Saturday, April 5, 2008


I call this piece expediency out of frustration. I intended to write another work of a specific slice of my life for the web page I maintain, but this idea got in the way. It is quite simply, more expedient to write what is there and work more on what is to come. Motivation for what you are about to read has been brewing for quite some time. I have come to believe that reality television shows are naught but harbingers for the destruction and desecration of the collective mentality and verve of the universe.

I have cable television. I have extremely good cable television. Two hundred plus channels and a DVR to record shows when I am not even there. I can record two shows at one time. I can record two shows at one time while watching another. I can choose from many topics and styles of shows; murder mysteries, dramatic series, comedy, horror, cartoons, etc, etc, etc. It is a particular portion of my life that I hold near and dear.

I maintain my attachment to cable television for a number of reasons. Pay-per-view is cheaper then going to Blockbuster. Old movies bring loving nostalgic emotions up in me. News stories that anger or delight me, and additionally offer me inspiration for this blog. I enjoy the ability to view historic events as they happen, or have happened. Dramatic shows with messages that stimulate my spirit and lift my soul.

I use it as a tool to become a better teacher. I use it to entertain myself. I use it to educate myself. Moreover, and most significantly, I use it to guide my spirit. You see, I think of cable television as one of the spiritual experiences sought by myself and my fellow members of the Twelve Step program I attend. Exactly how that works is for another place…maybe.

The focal point of this morning’s tirade grew out of my daily sojourn into the communicative side of the cyber-world. My e-mail has been infested with announcements for reality shows. I realize that it is probably my own fault. I clicked on some link, or read something that released my email address to the universe. I have more then oneaddress and from time to time I must spend time unsubscribing to a profuse amount of organizations which desire to give me laptops, or show me the secret to unimaginable wealth or, my personal favorite, the desire of a whole host of wealthy Third World individuals who have passed on to the Great Reward with their last thought being that I deserve to be left what has now totaled to over 789, 000,000, 000,000, 000, 000,000, 000,000 dollars or British Pounds Sterling.

Well, I guess that is the cost of doing business in the Twenty First Century. What I truly take exception to is the idea that the Army of the Inane has invaded the center of my spiritual world. I went to that most hallowed of beings for guidance. That omniscient and benevolent divinity of the ethereal cosmos we call the Internet…Google. I typed in the words “How many Reality Television shows are there? Well, I will confess to some expertise as a researcher. I would not be worth mush as a teacher and writer had I not developed some acuity in that realm. I spent most of the time allotted this Saturday morning attempting to discover the answer to my simple question. I must have viewed over forty web sites before discovering that my answer must be a well-protected secret. I have visions of some clandestine entity overseeing the web, and protecting the genre. Visions of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley creep in, and I am not sure as to my safety. Perhaps I have committed an indiscretion of monumental consequence. I fear not the outcome of my quest. I think I need to come back to reality and stop bullshitting.

It appears that only one site has had the good graces to list the current reality shows. I highlighted them and clipped them into a document. The list was twelve pages long. I converted the document to a three-column affair and it was six pages. I started to count and lost the urge to be exact. Suffice it to say that there are over five hundred (500) shows that proclaim themselves as “real.” It has also been a genre for as long as there has been television. I remember Allen Funt’s “Candid Camera” from my childhood with some measure of good will. I had little choice at the time. I watched what my parents put on.

Now that I am the master of my own remote control, I feel encroached upon when I am offered a show where a famous (???) rock star occupies a mansion and proceeds to hold a contest on which scantily clad, overly made up, bimbos will have sex with him. What happened to the days when a rock star got his carnal pleasures honestly…after a concert when he is all sweaty and exhausted because the drugs he took to get him through the two-hour work day he and his buddies enjoy wore off.

Why do I have to watch people get aboriginal by eating slugs and rodents in the pursuit of fortune and fame? Does the ability to sleep on the ground and not bath for weeks at a time qualify someone for success? Well I did that when I served in the Army. I never got famous for it and, as I remember, I did it for the massive sum of $288.00 a month. We do pay the folks who guard our way of life so well, don’t we?

Who cares if your future husband is a redneck? If you are going to invite me to your wedding, at least let me come in person so I can meet you thrice married cousin with the twelve kids who is looking for another husband (payday?). Be real, for God’s sake, and tell me that you’re doing it because some Suit from a television production company offered to pay for the wedding cake. I can respect that. If you did that, I wouldn’t even have a problem if you wore white after getting caught on camera having an affair with the manager of the Dairy Queen… your boss.

I was a truck driver for almost two decades. The trucks I drove were supposed to look old and wore out. I drove the crap out of them in order to earn a living. I did not bother with my appearance that much. Like most truckers, I worked 70 to 100 hours a week. Very few people ever even saw me. Just the guy selling me diesel, and the waitress in the café that called me “darling” and made sure I had enough coffee and knew who had the best price on West Coast Turnarounds. Trick? Only myself when I engaged the services of whatever entrepreneurially gifted lady of the evening caught my eye.

I will confess to watching some of these shows. Hypocrisy? Big deal! There is a famous professional wrestler whose family is on one of these shows and I do watch, primarily because I am a fan. Hulkamania rules! A program featuring an old-timer from a famous Classic rock band who wore bizarre makeup and spit fire catches my eye from time to time, but only to see his significant other who is a former soft-core porn star who I have secretly always wanted to date.

My ire comes mostly from the fact that these shows are so numerous that it prevents Hollywood from producing better. It saddens me that my kids would rather watch “Bindi: The Jungle Girl” then read “Tarzan of the Apes.” I fail to see the relevant contribution to society of “Tommy Lee goes to college.” Why not watch “Great Performances” on PBS and see musicians who actually play music instead of being famous for having married, divorced, and made a sex video with that “Baywatch” chick with the large breasts?

Well…enough. I am tired of this page, and I don’t really think it did anyone any good, but it is what came out of my fingers this morning. Better that then watching “The Real Life of A Little Known Future Award Winning Novelist.” Peace

Friday, April 4, 2008

Particular Patriotism

I was performing my usual circumnavigation of that most hallowed and distinctively idiosyncratic lair of fiction…internet news…when I espied a composition of noteworthy merit. It was an announcement of the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor to a dead sailor. The young warrior had been a member of that most elite of combatants. He was a Navy Seal. Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, of Garden Grove, Calif. He was on a rooftop in Iraq and leapt on a hand grenade to shield his fellow SEAL’s from harm. He was 25 years old.

Now one must remember that I am an outspoken opponent of this, and any war. I fervently believe that killing is wrong, and have written a book (hopefully to be published at some point in time) detailing this standpoint. I believe our current President should be tried for no less then Criminally Negligent Homicide.

This young man deserved every tribute any of us can give, regardless of personal beliefs or feelings. I recognize true heroes and I am grateful the US government also recognizes such valor. The Congressional Medal of Honor is not issued flippantly. Much investigation goes into the selection, and the members of this small society within the larger society of armed force members are a special category unto themselves.

I had the privilege of serving with a Congressional Medal award winner. They are most definitely a breed apart. This gentleman I had the opportunity to meet was my Group Commander during my own tenure in the service. One day, as per orders from my First Sergeant, I lay underneath a 2 ½ton truck attempting to change the clutch. Not really my job, but sometimes, in the Army, one must do what one is told. As I lay under the truck, desecrating the English language with the most onerous of invectives, someone tapped my size thirteen and asked what I was doing. I looked to see who the annoyance might be only to find a silver eagle staring back at me. Being a private at the time and certainly no Beetle Bailey, I promptly got to my feet and saluted. I explained to him what I was attempting to accomplish. He queried me as to why I was performing a job that was not my responsibility as a truck driver. Not being as talented an orator I am today, my answer came out…“’Cause Top told me to.” He gave me this long stare. Anything more then five or six seconds is long time, in my opinion, and I believe he must have looked at me for about three thousand years. Well, at least it seemed that way. He was, after all, a freaking Colonel!

“What is the problem, Soldier?” I explained that the Good Lord had only made me with two hands instead of the required three. Not in that sarcastic and blasphemous manner, but the message got across. Another three thousand year stare. He reached up to the door to the cab and proceeded to lose his cap and field shirt. He told me to get back to work. He got on the ground and helped me finish the job!

Afterword, he walked with me to the mess hall where we ate lunch. He wanted to know about me, my family, and my hopes for the future. He did this type of thing with me whenever he saw me. He had a temporary duty assignment on the Czechoslovakian border and requested me as his driver. He told me of his life, and how he thought the medal was not really necessary because he was just doing his job. I would have followed him into the face of the Soviet Army, armed with naught but a water pistol.

I tell this story not to impress. Neither do I reflect in order to confirm the beliefs some might have of rampant hypocrisy. I say these things because I want to tell you what I believe patriotism is.

I think patriotism is a duty for all of people. Regardless of one’s political belief. As I begin this piece it is the anniversary of the day I pledged to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I still hold myself bound by this oath. I interpret it somewhat differently today then in 1971, but I still hold myself accountable for its requirements. In 1971 defending the Constitution meant that I change a clutch in a deuce and a half. Today it is about defending the constitution by practicing the rights given me in that document. My feelings on the President and the administration fall under the category of “Enemies domestic.” My stance on “enemies foreign” is that I trust people such as Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor to deal with those people who, whether I agree with or not on the amount of personal danger, wish to do me harm.

I have written, someplace, of my affection for the troops currently serving. Respect grown out of their demonstrated fidelity to all that is American, or all that is supposed to be American. That Navy Seal leaping on a grenade displayed total dedication to his oath by the giving of his life. The God I understand taught me that no greater love can be shown then this. What I take issue with, is the tripe vomited by our current administration on the necessity of murdering the citizens of Iraq, and endangering/sacrificing our beautiful and faithful service people. I would respect it more if they would just say what they mean. We are killing torturing, and maiming people in the pursuit of a greater-than-$100 a barrel-price tag-for- freaking-crude oil!!!!!

Now, as to the “particular” part of the patriotism I speak of. Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor displayed, valiantly, his particular brand of patriotism. I am, sitting on my sorry ass complaining about a war I am not obliged to go and fight. That is my particular form of patriotism. I do not for the merest millisecond believe my fervor for America is remotely on a level of this fine young man. I do think it is, and will always be zealous and honest. You see, I think that patriotism is a privilege and a responsibility. I also think the expression of that patriotism is not definable by anyone other then the individual expressing it. I think that patriotism is exercising my right to complain of things I see the government doing that is in conflict with my sense of right and wrong. I think it is my choice in which end of the political spectrum I exist. I am a liberal. Arguably, an extreme liberal, but still a dyed-in-the-wool-liberal. I receive e-mails and see comments from the current administration that would suggest that the word “liberal” can be likened to that of a four-lettered word my parents would admonish me for using as a child. It is not four-letter word. It is a seven-letter word…The same amount of letters as “Patriot.”

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tirade Part Deux

Okay, I spent some time in an earlier posting speaking of the desire to turn this blog into a space for which to express my ire at the world. Then I went ahead and posted two touchy feely things. I have to admit that these pieces were meant for the website - I sometimes forget where I am. I am also at odds as to which person is writing at any given time. Is it the razor sharp future Rolling Stone columnist (someone needs to fill in the gap created when Hunter S. Thompson died) or the soft spoken kindly old man who loves life and lives in PollyAnnaland? Who knows, I think I am on the blog but maybe…

Anyhow, this is what is coming out of my fingers at this moment. I am perplexed and baffled. I recently visited the grave of My Dear Sainted Mother and came to a decision. I would not like my family and friends to come and visit a patch of land that holds what is left on my human remains. If you know me, then you know that I believe that when I am gone I will be somewhere else … hopefully writing about my new life.. I also do not need to take the Journey with the idea in my feeble brain that I left a bill for my funeral. While I know it is an inevitable part of life, I want my family and friends to be free to mourn or celebrate my life without someone handing them a bill on their way out the door. I have decided to donate my body to science.

That being said, I come to the reason for this particular tirade. I called a medical school associated with the university I attended and they turned me down!

Visions of worthlessness, and insignificance abounded in my head. I cycled through several emotions and almost threw things about my apartment. Why am I not worthy of having your medical students play Operation with my body? Here I am being all philanthropic and charitable, and they fucking tell me that I am not good enough!!! Fuckers!!!

The reason was that they do not accept cadavers from people who are obese. I have been obese all my life. I have attempted to lose weight and have, at times, lost a great deal of weight. The only way I could accomplish this was through surgery. It did not last. I am once more an extremely rotund man. I have a number of ailments, some associated with my obesity, and some not. My belief is that between the things that are wrong with me physically, and the disease of addiction I have, they might be able to find a way to relieve the world of these maladies.

Then again, what exactly is wrong with me? Is it that I am fat? Or, is it that society believes that obesity is wrong? It is a struggle I have fought all my life. I have had to compensate in many ways to get the places in life. I have been the brunt of fat jokes all my life. The first thing someone thinks about me is that I am fat. I have a great many talents other then the ability to consume mass quantities of food. I am not stupid, I am not some kind of monster, and I am not disgusting

Oh boo hoo, look at the fat man whining about his life. Well some svelte double-digit IQ is probably saying that right now. Fuck him/her. I have a new supervisor who, without my agreement, presented me on his first day at my campus with a diet plan. I get people all the time tell me I look good or ask the most enraging question one can ask an obese person…Have you lost weight? Is telling me that I look good real, or is it that they have a desire to say something nice as a replacement for what they really think? Who the fuck cares?

I am fully aware of the realities of my condition and the ensuing maladies associated with my weight. I do not want to be fat. For some reason I am not privy to, this is the way the Good Lord chose to make me. Who am I to doubt him? “Christians” accept that God made them in His image. Perhaps he also made me in his image. The world overly populated and most of those people are just like me to some extent. There is a whole bunch of us out there in need of compassion instead of judgment. Acceptance instead of derision. Tolerance instead of contempt. Love instead of hate.

I mean, society is told every day on television, in newspapers and magazines, and any other media I have neglected to mention, that if they get fat, they will fail at life. I am not a failure! Is it wrong to be larger then the next guy? I do not think right and wrong can be ascertained through by a person’s physical characteristic. If I were in a wheelchair, I would not face the same issues. I would face an entire different set of prejudices. There are opportunities for disabled people everywhere, but how many of those accommodations are in place for obese people? How would you like to get on an airplane or some other form of public transportation only to be informed that if you wanted to be comfortable you would need to purchase a second ticket…even though you are only one person? How would you like to attempt to quietly be charitable only to be told that your donation is not worthy enough?

I realize the fact that this blog is read mostly by my friends and family, who all accept and love me. I am simply putting words to my feelings on something that affects me every time I wake up. I am not looking for an answer to my dilemma, and will vehemently resist any seemingly altruistic “suggestion” on how I could feel better about myself. I do not want to receive any more diet plans from people who, while thinking they are being kind, are really being cruel.

Well, enough. I am finished for now. I wish no replies to this post, and will take any offered as an insult. Know that I love those who read me, regardless of whether you agree with me or not. I am sufficient just the way God made me. The best way I can close is to resort to one of the lesser used slogans in the Twelve Step Program I attend. “Love me where I am at, or leave me the fuck alone!!!”

The Kid Gets it All

I have a young gentleman in my life that has become precious to me. I met him a little over six years ago. We are both members of a Twelve Step Program and I have had the opportunity to spend much time with this “Kid” as I call him traveling hither and yon in our pursuit of the reclamation, and repossession of our sanity. We travel and spend nights sharing rooms in far-gone locales and eat, alternatively, great meals from restaurants and/or vending machines. It is a function of our friendship, and an integral part of our relationship.

We smoke too many cigarettes and fart…a lot. He tells me about his job at a retail game store. He talks to me of his marriage and his family. We spend many hours speaking of comic book heroes and villains. Films are a passion for both of us. We have found particular joy in the emerging super hero genre where Hollywood has found success. We talk about the different evolutions of story lines of the comic book characters we like. We both prefer the Dark side of Batman, and fervently believe that Superman is undeniably the baddest son-of-a-bitch around. I am soon to be 55 and he is 32.

Now what-in-the- hell are two grown men are doing still concerning themselves with such a childish past time? Well, I will tell you. Neither of us is even slightly convinced that growing up was the best thing to happen. As I have shared before, my entry into the world of the prose and poetry began with a comic book. These phantasmagorical realms developed by the likes of Bob Kane, Stan Lee, Siegel and Shuster, et al gave us a place to go when the world outside proved too much. Neither of these “Grown Men” have had easy lives. Our brains do not work right. We see things in different terms then most of the people we encounter and it is in our friendship where means, motive, and opportunity are exhibited through art and not as a tool for a District Attorney to have us committed to a mental health facility.

I have lived with this Kid (yes, he likes me calling him that) through several negative life occurrences. I lost my father a few years ago. He lost his stepfather a few years ago. He had the opportunity to live with the wonderful young woman I feel affection for as an adopted daughter, and experienced the headaches associated with loving that particular troubled child of the Great Spirit. We have laughed together and cried together. We have had times when neither cared to see the other. We have argued over his propensity to have his telephone turned off due to non-payment. I look back at those arguments and realize that my position and opinion proved tenuous given the number of times in this old farts life when I went without the miracle given us by Alexander Graham Bell for reasons of default.

I remember the time, soon after meeting, when he called me to inform me of a relapse. He had gone on a date and drank one beer. Now under normal circumstances this would not be a terrible business. I mean he was trying to get laid, just as a man in his twenties should be doing. The beer in and of itself held no real danger except in the fifty or a hundred that would have followed if not dealt with. We are members of a Twelve Step program that calls for complete abstinence from all mind-altering, mood-changing substances. This occurred quite soon after we met and not that far into recovery for him. I wondered and queried him on why he was so quick to come honest. He told me that the girl had pulled out a bag of my particular favorite mind-altering, mood-changing substance (you know, the one God gave us because it grows out of the earth). This freaked him out and he fled the scene leaving the young lady with her virtue intact. I am not sure, even with my rather effusive belief in the miracle of recovery, if I would have had the character to flee a scene such as that with only days clean. I never told him, even to this day, that he became one of my heroes that night.

I have watched him meet and fall in love with, a darling young woman, and stay faithful to that sweet girl. I see him maintain a loving relationship with his father who took him in when he needed a place to come to get clean. I see him maintain vigilant contact with his family in another state, and look past situations in which he would be completely justified in forsaking any relationship with them in the spirit of unconditional love and family fidelity.

We share the experience of losing a father and gaining a stepfather. This situation proved equally painful for both of us. I was completely abandoned by my father, and had difficulty with the man my Dear Sainted Mother chose to spend the rest of his life with. He had much difficulty with his stepfather. We were kindred souls long before we ever met. He found a way to release his disapproving mentality by realizing and accepting the good in his former nemesis. I did also.

His grace and decency taught me how to accept my stepfather for what he was…the man who wanted to be my father. That same grace and decency taught me how to grieve the man and I will always owe the Kid a debt of gratitude.

His father, another example of grace and decency in my life, became associated with a Twelve Step program for family members of people attending the program I hold near and dear. He has almost driven us crazy in trying to bring recovery into every area of our collective lives. He has done it because he loves his son that much that he willingly rearranged his life to facilitate the Kid’s life in recovery. It has become a rather humorous part of our lives talking about this shenanigan or that escapade in pursuit of a new way to live. He is addicted to fried chicken and thinks less of himself if he “relapses.” I find a rather evil pleasure in sending home pieces of fried chicken from places the Kid and I have dined. One particular place is now on his list of restaurants to patronize in his quest for cholesterol-laden poultry, He is vehement in his pursuit of an appropriate reason to travel the 90 miles it would take to eat there. I am sure he will succeed in his grand mission. I hope I get to go with him. He is a most assuredly as precious a man as is his child.

I am fortunate in having this friend. He is always there when I really need him, and he smoothes the way for me when we travel together. He is charming, and earnest. He is direct in his criticism of all that is evil. He is valiant in his beliefs and pursuit of a proper life. He is a champion of justice. All that is missing is the cape. God save the KID!!!!!