad is a what? No! How can I live as the spawn of a jackass!?!" I've been living with this fact for years, but the initial shock is difficult to bear.) Worse, this type of pseudo-journalistic distorted overstatement is now considered a valuable skill.
This is Dickens, father of modern journalistic bullsh*t.
Image source

Lest anyone think this is a modern invention, I give you the first line of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." blah blah, you get the idea. Dickens was the original bedazzler of turds. He would take a squirrel carcass, adorn it with lights and glitter and convince us it was magic, all to get you to turn the page and buy his lazily embellished prose.

The generations hence have polluted our brains with a hazy-yet-ravenous need to satiate the most salacious and prurient vicarious desires tucked away in the shadows of the wrinkles of our brain. Much like how stress gives people ulcers, this constant tease of lascivious details of the pretty is leading to STI's of the brain. Always wanting to see the most licentious details but never getting them, is creating, as the grammatically incorrect title suggested, Brain-Aids. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hail Hail the the Oncoming of Enforced Complacency

"Police State" by Gabriel Alcarez
I am SO excited to stop making decisions for myself. Please direct me, the state. Sure, you can't agree on something as simple as not trying every second of your day to repeal the legislation you wrote and agreed upon (re: health care reform), but your general indecision and spite-generated measures legislation is sure to lead me to the grandeur of sub-mediocrity. Go ahead, "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war" on me through the militarization of keystone cops.

I for one can NOT wait to forfeit my decision making. It's not like I've been doing a great job with my autonomy, I write a blog in 2014, for god's sake. Give me direction. Monitor my entertainment consumption. Regulate the thoughts emanating from my brain. Manage me, dammit. And whatever you do, please do not allow me to gather with more than one other person, we might have the possibility to maybe kind of think about general dissension. 

This is a riot officer in Tbilisi, Georgia (not the state, the country). I'm not sure if they designed their gas masks specifically to look like a nightmare Mickey Mouse, but that's what happened.
There is no need to kick in my door, upholders of law and order, I will happily let you in and, as a show of respect, preemptively pepper spray myself in the face to make you feel at home. Stick out your baton, I'll run right at it continuously until unconsciousness sets in, or, as you call it, "settle down through the sudden onset of concussion." During my "blissful sleep of the troubled," I shall dream of new ways to be complicit. I'll tell others through the art of persuasive shouting, "Why would you care if their boot is on your throat? If you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about."
I would organize a rally in support of the onset of totalitarianism, if I didn't know that gatherings of non-governmental employees make the state nervous. Enough with the slow erosion of these misguided "rights," my general complacency allows you to just discard them all together overnight. 
Remember "casual pepper spray cop"? Anyway, image source.
Give me what I've always needed, the rigidly structured illusion of independence through violent enforcement of governmental ideals.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Calling Suicide Selfish is Selfish

When people commit suicide, it's not to satisfy some sort of narcissism. It can be. Sure. Like anything else, suicide can be manipulated and turned into a massive display of self-aggrandizement, but that is the rarity. I want to help you understand depression so overwhelming it leads to suicide. Mostly, when people rail against suicide, calling it selfish, are people angry at the deceased, angry that they don't understand what that person was going through, selfishly angry that the deceased is depriving the living of a measure of joy.

Most of the time, suicide, by the person resorting to it, is a seen as a form of euthanasia. There are some who would call even euthanasia a cowardly endeavor, despite it requiring an intense focus and desire to overcome thousands of years of programmatic, instinctual self-preservation. This isn't to say that suicide is something to be respected, rather, something that ought to inspire empathy and pity. Through that empathy will maybe--hopefully--derive some understanding that depression isn't what some people interchangeably use with "sad." Depression is a pit so deep that the light from the surface cannot reach the bottom.

Depression is much more serious than a case of the sads. It's like the moment the shock wears off after finding out the person you loved most in this world died, except that feeling never wanes, never goes away. That stabbing at your soul seems like it will never go away. No matter what external forces try to impress upon you, the feeling of hopelessness and despondency and profound detachment from anything resembling positivity will not lift.

The brain of the depressed person has betrayed him/her and cannot be righted through positive affirmations, trust in a higher power, nor solace in the love of those who want the best of the cursed. And this is beyond the comprehension of those who experience life through a blessedly balanced brain chemistry or those who can attribute their sadness to external factors like being able to name a villain.
So, should I ask a dehydrated person to pee on my brain to make it more yellow? Image Source
There is such little understanding of the brain that when psychiatrists are prescribing depression medication, they're just guessing. Sure, their guess is better than any of our self-medication, but it doesn't mean there's a solution at the end of that pharmacy.

If you or anyone you encounter talks about depression as though it is a controllable weakness, let them know that depression is a condition that is unrecognizable until you're already being choked and bled dry in its vampiric tentacles. Most sufferers don't even know what the problem is until after they fall prey to the addiction of alleviates, anything that will give that glimmer of hope of relief. Once that crutch is gone, the surface light is gone, the depressed is stuck in the inky blackness of the pit, all alone, suffering, no matter how many people there are surrounding that person, bathing that person in spotlights. All they can see is the darkness, the ravenous darkness. It's not running from problems, it's running to relief.

Rather than condemn the suicidal, demanding they become better by simply cheering up, maybe instead recognize the depth of the sheer cliff that person must ascend just to get to the stasis of normality most take for granted, and drop down a rope. It can be enough to just not allow the despondency to be that person's only companion, no matter how much they protest, because that's the depression talking.

There is hope for all of us. I think. I hope. If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the suicide prevention hotline (the U.S. number is 1-800-273-8255) or you can chat online whether you are the person who needs help or you know someone who does: Suicide Prevention Lifeline Link.
Thank you for reading.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Neighbor is Like Tom Petty if Tom Petty Played Guitar With His Feet and Harmonica With His Anus

How I generally felt about my neighbors.
Edward Scissorhands got cranky.
For the first time in a long time, I have a neighbor whom I can tolerate. There were the neighbors who had boisterous sex like clockwork at 2 AM every night, the rowdy redneck family who lived above me who occasionally had people jump out of their window onto our porch roof in a methed-out rage, and the guy who defied sleeves and parked his grotesque 80's Mustang on the lawn when there was a perfectly good driveway and street parking available to him.

This new neighbor seems like a genuinely good person. He's a plant guy, works for a nursery, and cares about beautifying the landscape of the place he's renting. When he played loud music (which was actually good music) at 6 AM, I walked around the corner and got half way up his driveway when the music stopped. The next day I received an apologetic note. That's a classy move and I really appreciated it. This is a good person.
Which is why I have a heavy heart about crushing his emotions. You see, our new neighbor mistakenly believes he is gifted with musical talent. He haphazardly plays the guitar, on the open-air porch, and has recently taken up a new musical pursuit, the harmonica. Except he has no skill in either so he's like Bob Dylan if Bob Dylan were drunk, stricken with arthritis, and had his trachea removed so he could only blow out of the resulting hole in his throat.
I know, Bobert, I know.
I don't know if you've heard a harmonica played by an asthmatic cat, but trust me, it is about as pleasant a sound as a toddler playing the pots and pans. It's almost like he's a neanderthal transported through time and space into our modern epoch and is just curious about this evolved kazoo. An unskilled harmonica player is about as pleasant to listen to as a presidential debate if they forced them to sing all of their useless platitudes.
Looks more like it just sneezed a massive snot bubble, but whatever.
So I want to think of a kind way to tell him he should practice inside until his playing improves, or maybe convince him to cast his harmonica and guitar into the fiery pits of Mordor. 

"Hi neighbor, I wanted to say, very pleasant living next to you, you are a model neighbor and a considerate human being which is becoming increasingly rare. You have many commendable traits. Which is why I would caution you against pursuing music. Look at what music does to the musicians. So many of them are drug addicts because of their inability to cope with yielding such ethereal powers. You're flying too close the sun, man! Come down, Icarus, come down and live with us mortals."
That probably wouldn't work.

"I'm allergic to sonic discord?"

"If you keep playing that harmonica, someone is going to try and shove it down your throat in anger, and I have a vested interest in your survival. Mayhap you practice your passion indoors in a muted room to prevent reciprocal assault."

"Yo, you sound like an amnesiac John Popper with laryngitis."

There's no easy way to break this to him, is there? Dammit. I'm going to have to move, aren't I?  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The goal of many people is to leave a lasting impression, to be remembered--neigh, to be unforgettable. This is in the pursuit of having left an impression upon this world. Some would say, a fruitless endeavor, but there is a way to leave that indelible mark in the brains of those whom you shall encounter: Lie. Fib. Fabricate. B.S. 
Control the message. Image Source
Have you ever been to a funeral and heard these amazing stories, yarns woven from half-drunken remembrances of the most idilic vision the bereaved have of the deceased? I remembered my grandpa as a sexist grump, but the mourners told me tales of how he was an incredible personality who, for example, would go into the dentist's office and captivate everyone with fantastical tales of bygone eons. They assured us that he lit up the office whenever he came. Pretty sure he was saving up six-months of pleasantness and appropriating old radio plays he could sell to people whom he could convince to sip his b.s. stew, but that's how you build a legacy. 

I prefer the flexibility. 
Sure, you could go out there and actually experience adventures, but most of us have to work like crazy just to afford the luxuries that provide us the opportunity to vicariously experience adventures through fictional characters. Go ahead and just lie. No one is going to fact check you. And if they do, then you lied too big and that person is a weird stalker. I'm not saying you publish something you call an autobiography and demand Ira Glass put you on This American Life. Just, you know, when you meet someone, tell him/her some lies of omission.

For example, in the last year, I've been white-water kayaking, rode a camel across dusty sands, hand-fed giraffes, and read more than 100 books. All of those have an element of truth. I did ride a camel, in a sandy pen at the zoo in a 10 yard circle, which is also where I fed the giraffes, in a controlled environment. I went did go kayaking, and there were a couple of brief, terrifying rapids that did have white water. And those 100 books happened to have been comic books. The point is, as long as I just leave out a couple of minor details, my life sounds much more interesting. 
Admit it, it's amazing that Koko learned sign language, but WAY more amazing that she learned how to lie.
Exaggeration or lies-of-omission are a really great way to not only increase your profile, but increase your self-esteem. Never mind that I spend a staggering amount of time having conversations with my bellybutton, manipulating it like a muppet, the point I will emphasize is that I can do ventriloquism. No one has to know that I cannot identify the difference between a peach and an apricot, because I am a foodie who knows how to properly pronounce "quinoa" AND can make MULTIPLE (two) dishes from memory with that exotic grain. 

Then, once I've established some truths, I slip in things like, "I made my living for two years as a human guinea pig, but it was all worth it to save twenty eight caged chimpanzees from the clutches of nefarious cosmetic companies."
Adult Pinnochio by Leo Ito

"But lying could get you into trouble." If I learned anything from the fables of my youth, Pinocchio lied like crazy, then, as a result, got away from that creepy molester and had an amazing series of experiences he would never have seen or dreamed of if he told the truth.  Half the people who are famous and considered immortal based their lives on lies. Sometimes the lies are more endearing than the truth. Learn to lie, become immortal. Or maybe develop a personality and become really competent at something so you don't have to rely on artifice to make yourself seem interesting. Whichever. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Intrusive Thoughts

This is kind of my brain, a bunch
of demons drinking heavily.
Image Source
Around the corner from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder lives its cousin, Intrusive Thoughts. It's something I only recently read about, and much like someone who looks up anything on WebMD and is convinced they have cancer, I am convinced I have Intrusive Thoughts. Intrusive Thoughts are just what they sound like, "thoughts, urges, and images are of inappropriate things at inappropriate times and can be divided into three categories: aggressive, sexual or blasphemous." (Thanks Wikipedia, if I knew how to properly cite things even after holding a degree in English Literature, I would cite you in a bibliography type thing.)

There are countless times I've wondered things like what happens if Bruce Banner furiously masturbates; or been at a funeral and wished they played AC/DC; or well, anything on this blog ever. But I thought these were normal thoughts. People's minds wander and occasionally tap dance on a casket (that's a metaphor for morbid thoughts I want to popularize). Everyone has weird thoughts, I assumed, until this past Friday, when I thought something that caused me to go online and see if I had some sort of compulsive thoughts disorder.
Turns out I'm not alone in sometimes thinking this. 
On Friday, I went to the local zoo with my office as one of those team building things. We were sitting in a pen watching a goat demonstration. The goats would basically respond to commands. There was a tree stump in front of me where the goat would hop up and respond to commands like "shake" and "kneel." It was around the third time a goat was in front of me, no more than a foot away, back turned to me, kneeling, that the thought popped into my head, "I wonder what would happen if someone reached out and poked the goat's butthole?"

I didn't want that thought. I didn't command that thought, but somewhere in the wrinkles of my brain conjured that compulsive thought. Of course I would never act on it. I live in a small town and work in a small industry. Word would travel fast and no one wants to be branded as the "goat-butthole poker."
This is a band logo, the only reason I put it here is because I had a real battle with an intrusive thought to actually put a picture of a goat butthole here. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from Googling that. I recommend an image search of "goat anus" to really get the full effect. 

"What brings you to Alaska?"
"Well, y'see, this is the last place a person like me can find opportunity. It seems that polite society frowns upon haphazardly poking the anuses of livestock that are not their own."
"Then Alaska is the place for you! Well, either here or Sarasota, Florida. In fact, I think we just found ourselves a new mayor!"

This is why I thought there might be something wrong with the wiring of my brain. Of course I didn't go any deeper than the Wikipedia introductory summary paragraph. I don't want to know if this leads to something more disturbing. Maybe I should just keep my thoughts to myself.
There's the lesson: "Keep your thoughts to yourself and your fingers out of unwilling buttholes." Good lesson to start the week. Someone make a motivational poster of that, please.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nerd Corner: Preemptive Propoganda Edition

ComiCon 2014 has ended, but don't put your Mjolnir back into storage, keep your repulser rays charged, sell your soul to Disney, because it's time once again for Nerd Corner.

Not an advertisement.
This coming Friday (August 1, if you're bad at calendars or are a time traveler. No, time traveler, I will not tell you what year it is, be a better time traveler.) will see the release of the latest in the Marvel line of movies, called Guardians of the Galaxy. It's an outer space sci-fi shoot-em-up featuring a dude, a shirtless painted dude, a green painted lady, a talking raccoon and a sentient tree. 

Regardless of how absurd that sounds, I can almost guarantee there will be some talk radio idiot with nothing real to talk about, desperate for content, who will try to make this silly movie into a political argument. Well, screw you, obnoxious pundits, I'm going to beat you to it, because stupidity is easily predictable:

"This Guardians of the Galaxy movie is immediately, upon it's title, presupposes that any one minority group gets to dictate the security of an entire galaxy. What if there's a Muslim solar system that is at odds with that galaxy? Will these 'Guardians' guard against that solar system in order to protect our galaxy? No, only a coordinated military force, a strong defense system is necessary to maintain the galaxy status quo and make sure that business is protected. Thank you, lower our taxes. Typical liberal propaganda. They're trying to use all the pretty colors and spaceships and explosions to indoctrinate our children!

By astoundingly talented Christopher Umiga. Image source.

"A talking raccoon whose best friend is a tree? That is obvious, overt environmentalist agitprop. Oh, I get it, Earth is supposedly so uninhabitable, that man and nature have to take refuge in space? And they're fraternizing with aliens, a symbol of illegal aliens, no doubt. Why isn't it strong, white characters leading a group of misfit aliens, inhuman creatures without a home, giving those aliens purpose as only white males can do? (Editor's note: Holy crap, that's what this movie is, isn't it? Oh god, I'm not sure I want to see this movie anymore.)

"The protagonists aggrandize scofflaws as though urinating on the sovereign laws of a society is something to be admired. Scofflaws are not heroes! I bet that Groot character grows marijuana off its head or shoulders, maybe. 

"They use guns, which is refreshing in a movie churned out by Liberal Hollywood. But they push forth the laser gun agenda, what about the jobs lost in the projectile bullet industry? These Hollywood types don't think about the hard working American bullet manufacturers, do they? That is why I am here, folks, I am the salt of the earth, the pickle of humanity if-you-will. 

"Protect your children! Stay home and watch something like the 'Left Behind' series or read bedtime stories by Matt Drudge or practice waving flags while you still can! The Hollywood elite are coming for your children!"

Should you watch Guardians of the Galaxy (Not an endorsement...unless they pay me) this weekend, I hope you are able to watch without being distracted by the political agendas of the filmmakers (of which there probably were none).