Archive for December, 2019

Memo For File CCXIV

Monday, December 30th, 2019

We have one full day until the twenties. Here is what I would like to see…

…and by the way, we can start with these “Actually People.” You know the ones. The ones who just read “one full day until the twenties” and just had to say, to someone, somewhere, “Actually the 2020’s don’t start until the end of December 31, 2020…” Yes, technically you are right, it is an ordinal and not a cardinal measurement. Now stick a cork in it, because I know you’re also “Actually”-ing about a whole bunch of other stuff…about which you are also technically right…making yourself into a raging, blistering pain in the ass to everybody. And likely missing the overall point. That is logical to assume, since you’re missing the point here. In all the ways that really matter, a decade starts when the digit changes. It’s got to do with a shared experience, not a measurement of something.

King of the Black PeopleSometime since Obama, whom I’m not entirely sure I can blame but my tincture of courtesy doubt borders on the negligible — racism that points in the right direction has become okay. This is not cool at all. This “fuck white people” thing has to be left behind, for the same reason that derogating or blaming black people has been left behind. “But I’m going the other way” is not a workable excuse. How did this come to be alright? Isn’t it terribly dangerous? These “you should be afraid of white people” people clearly don’t think so. I dunno, I guess their feeling is that white people, in addition to being mean, and bad, and wrong about everything, and skittish, and and and…must also be complacent. Whereas those darkies, if you say the wrong thing about them, well that would be a much worse problem…see my point? Racism isn’t an arrow or a weather vane, you can’t turn it around and point it in a correct direction. It doesn’t work like that. It smears everything. And we were supposed to have been done with it for good, a long time ago.

Closely related, stop using accusations of racism as a weapon. And when you’re proven wrong about something, stop it with this “I refuse to back down” stuff. Ah yes, we get it…you were wrong and you smeared somebody, so if you refuse to apologize you’re making the smeared-people look like non-people which is the point you wanted to make in the first place. Oh but words and signals mean “different things to different people”? How about, in the ’20’s, that means we assume benign intent. No more of the overly sensitive types making their problems into everybody else’s problem. Because in the teens, we have noticed these offended-people, more often than not, are products of someone’s imagination. Oh that is not to say they don’t exist. But we’ve had enough of this third-party grievance monger, this “I’m complaining on behalf of someone else who might conceivably be offended by X.” We’ve tried it on for size, given it a fair shake, it doesn’t make us better people. So let’s stop trying it.

As much as I enjoy watching Hollywood flail around trying to make up for its various #MeToo transgressions, hemorrhaging money and trying in vain to figure out how & why it’s hemorrhaging money…the time has come to leave this “Strong Woman Don’t Need No Man” thing in the dust. Pull the plug on the experiment. It’s alright, because the experiment has run its course. This wish of mine is somewhat idle, I don’t think it’s going to come to pass; Hollywood will continue to make movies about NeckToToeBlackCatsuit wearing, strong women who don’t need a man…and continue to lose money…for which the audiences will be blamed for being “fanboys.” I know that’s going to keep happening because Captain Marvel made truckloads of money. It’s the exception that proves the rule. Lady Ghostbusters was a failure, Tomb Raider was a failure, The Last Jedi was a failure…and I think the Marvel character was saved from financial doom because she was Strong Woman Don't Need No Manpositioned to be a necessary component to the Avengers saga. Is that a fair assessment? You had to watch her movie if you wanted to find out how Nick Fury lost his eye. From what I’ve seen across all the other decades, and this one, audiences will open their wallets and purses for a movie with a strong woman in it. They’ve done so, over and over again, throughout generations. It’s this “don’t need no man” thing. It’s a sign that the people who move the resources around to produce the movie, aren’t talking to the writers, who surely must know first hand: There’s no place to take this kind of character. Okay, so she doesn’t need a man. So what are her hopes, her dreams, her aspirations, her insecurities…? Oh no, can’t have insecurities. That would break a rule. So what you get then is a boring movie. Let’s make that a boring movie from an old, prior decade, naturally termed-out mercifully and well.

The same holds true for men, by the way. You can make a good prison movie with only men in it, even make it long, and financially successful…The Green Mile, The Great Escape, Shawshank Redemption…these are masterpieces. But even on the longest & laziest of weekend afternoons, are you going to watch more than one in a row? No you won’t. Men are more fun when they need women, and women are more fun when they need men. Sorry genderfluids, that’s just how it is.

Swampeachment is just stupid and useless, useless in addition to being stupid, stupid, useless, counterproductive, useless, and stupid. Is it okay to finally acknowledge the obvious yet? And “swampeachment” is the right word. It is the swamp protecting itself from being drained. It’s gotten embarrassing, by proxy, to have to obligatorily pretend it’s about anything else, about some not-quite-spelled-out “high crime” or “misdemeanor.” I’ll admit to just being mildly interested in seeing if Nancy will ever deliver those articles…or if she got drunk and lost them. It’s quite alright, #NeverTrump people, you can continue with your Trump Derangement Syndrome in other ways. But you don’t need this constitutional mechanism to feel more important than you deserve to feel, especially since, in the long run it doesn’t work for you. You have reached, and surpassed, the point where your efforts are helping Trump, the object of your invective…and people are bored from watching it…so what else is there to be said? New decade, new subject.

Now this big, sprawling, expensive, out-of-control nanny-state that defends itself with tooth and claw: I’d like to see that left in the ash bin of history as well. Just don’t know how much hope I should have for that. But history has already taught us, this is a dangerous thing. The big sprawling deep state defends itself, and partners up with our media to do so. In so doing, it manages to lend a patina of legitimacy to its own red herrings, fallacious reasoning, scapegoating. Also, I don’t like the overall effect. I don’t approve of this imagined, modern-age “right” to look around anywhere you care to look, and not see any reminders that someone else has subscribes to a different body of beliefs — and that is the overall effect, people start to think they do have such a right. This is incompatible with the continuance of any civilization imbued with a diverse culture, such as ours. We can’t continue to work this way. Also, it has been demonstrated repeatedly, from personal experience as well as in documented studies, that when the state provides for those who are indigent, the people under its governance will stop helping each other. The natural sentiment of charity starts to take a holiday, a sort of “I gave at the office” ethos takes shape. That is a bug and not a feature, we don’t want that.

SeattleWe have a serious problem with people turning to some body of authority, over-arching and distant, or nearby & local, to redress grievances as a consequence of feeling left out of things. Evidently it’s become a soft-crime to do anything at all that might make someone feel like they’re not a part of the whatever. Well…I guess I must be a second-class citizen then, because in addition to “feeling left out,” I’m at a complete loss in my attempts to understand any of it. Back when I was in school, I felt-left-out 365 days a year, from fifth or sixth grade or so, right up to graduation day and beyond. Even today, you’ll notice if you argue with liberals, the bulk of their argumentation consists of nothing more or less than to make you feel like you’re left out of something if you don’t agree with them. “People like you will be on the wrong side of history” and so forth — that’s how it’s done. So I have to wonder how many of these misguided school districts have zero-tolerance policies against anything that could be perceived as exclusionary against any person, group or class? That’s a terrible disservice being done to these kids. Without the prospect of perhaps being left out of something, what incentive is there to do…well, anything at all? What incentive is there to learn?

It’s always like this. On each and every single issue. There is a rule passed, be it hard & statutory or soft unwritten & merely cultural, that “protects” people from being excluded or “left behind.” And for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction — people are made soft, sensitive and fragile. They are infantilized, and made idle as their hopes, dreams and aspirations are reduced to a mere nullity. I’m rather befuddled by the number of people who seem to see nothing wrong with it. I hope that’s just a “beltway” thing, and that all of us out here in the real world can see what these so-called “leaders” apparently can’t be made to understand. When we have candidates for president promising to eliminate jobs by the thousands, things have gone too far.

And finally, let’s look forward to a greater sense of respect for truth. One of the things that bothers me the most, that I’ve seen over the years, is is a quite earnest question, with nothing but good intentions behind it, from those who are just starting to figure out this “follow the news” stuff is a bit more complicated than they thought it was. I don’t wish to come off as callous, I do understand their predicament: Dad and Granddad just watched Walter Cronkite and believed everything he said, it should be just as easy today right? But I, you, this other guy, those people over there…we’ve all been snookered by “fake news.” So they figure out I have a blog — which means nothing, other than I have a computer and some opinions — and think I know something about how to properly consume news. Which one should I watch? What’s the new Oracle, the modern-age Cronkite?

It is this desire that makes all the trouble. When the fatty carcass is left undefended on the desert floor, the scavenger will appear, and if you’re ready to place unlimited trust in whoever claims to be this flawless purveyor of “news,” you’re going to get some shysters. They have appeared. They put out their nonsense, get caught at it, are compelled to apologize and recant…Jussieand all too often, refuse to do so. There wouldn’t be any point. They’re not being tested for their suitability as this Trusted and Constant North Star of Truth, all they’re required to do is continue to hold aloft this brand name, this label…so they do it. Who’s the modern-age, trusted Oracle? There isn’t one. There never was a Cronkite. You have to do your own thinking. You have to be prepared to be wrong. You must cope with uncertainties and doubts.

And yet, the liberals continue to fill the role of the scavenger feasting on the unprotected fatty carcass, exploiting these people who just want something that looks like a new Cronkite. Someone who’s ready to believe anything. And so in this new decade I’d like to see a widespread vigor, a responsible skepticism. A sense of “Oh sure that’s the labeling upon the packaging, but does the content match?” And a presumption that it doesn’t. What we’ve had up to & throughout the 2010’s, is the opposite, a presumption that all content must match the corresponding packaging, and it hasn’t served us well. Liberals are still out there with their cherry-picked statistics, their made-up statistics, their fallacious reasoning, their stories about how Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day for spousal abuse, and mass murderers are disproportionately white and what not…

This “I said it’s so, so it must be true” thing has to go. We’re still a maturing society, but we’ve done some maturing to get this far, and we should know better.

When the liberals go so far as to assert they have some kind of exclusive lock on truth just because they’re liberals, the proper response is something like “Go fuck yourself, your side believed Jussie.” It’s not at all out of bounds, because many still do. You knew that, right?

The Three Words

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Okay I’ll go ahead and reveal something about myself. It’s probably okay because what’s true about me is true of a lot of other people as well. A lot of people spend a lot of time and energy pretending it isn’t so, but it is.

It starts with the last time I was single. These days it’s a pretty common refrain: There was a relationship, which reached an ignition point, and I ended up rattling around in a little apartment by myself with very little furniture, lots of bills and a new child support payment. Also with some words from her ringing in my ears, to the effect that our problems were all mine, and she was entirely blameless. I knew this wasn’t completely true and it wasn’t completely false either. She had wanted a certain family life, and her fairy-tale princess wishes from childhood had crystallized into inflexible demands. We spent a lot of years figuring out these demands had no give to them, and neither did I, so we weren’t a match. Like I said, it’s a common refrain.

Who rejected who, is unimportant. What was important then, and is now, is that certain people don’t belong around certain other people, and when we forget about that it causes harm to others. Some of these others who are being harmed, are much more innocent than you or me. And I’m distressed to see it happening with seemingly greater frequency, as if the entire human race had spent thousands of years evolving in one cultural setting, and then was indelicately transplanted into a different one. In fact, I think that’s exactly it. In all the generations our species has seen, save for the most recent 2 or 3, there has been an unspoken understanding that you and I need each other — maybe not now, or today, or this month. But sooner or later we’re going to need sugar for a pie we’re making, or our horse and buggy will get stuck in a ditch, or our barn will be on fire and we’ll need lots of strong bodies with buckets in a big hurry. Technology has given us a world in which the need is not so pressing and not so inevitable. This has eroded our sense of purpose, and also our appreciation for each other.

This has all resulted in a narrative being written, and nursed & nurtured like a growing baby, by many — that goes something like this: Life is a movie, I’m the star, everyone I know is a supporting character. This has created two big problems for our interpersonal relationships. We’ve got people reciting this narrative to themselves, alienating those around them; and we’ve got people who have had their fill of this, refuse to be demoted to supporting characters — also, alienating those around them. It can be hard to tell them apart. But in all the months of introspection that followed, I realized I was in the second of those groups. There was a lot of this introspection since I refused to have any teevee in my new bachelor pad, and when my son wasn’t visiting me the hours were long and dull.

But I came to realize the people in the first group, to me, were “normal” because of my upbringing in a household of Scandinavians who pretended to be extroverts when we were really introverts. I’d been conditioned to accept conversations that outwardly appeared to be of interest to all in attendance, but in reality were of interest only to one, with all others feigning interest out of a sense of duty. Again, this is not unusual at all. I think it applies to a lot of us. It has become a requirement for working in an office environment, and I probably enjoyed greater success there than I deserved to have because of this upbringing. But I also got into programming in the first place because of my revulsion against this. If I’m honest about it, I have to admit it turned into a vocation with a paycheck attached because of good luck, and not any intention of mine. I think that’s pretty common too.

So I taught myself, in childhood, how to program computers because I figured out I really don’t like people enough to talk to them. Voting consistently against democrats came later, when I realized I don’t hate people enough to want them to suffer. That is also not unusual. I think if you were to question a lot of political conservatives as to why they are conservatives, a fair answer you’d get back a lot of the time would be “I just don’t hate people that much.” But that’s a bunny trail. The truly frightening question that confronted me now was: Given that I can get along with some people, but not all, can it be that the difference lies completely in their social strengths? Am I only making friends with just the friendliest of people? Just taking from what few relationships I have, and putting nothing back?

And we fellas have to ask that question a lot, because when couples have “friends,” most of them are her friends. That’s just how it works. This gets revealed when it’s time for the couple to split, and it leads to a sense of isolation most women will never know.

Here is what I did about it. Having spent a lifetime accepting it as an obligation to pretend things that bored me didn’t bore me; and that this led to a destructive insincerity about what truly captured my interests, and therefore who I was. And seeing how this exercise in self-denial ultimately hurt other people. The first step was to figure out if it was my destiny to always live alone. Maybe my initial feelings were right, the entire rest of the world was fascinated in stuff that held no interest for me at all. The problem with that idea was that I knew I wasn’t that special. There was nothing about my story that was truly unique. Some of the things that really irked me, and a lot, I could see were also annoying to others. It logically followed that some of the things that held my interests, might hold interest for others too. This didn’t have to have anything at all to do with romance or dating. The fact of the matter was I had never taken the time to make friends — at least, not in adulthood. I remembered having friends in childhood, in school, and making them and keeping them as friends had never been that big of a deal. Somehow, when I wasn’t monitoring the situation or paying attention to it, adulthood had thrown me a curve. I had been having adventures, but I hadn’t been sharing them with anyone.

Again, not a rarity. This is something I think happens to a lot of young people whose careers drag them around from city to city. It’s hard to make friendships last. Is that because your locale is changing, or because maybe you’re an asshole? At some point, we have to grow some balls and ask that question. And in those years of 20’s and 30’s, it’s a narcissistic time, so if we’re really honest about it we’ll find something we could improve.

Movie DatabaseIn my case I had to look at the interests. Maybe the time would come where I could feign interest in boring nonsense others find fascinating, but I could see I was at a tumultuous time in the months ahead. And I didn’t want to just make friends with people who had the patience to deal with me, because that wouldn’t be fair to them. So a question emerged: Where is the hard evidence that I have some interests, that aren’t interesting to just me? Not that merely capture the tolerance of myself and others; but the passion of myself and others as well, so we can find some common ground.

And that’s where I formed the movie-database. Not the collection of DVDs I found to be worth owning. Last I counted there were over 500 of those. Just the very few that I found to be so well done, that they were worth watching again and again. Movies, of all things, saved me from this dark place because I came to realize the movies I wanted to see again and again, other people wanted to see again and again as well. You might have noticed this yourself. It isn’t a quality-of-production thing. There are some movies out there that cost a damn fortune to make, and you can see everyone involved really sunk in their blood, sweat and tears making them…they stink. There are others that meet-the-mail, and yet you can tell the people who made them barely even knew what they were doing, had no idea what they had.

And so I made a list. It came to 41, or 43, somewhere around in there. They were not necessarily the funniest ones or the highest-grossing ones or the longest ones or the shortest ones. They had the best stories, the ones I found most captivating, that had the strongest structure to them. First time I saw these movies, with each scene I wanted to know more. There was no money in the kitty go to buying them, but that was okay because I already had all but a handful of these. Yes, she got the kid and the dining room table and some other furniture I was supposed to get before there was some kind of “misunderstanding” — but she had no interest in the movies.

This is where I did something just a little off. I put the movies together and I analyzed them. Chapter by chapter, scene by scene, line by line. Minute by minute. Where does the villain get introduced? Where do we find out what it is he’s trying to do? Where does the hero meet up with his colorful contact, or quirky sidekick? How long is the boat chase? What grisly death awaits the henchmen? And why is it that I find this captivating? Why does everyone else? How are the writer and the director burning off this minute, and this second, of the audience’s time? How did they come to the conclusion this is worthwhile? Why does the audience agree?

And what makes this other movie, that seems to check all the right boxes…fall short? Why do we all seem to think it stinks, even though none of us can say why? That last one still perplexes me to this day. Some of these use the audience’s time judiciously and take pains not to bore anybody. They’re still failures. It’s my sixth sense that tells me so, and everyone else agrees. Can’t explain it.

Now this is all a very silly story that isn’t worth your time, except for one thing. It worked as well as it possibly could have worked. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how short this bachelorhood stint was. I went on dates, I walked away from the women who weren’t a good fit for me, and very soon I met the one who was. She’s in the bedroom now, doing the loud snoring she claims I’m doing, and in about half an hour she’ll wake up and I’ll bring her coffee. So that’s the takeaway: If you’re young, and you’ve had to move around from city to city, and your relationships haven’t lasted, it could be you’re just not as good at them as you think. And maybe you’d be well served to get acquainted with yourself before meeting others. You might know less about yourself than you think you know.

As far as my last-bachelorhood exercise, it’s had an unfortunate side effect.

I have very little patience for un-creative script-writing. Very, very little. I see it as a rip-off, even if I didn’t actually pay to watch the movie. A man and a woman getting into an argument about whether she’s coming with him or not, evinces a profane outburst from me. “I’m getting way too old for this shit” makes my eye twitch. Don’t even get me started on a character saying to another character, “You’ve got to stop blaming yourself.”

Ah…you people are being paid large amounts of money to be creative. Stop stealing from us!

Fast forward to today, and we’re getting ready to start a new decade. The Pipi Longstockings of Climate Doom has been named Time’s Person of the Year. Aquaman shamed Star Lord for using a water bottle, got an apology out of him, then apologized himself. The soccer malcontent who’s full of expletives to direct at President Trump, has been given a sports person of the year award by Sports Illustrated…which she accepted, right before pointing her bile-nozzle at SI and scolding them. “Taking them to task” I think is what it’s called; I prefer to think of it as behaving like a perfect asshole. Joe Biden is offended he got asked a question. Nancy Pelosi is offended she got asked a question.

Is it my imagination? Maybe it’s my hyper-sensitivity against cookie-cutter scripting. Or maybe my patterns of revulsion that are unique to just myself…or not?

It seems lately that if I were to go over all the messages deemed worthy by one person to fling at another person, in view of lots of others, and obliterate from that compendium the following three:

• You’re a superlative! Here’s an award, or thing!
• I’m so sorry (although I fully intend to do it again)

…we would be left with virtual radio-silence. Is that accurate? Just static…snow…an occasional democrat babbling away with insincere balderdash about “no one is above the law,” a few dying gasps of that “OK Boomer” fad, followed by more static.

I’ve quite had my fill of it. The corporations apologizing to these malcontents for non-offenses, the HOW-DARE-YOU, the public servants swiveling the spotlight away from themselves, onto the voters and interviewers asking them perfectly reasonable questions. As an American, I don’t find it at all acceptable. When you’re elected to something, or wanting to be elected to something, you work for us.

It’s a new decade coming up real, real soon now.

I’m glad the HOW DARE YOU girl was made Person of the Year. That would imply “How Dare You” is the phrase of the year…which, in turn, would imply maybe we can leave this one in the ash bin of history?

Let’s make the 2020’s the decade of SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP. No really. Let’s do it. This time, I’m getting the impression I’m not marching around in the tall grass by myself. I think a lot of other people would find that a welcome change. And even if they didn’t…the time is right for it. This would be healthy. That I can promise. Suck it up buttercup!

Do this thing. Make it happen. Do it for me, and I’ll consider it a personal favor.

It’s my “Fetch.”