Thursday, April 25, 2013

America Hails Renewed Hatred Between Red Sox And Yankee Fans: “The Healing Has Begun”

In the aftermath of the horrible bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 22nd, the New York Yankees performed several classy gestures of solidarity, including signs supporting Boston and having the fans sing “Sweet Caroline,” the much-loved and heavily played song at Red Sox games. In the aftermath of the tragedy, New York reached out to the city of Boston, reinforcing that we’re all Americans and we stand united.

In the last few days, witnesses have verified that fans of both teams have resumed disparaging each other. These reports have brought sighs of relief and smiles to the faces of an America looking for signs that things are beginning to return to normal.

 “It means that healing has begun,” Suze Shaughnessy, 24, explained. “We can’t ever forget what happened on that terrible Monday, but seeing the fans of both teams at each other’s throats again is a good sign that we’re on the road to recovery!”

“What New York did was wicked classy,” Jimmy O’Malley, 21, of South Boston declared. “We’re like, brothers and stuff.”  O’Malley then paused a moment, narrowed his eyes, then suddenly roared “Yankees suck! Yankees suck!” as he staggered off to his liquid lunch at the local Irish bar.

“When crap like that goes down, we’re not New Yorkers or Bostonians no more,” added Tony “Bananas” Foster, 33, from The Bronx. “We’re Americans, and we got Boston’s back!” He started walking away from the interview, then suddenly turned around and gave a fist pump. “Twenty-seven rings, baby! Suck it, Red Sux!” he bellowed as he picked up his copy of the New York Post, the only reading material he’s capable of understanding.

“Hey, how’s that ten year contract with that chronically injured metrosexual centaur wannabe, A-Fraud, working out for ya, ya putrid pinstriped pricks!?”, chimed in Caroline Diamond, 39, of Brookline, Mass. “But hey, thanks for the support and shout-outs last week. We really appreciate it. You guys rock.”

“About as well as that 2012 season worked out for you, Slobby Valentine,  and that moldy old rat condo you call a ballpark,” retorted Maria “Fettuccini” Alfredo, 50, of Brooklyn. “Oh, and you’re welcome. We remember that you guys were there for us after 9/11, so it’s all good. We gotta stick together! You’re alright in our book!”

“Yeah? Who’s on top of the AL East, wiseass?” smirked Johnny “Pesky” Pole.  “I only hope we can do half as good of job bouncing back as you New Yorkers did after 9/11!”

“Typical Red Sox! Start out strong, but just can’t keep it going down the home stretch!” sneered Joe D. Maggio, a local coffee merchant. “Aw, you guys will be fine. You’re a city of badasses. And nice job taking down those terrorist asswipes so fast!”

In the wake of a public tragedy, many people struggle with the timing of when to move on. There’s a balancing act between taking extraordinary measures not to be inappropriate, disrespectful and insensitive, and wanting to move on and resuming normal everyday life.

Analysts and social commentators agree that the renewed mutual contempt of both fan bases is a sure sign that people are eager to return to their beloved routines.  “What matters now is that the guilty must be punished, and the victims must be helped in any way possible, like for instance giving to the One Fund of Boston,” noted Dr. Poindexter McSmartPerson, renowned sociologist and bacon enthusiast. 

At a White House press conference this morning, President Barack Obama himself hailed the resumption of hostilities. “The blind irrational hatred that Red Sox and Yankees fans have for each other, and the sheer contempt they feel for the other’s team, is an inspiration to all Americans who seek to recover from this tragedy,” the President declared. “We must not forget the tragic events of that Monday, and we must continue to seek justice while extending every means of care to the recovering victims and family members. But we draw strength and hope from the resumption of this obsessive, sometimes frightening bitter rivalry, and point to it as a sign that while the victims remain in our hearts, normalcy is returning.”

When asked about his beloved Chicago White Sox languishing at the bottom of the AL Central Division, President Obama gave a terse “no comment” and ended the press conference, muttering under his breath.

Fans of the Montreal Canadiens have also gone on record as saying that they too are returning to their normal loathing of Boston and the Bruins, but no one cares what they think or do anyway.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Things You Shouldn't Say In The Aftermath Of The Boston Marathon Bombing

A week ago today, two terrorist psychopaths detonated a pair of homemade bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The reasons are still unknown at the time of this writing, but the older one is dead and the younger one is in custody. And if there's any justice, he'll be given a life sentence and assume the role of Sweetheart of Cellblock Eight for the next six or seven decades.

As an avid runner and a Boston native, this incident really rattled me, as it hit my hometown and a passion of mine. It was even worse when you add on the fact that my oldest daughter works at a Boston hospital, and also, being an avid runner who has done her share of marathons, has also volunteered to help at the finish line. You can bet I was messaging her when it all went down, and wondering with a rising sense of panic why she wasn't responding right away.

Fortunately, she wasn't anywhere near the incident. I wish more people could have said that about their loved ones.

But in the aftermath of terrible tragedies like this, people start speaking their minds. Most express condolences, sadness, or confusion. A few, however, make some totally amazing statements that make anyone with a modicum of common sense or compassion to want to stick an IED up their collective rears and let it rip.

So, in the spirit of preventing widespread colon damage to people who would otherwise deserve it, here's a handy guide to things you should NOT say in the aftermath of this tragedy, or ones like it.

1. Yes, this was sad and senseless, but other parts of the world experience this on a daily basis. Why is what happened in Boston somehow more important?
Okay, listen asshat...this is America. The incident occurred in America. Most of the people making a fuss about this are Americans. It's being reported by American media outlets to the American people. Do you see a pattern here? Call me crazy (many do), but I somehow think that something that's happening at home or close to it, may juuuuuust have a tad bit more relevance and/or emotional impact than a bombing in WhoGivesACrapIstan. Yes, all tragedies carry equal weight; all death tolls diminish us as a race, but the Boston one hits home to those of us who, oh, I don't know, happen to live in Massachusetts or in the rest of the USA. We can relate to it more because it's happening to people and places we know. While tragedies happen around the world, we Americans have enough adversity and unpleasantness sucking up our emotional bandwidth (rising prices, unemployment, sequesters, exploding fertilizer plants, Glenn Beck) in our own backyard without having to wring our hands and rend our garments at every damn bad thing that happens in every damn corner of the globe. There's a bus leaving town at midnight; I suggest you be under it.

2. This bombing is God's judgement against America for (gay marriage/declining church attendance/abortion/no prayer in schools/Nikki Minaj).Look, I'm a Christian, and the only response I can come up with here that will pass obscenity filters is "Get stuffed". In fact, I consulted with God on the matter, and He says the same thing. I don't care how many times you've read the Bible and in how many versions you've read it. You do NOT know the mind of God with any greater certainty than anyone else walking around today. Rather than point a finger and say "a-ha!", why don't you reach out with an open hand and say "How can I help?" That's what Jesus would want us to do, you steaming lump of cat crap.

3. If some people in the crowd had a .45 or an AR-15, this wouldn't have happened!
This crap (and yes, I read the above quote somewhere) and other comments like it, are uttered by an utterly soulless and fixated species of so-called human that uses tragedy in order to legitimatize their agendas. Not only that, you're dead wrong. Guns are not magic wands that somehow bestow upon you a Spider Sense that indicates when a couple of douchebags are about to bomb a bunch of helpless people, you sick son of a bitch.

4. While this was a tragedy, certainly, we need to understand that the bombers may have felt that they had a legitimate gripe/cause.Wrong, wrong, WRONG, you idiotic bleeding-heart non-entity. The Boston Marathon is about as apolitical a gathering as you can find. It's hosted in Boston, but it brings in runners from all over the world to come and compete in a spirit of respect, fun, and athleticism. It's an event that celebrates the human spirit. It's not a symbol of capitalism, Western values, America, pro-Israel sympathizers, or anything else like that. Hell, even the chief Chechnyan Muslim separatist group has disavowed all knowledge or approval of this atrocity. So if, and I do mean "if", this turns out to be somehow politically motivated or something Al-Qaeda like, seriously, what's been accomplished here? The Islamic radical population (and again, IF this is what the motive was) has now been saved from the depredations of  two young women and an eight year old boy!? Nothing excuses this. Nothing. It was pointless and stupid.

5. It's a government conspiracy.And sure enough, the tinfoil hat brigade comes crawling out of the woodwork to spew their deranged venom. Listen, morons, the incident happened. It was not a set up, it was not staged. It was not a trial run to see if martial law can be implemented. The two dirtbags accused of doing this did in fact do it, otherwise they wouldn't have been fleeing from the Watertown police, lobbing goddam IEDs out the window of their car and firing at the cops. What framed patsy carries around IEDs as standard traveling gear?

Phew. That's it. I believe that tragedies and disasters bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others. In situations like this, we should all come together and do what we can to be part of the solution. But if we somehow can't be part of the solution, then for God's sake, let's not be part of the problem.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Are People Stupider Today, or What?

Seems that everywhere I turn these days, there's increasing evidence that people today are stupider than ever. It's an easy conclusion to come to, what with school budgets getting slashed (which would tend to make one believe that fewer folks these days are getting a good education), the popularity of lowbrow entertainment (e.g. reality shows), and poll results where people actually believe that the President wasn't born in this country or that dinosaurs didn't exist. It's easy to throw up one's hands and declare that people are devolving, and brains are atrophying.

But is it really true? Are people in fact stupider these days?

I think back to the 60's and early 70's, when I was a kid, and recall some of the commercials on television, public service announcements, to be exact. I recall commercials exhorting people not to throw bags of litter out onto the highway, something you'd think people wouldn't have to be told.

I vividly recall a commercial begging people to lock their cars and take their keys with them. The commercial was of the "high school auto safety" variety, where some poor nimrod leaves his keys in the car and goes inside a shop. A pack of teenagers sees the car and decides to take a joyride. Naturally, they're not the best drivers in the world, and a hideous accident occurs, complete with screaming teenagers as their stolen car is about to plow into another vehicle.

Wait...people have to be told to lock up their cars and take their keys? People need to be informed that hurling litter out of their speeding cars is a bad thing? Are people stupid or something? Again, this is circa 1967.

While there do seem to be many instances today where intelligence is openly disparaged and stupidity is celebrated, really, is it any different than it was years or decades ago? While one could say that taste has shriveled up and died, and that shame is a commodity no longer found, is intelligence really harder to come by now than it was a few decades ago?

See, back in the 50's, the USSR launched Sputnik, and suddenly America was thrown into a tizzy. "We're falling behind in technology!" America wailed. "We need to teach our kids more math! More science! Build better schools! Hire teachers! Get better, more modern textbooks! We can't fall behind the Commies!"

And as a kid,  I benefited from that. In the 60's I attended the newly built, ultra-modern, John F Kennedy Elementary School in beautiful Somerville, Massachusetts. We had brand new textbooks, all the modern conveniences, and lots of new teachers. Little Known Trivia Fact That I Just Made Up: Starting in 1965, every state in America needed to have at least 100 JFK schools if they wanted Federal funding for education.

So yes, a little metal ball that orbited the Earth and went "beep" helped frighten America into improving its education opportunities. Bravo! Suddenly, stuff like science was cool, hip, and much admired. And it stayed that way,right?

See, when the war in Vietnam escalated and increasing numbers of young men were drafted, many got deferments if they were attending college. So, while the average American young adult male ran the risk of getting drafted and shipped off to Nam, the brainy kids in college got a pass. As a result, a lot of our entertainment culture skewed itself against the smart kids, the "bookworms", the "Poindexters", the "nerds".

For all the idiocy of television today, was it really any better in the 50's or 60's (we already know the 70's were a mental wasteland, so we won't even bother asking). Hey, who remembers "My Mother The Car"? Or how about "Gilligan's Island"?

Now, anyone who's played Dungeons and Dragons knows that when you roll up/create a character, there's an attribute for Intelligence and one for Wisdom. To me, that translates into "book-learning, education" and "common sense" respectively. I'm not sure if it would be opening yet another can of worms to ask, as a sidebar, if people are simply more foolish today than they used to be.

But in any event, after discussing the matter at length with my wife Carol, I've come to the conclusion that people today are no more or less stupid than they used to be. What's changed is the Information Age, the ability to absorb more news stories, sound bites, and what have you, where the best and the worst of people is constantly bombarding us. In other words, the number of stupid incidents hasn't increased; what has increased is the number of ways we get our news, and thus more exposed to idiocy.

Or look at it this way; once upon a time if some nimrod in East Bumfug Mississippi had an opinion that the President was in fact an illegal alien who is here to overthrow America and put it in the clutches of godless, gun-seizing, ethnical types, then there's no way we'd ever really know about it. He's out in the sticks somewhere in his tar-paper shack and you won't ever see, hear, or smell him. 

But these days, all any idiot needs is a cheap computer and web access, and they can vomit their insanity all over the online community. What's worse, if there's 100 other people out of 240,000,000 who agree, they'll post their support. Suddenly, stupidity has a fan base, and it's flashing across your screen. Now, picture every statement of ignorance and stupidity, having a forum. It's easy to look at all of these posts and come to the conclusion that America is becoming stupider by the day.

I've also considered the possibility that, as I've grown older, I've simply become less tolerant of stupidity and find myself compelled to notice it and gripe about it more often. See, I have a theory about long-term exposure to certain external stimuli. I believe that long-term exposure to things like insults, stupidity, body odor, cold drafts, criticism, loud noises, excessive coughing, humidity, bad drivers, late-night freight trains, crying babies, either erodes any given person's tolerance for the particular stimuli, or desensitizes them to it. So perhaps, after constant exposure to stupidity, perhaps my tolerance has eroded?

It may also be a good explanation for why a lot of old people are grumpy. Perhaps it's because they've been exposed to a lifetime of stupidity, selfishness, and foolishness, that they simply have no tolerance for it anymore. Seeing as I am older (not "old" mind you, "old-ER"), the explanation makes sense.

So, take heart, people. Next time you read something about how people think there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, Canada is located in Europe, the moon landing was staged, Pearl Harbor was set up by FDR, or that every one of the Founding Fathers was a card-carrying atheist, just remember that people have always thought these things. It's just that nowadays, there's more means  For every opportunity that the Internet gives us to learn something new, it also gives us three opportunities to be exposed to the cream of the crop of DUMB.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Harry Potter Doesn''t Go To Church

I've known for a while now that Daniel Radcliffe is an atheist, but was reminded of it recently when someone on Facebook posted a picture of him with some quote where he basically disparages religion.

Now, I'm a Christian who has his own issues/doubts about how organized religion handles things (watch for my upcoming post "How Christianity In America Has Pretty Much Hosed Itself, Thereby Creating Fertile Ground For Atheists To Regurgitate Their Own Unique Brand Of Idiocy"), but stepping out of that mindset and looking at his quote as objectively as possible, one sentence came to mind (two, if you want to count accio whogivesacrap):

"What makes his opinion have any more weight than anyone elses?"

Which then led to another question:

"What makes any celebrity's opinion any better or more worth subscribing to than anyone elses?"

Whether it's politics, religion, health issues, child rearing, whatever. Whether it's left, right, centrist, who cares. Seriously, why does it matter? Is it that we want affirmation of our own opinions so we post celebrity quotes that reinforce that, thereby trying to imply to others that we're somehow right because Jim Carrey says so? Or do we actually think that their opinion carries more weight because they're famous?

Noted psycho Jenny McCarthy has crusaded ignorantly against child vaccinations. Some people apparently have actually listened to her, and there are still some media outlets that give her air time to express these wrongheaded views. And what are her qualifications? She posed for Playboy, did a bunch of stuff on former music video channel MTV, did some movies, and reproduced. Wow. Eminently qualified.

Has-been rocker Ted Nugent is a gun nut and has no reservations about blathering his special form of insanity whenever given the opportunity. And his qualifications are...? He is a rock musician and a gun owner. Amazing.

Being a famous person does not mean you are any smarter, any wiser, any better-informed than anyone else walking around today. Thus, a famous person's opinion should carry no more weight than the guy who's driving a cab, or the lady who lives next door with her 34 cats.

Hell, we've already seen that being an elected official doesn't mean you're not staggeringly stupid. All it means is that you managed to find enough people even dumber than you to vote for you. We refer to this as the Michelle Bachmann Syndrome.

And this spins off into celebrity endorsements for products and services. So some actor says "Drink this", or "Use this." Some baseball player says "Buy this." These people are paid to say these things. It doesn't mean they use the product or that it's any good. It's manipulation (on that note, watch for my upcoming post, "Why Advertisements Featuring Hot Women Selling Stuff Annoys The Living Crap Out Of Me").

Whether it's an "aw shucks, flag-wavin', yee-haw, 'murica, good ol' boy" country singer, or some Hollywood leftist limousine liberal. Whether it's a home run king or a star forward on a soccer team. No one should consider what these people say, what they believe, as somehow more important, more meaningful, more right, than the opinions of the average Joe or Jane.

Now, this doesn't mean that we can't hold up these people as role models or examples of success in their particular field. You can be inspired to become a singer, actor, athlete, writer, whatever, by the stories of famous people in the respective field. That's not the issue. If I want inspiration, advice, or an example for how to become a successful writer, I'll turn to Stephen King or Dean Koontz. If I want to know the issues of the day and what the different sides are, I'll look them up and draw my own conclusions.

Think for yourself. Research the issues yourself. Don't take some sports dude or some actor's opinion as gospel. Collect the facts, look back at your own life's experiences, and arrive at your own decisions. Enjoy and celebrate the accomplishments of famous people; cheer them on in sports, be entertained, even moved, by their performances. But as for how you live your life, figure it out for yourself.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Return of the Terror

Ok, so I've been away for an unconscionably long time. I promise to start blogging on a more semi-regular basis.

In the meantime, here's something I posted on Facebook that a lot of people really seemed to dig. I'm copying it verbatim, so just pretend it's early March.

And there will be more content coming. Promise!
OK, so I turned 54 today. I've had a whiskey and ginger ale, and a beer, plus some awesome Maplewood delivery (our fave local pizza/sub joint), and now I'm feeling pleasantly full and buzzed, so now I have some things to say. Edit function: disabled.

First of all, thank you all for the birthday wishes. Seriously. You folks rock.

Secondly, I am here to tell all of you who are still on the other, younger side of the 50 year mark, that yes, there's hope. You don't need to slow down, you don't need to change. There's a difference between being childish and being child-like, and I tell you, keep that sense of wonder, that sense of fun. Keep on gaming, keep on rocking, keep on dressing up as a zombie and shamble down Main Street. Keep on roping your wife into a rousing session of Viking Raider Meets Helpless Peasant Girl. Keep reading comics. Keep watching cartoons.

Don't fight that giddy, funky sense of excitement at Christmas, or that chill that goes up your spine when you see or hear something moving. Cry at the end of It's A Wonderful Life, or when Aslan is sacrificed on the stone table, because you know everything is going to turn out fine. Get scared at a horror movie. Re-read the Harry Potter books. Put on your best leather jacket and pogo to the Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated".

Don't let ANYone tell you that you're supposed to have outgrown these things. These people have just grown calcified and boring, and are resenting the fact that you haven't done so yet. Piss them off by still acting like a kid. Refuse to take part in their Premature Burial, those Poe fools....

Here's a secret to staying young: don't worry about growing old. Consider yourself immune, above the laws of time and space. And for a while, longer than the average person can do so, you WILL be immune.

As long as you're fulfilling your obligations to your family, to God and country, to whoever else relies on you to do things, the rest is gravy. This is YOUR time. Go nuts. Have fun. Be a kid, but don't be a spoiled brat.

And here's something else. Whenever you marginalize people into a collective, whether it's "those gays", or "those Christians", or "those Liberals", or "those immigrants", or "those Republicans", or any of the myriad "those's" out there, it becomes easier to consider them anything other than what they really are: fellow flawed travelers on this deranged spinning globe, all playing a part in this scary, amazing, stupid, awesome thing we call Life, people with feelings, hopes, dreams, likes, weaknesses.

Don't put people in boxes. Don't put yourself in a box either, for that matter. Enjoy life. Don't be an ass. Grow older, but don't grow old.

That's it for now....