Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Falling of Man

Pretty sure he's going to blame her for everything
From as far back as I can remember, Man has been falling. Growing up Catholic, I obviously got the goods about all the bads that comes along with being human. Turns out I had sins as soon as I was born!

Seems like a couple thousand years ago, they went on and on about how we screwed up and got ourselves kicked out of God's good graces. Since then, man has been struggling to get their shit together now that the odds were forever not in our favor. But it didn't stop there. The same old song and dance has been carried on from generation to generation and with each telling it seems that humans are getting worse. You'd think at some point someone would get the idea to put a stop to all this falling. We'd get our crap together and as a collective species say, "enough is enough". That is obviously easier said than done. In a world where the collective voices of human beings gets louder and louder, less and less people will be heard and those with something to actually say will be drowned out.

Humanity has made attempts to answer why we are the way we are. Religion likes to act like they got a handle on this. They lay the blame squarely on our shoulders, which is fair. We are to blame for our actions and inactions. The "why" becomes a point of contention. Some feel it's in our nature. Some feel there are external forces at work. Others stick their head in the sand and hope someone will come along to solve the problem with no actual effort from themselves. The scholars and non-scholars have struggled over this question since... ...well, since they looked around and noticed that shit was going south. I believe it's a combination of many things. For example:

  • Do I consider myself a good person? - Yes.
  • Do I try to do make the world a better place? - Yes.
  • Do you do enough? - Probably not.
  • Why not? - A combination of means, necessities, and wants that factor into what I can contribute to the world.
  • Are you a greedy bastard? - Not at all.
  • Then why would you put your needs and wants before the world? - Because I feel that by achieving the thing I want to do in life, I'll be able to better contribute to the world than if I just did any old thing, even if that "thing" would probably benefit the world in the interim.
Now if we generously multiplied that kind of thinking to about half the population, that's three and a half billion people who are trying to do something for themselves in hopes to make the world a better place in the long run rather than going out and building a house for the homeless or signing up for the Peace Corps.

Are we assholes for wanting to do something that'd make us happy and therefore others happy as well? For the sake of rhetoric, I'm gonna say no. But that's one less house for a homeless person, that's one less field that gets planted, that's one less kid who gets vaccinated. Add that up three and a half billion times; that's a whole lot of shit that gets missed, not to mention the other three and a half billion people who are actually assholes (probably not, but bear with me) and really let shit get out of hand. It becomes a recipe for disaster. So here we are. We soared so high with wings made of wax that we screwed ourselves and have been falling, with style, since the dawn of man. I guess my question to those out there flapping their hands along with me is: If we're falling, did we get pushed or did we trip?

Maybe he deserved it?

We are screwing up as a species. All you have to do is stick your head out of your Hobbit hole and take a gander. We are raping and pillaging every natural resource of this planet like, well, like us. We are killing each other for any reason we can find. We are destroying ourselves, our future, and any chance for humanity to continue on. And the crux of it all is that we know it!

Some people lie to themselves, they amass ignorance in forms of money, disinformation, and so-called "goods" then proceed to pretend that the world is just fine. They know they're falling, I haven't run into a single human who thinks the world is absolutely perfect the way it is. But instead of acknowledging it, they point their fingers and blame everyone else for the fall except themselves.

Others see the fall, and try to do what they can for the rest of us. They surround themselves with smart people, those who can make a difference. Like a blanket fort of change, all are welcome and together, we can try to save ourselves. But because these are very smart people, they know that no matter what, we are plummeting, even in our blanket fort of change, we are heading down.

You see, humans have made way too many mistakes, the point of no return was about forty years ago. The world as we know it is and will change, there's no argument about that. The important question is; when we land, will it be on our feet or on our backs?

About seventy thousand years ago, there was a thing called the Toba catastrophe. It was a super-volcanic explosion followed by a volcanic winter that brought the human population down to about ten thousand people. The seven billion people who are alive today are alive because of ten thousand humans who through sheer force of will, managed to land on their feet from a massive fall. They dusted themselves off, and probably managed to take a few steps before they were either pushed or tripped.

I think the one thing we can count on mankind to do is to fall. Whether pushed or tripped, it seems to be our shining grace. When we fall, we do so with such gusto that there's a morbid admiration to it. we are capable of so many amazing things, it's a shame that the horrid reality mars what could be seen as a beautiful fall akin to Douglas Adam's sperm whale.

“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.
And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.
This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.
Ah … ! What’s happening? it thought.
Er, excuse me, who am I?
Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life?
What do I mean by who am I?
Calm down, get a grip now … oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of … yawning, tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach.
Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that … wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This … let’s call it a tail – yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?
Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation …
Or is it the wind?
There really is a lot of that now isn’t it?
And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground!
I wonder if it will be friends with me?
And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.”

Here's hoping we meet a better fate.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Year In A Land Down Unda

On the 22nd of this month, it'll be one year since I left my hometown of 37 years, San Francisco, and moved to Australia to be with my wife.

To say that it has been surreal would be an understatement. I am quite literally on the other side of the planet (I am using "literally" in the informal state making it an emphasis rather than what the word actually means, which is okay now because people have used it wrong for so fucking long that the dictionary just said, "Fuck it, just put it in that way, we give up"). It's November and it's hot. No "Turkey Day" celebrating a buncha ill-prepared white folks who took advantage of an indigenous population; though if I looked hard enough I'm sure I'd find a holiday here just like that. I haven't had a decent burrito that I haven't made myself. And I'm missing out on the McRib! Which, to be fair, is probably a good thing.

Needless to say, my world has been figuratively turned upside down. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I thought when I came here I acclimated well. It wasn't until several months here that a friend of mine mentioned to me that I must be feeling discombobulated. Turns out, I really was! Things are so different here. I miss Mexican food, I miss good Chinese food, I miss the fact that those two options were on the same block for me along with everything else I loved to eat. I miss my neighborhood of Bernal Heights, if you ever get the chance, head on over there. It's the best hood in SF that hasn't been completely hipsterized. I miss the people, I miss the homeless guy who once gave me change when it looked like I had none. I miss my friends whom I saw less and less over the years, but when we actually did get together, it's as if not a day went by since last we hung out; only now there were small children hanging around and no one wakes up in their own (or someone else's) urine, unless it's from one of the small children. I miss my family. My grandfather passed away a couple of months ago. I knew when I kissed him goodbye that it was the last time I'd see him. I miss my nephews, I was with those kids just about every day. I miss movies and television coming out in a timely fashion. I miss cheaper everything. I miss the ocean (currently landlocked).

And even with all those things, I wouldn't trade what I have here for any of that (though a good burrito would be a close call), because not only do I love my wife, and do so more each and every day I'm with her, I love this place.

I love that I'm not afraid that I'll get mugged or shot if I take a walk at night. I love that there are kids who walk home from school like I used to when I was a kid. I love that I'm surrounded by nature. I walk two minutes in any direction and I may walk into a kangaroo, though my chances of getting mugged by a kangaroo jumps to one thousand percent at that point. I love how quaint this town can be. I love that sugar and corn isn't injected into every motherfucking thing I eat. I love the seafood here. I love that my news isn't death and murder and hatred and fear. I love that I'm avoiding the stupidity of my government (though the stupidity of this government is getting right up there). I love that I now have a niece that makes me smile every time I see her. Above all, I love the fact that after six years of long distance phone calls, Skype calls, the few months of being in each other's company; I can finally, and without fear of when will be the next time, reach next to me and hold my sleeping wife.

A year being with the woman I love is the kind of happiness I'd wish for everyone. Of course getting used to life on the flip side is an adjustment, but what in life isn't? I think back to the question my friend asked me; yeah, it took some time getting my head straight, might've taken this whole year to do so. But if he would've asked me if I was happy, I wouldn't have had to think twice on that one.

I am very happy, I look forward to spending the rest of my life with Ruth, be it here or back in the states. Whatever comes, it'll be the both of us together, and I'll never have to doodle something like this from one of the times we were just hanging out on Skype.

Now I just need to learn to make better burritos.

- Too lazy to tout the computer around so this was douched from my iPhone

Friday, August 29, 2014

Remembering Grandpa

My grandfather passed away a couple of hours ago. I'm halfway around the world right now, so I couldn't be there with him at the end. But I was there with him for almost twenty years, I spent more time with him than anyone else other than my grandmother, so sufficed to say, I knew him rather well.

He was a tough old guy. He was made of iron. He had a belly made of iron, forearms that made Hellboy's rock hand look like it was made of silly putty, and his hands were covered in callouses.

And man, was he ever pissed. The guy lived upset of just about everything. I think it fueled him right to the bitter end. He was hard on his kids, but as he got older, man, was he the biggest softy in the world to his grandkids and great grandkids.

If you asked him about his politics or views on society, he'd sound like one of those old fashioned racists that we know some old folks to be. But if you saw him from day to day like I did, the man got along with everyone he met, and everyone he met dug the hell out of him. I remember once filling out his voting form, and of course he wanted me to tick "no" on the gay marriage act. I, of course confused him into voting for "yes" on gay marriage. Not a couple of days later, we were driving around, and we happened across a gay couple on the street. They were holding hands, and he flippantly said, "They should just get married and get it over with." That made me laugh, that's the kind of guy he was.

He may have been one of the most stubborn guys you ever met. But my grandfather was also one of the most giving men I ever knew. He may bitch and moan about doing a particular thing, but he'd do it, cause he loved his family. And we love him.

My grandfather never once refused to help me when I needed it. I hope that I could be as giving to my grandkids one day.

He would've hated the hoopla that's about to go down at his funeral (not sure when that will be), he hated anyone having much ado over him.

So invite you all to take a drink when you get a chance, (which is what he would've done) and help me toast my grandfather.

Papa Oscar, I love you so much you cantankerous, lovable man. I'm glad that when I left, I got to kiss you goodbye and tell you I love you. I'm glad we got the last moment together, and I will be forever grateful for everything you have done for me. I have some of the best memories with you, thank you for being there for me, and thank you for having my back.

Love you forever.

And here's a song I know you loved. Take care old timer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain...

A legend in his own right
I have a vivid memory of a man. He’s standing on a stage in front of a crowd. He’s a comedian, and for the last thirty minutes he has made me laugh. This is of no surprise to me, this man has made me laugh my entire life. I can’t remember a time when this man wasn’t around. The tingles that ran down my spine in excitement when he stands up on a railing, squinting with one eye and a pipe in his mouth exclaiming for all to hear, “Who am I?” The time when I was too young to watch this man put his hand between Billy Crystal’s legs and pretended to be his penis. The times I hoped that when Mork from Ork called Orson, Orson would never call him back. The time he granted wishes and wished for freedom. The time he was Pan the man. The time he burned his fake boobs. All these moments and more are riddled in my life, but one stuck out. This one time in particular, the time Robin Williams invited an audience into his mind.

If you've never seen Robin Williams do stand-up, it's like watching a meteor shower; if you blink you'll miss the rapid fire deliverance of a joke that he teased earlier that you had no idea he'd come back to it. I was just a kid watching this stand-up from 1978, Comedy Central used to show old stand-up sets. It was "Robin Williams Live at the Roxy" and Robin motions to open his head so that we could go on a magical journey inside the inner workings of his machinations, and what a journey it was. This was a side of Robin I had never experienced. He was going to-and-fro in his mind, from the intro to the setup. He argued with his own mind and threatened to release the subconscious. When he finally does, he comes out, crotch in hand, flips off the audience and exclaims in a way that was more true than act, "Fuck you! What do you want from me anyway?" And just as methodically, he closes his head and slowly goes into the next part of his act. But I wasn't ready to move on, I did not have the time to process what I saw. I saw brilliance, I saw a genius mind being honest, and quite possibly, I saw a sad man be too honest.

I wanted to grab the people in the audience, I wanted to shake Tony Danza, Henry Winkler, and John Ritter; all these famous people I recognized. I wanted to stop them from laughing and say, "Wait! Did you not see? That wasn't an act! That was real! That was a true soul in its bare and most honest state!

As a kid, I never witnessed comedy like that, if you can actually call it comedy. It was more a  play of Robin Williams experimenting in the playground that was Robin Williams. After that, Robin could do no wrong for me. You could take his greatest films and you can put them up against the not-so-good ones and I will still take "Robin Williams Live at the Roxy" as his greatest performance, one that outshines the good and the bad. One that I can truly say, changed my life.

I'm late to the game of posting about Robin. For the last two weeks, I have been moving house and without internet. When my wife told me that he passed away. I was floored like the rest of the world. And saddened still to find out how he passed away. The internet exploded with posts about Robin. Most in sadness, a few in anger, others who were dismissive of him. I knew right away that I wanted to blog about him. I never had the good fortune to meet Robin (though, being from the same hometown, I always felt a connection to him). What I knew of him I knew through his films, what he shared, and what I always heard from people. Everything that was ever said about the man was that he was sweet, shy, loving, and one of the funniest people you'd ever meet. I liked that a man like that existed, I liked even more that he seemed to be a genuinely good man. I watched his films, not with a grain of salt because "oh this is Robin without the beard, so you know it's going to be over-the-top and silly", but because he was in them, and I loved the man. So the day he passed away, I cried.

There has been only one other time in my life where someone I didn't know had passed away and I cried. That was Christopher Reeve. He was my Superman, how could it not hit me?

Robin wasn't my Superman. Robin was my voice in Vietnam. He was my alien that wanted to learn about Earth. He was my father who loved me so much he pretended to be my nanny. He was my robot who wanted to be human. He was my genie that I set free. He was my doctor who made me laugh. He was captain, my captain. And in that stand-up, the one that changed my life. The one where he let you into his mind and shared a scary journey of him. He was me.

There are people out there much smarter than me who talk about the depression Robin suffered, who remind us that we are not alone and that there's a hand out there in the darkness. I hope that if you ever find yourself down that dark road that you remember you are not alone, that Robin Williams felt just like you did, and that there are those around you that will be there for you to pull you out of that darkness.

I have had trouble trying to convey what I wanted to say in this post. I have stopped and started several times, I didn't know where to go with it. I guess I just wanted to hear myself say how much I loved this man and how dearly I will miss that infectious laugh and that sad smile, you know the one. We have all seen it. And I guess if there are others like me out there that felt like you were kicked in the gut when you found out that he was gone, you're not alone.

Thank you, Robin. Thank you for helping me find my little spark of madness by sharing yours with me. I swear to you, I'll never lose it.

Now here he is, Robin Williams Live at the Roxy, back in 1978.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Mourn on the 4th of July

I know it seems redundant to stand on a soapbox on a blog. I get that. But I'm taking this one post to basically air out something that's been bugging me leading up to the Fourth.

We have nothing to celebrate.

Sure, today is the day we celebrate our Independence from Britain. Today, we celebrate the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

We should be celebrating these words, we should be living these words. But today, I feel as the people of the United States, we should be mourning these words, because they do not live today. They have died in our society, they do not exist in our government, they have failed to hold true today.

Am I being facetious? Am I being defeatist? Am I just another armchair activist?

No, I'm sick. I'm sick of pretending things are okay. I'm sick of treading through the bullshit that gets spewed on us by a media who's hellbent on making us afraid of everyone and everything. I'm sick of being proud of a country that fails its people.

There is a social war, people. One that is expanding. You may not see it, you may not even know it exists. But it's there. It wages on the internet, it attacks on the media. There are skirmishes every time you step outside.

Who is being attacked? The Muslim who wants to go to his mosque, the young girl who takes control of her body, the woman who wishes equality, the black man who walks down the street, the immigrant who wants a better life; we, the people, are being attacked. And the fucked up thing? We are allowing it. We are letting it happen. We have allowed the small vocal minority of fucking idiots to spread lies and ignorance at every avenue available to them, and they have done so with much fervor and zeal that you almost have to applaud them for it if they wouldn't shoot you for the effort.

We have allowed companies to be recognized as people, we allow our children to be killed because the gun lobby pumps so much money into corrupt candidates that continue to allow these weapons to be readily available, we turn our backs on veterans that we ask to fight meaningless wars for us, we wage war with countries that we have no business to do so and allow countries that desperately need our help to suffer because they can't do anything for us.

We are in a sad state of affairs. We are losing this war on our humanity. Look into the eyes of a child, tell them that we have allowed others to butcher their future inheritance. That we leave them a world of fear, a world dying from pollution, a world that would judge them based on race, gender, or sex. Tell them the truth. Tell them we have failed!

For if nothing, let's be honest. We are bad Americans. We should be disgusted with ourselves for impeding the liberties that we so boorishly and brazenly claim to uphold. I want you to look in the mirror, take a breath and say, "We fucked up." Then, and only then, can we begin to heal. For in failure, in our err of being human; we can strive for forgiveness. But it must start with the truth, and to know the truth is to see the sickness within us, what we have allowed to happen.

And of course, without fail, you'll ask the question, the one question that stops most of us from trying to take a step in the right direction.

"What can I do?"

The answer is not nothing, though that is what most of us will do. The truth is, you can be aware, you can say it loud and proud. You can say the truth.

"I am a bad American! I have allowed bigotry, sexism, and hatred to grow around me! I have turned a blind eye when women have said that they feel that they are being attacked! I have made excuses for accepting misogyny in our culture! I have walked by as the little guy gets picked on! I have allowed the fear of other people to allow prejudices of people I know nothing about fester in my heart and in the hearts of others I know. I am a bad American, but I don't want to be!"

I can't tell you how to celebrate our day of Independence. That would negate the very day. But I ask you, any of you who read this. To take a moment, any moment today or any the day after. Accept that we're not as good as we think we are. And considering this is not how we would want to be treated, let's not treat others in the same fashion. You are a bad American, but you, me, we; can be better.

I leave you with the words of the fictional character of Howard Beale from the film "Network". It's only fitting.

"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot — I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. [shouting]You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!'So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!...You've got to say, I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
Fuck yeah!
Let's be better, by admitting we're far from it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Godzilla Matters

"One often hears of writers that rise and swell with their subjects, though it may seem but an ordinary one. How, then, with me, writing of this Leviathan?" - Moby Dick, Herman Melville
"Give me a condor's quill!" Melville goes on to say. "Give me Vesuvius' crater for an inkstand!" He exclaims. "Friends, hold my arms!" He pleads. "For in the mere act of penning my thoughts of this Leviathan, they weary me, and make me faint with their outreaching comprehensiveness of sweep, as if to include the whole circles of the sciences, and all the generations of whales, and men, and mastodons, past, present, and to come, with all the revolving panoramas of empire on earth, and throughout the whole universe, not excluding its suburbs."

In 1954, a Japanese icon was born. Brought about as a cautionary tale of humanity's use of nuclear weapons. For the last sixty years, Godzilla and other daikaiju (giant strange creature) of his ilk have come and gone, but the morbid fascination with these characters remain. The mass destruction that comes in the wake of these monsters is like nothing else we have ever witnessed outside of a Roland Emmerich film, but unlike the films of Emmerich (I do not include his version of Godzilla because the film itself was a travesty of immeasurable proportions) these kaiju are not there for the sake of destruction. At least, that's not how they are now.

Originally, Godzilla was Japan's nightmare personified by a man in a suit. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki left a scar on Japan, one that became a metaphor as a giant monster who kills indiscriminately. One that had to be destroyed, and they did. But I don't think the filmmakers were prepared for what happened next. I don't think they were aware that by anthropomorphizing their monster, they were in fact creating a mirror. One that when humans stared at it, they saw a bit of themselves, and they were sca-roused (scare and aroused, my word I stole from Futurama).

Me Grimlock am a sentient robot who deserves better than this.
Now let's be honest, I'm just as much of a fan of Baysplosions (Michael Bay explosions, I'm sure I stole that one from Robot Chicken) as the next red-blooded American. From watching things go very fast and in a furious manner to watching someone completely misinterpret a Mayan prophecy; I love watching the spectacle of things that I would otherwise die if I came into contact with them. Godzilla stems from the same awe. But what makes him more than just a lean, mean, kinda green machine is his connection to nature. He comes out of the water, a creature brought about by the radiation of man, laying waste to the glory that we have built. There are times he protects us from the other monsters that seek to destroy us, and there are times we bear his full wrath. Regardless of the circumstance, no matter how well we weather the storm, at the end of the day, we're just along for the ride. Exactly how we're just along for the ride on this planet.

Godzilla is the cinematic version of Melville's white whale. Just as Ahab foolishly attempts to control nature, so to does man foolishly attempt to control Godzilla. And as much as the movies try to make Godzilla human friendly, he shines best when he is out of control and we have no idea if he will turn on us at any minute. This battle of man vs nature is an old one. One where man stubbornly tries to one-up nature at every turn. And for every milestone and wonder we think we achieve; a little shake, a little eruption, a little fire, and we are back to the stone age, if we're lucky.

So why does Godzilla matter? Why do we feel the need to tell a story of us getting figuratively spanked in our entertainment without the need for safe word? The answer is pretty simple. Cause we need to be reminded, constantly, that we are not better than anything else on this planet, we are all guests here to an uncontrollable host, a force of nature. And the moment we forget is usually the moment Godzilla will turn up.

I haven't seen the new Godzilla movie. I'm sure I will at some point in the near future. I miss seeing nature kick ass, even if it's ours.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2 weeks without social media. I was bored.

I now know kung-fu.
So I thought I'd take a month. I made it two weeks. I thought long and hard about whether or not I should go the extra two weeks, but I realized I learned all I was going to learn from being off for two weeks. Now, I was just punishing myself for no good reason.

So what did I learn? I learned that if I really wanted to, I could disconnect. There was the initial withdrawal.

And then there was the silence.

The utter silence I had in my head from not having everyone else's thoughts coming across my screen. I realized I had to work harder to get information, I had to go to more websites and read more articles just to get the gist of a story that Twitter could cover in a short blurb.

I learned that I missed my friends, acquaintances, and people of interest that I am accustomed to seeing on a daily. I learned that the people I call friends are mostly on a virtual space, which I'm not altogether sure if that's sad or not. That was after a week.

And then there was the silence.

I learned that being a spectator of the internet was not enough for me. I wanted to be involved. I missed putting up pictures on Instagram, I missed tweeting a joke I thought was funny, I missed asking a silly question and getting a sillier answer. I learned I don't want to disconnect.

I want to be a part of this world in the way I know how. I emphasize "this" because this world is a different world than the one from ten years ago. This world exists in 1's and 0's, and I enjoy it even with all the shit that comes along with it. It's easy to be disgusted with the internet, but like all things linked to humanity; the small amount of good that comes from people online using the net to scour satellite photos for a plane that has gone missing outweighs the disgusting nature of the comment section of any news feed.

And then there was the silence.

I am Hugh(ge) fan of tweeting!
Like Hugh being separated from the Borg, I was alone with my thoughts for the first time in about seven years. There were moments I enjoyed it and there were moments where I missed it. And when both those moments passed, I was just bored (not Borged).

After that first week I had no new revelations, no new sensations other than I'm just doing this thing now just to do it. All of a sudden I was wondering if I should come back early, and if I did, would it be defeating the purpose of this experiment. But more to the point, will people consider it me giving up?

And then there was the silence.

It dawned on me. No one gives a fuck if I come back early, cause no one gave a fuck when I left. There's no penalty for taking a sleeping pill and trying to masturbate while on it. And that's all this really was, a self-masturbatory experiment.

Only thing I see now is whether I cut this experiment short or if I succeed in the full month to masturbate on the sleeping pill, I'm just going to wake up sticky and a little bit of shame.

And then there'd be silence.

So I'm back. And to be honest, I learned what I always knew. It's a double-edged sword, this internet thing.

Have fun with it, but also, turn off your tech, for an hour. Go outside. Look at the sky. Close your eyes. And in the words of Depeche Mode.

Enjoy the silence.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A month with no social media.

I have decided to do an experiment. I've decided to go a month with no social media. This is by no means some kind of statement. I just wanted to try it.

My reasons?

I was watching a documentary and saw a young boy in the Congo who jumped into the fast moving rapids to be swept away downstream to catch a net made of branches and basically fish there the whole day just to eat. I thought about how this kid would probably never touch a computer. And as that thought crossed my mind I felt a little dirty, for lack of a more apt word.

As I continued to think, I wondered if I could disconnect? Not from my computer or the internet, because one, I need it to work, and two, I'm not going to the library. But from social media.

When Facebook came out, I made an account and let it rot after I realized how much I hated the idea. I left it. Once my wife (then girlfriend) hopped on Twitter around 2007 I came to learn that I was missing out on so much conversations that she was having with our shared friends that I ended up being dragged, reluctantly, to Twitter. And I got hooked. I blog (obviously) and Twitter felt like a mini blog that I get to read from the folks I enjoy to read about. It was genius. I could do without my Facebook (seriously, I have a sad FB video "A Look Back"), but I stayed because that became the only way I could see pics of my friends' kids who were now to busy to hang out, because, you know, kids!

So with social media being only relevant to me for the last six years or so, I was curious if I could just disconnect from it. I'm not a kid whose life started with social media so as an older guy, can I just stop? I like to think I can. And I'd like to see how I react to not reading FB, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc.

So here are my rules. No message boards, no Twitter, no Facebook. I'll read my news, I'll email, I'll respond to direct messages, I'll blog, but no socializing.

I'll do this for the entire month of March. Not that I'll be missed, social media is a wave of information, you'll never hear the drop of water that is my social media footprint amongst the torrent of tweets and status updates. This is more for me. And to see how I fair.

Catch you guys on the flip side.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DC vs. Marvel: The Battle of Gods

In 1948, a man addressed a science fiction convention and said the following,
"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."
Two years later, that pulp fiction writer wrote a book called "Dianetics" and thus, a religion was born.
If you don't know about Scientology the cult believes that 75 million years ago Xenu (an alien ruler of a "galactic confederacy") brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do so today, but you should really watch South Park's 9th season episode to get the full idea.

Funny, right? Ludicrous, ridiculous, and downright unbelievable. However, no more unbelievable than every other religion out there. All brought about by someone or a group of someones exploiting people's fears, wishes, or passions. So in a hundred years, five hundred years, maybe even a thousand years from now; who will the be the titans that we pray to?

Choose your deity.
Every god is birthed from a story. Comic book characters are the perfect choice for the next generation's deities. Think about it, they exist in the world we live in, but then again, not of this world. Every hero has their story that makes them great, they each have their cross to bear, and sacrifice themselves over and over just to come back and do it again. All for the love of us. It's just a matter of time before humans start anthropomorphizing them. But just as the Romans had Jupiter and the Greeks had Zeus, can the deities of the future coexist, or will a particular type of gods reign supreme?

Let's take DC, first. The characters in Detective Comics are by far the easiest to deify.
The Trinity.
They are gods, in every sense. They reside in the Watchtower, overlooking Earth. They have powers beyond any mortal man, and yet live among humans to love, to hurt, and to struggle with the same issues we suffer through. But when they are in their suits, when they don their cape, or cowl, or power ring, they are super. DC (whether intentionally or unintentionally) created gods. They are iconic even at their worst. Superman is clearly Zeus, Wonder Woman is quite literally the god of war (seriously, go read Wonder Woman), and Batman is Hades.

So how do we relate to them? For gods must be relatable, even the omnipotent one that is the crowd favorite today has his moments of mercy, rage, and compassion depending on which book you're reading about him. As a kid, I was all about Superman. Hell, I'm still all about Superman. From the two front teeth I lost as a kid jumping off a chair (thinking I can fly), to the Superboy vinyl toy I just bought; Superman is the epitome of all that is good in humanity. He never kills (don't you dare mention "Man of Steel" in my presence), he would rather sacrifice himself than to lose a life. And despite what some people might think about his alter ego, Clark Kent, he is not a bumbling, geeky guy in glasses. That's not how he sees humanity. Clark Kent is a good man. There have been so many times in the comics (and in real life) where folks wonder why Superman just doesn't do away with Clark Kent and just be Superman the whole time? What people don't realize is that Clark Kent is who Superman looks up to. Clark is his deity, the idea of what a good person can be.

That was my god. And in some strange way, it's still the deity I look up to. Not one I pray to, but he's my "What Would Superman Do?"

So with DC clearly having gods in their court, how could Marvel compete? Well, if Superman is God, then Captain America is Jesus Christ.
The guy next to Cap is a god!

Marvel Comics has their super heroes. They even have comics about actual gods. But their characters do one thing better than DC does. Marvel makes humanity super. In the 616 (look it up), here be demigods.

Even the gods wept that day.
Like Hercules, Achilles, or Perseus; Spider-Man, Captain America, and The Hulk are humans gifted with the power of the gods. These characters are not worshipped, they are thanked. They live in our world. They suffer through the same turmoils that we do. Spider-Man goes home to his aunt after a day of being Spidey. Captain America lives in Brooklyn. The X-Men go to school!

But when they are super, they take their human frailties and use them to make themselves be better. Tony Stark's alcoholism, Bruce Banner's rage, Wolverine's Canadianism (I'm obviously kidding. Being Canadian is not a super power), or rather his mutation. This isn't their kryptonite, this is the burdens they overcome, the same ones we do.
Do I think we'll worship comic book characters in the future? Who's to say. Time will tell on that one. Hell, we might end up worshiping musicians for all I know.
More popular than Jesus, at least on iTunes.
You might think this all lunacy, that comics are the last bastion of theology that humanity would ever pull from. And you might be right, though, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there are a group of people who believe in an alien ruler that is responsible for them feeling bad, that a sci-fi writer pulled out of his ass.

And at the end of the day, is it really that bad? Personally I think (and know) we can do much worse. I wear a Batman shirt because I can identify with the character. I look at the super heroes in comics as ideals, because honestly, the real heroes of today are in short supply. Also, as far as I know, no one has killed in the name of The Flash. But in a thousand years from now, that too might change. Or as the title of this blogpost suggests, factions of super hero believers will fight for their gods as most do now.

Still, I see it as an upgrade. The stories of today's super heroes are far better recorded than the "super heroes" of yester-millenias. I'm hoping humanity will understand that these characters are not real, but rather they are fictional stories. I may be giving us too much credit on that one.

Regardless, I'd be happy to have us let go of this.
Ick! This? (Think about it)
For something a little more super.
Stands for hope, where he's from.