Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frustration and Frozen Poultry Embryos

I recently located several files from my old website, which was tragically destroyed by a hopeless systems analyst at my internet service provider several months ago. While I won't republish everything, I will post some of my favorite stuff. The following ditty is one of those pieces. I wrote it last September, after attending part 1 of the trial of the girl who killed my grandmother in a car accident. While the newspapers were quick to report that my grandmother was at fault (because how often do 72 year old women drive correctly, right?), the facts of the case were that the lady who ran into my grandmother ran a red light while talking on hercell phone. She nevereven hit the breaks.

Originally, she plead not guilty. My entire family showed up for the trial and it turned out that she didn't have to be there. It was the first of many frustrating and harrowing moments that lasted until earlier this year. I thought this encapsulated my frsutration quite well. You might not understand it, but who cares? This is my website, right?

This entry is rated "DL: Don't Look!" for extreme language and strange situations.
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The Beginning: Frozen Chicken Embryos in the Halls of Justice

They have eggs! What in God’s name possesses them to stock eggs!

Think about it. It’s a courthouse for fuck sake. And it’s not like these are scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs or something useful like that. These are uncooked eggs, fresh from the chicken’s ass. They are the kind of eggs normally reserved for frying over-easy. Only now, in the courthouse, there are no easily accessible frying pans. The courthouse has no restaurant, so the eggs are useless for the average, law-abiding citizen. In fact, the only possible use for them is for throwing at people to further political statements.

Maybe the protestors! The protestors outside deserve to be pelted with dozens upon dozens of eggs! But no. There are too many policemen and policewomen and policepersonswithoutgender around to warrant a righteous barrage of frozen poultry embryos. The protestors are screaming about race. They believe that a sexual assault case charged by a white woman against her white boss somehow justifies cries of institutional racism simply because the man in question happens to be the Hamilton County prosecutor. Racism! Go figure.

Still, I can’t believe they have eggs. What is this world coming to?

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Interlude #1: Goodly would work just as well.

Sedat Balfour, a student worker at the University of Cincinnati Health Sciences Library, is attempting for the third time in a week to correct an essay for his English 103 class, which ended last Friday at five minutes past three o’clock in the afternoon. Despite being a native English speaker and despite his intentions to teach English at the high school level upon graduation, Mr. Balfour’s attempts have thus far been unfruitful, much to the chagrin of his friends, family, professors, and employers. His boss, Mr. Joseph Everett Shaw the first, has attempted to impart grammatical wisdom upon this young man, but his valiant efforts have thus far resulted in greater confusion for both. Neglecting the egregious errors in sentence structure, spelling, and word choice for the time being, Mr. Joseph Everett Shaw the first attempts to work on one subject at a time. Currently, that subject is the difference between the words “good” and “well.”

“Good is an adjective,” he says, ”and well is an adverb.”

“So,” Mr. Balfour responds. “Why does it matter?”

“Because you used it incorrectly. See? You should say that you played football WELL, and that the present you received from your father was a GOOD one. Not the other way around. That is why your professor gave you an ‘F.' That is why you failed the class and have to repeat it.”

“But I don’t say it like that,” he says after several silent moments of confusion. “I say I played the game good. Why can’t I say I played the game good?”

“Because you need to use an adverb to describe how you played the game, and good is not an adverb.”

“What’s an adverb? Is that like a verb that can do math?”

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Immediately afterwards: Offended People Offending Other People

They must not know what they’re doing, then. Maybe I’ll buy some eggs afterwards and throw them at the protestors as I’m leaving. That will teach them. I'll have to wait until I’m a good distance away, though, because they look young and in shape and I am older with a bum knee. I wouldn’t want to get my ass kicked for throwing eggs at people.

I’ve always said I would do that only once in my life, and that incident was reserved for my former calculus professor. The alcoholic German. There must be something with Germans. They couldn’t take over the world, so they fly into a rage over something as simple and harmless as a few hundred eggs tossed at their cars. The car in question, ironically enough, was built by Ford.

Maybe the conspiracy theorists were right! Maybe Ford really was a Nazi in disguise! Maybe that’s why my car sucks!

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Interlude #2: At work - or - Jab yourself in the eye with a dull spoon.

“Where’s the printer?”

“It’s over there.”

“Where?”

“Over there underneath the sign that says ‘Printer.’”

“Where?”

“Underneath the big sign twenty feet to your right that says ‘Printer.””

“I don’t see it.”

“Do you see the row of chairs twenty feet to your right?”

“Yes.”

”Do you see the large green sign above those chairs?”

“Yes.”

“Can you read the sign? The one that says ‘P-R-I-N-T-E-R?’”

“Yes.”

“That is where the printer is.”

“Oh … … …”

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I still don’t see it.”

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Twenty minutes later: Down the Hall in Courtroom 121

These chairs are uncomfortable. The arms are too low to rest on, and the seat cushion is ripped so I’ll likely have little pieces of foam stuck to my ass when I get up. Only nobody will have the heart to tell me. They’ll follow closely behind, pointing and laughing. But when I look back to see what’s going on, they’ll find something in the distance to stare at until I turn around again.

This is called being polite.

And I’ll walk around all day with these little pieces of foam clinging to my ass like a barnacle for all to see. People will wonder why I am incapable of cleaning myself. They will look at me, coming out of the courthouse, as a common criminal, likely brought up on charges for petty theft or drunken disorderly conduct. Or is it drunk and disorderly conduct? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. These seats are still uncomfortable. And why is the judge just sitting there? It’s ten past one and he’s just sitting there like he’s waiting for a movie to start. I didn’t want to come. I never wanted to come. I wish I were at home watching reruns of Scooby Doo and eating carrots. Instead, I’m sitting here in a downtown courtroom surrounded by a bunch of alcoholic wife beaters while this judge takes his dear, sweet time getting the ball rolling. As if the rest of us have nothing better to do but wait for his happy ass to finish reading the funnies. And I still have foam on my ass.

I should have bought the eggs.

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Interlude #3: The Brainless Plastic Man

Two people sit on the floor of a library, the brains of a plastic man strewn about between them. They try and try, but they cannot get the brains to go back in.

“Why did you do that?” she asks.

“ I don’t know,” he says. “It was there and I just felt like it.”

“Now look at what you have done!” She grabs the occipital lobe with her left hand and raises it to his face. "What if we can’t get it back in? What then?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “Do you think anyone will notice?”

“Of course they’ll notice,” she says. “A plastic man without a brain tends to stick out, even in this place.”

“Here, try this.” He grabs the brain stem, sets it next to the medulla oblongata, and hits it with his hand as hard as he can. Another piece flies out.

“Oh great!” she says. “Now you’ve broken it!”

“I didn’t break it. It was already broken. I just helped it achieve its already existent nature.” He sits back with his hands behind his head. A smile crosses his face.

She is mad. “Stop it, fuckhead. This is serious.”

“I know it’s serious,” he says. “A thing that isn’t in its nature is never truly at peace with the world.”

“I said stop it. I need help with this. What are people going to think if they come back here and see this plastic man’s brains all over the floor?”

“They aren’t going to think anything,” he says. “After all, it’s just a model. This is a computer lab. Nobody looks at the models anymore. That stuff is all online now. Real pictures of Real brains. This plastic man is obsolete.”

“So what do we do?” she says.

“Here.” He takes the remaining two pieces – both halves of the frontal lobe, the two pieces that won’t quite fit – and he stacks them on top of the plastic man’s head like a hat.

“There.”

“What is it?” she asks.

“It’s art! I call this piece ‘creative thinking.’”

They both laugh. They spend the rest of the evening with the plastic man’s brains strewn across the floor. They are laughing despite the situation. The brainless plastic man wears a serene smile on his molded face. His demeanor has not changed, but you can almost see laughter in his plastic eyes.

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Ten More Minutes: Into the E’s Now

What is with these people? How many drunk drivers are out there? Why do so many people feel the need to drive on suspended licenses? And why do people who pass bad checks think that complaining to the judge about a lack of necessary funds is going to get them out of paying the fines?

People are stupid. People are very very stupid.

Look at that man up there. He has no teeth! How can he expect to get anywhere in this world with no teeth!
Why is it taking so long? Her last name is Bullington. Bullington starts with a ‘B.’ She should have been up there a long time ago. Why is this taking so long? Why can’t it be over already?

Look! Another man with no teeth!

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Interlude #4: At work again - or -Over there

“Where’s the Printer at?”
“Over there.”
… … …

“Where’s the Printer at?”
“Over there.”

… … …

“Where’s the Printer at?”
“Over there.”

… … …

“Where’s the Printer at?”
“Over there.”

… … …

“Can you tell me how to find the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine?
“Over there. … Wait, what?”

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Forty Minutes Past: She never showed up

So tell me again what the fucking problem is? I must have missed it. You mean to tell me that the lawyer dropped off her plea three hours in advance and I sat down here with a bunch of brainless morons for two and a half hours for nothing? Why wasn’t I told about this? Why didn’t somebody take the time to pick up a fucking phone and call me to let me know what was going on? Don’t you people have any decency? She's the one who did it! She's the one who ran over my grandmother with her car while talking on her cell phone. Stupid fuckwad ass-fucking fuckers! God damn it!

And where the hell does she get off pleading innocent anyway? She's guilty as hell. Everybody knows it. People aren’t just stupid. They are fucking morons.

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Interlude #5: Outside the Courthouse

“Mike Allen is a rapist!” one of them yells. He is using a bullhorn so people can hear him all the way down on Fifth and Walnut.

“This is another example of the city keeping the black man down!” another yells. This man is not using a bullhorn. He screams with a voice normally gifted to preachers and football coaches. He is not a preacher and neither is he a coach. He is a protestor. I guess he missed his calling. I guess he failed to find the natural root to his true existence and will thus never achieve peace with the world. Maybe somebody ripped out his brains and put them in backwards like a hat.

“This city will never get better until the white man does something about this racism!” the first one yells again.

“You, sir,” the second one yells at me. “What will you do about it?”

“I plan to go home and wait for them to call me, because I’m tired of people fucking around. I want them to get things done. I want it all to be over. Finally over. I can’t believe we all came down here for this. What a fucking waste!”

“That’s right, brother man!” he screams at me. He thinks I am talking about Mike Allen and his racist sexual exploits. I am not. “Way to go! Keep hope alive!”

This is my thought as I sit in a traffic jam next to the Cincinnati Public Library. Maybe he is right. Maybe I should just keep hope alive. But it’s hard to ponder the meaning of hope when there’s a large SUV blocking the intersection and nobody is doing anything about it. The cops certainly can’t. They are back at the courthouse glaring at the protestors. The cops are back there and I am up here. Everybody is mad and frustrated, and I am late for work.

“Eggs,” I think. “I can’t believe they stocked eggs in the courthouse. ”

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Epilogue: Stand Aside Please.

I come down the steps from the Deli with a large cup of Diet Pepsi. I am in the basement of the hospital. It is late and nobody is around. From around the corner I hear the swoop swoop, thud! sound of the broken elevator door.

“Stand aside, please,” a mechanical voice says.

I turn the corner next to the elevator doors, and I see an unmanned floor washer, one that is guided by mysterious microchips and lines of programming no human should ever have to see. It faces the elevator.

swoop swoop, thud! “Stand aside please.” swoop swoop, thud! “Stand aside please.”

The elevator and the mechanical floor washer are engaged in a never-ending battle of futility. One is a rock, the other an immovable object. They will go on forever, one opening and closing and the other politely asking for room to maneuver. They will never finish their jobs. They will always meet with frustration.

But what do they care, huh? They’re just a couple of fucking machines.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Your Sense Of Humor

Find your sense of humor. Mine:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat. I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.


PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais


Who the hell is Ricky Gervais?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bartender, please.

I’m at work right now, listening to Dave Matthew’s Band through the headphones I have plugged into the back of my computer. I haven’t listened to Dave in a while; probably since I had that party at my apartment a few years ago and, after waking up the following morning in an alcoholic haze, found my collection of DMB cd’s perched in a bowl of chicken soup. It’s amazing what you miss, sometimes. Up until that point in my life, I had been a huge fan, not because I wanted to take part in the hippie, post-Greatful Dead culture, but because DMB, unlike the Dead, actually play some kick ass music.

I’m listening to the Lilywhite version of “Bartender,” which is a ten minute song that consists mostly of the band jamming and Dave screeching in time to the music. No words; just music. It’s great. I can imagine the band arguing about the lyrics to the last 6 minutes of the song, I imagine them trying a few things, not finding anything that works. Suddenly, it occurs to them. No words. “Dude,” says Carter (the drummer), “don’t say anything. Just let the music … flow.” And they did. And, lo, was it good.

It reminds me of those moments when words just don’t capture what you want to say. Those times when you’re standing on a cliff overlooking a river as the sun sets in the background. Or when you witness the birth of your first child. A particularly bad breakup with that special someone you thought would always be there. Or maybe the death of a loved one. This song reminds me of those moments in life when everything just becomes too much and you sit back, shut the hell up, and go along with the ride. The guitars jam, the saxophone wails, the drums beat a constant rhythm, and you just sit there and take it all in.

Often, you don’t notice it until the moment is past. You look back and you think that it was these moments where life seemed more real, and even though you may have stood back and merely witnessed, you felt more involved than ever. And it might be good. And it might be bad. And it might be hearbreaking or fulfilling.

But it is. And that’s all that matters.



Then Green Day comes on and you want to hit the radio with a sledgehammer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bad Nervousness

I just realized that I have an Arts Festival in two weeks, and at that Arts Festival I am slated to read a story about a time I went swing dancing, got hit on by the most beautiful woman in the world, and promptly dropped her on the floor.

And it was all real, too! Mostly. I did get hit on by the most beautiful woman in the world, and we did dance. But she dropped me quickly (like a bad habit) in order to dance with some dude with larger pectoral muscles. And later that evening, I did drop somebody on the floor, but it wasn't the most beautiful woman in the world. It was my friend's girlfriend. She was trying to teach me a new dance move at the time while my friend was up at the bar getting something to drink (it was non-alcoholic, I think). Luckily, it was an accident. And luckily my friend was (and is) a lot smaller than me and could not have kicked my ass if he tried.

Besides, they broke up and she went to grad school in either Montana or Missouri or one of those states that starts with an "M" that I can't remember. My friend got married to another woman several years later (after, himself, graduating and spending several years teaching people in the mountainous country of Lesotho), and now is a prestigous member of the vanuted teaching staff at a school in Gahanna, which I think sounds too much like Gehenna for comfort. In fact, I often feel like asking if Gahanna is a hellish place, but nobody would get the joke but me and I would be embarrased.

Kind of like what is going to happen when I get in front of a large group of people at this Arts Festival in a few weeks and try to mumble and stumble my way through this pointless story of mine.

So come on down and watch The Sasquatch make an ass of himself. No matter how great or how horrible the evening is, it is guaranteed entertainment!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ha Ha!

Artsy Fartsy Crap

Enough of that philosophical and political mumbo jumbo. It's time for some artsy fartsy crap! Here's a short play I wrote for the people at church. They performed it a few months ago to the questioning faces of tens of people at The Grove, a bi-weekly gathering of young adults at church; young adults who, I am afraid to admit, grow increasingly younger than I. The play is short - very short - so you don't have to worry too terribly much. It isn't Death of a Salesman or anything.

The play is entitled, "The Ghost" and, of course, it is copywritten by me (except for the parts I plagiarized from more talented authors).

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A young woman (Ann) walks into work. Her shoulders are slumped. She looks shy and even a little scared. Or maybe she is hiding something. Right next to her is another woman (Ghost), lavishly dressed, who looks as though she believes that she owns the world. There is a pompous and arrogant air about her, and though she believes al of existence is beneath her.

Ann sits at her desk to start her day. She doesn’t want to talk to anybody. Her coworkers mill about, talking about different things. The Ghost sits next to her with her feet up on the desk, her hands behind her head. The Ghost glares at Ann, who tries not to notice for a few seconds, before she turns to The Ghost in frustration and speaks.


Ann: (frustrated)WHAT!

Ghost: (sarcastically) Oh, nothing. It’s just that we rode all the way in today and you didn’t say anything nice about my new haircut.

Ann: Oh … it looks nice. (she turns back to her work, barely having looked at Ghost’s hair).

Ghost: And my new jacket? What about that?

Ann: (angrily, without looking at Ghost): It looks nice, too.

Ghost takes her feet off the desk and gives Ann a nasty look

Ghost: Well I’m glad I didn’t come to work dressed in this (she gestures towards what Ann is wearing). I swear. You look worse than usual today.

Ann lowers her head in shame.

Ghost (seeing that this hurts Ann, she leans in closer and speaks slowly, jeeringly) : If that’s even possible.

Ann lowers her head even more and sits at her desk. She doesn’t move. A co-worker, Brian, pops up and says hi. Brian is happy. He is on the edge of laughter. Ghost crosses her arms and sits closely to Ann.

Brian: Hey Ann, what’s goin’ on?

Ann (quickly composing herself) : Oh, hi Brian … nothing … I was just … umm … trying to … catch up on some sleep? (she laughs weakly)

Ghost: (mad) You’re a moron.

Brian (laughing): Don’t I know it! I was up late watching the game. Did you see it?

Ann: Oh, yeah! I saw it too. I was up till 3.

Brian: You did! So you saw…

Ann: In the bottom of the ninth inning …

Brian: When Griffey made that catch against the wall….

Brian and Ann together: …and threw the guy out at home plate.

They laugh together for a second, and then look at each other in silence for a second. Ann smiles. Brian smiles back. They stay this way for a second, then…

Ghost (still mad) : You disgust me. You’re pathetic.

Ann stiffens a bit and lowers her head, looking at the floor She is ashamed. .

Brian: There’s another game this weekend. We could go if you’re interested. I know this guy who works at the park … makes the best hotdog you’ve ever seen! Sound like fun?

Ghost: Oh please. Is HE asking YOU out? (she lets out mean laughter). He must be really desperate.

Brian: I have an extra ticket! …

Ann: Weeeelllll (considerding it, and leaning towards yes)…

Ghost gets right up next to Ann’s ear, speaking quickly and forcibly. As she speaks, Ann shrinks back further and further until she is looking straight at the floor.

Ghost: You can’t go out with him. You have other things to do. You have to clean your house. You have to call your parents. … And he’s not really interested in you. You’re too ugly…too stupid. He’s probably doing it on a dare. I bet his friends put him up to it. See those people laughing over there? That’s them, and they’re laughing at you! He’s not really interested! They hate you. They all hate you. You’re not worth it!

Ann (dejectedly, with her head down) : No … Sorry … I can’t.

Brian (surprised and confused) : Oh, ok. … well, see ya.

Ann: See ya.

Brian walks away shaking his head. Ghost relaxes and assumes a happier demeanor.

Ghost: Can you believe that guy? The nerve of him!

Ann gets up and starts to leave.

Ghost: (with much derision) Where are you going?

Ann stops in her tracks, turns around, and almost shouts.

Ann: Why did you do that? Why do you always do that?

Ghost: (sarcastically surprised) Why did I do what?

Ann: Why do you keep me from meeting people? Why do you keep me from enjoying life? Why do you always tell me that nobody likes me or could possible love me?…Why do you constantly tell me I’m worthless?

Ghost dons a wicked smile, pauses, then speaks.

Ghost: Because you are.

Ann is taken aback. She is shocked. She takes a second to compose herself.

Ann: Well … what if I tell you leave? What it if cut you out of my life? What then?

Ghost: This again? (She laughs) Well go ahead if you like. Give it a shot. See if it works. You’ve tried before, you know. And each time you come crawling back. Each time you’ve begged to come back. You might leave with promises of a new life, a life without me. But the truth is that you can’t live without me. The truth is that I’m right and you know it. I am the secret you tell no one. I’m the only one who loves you, the only one who accepts you as you are: a pathetic and worthless excuse for a woman. You can never leave me. So go ahead. Try if you want to. But take my word for it. You’ll be back.

Ann lowers her head again and starts to walk back towards Ghost. She has finally submitted to the truth she never wanted to believe: that the creature before her (and rest assured it is just that, a creature) is right. She can never leave. She will always bebeholden to it.

But just then another young man approaches from down the hallway. He is wearing white clothing (if we have a spot light, we should shine it on him, but I don’t think we’ll have one). Ann doesn’t recognize him, but Ghost starts to get a bit nervous.


Man: Hello, Ann, how are you?

Ann: (warily) : Fine … do I know you?

Man: Maybe. We’ve met a couple of times, but you probably don’t remember me.

Ann: Oh … I’m fine. How are you doing?

Man: I’m well. I’m well.

Ghost: (more nervous still) Don’t listen to him! He’s no good. He’s a bad man. Turn away from him and come back to me.

Ann (speaking to the man hurriedly) : Oh, that’s nice…well, have a nice day.

Ann turns to leave.

Man: Wait.

Ann starts to turn back.

Ghost: No!

Man: You haven’t introduced your friend.

Ann faces the man full on. She is shocked once again. And frightened.

Ann: My friend? What you do mean my friend?

Man: Yes. You’re friend sitting over there by the desk with the sour look on her face. What is its name?

Ann: You mean you can see her?

Man: Yes, dear. I can.

The Ghost comes up to Ann’s ear again and starts speaking into her ear like before. This time, she is frightened. Very frightened.

Ghost (quickly) : He’s lying. He’s trying to trick you. Don’t listen to him. Don’t even look at him. Come back to your desk with me and forget all about him. Come back with me and never think of this, this thing, again.

Ann doesn’t pay attention to the Ghost. She is intrigued by the Man. But she is still skeptical.

Ann: If you can see her, that means …

Man: That means I know your secret. I know the sin you hide in your heart like a locked treasure. I know you, fully and completely.

Ann: But how?

Man: Because you prayed to God for help and he sent me. I am an angel sent by the Lord to free you from your secret, to free you from your sin.

Ghost: What!? I thought I told you to stop that! I thought I told you that God never answered prayers! What have you been doing behind my back!

Angel: You see, my love? It doesn’t know all. It can’t see everything the way God does. All it can do is lie and hurt.

Ghost: Tell him to shut up! Tell him to go away, you maggot. Tell him you don’t want his help. Tell him you’re perfectly happy with your stupid life the way it is. Tell him to tell God to go to Hell!

Ann winces with every word from the Ghost. She can hardly stand it. When it finishes speaking, Ann holds her head as if she is in pain.

Angel: Would you like me to make it quiet?

Ann (looking hopefully): Yes, yes of course!

The Angel moves toward the Ghost

Angel: Then I will kill it.

As the Angel moves closer to Ann, she winces in pain yet again.

Ann: Watch out! You’re burning me … Stay away from me. Stop hurting me!

The Angel stops where he is.

Angel: Don’t you want me to silence it?

Ann: You didn’t say anything about killing? I didn’t want God to do anything as big as that!

Angel: Don’t you see, dear? It’s the only way. May I kill it?

Ann: But I can’t live without it. If you kill it, you will kill me along with it.

Angel (softly, like a parent speaking to a small child): No I won’t, dear. You have listened to lies. It’s time to stop that. God has heard your pleas. He loves you. He has always loved you. … Please, let me kill it.

Ann: Oh, but I can’t tell you to do that! Why are you doing this to me? Why didn’t you just kill it without asking? It would all be over by now if you had.

Angel: I can’t kill it without your permission. It is impossible … May I kill it?

The Angel moves closer to the Ghost. His hands are almost around her neck.

Ghost: ----tirade of swears at Ann---

As the Ghost’s insults fly faster and faster, Ann covers her ears and nearly doubles over in pain. She screams.

Ann: ALRIGHT!

The Ghost stops cold.

Ann: Alright. Do it and be done with it. (then, almost whimpering) God help me. God help me.

The Angel wrestles the Ghost to the ground and the Ghost snarls and bites back. He takes the Ghost into the shadows, where we cannot see them, and we hear the Ghost scream as she dies. Ann winces and doubles over in pain. The Angel comes back into the light by himself. He is smiling. He places a hand on Ann’s shoulder and she stands up.

Angel: It is done. Your sin is gone.

Ann looks around to verify that the Ghost is no longer with her. When she realizes the truth, she brightens. She stands up straight, smiling. She hugs the Angel who hugs her back.

Ann: Thank you. Thank you. Tell God how much I love him.

Angel: He knows, dear.

Ann looks around again

Ann: Is it really over?

Angel: Not, quite dear … Look.

Surrounding the stage are many different people, the people Ann works with every day. Each of them is engaged in their normal activities, but at each person’s ear is another Ghostt, spewing hatred and lies. They start off silent and motionless, then, one by one, each group begins talking and we see and hear the Ghosts above all else. The Ghosts vile threats and words of hatred fill the air. Then they are silent as the lights again show only Ann and The Angel.

Angel: Come, my dear. (he motions to the lost souls that surround them) There is much work to do.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

More Truth

here's a quote from a poem I read recently.

"unexplainable truth? Sometime it sound like lies.
And unexplainable truth is visible to your eyes if you know what you’re looking for.

-muMs

It has nothing to do with my last post. I just thought it was neat.

Truth

A question for thokolosi:

In your last response to my response to somebody else’s response to my response to another person’s response, you said this:

That aside, you posed a very interesting question about the independence of words from the speaker. In other words, "can a statement stand on its own outside the context of its speaker?"

If I were asked that question, my short answer would be "yes;" My long answer would be "yes, but..." Especially when the topic is politics, by which I am equally compelled and repulsed.

In politics and punditry, the speaker does color how I hear a message. Even in casual conversation, I think many people speak on multiple levels at the same time. So, I think it is reasonable to be more skeptical of a message from a source whose past statements you find disreputable.

You are right! This is a good question. And I would like to address that in a post, if only in an attempt to move away from the ugliness in the last one.

So what is truth? Or, rather, do our words become less true when our character is lacking? I don’t think so, and I’ll tell you why. I believe that truth exists separate from us. It is a standard against which our words, and even our very natures, are judged.

A popular theory among postmodernists is the idea that we make our own truth, that we can be polar opposites in all things and yet be equally true. The idea that we make our own truth is ludicrous, because if this were so then we have no standing by which to claim that historical atrocities are wrong. For instance, we could never say that Hitler was wrong to murder six million Jews (and countless others) because his truth was his truth and who are we to call it wrong? Right?

To put it another way, if one person claims that each person makes his own truth, then it is equally truthful for me to say that this person is always wrong. If he says that I am right and I say that he is always wrong, nothing makes sense.

Or, to put it a third way, two plus two equals four and it doesn’t equal anything else. If a person tries to tell you differently, they are either trying to be funny or they are hopelessly stupid.

There is such a thing as truth; otherwise we have no basis for thought and no means by which to improve ourselves as a race. If two scientists who differ in their opinions about the nature of physics are both right in their claims about a particular subject, then they are likely to share a hug and go home happy in the knowledge that they are each correct in their interpretation rather than argue with each other and work the problem through to the end. What is the point in innovation if there is no standard, no point at which you shout “eureka!” and claim the problem solved?

Truth exists. We see it all around us. It’s deciding what that truth is that causes all the problems. If each of us makes our own truth, then we will have none of it.

What you are talking about is, I think, our tendency towards miscommunication. I might speak the truth, but there are a million things that could make you interpret it differently than what I had intended. My past tendencies to lie or not take things seriously could result in skepticism in my audience. My inflections of voice could lead you to believe that I stated a question as opposed to a declaration. I could speak in long, complex sentences and you could be an idiot; in which case you’d have no idea what I was saying.

This is often the case when I listen to others speak. They use big words and I get confused. Because, when you get right down to it, I’m a complete moron.

If, however, my statements stand up to the rigors of investigation and critical analysis, then they must be accepted as truth regardless of my character. Because, as I believe I have shown, truth is not created by the person who speaks it. It can be sought after. It can be misinterpreted. It can even be approximated. But once it has been proven, it exists, and no amount of baseless character attacks is going to make this not so.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What Time Is It Again?

The United States government, fearing that too many students are finally grasping the age old "If a train leaves New York at 50 miles per hour..." question, has adopted a provision to extend Daylight Savings time.

"It would mean people would turn their clocks forward one hour on the first weekend of March and "fall back" on the final weekend in November. Currently in Canada and the U.S., daylight time runs from April through October. The exception in Canada is Saskatchewan, which keeps its clocks the same throughout the year."

I wish we could just keep it the same year round. It's not like it matters anymore. I'm just glad I don't live in Indiana, where some counties honor the time switch and some do not. Just imagine thinking to yourself, "I have to be at work at 8am, but since they're an hour behind me, I can sleep in. Unless, if course, I want to get gas along the way, then I have to wake up at 8:00 my time, leave the house quickly, run to the gas station, and make it in by 8:00."

You shouldn't have to do math to tell time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Long day and some guy named Dude

I’ve been at work for thirteen hours. My brain has turned to mush and I can no longer comprehend common grammar and simple mathematics. I feel like somebody went into one of the tech closets on my floor and turned up the gravity a notch or two, and when I stand up everything slips and slides like when you’ve taken way too much acid.

Not that I know anything about that or anything. I’ve read enough Hunter S. Thompson to understand the concept.

I hate working late. But it’s not the fact that I’ve had to work late that has me in such a state. It’s the fact that my boss is a moron. Here’s how it all breaks down. I got a request this morning o review an airport in some farr off place nobody would ever want to go, because for some reason somebody wanted to go there and they wanted to go there right now! The problem was that the airport my boss asked me to review doesn’t exist. It just isn’t there. It would be like trying to find Lyonesse. It may have existed at one point, but it ain’t there now so good luck finding it!

So I spent a good hour and a half this morning looking for references to this airport in all different types of trade magazines in Indonesia (because that’s where the airport supposedly is…right next to Atlantis), when I cam across a different airport in the same city. I was intrigued. So I checked out the stats of this new airport and became increasingly more convinced that it was this airport our valued customers wanted to go, not the one that sank into the sea a thousand years ago.

So I e-mailed my boss and informed him of my find. In this e-mail I informed my boss and his team that I would await their response to do an official review. Two minutes later somebody from a separate department copied my e-mail word for word and e-mailed my boss again. I don’t know why. This was around 10:00 am.

Lunch came and went. At 2:15pm, I received an e-mail from one of my bosses minions, asking me how things were going with that airport review.

“They’re not,” I said. “Because (*edited to protect the innocent*) hasn’t told me which airport to review.”

“Oh, he didn’t? Well we knew that a long time ago,” he said.

“Why didn’t anybody tell me?” I asked.

“Why didn’t you ask,” he said.

“I did,” I responded as I gripped the phone with white knuckles. “Here, let me forward the e-mail I sent this morning at 9:30.”

He received the e-mail and was surprised. “(*expletive deleted*)! I’ll have (*BOSS*) e-mail you back with the correct name in a minute.”

“Why don’t you just,” I began, but it was too late. He’d hung up. I was going to ask him why he didn’t just tell me which airport to review, because that would have made sense. Alas, logic is a state of mind to which few aspire.

Thirty minutes later I got an e-mail from my boss asking me how the review was going. I told him that I hadn’t done anything because I still had not been told which airport to review. He asked me why I hadn’t been told. Let me repeat that. He asked me why I hadn’t been told. For those of you who also cannot grasp the simplicities of normal human conversation, this means that my boss just asked me to tell him why he hadn’t done something. That is like asking your mother why you haven’t cleaned your room and expecting her not to smack you across the face for your stupidity.

Unfortunately, I would be fired if I attacked my boss. So I couldn’t do that.

The good news is that we got it all worked out and I was able to determine which airport to review a full 6 hours after they had sent the request. I called the airport. It was closed. This makes sense since it’s in Middleofnowhere, Indonesia and nobody ever wants to go there.

So I called my boss again and informed him of the latest developments.

“Why are they closed?” he asked me.

I wanted to tell him that if I knew the answer to that, I’d probably make a lot more money than I do now, and I wouldn’t have to work for him. Instead, I said, “I don’t know, but the open again at 0100 Zulu Time.” Zulu time is Greenwhich mean time, which means that they open at 10:00pm our time.

“Well that’s great,” he said. “You can stay late and call them back then.”

The sad part of this whole endeavor is that, if he had responded to my e-mail when I first asked him, I would have completed the airport review hours ago and everybody would be happy. Instead, I had to stay four hours late (after already having worked 10) just to ask some random Dude if we could park out plane on his lot.
Incidentally, the guy with whom I have to speak is named Dude. Seriously. His name is Dude. Weird, huh?

To add even more woe to the situation, I am not allowed to do more than three airport reviews in a day because the person who reviews my work can’t keep up. I finished the other two around noon. So I’ve been sitting here for 9 hours pretending to work while waiting for Dude to call me back.

Where the hell did I go wrong in life?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

can't sleep

You know what's funny? It is now 3:00 am and I can't sleep. I've been tossing and turning all night long and, after trying to avoid it, have finally settled into the belief that I will be up all night surfing the internet and trying to read from the two books in which I am currently enthralled: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. It's a good thing there aren't any wizards named Alyosha at Hogwarts, or else I'd be thoroughly confused.

Not that I have everything together, mind you.

"Fountains of Wayne" currently blares through my speakers as I type. It's the song "Mexican Wine," which is a lot better than that "Stacey's Mom" song. But, I think, given the context of the album as a whole, the idea of "Stacey's Mom" makes a lot more sense and is even quite enjoyable. The band has a quirky sense of humor that is completely lost when you take individual songs and try to sell them to the public. My favorite song on the album is track two, which is a happy little ditty about an alcoholic who keeps promising to overcome his problems, right before he goes on another bender. The corus goes "I'm gonna get my shit together/Cuz I can't live like this forever. /I've come to far and I don't wanna fail / I got a new computer and a bright future in sales, yeah yeah."

Then you have the song about a high school kid singing about how hot his girlfriend's mother is. It might not make sense to you now, but trust me. Listen to the album and it will make sense. I promise.

Well now! It seems that, since I'm up late and since the docet tones of the Fountains of Wayne have bathed my room in a melancholic mood, I am of a mind to discuss employment concerns.

You see, my job is not quite as exciting as I had previously thought it to be. I don't hate it or anything and the people are nice (even the guy who argued idiotically about the athletic prowess of Jason Bay), but I find that I spend the majority of my time glancing at the clock, calculating the minutes and seconds until I get to leave.

I was cleaning my room the other day, and I came across two interesting pieces of paper. The first was my final paper for my management capstone class from my last quarter of college. It wa a bulky 35 pages and it contained all sorts of grpahs and numbers and long winded explanations about foreign entry strategies and economies of scale and that sort of thing. The other was the paper explaining the results of the GMAT test I took less than two months after graduation.

The paper was an interesting experience. It was an analysis of a fake game we played in class. We had split into groups of five, and each group was pitted in competitiion with the other in a computerized game in which we had to control a shoe company from top to bottom. We had to control the supply chain: purchaing materials, shipping materials to manufacturing plants, assembly, and distribution. We had to manage marketing, finance, technology, and everything else your average shoe company had to deal with. Each week counted as a year in the computer program and at the end of the week, we submitted out plans to the professor, who ran them through the computer and returned a 22 page financial summary of the results to each team.

Naturally, my team came in dead last place. But what was interesting about the experience was that I spent 35 pages explaining why we had been such an outstnading failure. I thoroughly enjoyed ripping my team to shreds. And I especially enjoyed proposing how we could have performed much better. The professor agreed and kept my paper as an example for future classes.

The GMAT test paper was also fun to see. You see, I didn't really study for it. Sure, I bought a revoew book and I even looked at it once or twice; usually while I was watching The Daily Show or falling asleep to a move on HBO at 4am. I never figured on going to grad school anyway, despite the fact that I had the sufficient gpa and experience. I took the test and scored very well. I scored in the top 5 percent on the analytical test and I rocked a perfect score on the written section, proving once and for all that the ability to bullshit counts much more than real knowledge in our warped society.

The expereince of finding each of these papers lead me to investigate grad programs at OSU again. They have a PhD program at the Fisher college of Business in International Strategic Management. I think I meet the minimum requirements, and my current job deals with business in countries all over the world (the boring part is that I do the same thing over and over and over and over...and over).

I think I'm going to apply for admission to this program for Autumn 2006. I might not be suited for the halls of academia, but I know I'm not suited for cubicle life and I figure that a life of lecturing to a classroom full of bored undergrads is probably better than staring at the clock for a living.

Wish me luck! We won't find out for a while, but I figure that, regardless of the outcome, it will at least be a reason to go out to a local bar, order a glass of Woodford Reserve and smoke a stogie the size of Alabama.

And I'm always looking for a reason to do that! I'm finally gonna get my stuff together! Cuz I can't live like this forever! I've come too far and I don't want to fail!

I've got a new computer and a bright future in sales!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Waiting in Line

As I stood in line at Subway this afternoon, watching a lady order fifteen sandwiches for her co-workers while my lunch hour ticked away, I thought to myself, “Jean-Paul Sartre was right. Hell really is other people.”

Then I got to thinking some more (because I had a lot of time on my hands).

If things seem crowded here, I wonder what they’re like in Beijing (Peking) or Calcutta (Kolkata). Those places are jam packed with people and I imagine that a 45 minute wait for a sub sandwich is a luxury few people in that part of the world ever enjoy. Also, you have to consider the sheer number of people over there. Even if you’re a one in a million type of guy, there are still several thousand others just like you running around nearby.

Then I got to thinking about how difficult it would be to make a difference in that part of the world. You could go to school and study real hard, and to get a good job that allowed you creative freedom, chances are 1000 to 1 against you getting a job instead of one of the clones of yourself I just mentioned a minute ago. The same goes for finding a nice house or getting a girlfriend. There may very well be other fish in the sea, but with so many others just like the one you threw back, what’s the point of even trying? That must be depressing, knowing that happiness and success are dependent upon dumb luck or a happy turn of Fate.

Maybe the answer is to move to Montana, where you can stand in a field and scream obscenities until your head turns blue and nobody will give a damn. Try doing that in your local mall.

Or at a Subway restaurant, directed at that crazy lady and her hungry co-workers.

Of course, there is the possibility that Sartre was wrong. Maybe his particular type of Hell has degrees of severity that vary according to certain fluctuating characteristics. For instance, if you are in a crowd of, say, 32,000 of your closest friends watching fireworks explode over a ballpark as your favorite team wins the big game, that might not be a definition of Hell despite the proximity of other people. Next, try standing in a room with Gilbert Godfried after he has taken an extra large dose of speed and mescaline and tell me that you don’t understand the depths of human depravity.

So maybe Hell is other people in certain situations and in proximity pursuant to your ability to get away once you have noticed the existence of said state. Yeah, that sounds a bit more like the truth, but it isn’t catchy and I doubt Sartre would have said it like that.

He was French, after all, and the French have a mind for catchy things.

Maybe he just dumbed down his definition in order to sell books. But if he did this, it take away from his credibility as a philosopher. Aren’t philosophers supposed to be seekers of truth and not merely seekers of money? Is Sartre not who I previously thought him to be? Is he guilty of mere Sophistry in the face of one of the least interesting questions man has ever sought to comprehend?

Who knows? Certainly not me. And by the time I had come to the beginning of the questions behind the question that first caught my fancy, the lady in front of me had left. So I stepped forward and ordered a chicken and bacon ranch on wheat with lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes. I wished to have my sandwich on a Parmesan Oregano bread loaf.

“We’re out of that,” the sixteen year old Subway employee said as she popped her bubble gum and stood there with her mouth open.

No, Sartre was right. Hell is other people.

Happy Bastille Day!

Let's all grab a torch and storm the castle! Viva! La Revolucanization!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Racism in sports or an inability to comprehend statistics? You decide!

I got into an argument with a lady at work this afternoon about the racial makeup of players in the Major League Baseball All Star game. She came to work mad this morning because Jason Bay, a left fielder for the Pittsburgh pirates, did not play in last night’s All Star game. Jason Bay was the only Canadian on either team and he was the only person who didn’t play.

“I can’t believe it!” she said. “There’s an anti-Canadian bias in major league baseball.”

Now I agreed with her up to a point. Jason Bay should have played. He is a good, young player and it was his first of what will hopefully be many All Star appearances. But I had to say something. Because she was just being stupid. “I don’t think it was that he was Canadian,” I said. “I think it was because he sucks.”

This incited a flurry of discussion at work. Several people thought it was clearly an example of racism, but I would not relent. I informed them that Major League Baseball has a rule which requires at least one representative from each team to be a part of the All Star team. It only stands to reason that good teams, like the Red Sox and the Cardinals, will have several players on the All Star team while crappy teams, like the Reds and the Pirates, will not. I argued further, saying that Jason Bay, while he is a good player in his own right, is not quite All Star caliber. Since the National League was behind and had hoped to make a comeback, they wanted to use their good players.

“No hold on just a minute,” she said. “That guy from the Reds got to play.”

“Yeah,” said another guy (who is a closet Pirates fan), “and he puts up the same numbers as Jason Bay.” He went on to add, “How you like that, bitch!?” Everybody in the office looked at me and I smiled calmly. You see, I have this personal rule about ass kicking. If you ask for it, then I have to give it to you.

“You betray your ignorance,” I began. “All star caliber is not judged by offensive statistics alone, and neither is it judged in comparison to the league as a whole. What you have to do is look at a player’s performance in comparison to
other players at his position. Let us compare Jason Bay to other outfielders in the National League. Then let us compare Felipe Lopez to other shortstops. Once we are finished, I believe you will understand why one rode the bench while the other shined under the spotlights.”

“Jason Bay’s stats for the 2005 season through the All star Break:
BA---R--H--2b--3b--HR--RBI--Sb
.299-59-98--25--4--16--44----5

While his performance has been good, these numbers are not stellar when you compare them to other outfielders in the national league. Jason rarely breaks the top 10 in any offensive category, coming as high as 6th for batting average. In many categories, he is well behind other outfielders who did not make the All Star team. For instance, in batting average, his .299 puts him behind Jose Guillen, who did not make the All Star Team despite the fact that he has more homeruns, more RBI, more runs scored to add to his dominance in batting average. Outfielders tend to be power players but Jason Bay, despite the fact that he bats 3rd in the Pirates lineup, isn’t even in the top ten among national league outfielders in Runs, RBI, or HR’s. In homeruns, everybody’s favorite category, Jason ranks 12th among national league outfielders. He is behind Adam Dunn (23) Cliff Floyd (22), Reggie Sanders (18), Ken Griffey jr (17) and Patt Burell (17); none of whom made the All Star team. This could be forgiven if he had speed, but he only has 5 stolen bases and his slugging percentage is a woeful .546. Jason Bay is a good player and he will improve, but at the moment, he is only slightly above average as far as outfielders go.

Felipe Lopez’s stats for the 200 season through the All Star Break:
BA---R--H--2b--3b--HR--RBI--SB
.304-49--90--18--2--14--48--6

The thing to consider when looking at Lopez’s stats is that he wasn’t even a member of the team at the beginning of the season. He started the year in the minor’s came up in mid-April when Anderson Machado injured his heel, and didn’t start at ss until mid May. Add to this the fact that Lopez usually either leads off or bats second, and it is amazing that his numbers are virtually the same as Jason Bay’s. Like I said earlier, however, the important thing is to compare him to other shortstops. So how does he compare? Well, among national league shortstops, Lopez is first in homeruns, first in RBI, and second in batting average (Omar Visquel is ahead by one point at .305). Even in comparison to other All Star shortstops, Lopez dominates. Omar Visquel is ahead in average, but has only 1 homerun and 30 RBI. David Eckstein has 2 homeruns, 24 RBI, and is batting .287. Lopez is also third among shortstops in OBP (slightly behind Eckstein and Visquel). Felipe Lopez is the preeminent offensive shortstop in the national league this season and he would have been chosen regardless of how many players the Reds had on the team. “

I stopped speaking and took a minute to bask in the glow of my own magnificence. The Canadian glared at me and said, “it doesn’t matter. They still discriminated.”

Some people are just idiots, I guess.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Let's make the Supreme Court fun again

I've got an idea. Why don't we nominate this guy for Supreme Court!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Notes on Stuff

Originally, I posted a single tidbit of information here, and I would have left it at that had I not thought of a few other interesting things to say. So instead of just one bit of pointless fun you get several pieces of useless information to make your day that much better.

Lucky you.

  1. Today, while playing frisbee golf, I heard Jim (from dilatoryaction) say, "That's good, because I've been looking for a reason to reanimate Irving Berlin's dead corpse!"
  2. I finished my most recent play for the Grove Drama team this afternoon. It's a play about a young, Christian woman who accidentally gets pregnant. In it, there is a Nazi schoolteacher who screams at children in school to learn the four baisc (and completely incorrect) facts about sex; there is a boyfriend who dresses like a '70s pimp, and when he speaks you hear Barry White Music in the background; there is a parental figure who threatens to beat his daughter's head in with a baseball bat; there are audience members who scream at the characters on stage; and there is a baby - a real, live baby. It wraps up in a nice and tidy 30 minute segment where almost all the problems are solved and everybody goes home happy, just like in sitcoms and in Real Life. I called it "Strange Love - or - How I learned to stop worrying and accept my mistakes." I suddenly feel bad about calling it that, because I don't like blatant ripoffs of popular (and good) movies, especially since it is my belief that Kubrick will one day come back from the grave and show his detractors the errors of their ways before their lives are over. Oh crap! I just ripped off Charles Dickens! Now I'm really screwed.
  3. I just drank 5 cans of Diet Mountain Dew!
  4. This morning, while playing frisbee golf (Jim wasn't there for this one...I'm not addicted to frisbee golf. I can quit whenever I want), I went to grab my frisbee and stepped on a bee's nest. At first, I thought I had stepped into a thornbush. Then the increased number of stings coupled with the incessant buzzing informed me of the truth. I ran from the woods, screaming like a little girl, then ripped my shirt off and swore profusely (taking the Lord's name in vain on many occasions). Yes, I would have laughed at me, too.
  5. Today is Monday and I am off work again!
  6. No, I don't plan to do a long bit of info followed by a short one and yet another long one.
  7. I'm cooler than that, dady-o.
  8. Did I just say "dady-o"?
  9. Harry Potter comes out this Saturday and I am excited. I am not as excited as I was to see the last three books in the Dark Tower series come to fruition, however, because in this instance, the author has not been run over by an aimless drunk and is therefore not as likely to die before the series ends. It is interesting to note that there are several Harry Potter references in The Dark Tower series.
  10. It is also interesting to note that I am a huge nerd.
  11. Remember that play I mentioned earlier? Well it turns out that I'm in the play! I had originally written the part for my good buddy Tim, but then he went and got his wife pregnant and now he doesn't have the time. So I have to take over the part because there aren't any other old and intimidating people in the young adult crowd. That's what I get for being fat and bald, I guess.
  12. This Thursday is Bastille Day! So, in the immortal words of Billy Crystal, "Au revoir gosses. Ayez l'amusement donner l' assaut à le château!"
Alright. That is enough.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Harry Potter and the Existential Dilemma

I wrote another article for the young adult church information thingy! Wanna read it? Here it is...

Harry Potter and the Existential Dilemma

A few years ago, I walked into my local Barnes and Noble store to pick up the latest Stephen King tome and had to wait in line behind a group of college kids dressed in capes and horn-rimmed glasses. They were discussing the particulars of something called quidditch.

I thought it was a disease or possibly some sort of viral infection. “Quidditch,” I said. “I had that once. It was horrible. I was out of school for almost a week!” The college students were quick to point out that quidditch was not a disease, but was rather a game one played while flying on a broomstick.

“You have to shoot the quaffle through the hoop,” one of them said.

“Yes, and of course you have to watch that the Bludgers don’t knock you off your broom in the process,” another said.

“Of course,” I said, completely confused.

“Then there’s the snitch,” the first student began. “That’s what Harry’s looking for.”

“Who’s that,” I asked. They looked at me like I was an idiot, and then spent the remainder of our time together telling me about a place called Hogwarts and some evil guy with a French sounding name (which, by the way, I wasn’t supposed to say). Before I knew it, they had added the first of the Harry Potter books to my collection and made me promise that I would read it from cover to cover as soon as possible.

“You’d better,” they said, “Or we’ll sick Hagrid on you.”

“Is that some kind of dog,” I asked, joking. They laughed at me even more.

Later that evening, I got home and checked online to see what other people had to say about Mr. Potter and his exploits in the wizarding world. I can be oblivious to pop culture sometimes and I wanted to investigate this new fad that I had apparently missed.

I also wanted to make sure that Ben Afleck was not involved. Because I hate Ben Afleck.

Along with the usual fan sites, I found several places dedicated to the condemnation of the entire Potter series. They said it was anti-Christian. These sites claimed that the series glorifies the occult and ensures a first class seat on a high speed train straight to Hell for anybody who gets within spitting distance of the accursed books. They had even less kind things to say about the author, J.K. Rowling.

According to several “high quality” websites, I should have taken the new book outside and burnt it. But, I figured, since I had gone to the store with the intention of purchasing a Stephen King book, any shot at piety I may have had went out the window long ago.

That’s the funny thing about Christian culture. Some people believe that certain aspects of life are completely worthless if these things are not explicitly religious. For instance, one of my friends complains that he can’t listen to a lot of secular bands, even those with a positive message, because they don’t specifically mention God. And he outright refuses to consider bands which are obviously talented but aren’t Christian. He often laments this loss, he says, because there are so many good bands out there he would love to listen to.

Another friend of mine confessed that, at one point in her life, she would only watch movies that had a Christian message. She wouldn’t even watch G-rated films unless they mentioned Jesus Christ specifically and even then there were several possibilities for a disqualifying factor.

I don’t understand this sentiment. God has called us to be more completely human and I have always believed that part of this means that we have the ability to think; to discern what is good and what is not, at least to some extent. Anybody who has read the Harry Potter series knows that it does not glorify the occult as an essential and everyday aspect of life anymore than C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia claims that the way to salvation is through a dusty closet or that Jesus is an actual, physical lion.

What the Harry Potter series does is recognize the equality of worth in all human beings, regardless of their background. It emphasizes the importance of making good choices, and how these choices can affect our lives. It even states that the difference between good and evil, on an individual level, is often a choice between doing what is right and doing what is easy.

If Christians can’t get behind that message, then we need to re-evaluate what we believe.

When I see Christians criticize predominantly secular aspects of our culture for not being Christian, I cringe. Why do they do that? Secular means non-religious, not devoid of value or even separated from God, right? One of the most common reasons for unbelief I hear is that Christianity doesn’t seem real. To many, Christianity is nothing but a bunch of rules we can’t possibly live up to.

I believe that this comes from that fact that so many Christians reject secular aspects of life to the point that they define themselves through separation. It often gets to the point where it would seem that non-believers must reach out to God rather than the other way around..

Many non-believers see Christians who claim that a particular book, cd, or movie should be flatly ignored on the basis that it doesn’t have Jesus’ name in the title and they give up on faith. They don’t understand. They see nothing but rules. To them, there is no point in faith. They don’t see the other side of it. They don’t see the joy and freedom that comes with following Christ.

The truth of the matter is that God created us with the ability to understand love and happiness and beauty and many other aesthetics. These are often the way people come to understand what it means to believe in God. The Christian philosopher, C.S. Lewis, wrote at length about the logic and philosophy of Christianity. However, what threw him over the edge, so the speak, was the joy he experienced while riding to the zoo on a motorcycle with his brother. “When we set out,” he said. “I did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did.”

This learned man, this philosopher, knew the logical aspect of the truth of Christianity, but what ultimately brought him to faith was the joy he experienced while engaged in an activity that was inherently secular.

The reason for this is that humans are wired to understand Joy because God, the source of all Joy, made us that way. We were designed for the world and the world was designed for us. And if we, as Christians, can find joy and happiness and beauty in the world God has created for us, it stands to reason that non-believers can as well. If we, as Christians, can be moved to express this joy through art or literature or some other creative endeavor, it stands to reason that non-believers can too.

And here is yet another way we can reach out to non-believers. We can show that all humans understand goodness and beauty and happiness because all cultures, Christian and non-Christian alike, can express that Joy with equal vigor. We can show that this truth is something that exists separate from ourselves, and that this separate truth points us to God.

So when the next Harry Potter book is released, I will purchase it and I will read it. Because the books are well written, they have a good message, and I get great Joy from reading them. I highly suggest that, if you have the time, you do the same.

Now that Stephen King book I bought? That is a completely different story altogether.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

...and I'm sorry Mr. Jones. It's. Time.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going to end up like Fred Jones. Today especially.