Everyone Shut Up: I Got Me An Opinion On Racism

Somewhere in the dark recesses of that maze of cold filing cabinets and sallow-eyed office workers that makes up the entirety of the Human Resources Department, there’s a three hundred page, leather bound volume sitting behind ten inches of bulletproof glass. This book, believed by many to be nothing more than an urban legend, is my employer’s hard copy of my official disciplinary record. I’ve never actually read any entries from it since a recent executive order handed down from the Department of Homeland Security now requires a Freedom of Information Act  request be filled before I can see it and I don’t have the patience required to write my name out in bubble letters that many times. I assume much of it has to do with my many failed attempts to disable to company firewall that stands between me and the vast sea of nudie pictures that the Internet has to offer and there’s bound to be more than one entry concerning a recent spree of stabbing that has not yet been officially traced back to me; but other than that, I’m not sure what’s in it.

Regardless of its actual content, what we can extrapolate from the fact of its existence is that there’s a lot of stuff that can be blamed on me. I accept this since I know I’m human (mostly) and subject to the same failings as any of my other fellow men (theoretically). In my defence, I would like to state that much of my troubled past has to do with an experimental cocktail of anti-psychotics I take every morning that sometimes causes me to believe that I’m Liam Neeson’s character from the movie Taken. Also, I sometimes get confused as to what counts as toilet paper and what’s an official court document and that puts me at a distinct disadvantage during regular judicial proceedings. But, out of respect for the three people who are likely to actually read this essay in its entirety, I’m not going to waste your time with my perfectly reasonable excuses.

There is one thing that can’t be blamed on me, though: racism. The stink of that shit is on all of us.

This what all racists smell like.
This what all racists smell like.

I’m not going to say that I don’t have my prejudices because that wouldn’t be fair. In fact, I’m very prone to acts of discrimination. It’s just that race isn’t the basis for any of them. For example, I have less than amicable relations with the following kinds of people:

  • Any grown man who wears shorts that don’t come to knee-level when sitting down (this is American and you need to shop smarter);
  • Any child who looks me in the eye while picking their nose (that just makes it all too personal); and
  • Any woman who identifies herself as “Gidget” (that’s not a real name and you fucking well know it).

So there you have it, a list of my deeply held (and, in my opinion, morally unassailable) prejudices and none of them have to do with the makeup of anyone’s genetics.

Of course, I’ve also found that the easiest way to spot a bigot is to find the guy who’s gone through the greatest lengths to prove that they’re not a bigot. This, I assume, is because being a racist is one of the fastest routes to the bottom of the moral landfill where you will be consigned forever to live in the murky haze of collective societal hatred with the child molesters and people who wear corduroy as a mode of choice. No one wants to think that they’re a racist; no one ever identifies as a bigot; no one thinks that they’re the problem; but one thing that’s becoming more and more clear is that there is a problem, and sooner or later we’re going to have to look at the big ugly stain on the carpet (the one next to the big ugly stain I made that weekend when they were cleaning all the bathrooms on my floor —  but I’m actually quite proud of that one).

But what do we do to about a problem this intrinsic to our society? How do you even address something that has haunted this country since its inception and the rest of the world for as long as we’ve been able to distinguish between colors? How do you solve an issue that half the population refuses to believe even exists? I say we handle it the same way we eat pizza: cut it up into parts, digest them, then take a nice long, painful dump afterwards.

Reverse Racism

    This is the modern go-to theory for conservative pundits who think the mere fact that there’s a black guy out there with more money than them means that not only has the racial divide been fully mended but the pendulum has begun swinging in the other direction. It used to be that racism was a river of shit that flowed in one direction and you could count on it to end up exactly where you expected. Now, apparently, its morphed into something more like a broken fire hose, spewing sewage in all directions, making sure that everyone has a epic smell that they’ll have to explain to everyone else how it’s totally not their fault.

The problem with dismissing this theory is that it exists in the realm of logical possibility. If you can discriminated against someone because they’re black it’s just as easy to do so because they’re white. You can even point to incident after incident where this appears to have happened. I can’t do it personally off the top of my head — and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste my time looking up some bullshit — but if you’re interested, just tune into Fox News and watch one of their lilly-white talking heads for ten minutes and I’m sure they’ll clue you in.

Apparently these successful white people are the real victims in this new age of racial oppression.
Apparently these successful white people are the real victims in this new age of racial oppression.

There’s no point in trying to dissuade certain people that this is something that goes on regularly; it just seems like the natural process of an evolving society, changing demographics and the empowerment of a people who have long been oppressed.

When you think about it this way then it almost sounds like a good thing.

Here’s the problem: racism usually has with it an institutional element. Back in 1950, this was easy to see: a white guy would order his “Whites Only” sign for his business making white picket fences or something, and then he’d throw a black guy two cents to hang it for him before he was escorted from the property by a white cop. If you were a black man being oppressed there was no place you go to and complain about it because the entire framework of society was part of the problem.

This used to be a thing. How do you feel about yourself now?
This used to be a thing. How do you feel about yourself now?

Therein lies the problem with this whole reverse-racism thing. In order for the roles to have truly been reversed, the entire power-structure would not only have to not be white, but it would have to be flipped entirely. I’m pretty sure I would have gotten an e-mail if that happened. Racism is a societal force that singles out a demographic to completely fuck over, not just a series of unfortunate interactions between people with different skin colors. That means that just because a black guy was a dick to you once it doesn’t logically follow that the incident was reverse racism; it’s just a bad moment in life that you should be able to walk-off because you’re not seven years old and shouldn’t need a hug afterwards. If you’ve got a problem with that fact, remember it’s the same excuse we use when we’re accused of being bigoted (not that I’ve ever had to defend myself from that accusation).

Racism Is Over

    According to this theory, the fact the we have a president who is half black proves that there is no more racism left in America and accusations of racism are merely excuses made by people who are lazy, incompetent and/or otherwise deficient. If the name Barack Obama is too much of a mouthful for you, you can substitute Oprah in a pinch but the logic remains the same. From this viewpoint, the fact that there are black people with more money and power than you means that the playing field has to be level, otherwise the machinery of society would have stripped them of their rightful dues and relegated them back to the ghetto to appease the underlying arch of bigotry.

The problem here is that it assumes that in a black and white world there can’t exist any shades of gray. It’s like people think there’s a bald guy sitting in a swivel chair, perched in front of a bank of monitors, petting a cat and secretly controlling the specifics of who will be allowed success and who be subjugated and forgotten. There’s kind of a comforting thought in there because it means that there’s one individual or group of individuals who can be pointed at and blamed for all of our racial woes; and if they’re the ones to blame, then it can’t be you.

Life sure would be a lot easier if the world worked that way, with good-guys and bad-guys who can be identified by the style of their facial hair or their lack thereof. But the truth never comes in neat little packages like that unless you buy a box of fortune cookies (and even then, it’s kind of a letdown).  That being the case, then it’s only natural that some people from disenfranchised backgrounds would make it to stations of wealth and influence — there’s no real codified and crafted effort against that. The modern day of racism is a lot more complicated. It’s not one big decision that trickles down from the top; rather it’s the sum product of a bunch of smaller decisions made throughout society and a veiled attitude that runs through our culture. Every now and then it finds purchase enough for you to notice, but otherwise it just keeps going at a level you can ignore all too easily. I have no doubt that much of it isn’t even intentional — it’s not a conscious choice people make, but a knee-jerk reaction that we all seem to have when faced with something that strikes us as being foreign.

Look, no one wants to think that we live in a society that has yet to overcome its centuries-long issues with racial disparity and I get that. If you have anything even resembling a conscience, you’ll chafe against the thought that when you walk tall, you do so on the shoulders of people who have been denied their intrinsic civil rights.That one little fact can take the sense of accomplishment out of every personal victory and leave a greasy, inexplicably garlic-smelling residue on your achievements. Conversely, if you started out with an advantage based on your race, then any failure on your part is all the more pathetic. It’s like the time when I punched the mail-room clerk in the throat: I could brag all I wanted about how he’ll never make the mistake of knocking over my coffee again but all anyone wanted to focus on was the fact that he was blind. As much as it pissed me off, I did have to admit that they had a point.

Bullshit. He had it coming.
Bullshit. He had it coming.

But They Get to Use the “N-Word” and We Don’t!

    Yes, that’s how it works. Get over it.

And you should be ashamed of wanting to use the word so bad that you’re actually jealous. Seriously.

The Confederate Flag Is About Heritage, Not Hate

    The catalytic incident for this argument is something that I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone. Unless you’re being kept in some cold, dark basement and regularly fed Happy Meals by a guy wearing a mask made out of human flesh then you should be familiar with the recent mass-shooting in South Carolina. The fact that Dylan Roof’s action on that night were the result of what happens when malignant racism meets epic crazy can’t be argued. At this stage we can probably rest assured that he was acting alone and responsible in full for his own actions. So one could take the stance that this tragedy isn’t indicative of any kind of societal trend and stands as a morbid anomaly in an otherwise tranquil sea. Of course, you’d have to have not read any other part of this essay in order to come to that conclusion, but that would be completely understandable and not really the point here.

What happened in the wake of this tragedy is where the current controversy comes to play: the removal of the confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. Without taking sides, I’ll just say that one group of people feels that the confederate flag stands as a symbol of racial repression and the glorification of slavery and the other side believes that it’s merely a symbol of the south’s heritage and should be viewed in a racially neutral context. Again, I shouldn’t have to explain the details of any argument; if you need a brief run through, just listen to AM Talk Radio for half a second or check your Facebook.com feed. Then, once you’ve regained full control over your bowels, we can continue.

The problem with the entire controversy is that it’s a war of completely irreconcilable absolutes: the flag is either a symbol of racism or it isn’t and there’s no real middle ground. I can’t really navigate through one side’s rationale or the other for two distinct reason: the fog of history and the unarguable fact that I just don’t care that much about it.

The first issue to address is the fog of history. The major problem with history is that, by its very nature, it happened a long time ago and we don’t know anyone who was actually there. Since it’s just our best guesses mixed with the records left behind by generations that have gone before, there’s actually a lot of room for revisionism. Among the most revised points is the idea that The American Civil War was actually not about slavery. Apparently we were more concerned with the question of whether or not the states could sever their ties from the union than we were with the grave moral implications of keeping an entire race of people as slaves and treating them as property. I have a feeling that revisionists hold to this idea because they think it makes the south look less like bigots than the mainstream view that the north was fighting to abolish slavery and the south wouldn’t cooperate. Personally, I think that makes the entire country look like crap because that would suggest that no one even considered the ethics of slavery.

History, of course, isn’t really on anyone’s side. It’s true that states’ rights were a big issue in The Civil War, and it’s also true that several of the states fighting under the Union’s banner were slave states. This casts doubt on whether or not the north was fighting for the altruistic reasons that Yankees like me would like to promote; and so it should. The fact of the matter is that if you take any random cross section of any people living in one central locale, you’re going to find fundamental disagreements on the concepts of right and wrong between individuals. So yes, the north had slaves and they were racist and so on; it turns out that human beings were total shit-bags back in the nineteenth century too and the south didn’t have a monopoly on it.

Even the 19th century had metro-sexual douche-bags.
Even the 19th century had metro-sexual douche-bags.

That, however, merely muddies the water and doesn’t change the overall facts. The south was reliant on slavery to keep their agrarian society pumping out enough beats to make sure all the farmers daughters could grow proper tits. Lincoln was an outspoken abolitionist who was popular in the north and managed to get elected without carrying a single southern state. The south, feeling that the north would trump them on any national issue — effectively relegating them to the king of second class territories that we would later shoot Spring Break based pornos at — wanted to write their own rules and break from what they thought was the oppression of the north. Of course, the irony of pretending to be oppressed when you’re keeping slaves has been lost on them since the days of reconstruction and we probably shouldn’t push the point as they’re kind of sensitive about it. Let’s just accept that saying that slavery had nothing to do with The Civil War makes about as much sense as saying that all my health problems are caused by my obesity and there’s nothing to do with the steady stream of cupcakes disappearing down my throat.

With that in mind, we have to look at what the confederate flag actually means. “The Southern Cross” flag that we’ve come to know as the confederate flag was actually the battle flag of the Northern Virginian Army, but let’s face it, we call it the confederate flag because it’s the one whose image has survived to this day as the most recognizable symbol of the separatist states. I have no doubt in my mind that the reason it’s survived this long is that it’s actually a really nice looking flag with a great design that’s pleasing to the eye. In fact, with the red-orange hue contrasting with the deep blue, if you stare at it while squinting, it looks almost indistinguishable from a movie poster for the film Jupiter Ascending. Mark my words, this is the one issue regarding the confederate flag that I’ve not yet heard discussed by angry white people on the TV box: it’s pretty and people like pretty things.

I can't wait to see this movie.
I can’t wait to see this movie.

But a flag is really just a symbol and that makes discerning its meaning more complicated. The army for which it stood hasn’t existed since the middle of the 19th century, so what we have is a symbol surviving when its original meaning has gone extinct. Left behind is a vacuum that we can fill with any meaning we want. For some people it stands for the rebellious spirit that runs through the American people, endowing them with the courage to fight for what they believe is right and also giving a certain dignity to the movie career of James Dean that would otherwise be unwarranted. To others, it’s a remembrance of the systematic aggression white people will exhibit when you tell them they can’t fuck over black people any more. And still to others, it’s stands for the simple fact that the southern states are very much different than the northern states, complete with their own history and culture that should be preserved independent of the mainstream view.

Unfortunately, no view is wrong. Keep in mind that they guy who designed the confederate battle flag stated that it was meant to symbolize the supremacy of the white man over the black man, but then again, he’s been dead for a while and fuck him anyways. The truth is that we are a free country and we can ascribe any meaning to that flag that we want. So when we’re arguing over what that flag means, then we’re really arguing for the unsanctioned right to assign a meaning to a somewhat ambiguous symbol and you really can’t keep the moral high ground when doing that.

Then again, the KKK really does seem to like that flag. I’m just saying.

Seriously, there is no exercise in logic or revisionism that can offset what this picture tells us.
Seriously, there is no exercise in logic or revisionism that can offset what this picture tells us.

In any case, the fact that the underlying meaning of the confederate flag has a slushy quality to it is just the reason why its removal from the grounds of the South Carolina state house was both justified and necessary. Logically speaking, a symbol that can mean anything to anyone means that the symbol doesn’t really mean anything. Nature abhors a vacuum, so sooner or later, it was going to mean something to someone that made its presence there unacceptable. All that was ever needed was an inciting incident.

If you’re of the mind that it’s a remembrance of a time in history that we should never forget, then do yourself a favor and write down everything you know about The Civil War, have it framed and hang it on your wall. That way you’ll never forget that it happened. To continue to celebrate the confederate army this long after the fact is your business and not the business of the state. And if you’re looking to remember something about The Civil War, remember the most important fact: The Union won and the Confederacy lost.

Or, in other words, “America: Fuck Yeah!”

All Lives Matter!

way to push your critical thinking skills to the very limit with this one.

The repeated mantra that “Black lives matter” came up in the wake of a recent spate of police actions/over-reactions while interacting with African Americans. Again, there’s no need to bring up specific incidents, but honestly, it goes back at least as far as Trayvon Martin back in 2012 (and yes, I’m aware that it didn’t actually involve the police, just a guy who thought it’d be a real hoot to play cop with a live gun). In the wake of incidents like Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York there seemed to be this overwhelming feeling in the black community that the police were gunning for them while enjoying complete impunity.

Whether or not these beliefs were based on reality is beyond my pay grade. The point is that this feeling of vulnerability to police brutality mixed with conservative media outlets — like Fox News and your drunken uncle ranting at Thanksgiving dinner — lead to the development of the phrase “Black lives matter” — something you’d think wouldn’t need t be stated but here we are.

The fact that this phrase itself appears to be exclusionary at its very core seems to be rubbing certain people the wrong way. The common response is that “All lives matter”, showing solidarity to the fact that we are all one people at heart and it’s not fair to single out black lives as being more worthy of preservation than whites. Following that train of thought you could easily come to the conclusion that to says “Black lives matter” is kind of racist in and of itself, right? I mean, up with people!

That's right: YOU'RE the dick.
That’s right: YOU’RE the dick.

Considering my many, many, many interactions with police officers, I have to admit that I don’t see that brutality or racism is an affliction intrinsic to the job. And I say that as someone they’ve been ordered to shoot on sight on numerous occasions. I’m not going to spend any time criticizing the police or the way they do their jobs and I want that out there and on the record before my next arraignment. But there’s no rationale to say that the police are targeting white people, at least not that I’ve heard. After all, they haven’t killed me yet.

It’s just this fact that leads me to see pronouncing that “All lives matter” when faced with the phrase “Black lives matter” is, at best, misguided. Of course all lives matter, that’s an indisputable, mainstream fact that’s been drilled into my head by every judge that’s ever handed down sentencing on me. That being the case, declaring it is completely meaningless; however, “Black lives matter” does have meaning. It means that the African-American community feels that lives are in danger because of the illicit use of excessive force against them. To respond to that concern with the politically correct phrasing of what amounts to a tabular-Rosa is a total dick move and shows minimal support for what it a reasonable concern.

Hold on. You're almost there.
Hold on. You’re almost there.

The above is pretty limited in scope, but it’s already noon and I’m late for my nap so I have to leave it to you to go the rest of the distance on your own. Or, you could just ignore any aspect of societal racism that isn’t conducive to the production of an erudite sounding dick-joke (that’s what I like to do). Either way, this is far from the entire bulk of what can be said on the subject of racism in modern day America, it’s just as far as I’ve thought through right now.

As my coworkers will readily tell you, any interaction with me has a distinct possibility to turn ugly very quickly — a fact that I wear with a badge of pride. Any time we’re talking about this kind of subject where the admission of a problem is just as painful to some as the problem itself, things are going to come out looking like they’ve been through a meat grinder. If you actually enjoyed reading this, then either you’re fucked up in ways that only a court-ordered psychotherapist can help with, or you’re like me and you don’t mind airing out the dirty laundry once in a while. But remember, we have to pull this out once in a while and look at it. If we’re not going to change, then we’re at least going to look at ourselves in the mirror and admit we’ve got a problem and don’t have the balls to fix it.

Fifty Shades of Wayne: Why Doing Stuff Sucks

Earlier today I was doing some quiet meditation at my desk, immersed in the diligent pursuit of the peaceful and loving state that’s been emblematic of my life, when it occurred to me that the majority of all the words ever spoken are complete and total bullshit. To be fair, this is something I’ve suspected from the time I was a child and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion, but I was never as convinced about it as I am now. Still, you’d think that a mental paradigm shift of this gravity would come with some amount of distress. In truth it was kind of a relief to know I can stop choosing my words so carefully; it really is a hassle to come up with pithy and heart-felt word-goo on a regular basis.

As I look back on the moment of my enlightenment, it wasn’t so much a spontaneous epiphany as the logical conclusion to any conversation I’ve ever had with middle management. Earlier that day I was busy scratching my initials into the office furniture with a utility knife that I stole from the janitor (because how else will they know who the king is?) when the Operations Manager stopped by to talk to me. I was taken by surprise because I thought I had armed all the traps, but apparently she found a hole in my defenses and made it to my desk unharmed. This obviously took an impressive act of courage so I decided not to threaten her with my stapler in order to ransom her off to the Human Resources Department and, instead, hear what she had to say.

The only thing I actually remember her saying was “Our actions define us.” I think there was something else about a written warning and the word “litigation” came up once or twice, but the only thing I recall clearly was that one pointless phrase. The reason it’s so vivid is because that was the last thing I heard before her voice turned into a dial tone and I fell asleep. When I woke up, she was gone. Also, I was all sticky; but I couldn’t focus on that since I was too busy trying to figure out what she was talking about on the off chance that it actually mattered.

That’s when the realization hit me that it doesn’t mean anything. Our actions don’t define us anymore than our words do. I can assert this with confidence because I’ve noticed that we put about as much thought into the things we do as the things we say – which is about the same amount we think about Canadian historical figures: none. Most of the time when we talk we’re just producing enough noise to ward off the bleak and overwhelming silence that threatens to engender us with a fully functional imagination (it’s actually more of a pain in the ass than you’d think). And since few of us serve any real purpose in the grand scheme of things, I’d say we’re pretty much phoning in everything we do as well. In fact the majority of the human experience is just killing time until the inevitable day we’re found floating face-down in a motel pool with our fingerprints burned off.

Wasting time and energy is technically a kind of power.
Wasting time and energy is technically a kind of power.

If you think I’m being a little melancholy then maybe I can improve your mood by reminding you about the iconic archetype of the American go-getter otherwise known as Batman. You can’t be melodramatic and dour while talking about Batman, right? After all, he’s a wealthy philanthropist with hard-on for justice and enough bad judgment to dress all in black and wander busy city streets at night. What can be said about him that isn’t positive?

Before we get too far into this, I do have to put all my cards on the table and address a certain conflict of interest here. I’m going to go on record and confirm all the court documents that say that I am not Batman. It’s true that I do get mistaken for him on a regular basis but that’s probably because I have a strained relationship with local law enforcement agencies and, though I’m often times seen wandering around the ghetto at night, it’s rarely for altruistic reasons.

With that understood, I do have some concerning thoughts about the ultimate usefulness of our friendly Caped Crusader. Dressing up in a costume and going hand-to-hand with the local gangster community should probably be one of those entries on your bucket list that’s strictly decorative, so it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne is one slight head trauma away from pointing out fire trucks and giggling for the rest of his life. But then, that’s become common knowledge these days: everyone knows that Batman is fucking nuts.

Despite having several debilitating and socially destructive psychological disorders, people still respect Batman’s efforts to clean up the mean streets of Gotham – a city that has been inexplicably plagued by 1940’s style thugs and mafia-goons for the past fifty years. It’s so much a part of the American zeitgeist that Batman has become the archetype of the bad-assed vigilante for as far back as I can remember. Keep in mind that this is the same fictional world that includes Superman – an indestructible, God-like hero who fights for truth, justice and the American Way (whatever the hell that means). Yet, when night shrouds the city and evil oozes from the streets, Batman is the one you know is coming to save you, not Superman; Superman’s a prick who clearly thinks he’s better than you and probably votes Republican. Fuck that guy.

Most of us would rather get stabbed.
Most of us would rather get stabbed.

With that in mind, consider the above scenario from a more objective standpoint. Given a physical altercation, Superman is far better equipped to help: he can’t be harmed, he doesn’t feel pain, he’s faster than a speeding bullet and he’s got really good eyesight so he’s more likely to find you on an uncommonly foggy night. Batman, by comparison, is still subject to human limitations: he can be hurt, killed, distracted by something shiny and he’s more likely to be watching you through a hazy bathroom window while you’re in the shower. Check the scoreboard: Superman is like a mild-mannered Terminator with just a little too much hair product; and Batman is a rich weirdo with just a little too much hair product.

The more I think about it, there’s a lot about Batman that I just don’t trust. Sure, he’s got the proper motivation to be a costumed crime-fighter; we all know his back-story so it’s no secret he’s got some deep seeded issues to work out. But I’ve got to question whether his career as a vigilante is a product of an altruistic vow to make sure that Gotham is safe, or is he just finding people to beat the hell out of and so far they’ve all just happened to be criminals? I think that’s a fair and valid question (I know because I’ve had to answer it for myself on several occasions).

The whole thing becomes even more suspicious when you think about the thing that sets Bruce Wayne apart from other men: his money. The man has his own corporation, a mansion and enough pocket cash to buy a car that has a rocket engine stuck in the back end. You’d think someone with those kinds of resources could come up with a near infinite number of methods to improve conditions in the city. To name a few he could:

  • Invest in city-wide educational programs to keep inner city children off the streets and in school where their potential could be realized;
  • Fund city missions and soup kitchens for the homeless so that they too could enjoy the comforts of a warm, safe place to sleep and a belly full of food;
  • Invest in small business and public works projects to give some much-needed uplift to the city economy, reducing the impact of what is obviously a downward spiral into recession;
  • Get himself laid once in a while, because the guy obviously needs to blow off some steam in a much more positive manner;
  • Get involved in politics so that he can put his hands directly on the levers of power and finally create some lasting changes in Gotham City; and
  • For fucks sake, if he wants to fight crime so bad, has ever even considered becoming a police officer?
No, you're right, Bruce: this is totally a better idea.
No, you’re right, Bruce: this is totally a better idea.

Those are just off the top of my head. Money is power in this world, like it or not; and by that rule, Bruce Wayne is an incredibly powerful man. If he put his resources to good use and actually spent his cash improving conditions on a citywide scale, he might see some results in his lifetime. But instead, he uses it to buy grappling hooks, super-computers and vehicles that look like they were designed by bored middle school students doodling during study hall – I mean how much do you think something like the Bat Mobile costs? For as much as he’s spending on what he thinks are the tools of the trade he might as well just dump a pile of fifty-dollar bills into a burn-barrel and laugh madly through the flames as two hobos fight over the discarded remains of a half-eaten Big Mac somewhere in the distance. Every dime he spends on enriching this alternate persona is a dime that could have fed the hungry or housed the homeless.

Why does he need that stuff anyways? The military doesn’t even have half the shit this guy’s got laying around the house and they’re tasked with protecting the country from all enemies foreign and domestic. Is there something so dangerous about the criminal class in Gotham City that it requires hand-held rocket boosters and a bat-a-rang? Shouldn’t we be using those things to fight ISIS or something? Spending fortunes of valuable capital on vigilante-themed gadget-porn is indicative of an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and should be curbed with the help of a well-qualified therapist.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that in an age of financial crime, where Wall Street securities traders and unscrupulous hedge fund managers have fleeced the citizenry out of billions of dollars, Batman has yet to head-butt one felonious banker into submission. You can’t tell me that he hasn’t had the opportunity: he’s probably on a first name basis with those people. In 2008, the financial world got so out of control that it jeopardized the very stability of this country and yet I never saw him dangle one of these ivory-class, suit-wearing ass-clown off the side of a building. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that no one’s doing this, so shame on all of us.

The Legion of Doom at their day jobs.
The Legion of Doom at their day jobs.

But to be honest, this isn’t really about the money: it’s about the very choice to go out at night dressed in a costume and fight hand-to-hand with the local thuggery. Anyone else who has regular nocturnal adventures that invariably lead to violence would be considered a sociopath so why are we making an exception for Bruce Wayne? Is it because he has money? I don’t think dressing up as a bat makes it any less weird either. Sure, he seems like he’s pretty good at the whole ruff and tumble warrior of the streets crap, but I’ve got to assume that being embroiled in stark physical combat night after night for decades without end would make a guy somewhat desensitized to it. I don’t think that’s the kind of guy you want out there protecting the city streets. In fact, I think that’s the kind of guy whose presence in any neighborhood irreversibly lowers the property values.

Ask yourself this question: Do you think that if Batman finally beat up every single violent criminal in Gotham City and had them all sitting in jail that he would finally stop? I would suggest to you that in the absence of real, violent felons, Batman would simply lower the bar on the kinds of offenses that rate his attention and continue his endless plight by beating the living crap out of shoplifters and J-Walkers. Failing that, he’d just starting wailing on anyone within arms reach. In fact, I’m betting you that the choice to fight criminals was completely arbitrary, just so long as he got to throw shit at something fleshy that couldn’t afford a competent lawyer.

It’s not like one thing he’s done as the Caped Crusader has made any kind of difference anyways. Every time I see Gotham City either in a comic book or in a movie (or even in a particularly vivid fever dream brought on by snorting a combination of crushed up mushrooms from Tibet mixed with toilet bowl cleaner – good times) things continue to get worse and worse. In fact, Gotham has more crime now than ever before even though every other major city in the country has seen a steady reduction in crime for the past three decades. After countless hours of drop-kicking purse-snatchers in the chest, Batman’s guarded city still looks like any even dirtier version of Detroit. He’d be making more of an impact if he mopped the ugly off the sidewalk.

Has he ever thought about ACTUALLY cleaning the city?
Has he ever thought about ACTUALLY cleaning up the city?

The more I think about it, the more Batman comes off as completely useless. I guess that’s the major thing to remember when fighting crime: if the threat of consequences were enough to keep people from doing bad things, then people wouldn’t do bad things. It’s just not the way it works, and the sooner the police realize that the sooner I can stop spending my weekends in jail. Consider that the whole reason Bruce Wayne went through all the trouble to design a bat costume that didn’t look entirely gay was to make criminals afraid of him. Now, no one likes bats but unless the entire criminal population of Gotham has a prescription worthy phobia then I don’t think dressing up like a sky-rat is going to make one single person turn over a new leaf.

This is where all the gay ended up.
This is where all the gay ended up.

Strangely enough, this is the way we look at crime in America: as a problem that continues to get worse and not better; a problem whose only solution is to enforce punishment and punitive measures, usually with the threat of direct, physical and violent conflict; and a problem that’s only a problem when it crosses social castes in the wrong direction (otherwise we call it capitalism). I guess that’s why we like Batman so much: he’s a proponent of the most simplified view of criminal justice – one that requires the least amount of critical thought and doesn’t even acknowledge any moral gray-area. Maybe he’s not getting good results when you look at the big picture, but in the heat of the moment, it sure does look like he’s making a difference. I, for one, never get sick of watching him head-butt ethnically neutral bikers into submission; and it seems like there’s an endless supply of those so I guess we can keep the good times rolling.

When you think about it in terms of the global theater, any given action or statement begins to look more and more like an apathetic exercise in futility. It’s not a matter of commitment either: for all his faults – given his hyper-aggressive attitude mixed with his lack of judgment — at least Batman’s giving it his all. It’s just that it’s a big world out there and it seems likely that anything one man does is lost in the endless sea of other people making equally bad choices and doing useless stuff. That might just be his greatest sin: telling himself that he’s affecting change when in reality he’s just stroking his own ego while getting off on beating down street-hustlers.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to be nihilistic and depressing. If that’s the way you’re taking this then you’re still not looking objectively at the big picture. Sure it sounds nice to be the big hero or someone who matters, right? Yes, the whole world would appreciate you, you’d probably get to park in the handicapped spots without having to pay a ticket and there’s a slightly better chance that Jodi Foster will return your phone calls. But then people are going to start expecting you to do things – many of which will require an effort and cut into the time you’ve dedicated to reviewing cat videos on YouTube. Life is full of enough headaches without that shit going on. In fact, I consider everything I don’t do to be a virtue; and having read my dream journal, my therapist agrees.

She was never really the same after that.
She was never really the same after that.

I’ve done my absolute best to exhibit this reality in my deeds; I’ve lived the courage of my convictions. Yesterday alone there were at least seven specific articles in my job description that I failed to accomplish: each one a triumph on my path to self-determination. And still my boss insists on sending me e-mails concerning any number of projects and reports I’m supposed to be working on. I should probably tell her that she’s wasting her time but as we’ve already discussed, that would be a waste of my time. Besides, I’ve recently drawn up plans to install a mote around my cubicle so I figure she’ll work it out on her own.

Your Lousy Pets: Why I’m Not Allowed in the Conference Rooms Anymore

It's time we had a talk, little buddy; and you're not going to like it.
It’s time we had a talk, little buddy; and you’re not going to like it.

I’ve come to the ultimate conclusion that no matter what I say or do, the people I work with will always make me the bad guy. That’s really unfortunate since I consider myself to be a warmhearted gentleman with a very approachable demeanor and a genuine willingness to be of service to my respected colleagues. Of course, if you ask the twitching collection of chair-husks who are blessed with the ongoing gift of my presence on a full-time basis, they’ll most likely tell you some bullshit about me being an egotistical maniac with an odor problem and a personal bearing that can be aptly described as “stabby”. I will admit that, sometimes, while in the heat of an impassioned debate, I may propose proving my argument by punching someone in the throat – it’s become something of a catchphrase, in fact – but honestly it’s a very low percentage of the time that I actually follow through with it. I guess it’s true that a reputation is created by the exceptions and not the rule; and now, as a direct result, no matter what I say or when I say it, I’m considered to be out of line.

For example, the girl who sits in the cubicle-shanty across the aisle that smells like baby powder and hopelessness now refuses to so much as even make eye contact with me because I actually won an argument with her two days ago. Granted, I can’t officially proclaim myself victorious since there wasn’t a clear scoring mechanism or a panel of judges to arbitrate the matter, but since I made her cry I think it’s safe to say I got the upper hand. I didn’t even have to throw my coffee in her face so you know it was a clean win. In fact, all I had to do was suggest to her that taking a personal day off from work to have her dog put to sleep was emblematic of her poor time-management skills; after all, it’s been my experience that if left alone long enough, most dogs will eventually fall asleep on their own. In fact, dogs have been in existence for millennia without requiring her direct assistance with anything, so really keeping one was kind of a waste of time to begin with. Why this caused all the water-works is beyond my understanding, but from the way everyone else decided to crawl up my ass for it, either there’s something I’m not seeing, or (more likely) everyone’s fucking crazy except for me.

Also, I may have suggested her makeup looked it was applied by an untalented post-modernist art disciple with an as-yet undiagnosed palsy; but I was just trying to change the subject (the truth was, she wasn’t wearing any makeup).

I added this image because you don't know what post-modern art looks like.
I added this image because you don’t know what post-modern art looks like.

Anyways, you’d think I was being completely unreasonable by pointing this out (the dog thing, not the makeup thing) because suddenly everyone had an opinion about how important dogs are to a fulfilling life experience. Apparently having something warm and furry to cuddle up with at home is beneficial to the overall mental health of the average cubicle-drone. Furthermore, I’ve come to the unsettling conclusion that people are often inclined to regard these mobile allergen delivery systems as members of their immediate family (which is odd since most of these same people refuse to believe the scientific fact that they’re genetically related to apes). The response became so overwhelming that I had to sign out a conference room to give an impromptu seminar on why all pets are effectively a form of national madness.

But before I get into that, I want to weigh-in on a regular argument I’ve overhead around the office while eavesdropping in the women’s bathroom: Which is better, cats or dogs? I’m very disappointed to find out that most people consider dogs to be a superior companion to cats. I hypothesize that this is simply based on the fact that they’re overcome with empathy and compassion by the watery, sad-looking eyes and biological need for constant approval that dogs naturally exhibit. By contrast, these same hive-minded mouth-breathers will then assert – with an undeserved level of confidence I might add — that cats are “useless”. I’d like to go on record saying that unless your pets are pulling a steel plow across the family planting fields every day at dawn, then the reality is that they’re all pretty useless.

Cats, at least have a few characteristics that make them a bit easier to deal with. For starters, they really don’t give a shit about whether or not you like them so you’re not burdened with the constant chore of reassuring them of their questionable value to your life; in fact, I get the impression they’d prefer you didn’t bother since it often leads to a less than dignified idiomatic experience. Secondly, most cats have mastered the art of using the cat box, which puts them right on par with the average Subway employee when it comes to personal hygiene. Also, now that you don’t have to monitor their diurnal functions or emotional co-dependency, this frees up more of your time to address any issues concerning the sudden change in smell your home may have recently experienced. Finally, it’s been my deeply held belief that, should the unthinkable happen and you’re forced to fight your pet to the death, you’re going to want an easy win. If you’ve got a Doberman, then you’re potentially subsidizing the creature that will eventually tear your throat out in a final showdown over who gets the last glazed pork chop. But you always know you can take your cat; claws or not, that fucker’s going down.

Heed the warning: get a cat instead.
Heed the warning: get a cat instead.

The truth is that both cats and dogs – the two most common forms of house pets based on statistics that I just conjectured into existence – are a particularly strange brand of company. If the basic purpose of a pet is to properly balance some hypothetical surplus of affection that can’t otherwise be properly vetted on a human being, then it seems to me that, as a society, we’d at least hold them up to some level of appropriate conduct – similar to the ones we’d hold a regular house-guest to. Yet, because we’ve purposely sought out a friend who can neither speak English, hold down a job, or be left unattended outside of the house without inexplicably running directly into rush-hour traffic, we’re willing to lower the bar for acceptable behavioral patterns to below those which would prompt us to deport a migrant worker.

That strikes me as wrong for some reason, but then, I’ve always been the quiet pensive type despite what the court records might otherwise suggest.

Considering that we expect these creatures to love us back, we have to accept the possibility that we’re deluding ourselves. They require us to give them food so that they can continue to live and they’re not legally allowed to hold credit cards so their options have been effectively shaved down to reciprocating their owners’ need for companionship or be queued up for termination at The Pound. When viewed with this kind of stark objectivity, it becomes clear that what we perceive as love is actually a form of Stockholm syndrome.

The Pound: It's like Guantanamo Bay without the anal feeding tubes.
The Pound: It’s like Guantanamo Bay without the anal feeding tubes.

I know that nobody wants to think about things that way since it actually makes us all look like a bunch of cold hearted thugs. Still, experience dictates that given their own personal agency, your dog would probably be out running through the woods all day, humping anything that looks like a mammal and looking for the next available tree to pee on. You can verify this for yourself by the fact that you have to keep them locked up in the house all day just to keep track of their schedules. Since they don’t have the necessary opposable thumbs to let themselves out on their own, you’re really kind of holding them hostage. You feed them, you let them outside from time to time, give them basic medical care that includes amputating their sex organs and that’s just the kind of treatment that’s generally proscribed for a prisoner of war.

For a more comprehensive visual, take a look at the sad state of your pet’s water dish. Chances are you’ll find a murky pool of stagnant water collecting all forms of hair and other forms of solid matter. Then ask yourself whether or not you would rather drink from that, or the toilet – because those are the only choices available to your pets. On the other hand, you might babble kindly in their direction and then pet them for a few minutes, but whom is that really serving?

How do you feel about yourself now?

Of course, it’s been my experience that we’ll put up with a lot of crap from our pets. Literally, we’ll give them an almost unlimited amount of second chances when it comes to the age-old tradition of not shitting on the carpet. It’s never a nice surprise when you come home from a long day of pretending to work and find a steaming pile of yesterday’s dog food resting languidly by the coffee table. At that point, whatever punishment you might mete out is useless since the offense most likely occurred more than thirteen seconds ago and with a time-frame like that it’s unreasonable to expect your dog to draw the connection between squatting out a fresh one in the living room and getting hit on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. Now you’re going to have to manually remove Stink Mountain from the house with nothing to protect your dignity but a few lonely sheets of discount store paper towels (which is your just dessert for being too cheap to spring for the Bounty). All the hand sanitizer in the world won’t cover the stink of that memory.

He looks sorry enough about it.
He looks sorry enough about it.

The above is going to be a more common experience when dealing with a puppy, and it can be expected that such experiences will taper off with time as it grows older and develops a Shawshank Redemption level of passivity to it’s continued imprisonment. I would suggest to you that we’re more apt to put up with it because puppies are cute until looked at in a completely objective fashion. Consider that all they really do is chew on things that they really shouldn’t chew on, lick random objects that no reasonable creature would lick, and periodically hump the furniture without any consideration to foreplay. We’re not fancy around my house, but we do have some rules. If any other member of your family acted that way then you’d keep them in the attic and feed them a bucket of raw fish heads one a week.

Cats fair a little bit better on the outset. Once they’ve figured out that they’re expected to shit in a box filled with sand – because when read aloud, that sounds totally reasonable – they go about finding different objects to look cute playing with. Granted, they spontaneously develop an unnatural attraction to your fee the minute you’re carrying a double load of laundry down the stairs; but you’ll soon forget all about the neck brace the next time your see your kitten trying to extract itself from an empty tissue box.

For all their cuteness, both puppies and kittens eventually make their way into a markedly less-cute state of adulthood. You’ll know they’ve hit this stretch in their lives when their regular behavioral patterns begin to include eating things that aren’t actually food – the foam rubber that lurks inside of your couch cushions for example – and then regurgitating it in front of you while you’re trying to enjoy a nice dinner in front of the television. This is just the beginning of an endless cycle of depraved behavior that will continue with the constant and unapologetic licking of the bunghole. I recognize that there very valid biological reasons why they do this and I accept that it’s just part of nature, but I don’t see why they have to do it in front of the entire family as though they were putting on a web-cam video. And why do they wait until there’s company over to get the show started? It’s like living with a boundary-crossing exhibitionist except remarkably less fun.

This is one area where cats are actually a bit worse. It’s like they can’t stand being on your lap unless they’ve got their ass directly in your face with the tail up just in case you want to use them as a spyglass. My personal research has shown that people get upset whenever you shove your naked butt in their face (though the restraining orders have made it increasing more difficult to continue study on this subject, so I might be mistaken). Yet, in a brilliant execution of reverse psychology, we’re so used to cats withholding anything even resembling affection that we’ll put up with the unnecessary anatomy lesson just to bask in their approval for a few minutes.

I'm starting to think it's not really about the petting.
I’m starting to think it’s not really about the petting.

On the other hand, if we meet an immigrant that is anything other than a resounding success and a moral angel exhibiting personal hygiene beyond reproach, we’ll demand they be deported immediately. I’m just saying.

Now, you’d think that my fellow coworkers would have heard me out on this subject, but apparently you have to reserve conference rooms 48 hours and you also have to be wearing pants while you’re in there, so I got kicked out before I could finish my seminar. I tried telling security that I went through the trouble of scratching my name on the door in giant block letters, but that lead to a whole other series of discussions that I’m not going to get into here.

In any event, I think they got the point from the pamphlets I handed out later that afternoon entitle Pets: How We’re Wasting America’s Precious Resources on Bullshit. I saw a whole pile of them in the garbage that evening so the only logical conclusion I can draw is that people read them right away. It’s nice to know that after all this time, I’ve finally gotten through to people.

To be honest, I really don’t care what others do on their own time. If they want to dump all this affection on cute, furry animals then it’s a free country and it’s full of furry, purring things you can deem ownership of. And by no means am I going to start some kind of animal civil rights movement since it would take up the last of my precious, limited free time. I figure it’s about time I stop expecting people to meet my standards of appropriate conduct (which is in no way related to paperwork the police recently forced me to sign). I just don’t think it’s right that I get in trouble for setting fire to the conference room table. That’s the way I mark my territory.

You would write HIM up, would you?
You would write HIM up, would you?

Halloween: Why I Bring My Coffee In From Home Now

I consider myself to be a pretty perceptive man. As such I’m very aware of the fact that many of my coworkers regard me as a delusional sociopath who shouldn’t be allowed in public unsupervised. I’m not sure what I did to give people this particular impression (though I have a feeling that the endless stream of crime-scene tape that is regularly draped across my desk may be responsible for at least some of the issue). I don’t usually make it a policy to care all that much about what other people think of me unless there are felony charges involved, so I generally let their opinions fade into a kind of comforting white noise that helps me drift to sleep between smoke breaks. But when it comes to the month of October, I get a bit more sensitive about how I’m perceived.

Most of the time I carry myself with a kind of quiet dignity, which is characterized by me walking away from people while they’re still talking to me (if done regularly, I feel it builds an interesting mystique and coincidentally generates an abundance of free time); however, about this time of year, I find myself sliding into a more spontaneous and excited state that I’ve heard offhandedly referred to as “giddy.” Normally I wouldn’t be comfortable being called anything as aesthetically unprofessional sounding as “giddy” but it’s October and I don’t want all my personal days to be taken up with arraignment hearings so I’m willing to let a lot of shit slide.

The other day, one of the newer staff members (who clearly didn’t know any better) wandered over to my cubicle and, in an attempt to make small talk, asked me why I was suddenly less prone to bouts of psychotic rambling about how much I hate certain celestial objects (they know who they are). I started to think about all the things I like about the month of October, and the list became a bit extensive. Since speaking to her seemed like it would be a tedious drag on my day and quite possibly cut into naptime, I went ahead and just threw my coffee in her face as it felt more efficient than seeing the conversation through to its end. Granted, I had to spare thirty minutes at the end of my shift for another of those tedious conversations with Human Resources, but now that girl works from home (for reasons I assume are completely unrelated), so I figure it saved me time in the long run.

Had I been inclined to list out my rationale for shitting myself with joy during the autumn months, it probably would have looked something like this:

  • The brisk air hearkening the end of summer bums everyone else around me out just enough that it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling that I haven’t yet been able to emulate with drugs and alcohol;
  • The marauding bands of unsupervised children who walk single-file across every goddamn intersection that I need to drive through have been once more imprisoned in their state-sponsored holding cells for the remainder of the year;
  • The candy aisle in every grocery store becomes the focal point of a mass-marketing campaign that always seems to push the line on what’s acceptable to put in your mouth so long as it’s covered in a shiny wrapper; and
  • Halloween.
You sexy devil, keep on smiling.
You sexy devil, keep on smiling.

Really, I think it’s Halloween that brings the whole thing together for me. I’ve always had a strangely childlike love of this most unique of holidays. I get that as adults, we’re supposed to treat Halloween with a kind of bemused passivity that underscores how the ravages of the corporate sphere have numbed our spirits to the point that the prospect of free candy no longer makes us squeal in delight. But, personally, I recognize it as one of the few holidays that didn’t begin with a tragic story of some guy getting the living shit kicked out of him because the rest of us can’t help but touch ourselves at night. In fact, it’s based primarily on the traditional of hiding your identity for the purpose of extorting food-like-objects from people you would otherwise avoid conversations with in public. It’s also a unified, societal celebration of an ongoing mode of irrational belief that, though it’s as old as humanity itself, still doesn’t prompt anyone to want to protest a Planned Parenthood clinic with a homemade sign misquoting The Bible; and that makes it all the more special to me.

With everything else we have to deal with in our day-to-day lives, why can’t we just enjoy one night of hedonistic anarchy before we go back to work to become painfully aware of every passing, irreplaceable minute? I find it weird that I’m the only guy around who feels this way; but then, most people refuse to make eye contact with me (which I’ve come to find out is actually proscribed in the employee handbook), so it’s kind of hard to tell what everyone else is feeling at any given time. Still, I’ve noticed a definite lack of fun being had in the past two weeks and that suggests to me that something is wrong.

In fact, I asked my manager what she was going to be for Halloween this year and she responded, “A grownup.” I can’t think of anything more depressing than choosing to be a grownup on Halloween; after all, you have to be that every other day of the year so why not try a new face for one night? It’s the only day when you can wear any ridiculous thing you want and for once you’ll actually be in on the fun and not the subject of it being made. You can go to a local diner and be seated by a devil woman, waited on by a cat woman, and have your table cleaned and cleared afterwards by Wonder Woman. Normally you’d have to be pretty drunk to experience anything even remotely close to that.

I assume Super-Girl is attending the dishwasher station since it's her turn on the weekly rotation.
I assume Super-Girl is attending the dishwasher station since it’s her turn on the weekly rotation.

But it’s not all about seeing what kind of overtly-sexual ensemble we can trick waitresses into wearing while on the job: Halloween is, in many ways an actual celebration of fear itself. I think everyone loves a good creepy story or a nice shocking horror movie – preferably one that started as an even creepier movie in another country. And here it is, an entire holiday dedicated to making you sleep with the lights on. You can even hang out in cemeteries and, though the cops will still arrest you, it won’t look anywhere near as weird in the paper the next morning. It’s like there’s this feeling that the dead aren’t as dead as usual on Halloween, which I find kind of comforting since four out of five medical professionals agree that I’m not actually immortal.

Not that I’m making any kind of morbid plans, but if I do die, I want to come back as a ghost: I think it shows a real presence of character and a mature work ethic. They also have this cool, aloof, intellectual vibe to them: they never tell you exactly what it is they want. Instead, you have to go to a library and look up three-hundred slides worth of old newspapers on microfiche to piece together some epic story of betrayal that will invariably involve tracking down the last remaining heir of a once well-to-do family who is spinning away the last mortal years of her life in a nursing home while struggling with dementia – though she still holds the dark secret that could tear your community apart.

Ghosts: the annoying hipsters of the horror world.
Ghosts: the annoying hipsters of the horror world.

At least that’s what I assume ghosts are all about; and since there’s no officially accredited agency to say otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m correct. Moving on:

As cool as ghosts are, let’s face it, they’re not the real star of the show anymore since the rest of the world has finally wised up to exactly how awesome zombies are. Now they’re the general go-to monsters for the common man – the proverbial “Joe Six-pack of things that go bump in the night. Sure, it’s not a glamorous existence – it looks like there’s a lot of walking involved which would suck – but the hours seem flexible and the dress code is clearly pretty lax. They’re more down to earth than ghosts (in a very literal way, actually) but still manage to maintain a threatening presence by relying on the age-old wisdom of strength-in-numbers.

I’ve always loved zombies in a very special way (try not to read too much into that: my therapist did and now she needs a therapist). They just epitomize everything that’s good about horror:

  • They used to be living people so there’s this heart-pounding thrill of seeing someone who used to be a warm-blooded human being complete with a career and a barely-repressed sex drive, only now their bodies have been desiccated and corrupted from the ravages of the grave so it satisfies that morbid curiosity we all have even if I’m the only one with a presence of character to admit it;
  • It’s one of the few costume choices that you really can’t diminish by putting the word “sexy” in front of it and expect some professional woman with an exhibitionist streak and a gym membership to agree to wear;
  • Zombies can proliferate by infecting other people through close, intimate contact much the same way Ebola patients do (except that zombie-plague doesn’t have the sexy, swirling goo graphic they’re always showing us on the news these days) so it takes advantage of our evolutionary aversion to both infections diseases and anything that’s unnecessarily slimy; and
  • Despite the ravenous need to eat human flesh that has prompted these creatures to return from the cold embrace of death, they seem oddly careful about chewing their food, which is more than can be said for the demographic of people who eat at Taco Bell as a matter of choice.
Work the camera, you dirty little vixen.
Work the camera, you dirty little vixen.

But the recent American love affair with the living dead has become something of a danger to the genre. The problem with people liking something is that, for the most part, “people” suck and think stupid things. For example, vampires used to be a pretty safe bet for an awesome time: they like to drink blood, listen to post-modernist industrial rock and the female ones always look good in tight leather pants. Then, one day, someone decided to turn them into a bunch of pasty-faced, overly sensitive Euro-trash rejects and suddenly I find myself balancing my checkbook in my head when I ought to be enjoying some hot fang-on-fang action. It would be beyond shameful – damned near heretical — for something like that to happen to the zombie genre and just may be the scandal that brings this country down.

Don’t think it couldn’t happen either: I already see the cracks forming in the wall. I’ve recently become aware that sometimes, when a movie advertises zombies, what the actually mean is “sick people.” Apparently, to the modern viewer, there’s no difference between some poor bastard who accidentally got infected with a top-secret government-produced chemical agent that gives them Angry-Face disease and a personal communication problem and an actual zombie. I’m not pleased with this recent turn of events. I would suggest to you that a recently deceased corpse (preferably one that’s missing at least one limb and 23% of its skin) shambling across a dimly lit, rural village street while a jaded deputy speeds past on his way to break up the local hillbilly keg party is the iconic definition of a zombie. Why is that? Because it’s dead, that’s why. It can’t be a zombie if it’s not dead and I take issue with anyone who suggests otherwise. Irate sick people may have their own interesting brand of creepy going on, but since they’re still technically alive, they’re not going to scratch my zombie-itch (yes I have a zombie itch and I don’t need to defend it to you).

I've identified this as patient zero for bullshitting me about the promise of zombies.
I’ve identified this as patient zero for bullshitting me about the promise of zombies.

The important thing is that since a zombie is already dead, no one really gives a crap what you do to it. Granted, you’re going to want to be careful when you’re decapitating it with a chainsaw – that’s just good policy anytime you’re using a power-tool for something other than its originally intended purpose – but the one thing you don’t have to do is feel bad about it afterwards. If it’s just some poor bastard who got stuck with the wrong needle, then you’re going to have to consider that he’s still got at least some of his civil rights. You can’t plant a claw hammer in his head and go back to trying to have sex with the one eligible female in your rag-tag, ever-shrinking group of survivors without at least considering the moral gray area – it wouldn’t be right and would totally screw up your rhythm. But run over an actual zombie with a riding mower and you can still enjoy your typically unsatisfactory, post-apocalyptic lovemaking without one reservation in your perverted little mind that you did the right thing. The right to mutilate a zombie without having to feel any sense of remorse afterwards is emblematic of the American ideal of liberty and I will not have the waters muddied by someone who doesn’t have the proper sense to make sure someone’s dead before calling them a zombie.

In fact, I think they should bring back the classic dead-rising-from-the-grave scene in all zombie movies. You don’t see it that much anymore these days. Most of the time, directors are too busy making sure the main actors look acceptably fuckable when lit from behind and standing in a pool of fake blood to even think about the logistics of having their zombies claw their way out of the wet, misty earth. But the only reason they can get away with this is because we, the consumers, don’t demand anything more of them. If we band together and make our voices heard, we might live in a world where we can objectively determine whether or not that creature that just got tore in half by a Dodge Plymouth was technically dead before hand and not have to deal with the boner-killing moral ambiguity thereafter. I think we’d all sleep better at night if this were the case, and I believe this is just the kind of issue Kickstarter.com was meant to deal with.

Yet, I look around the office and, instead of tackling the larger ethical issues about what kinds of monsters it’s acceptable to slaughter with out-of-date farm equipment, everyone’s just typing away at their computers, trying to pretend they don’t notice me standing behind them with a cup of fresh coffee in my hands. I guess management started another of those irresponsible rumors that if someone pretends not to notice me, I won’t be prompted to spontaneously share my piping hot Folgers without sharing the cup it came in (I have to draw the line somewhere). This, of course, is not true because I’m a giving person and there’s nothing that can be said or done that’s going to change me. And since random scalding is just one of the countless acceptable risks of corporate life, I don’t see why no one’s taking advantage of this special time of year to get down to some much-needed soul searching about what the holidays mean to them.

So once again it’s up to me and me alone to navigate the unnecessarily nebulous moral labyrinth of those things our government is too incompetent to arbitrate on its own. This is why it’s so important that the local circuit judge continues to defer sentencing (because, in his words, “what’s the damn point?”): if I’m not able to explicate these things publicly online, then chances are, no one’s else is going to argue these matters with the kind of pragmatic objectivity they require; and then where would we be? In fact, I wish I could take more time dissect this issue, but I just notice the custodial staff removing the coffee machines from the break room and I need to go see what they plan on replacing them with (come November, I plan on doing a lot of “sharing”).

Refreshing in so many ways.
Refreshing in so many ways.

Jupiter: Why Earth’s Market Share Price Has Dropped

The other day I was sitting at my desk sulking because I couldn’t sleep and the slow progression of minutes leading to the end of my shift seemed to be taking longer than usual. I tried to pass the time by playing Minesweeper and throwing paper-clips at anyone who had the bad judgment to wander too close to my cubicle but you can only nail a mail room clerk in the eye so many times before it’s considered “assault” under the new HR policy on horseplay. Since the usual sounds of me muttering through the impressive list of swearwords that have made their way into my vocabulary were somewhat subdued, my supervisor eventually came by to check on me. She’s an attentive and intelligent woman so she stood well outside of my biting range and noted that something was obviously on my mind. She wanted to know what was wrong but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it so I started throwing paperclips in her hair until it finally dawned on me why I was having such a shitty day.

As it turns out, I hate the planet Jupiter so much that it actually has started to preoccupy my mind enough to keep me awake at work. As usual, my supervisor didn’t accept this as a reasonable response to her question nor an acceptable excuse for almost blinding one of our new cart-pushers (or Mail Delivery Specialists, as the corporate protocol flowchart calls them) and refused to let me explain further. When I was out of paperclips to pelt her with, I generously offered to staple her eyelids shut so she wouldn’t be forced to look directly at me since I know my three-year- running boycott of pants troubles her. Then, quite suddenly, she was off on a whole other subject and too busy calling security to bother helping me through my Jupiter-related depression. Since (as usual) I couldn’t rely on her for the kind of attention I need to support me in my role as a valued profession — and coincidentally I recently found out that I’m immune to tazers — I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind and actually get some paperwork done.

Still, I can’t help but find it weird that there no one else is in the least bit concerned about the fact that there’s this unnaturally large, wart-like celestial object just orbiting around out there in space. I know I’ve already vented my concerns regarding the actual existence of something that scientists thought “Black Hole” was a perfectly appropriate name for, but this is different. The nearest black hole is still a fairly good distance away and it’s been way too preoccupied with sucking to pay any attention to us so it’s not such an immediate issue. Jupiter, on the other hand, is like two planets over and there are at least three dates in the solar calendar where I can actually smell it while I’m smoking on the roof. That’s way too close for something that obscene to be hanging around but every time I call the cops about it they just pass it off as “not their problem” and “stop calling this line; it’s for emergencies only” so nothing’s getting done.

All the just-left-of-center warm lighting isn't going to make it any prettier.
All the warm, just-right-of-frame lighting won’t make it any easier to deal with.

Sometimes I get the passing sensation that it’s watching me, which creeps me the fuck out. I want you to consider one verifiable scientific fact that defies all dispute or argument: It’s up there. It’s really really up there.

Most people are probably so used to this fact that they don’t even think about it anymore. To them, Jupiter is just some solar background prop to their primarily Earth-based experience and not considered a regular part of their lives. I envy this kind of desensitization since it clearly hasn’t worked on me (if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that I’m a delicate, sensitive man). To me, it’s like there’s this huge blemish in the otherwise pleasant landscape of outer-space and the reality of its existence is so overwhelming that I have to shower more often than I think would be otherwise necessary; and I don’t have that kind of time now that I’ve figured out how to turn the parental filters off on Youtube.

Yup, there's porn here too.
Yup, there’s porn here too.

I don’t want to come off as elitist or shallow, but let’s face the facts: Jupiter doesn’t fit in with the other planets. In our solar family, Jupiter’s the weird cousin who goes to a “special school” and always wants to hug you with his sticky sausage fingers. It’s not that I’m cold hearted but I don’t think we’re doing anyone any favors by pretending there isn’t an inherent aesthetic problem with the status-quot. Not that I’m trying to air out the dirty laundry, but we did kick Pluto out the big-boys club under some questionable pretenses (I know it’s not a comfortable subject for many of us and there is still some pent-up resentment but I think we did the right thing). Since I’m used to being the bad guy, I’ll say it: this is the real world, and if one of the planets is ruining our collective property values because it’s incapable of getting its skin-condition under control, then maybe we should keep thinning down the herd.

Jupiter ruining yet another family photo.
Jupiter ruining yet another family photo.

One of the biggest problems I have with Jupiter is that it’s just too big. I understand that all the planets have their own unique characteristics and size isn’t one of those things anyone gets to choose (not that I need make any excuses here so mind your own damn business) but I can’t help but feel that there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to mass – that’s just the way my mother raised me. Jupiter’s so big it has over sixty moons, some of them as large as planets themselves and you just know it ‘s out there bragging about that shit. At this point, I have to assume that approximately half of Jupiter’s diameter is caused by the outward pressure of its ego on the delicate surface layer of gasses and I’d be more than happy to burst its little bubble but I’m pretty sure that whatever it’s made out of would leave a stain and I’ve only got the one work-appropriate shirt. Since it’s practically its own solar system, then I don’t see why it can’t just float off into space and do its own thing because it clearly doesn’t need us.

Either I mixed up the pills again or I’m correctly sensing that there’s deep-seeded inferiority complex complicating things. Massive as it is, the planet Jupiter is comprised mainly of gasses – not the fun kind, by the way — and I think the current scientific hypothesis poses that it was formed from the aftermath of an abnormally offensive solar fart. Meanwhile, it’s primary competitor for attention is the sun. Granted, I’ve gone on the record several times now about my tragically strained history with the sun and we’re still working on repairing our relationship, but let’s face it, there’s no real comparison between the two. For the sake of an objective scientific analysis, I’ll set aside my personal feelings and say that sun is a glorious miracle of fusion that provides the raw materials to sustain life on Earth; Jupiter, on the other hand, looks like something that got infected and should be treated by a skilled dermatologist.

There’s no use dancing around the point: Jupiter’s ugly. It looks like Saturn and Uranus had an ill-advised drinking contest, then got sick and have yet to clean up after themselves. Furthermore, I don’t know what kind of disease caused that giant cold sore right in the middle of it, but anyone with a measurable amount of self-respect would have at least tried to cover that shit up instead of letting it air out for the rest of the universe to see. It’s as though Jupiter’s actually proud of its Great Red Spot which just goes to show you what kind of puerile mindset we’re dealing with. Why are we putting up with it? Here on Earth we might have some unfortunate hygiene problems here that threaten to collapse the entire Eco-system leaving the planet a macabre revolving memorial to a race of beings that couldn’t help themselves from pouring toxic runoff into the drinking water — but at least we keep things presentable.

I'm going to miss this place when it's gone.
I’m going to miss this place when it’s gone.

I would conjecture that this is the reason we’ve not had any contact with extraterrestrial life yet: they probably see that looming glob of greasy discharge floating by and figure they should look for a planetary system that isn’t currently suffering from a particularly messy venereal disease before unleashing the quadruple-breasted space-sluts (not that I’m into that kind of thing; I’m just saying). Personally, I’d stay away from it if I had the choice because I always felt like if you broke Jupiter open, it would be full of angry bees. I know that’s crazy but I’d feel a lot better if we sprayed it with something; what could it hurt? I’ve been waiting my whole life for the fabled day when another sentient species makes the journey across the void of space to reassure us that we are not alone and I don’t want it ruined by an orbiting clump of improperly disposed of medical waste.

Just in case.
Just in case.

To make matters worse, there’s even this weird mysterious theory concerning some guy with way too much time on his hand whose made it the sum of his life’s work to brand major cities with these asphalt tablets that suggest Jupiter can resurrect the dead. They’re called Toynbee Tablets and the only reason I bring it up is that no matter what Google entry you click when searching for them, it never gets any less creepy. That means there’s some guy out there who’s so wigged out about Jupiter that he’s invested his entire life to re-branding it as the haunted house two planets over. Keep in mind that I don’t even know this guy but it’s nice to know that there’s at least one other person out there who recognizes the intrinsic value of losing sleep over this subject.

Seriously, Google it: it's a thing.
Seriously, Google it: it’s a thing.

I get that there’s not a lot of options when it comes to restructuring the solar system to be more amicable and conductive to guests. I’m not saying we have to do anything drastic, but I don’t see why we can’t fly a rocket up there and spray paint it to a nice pastel green or something. Be honest: wouldn’t you all feel better if Jupiter was green? I think it would go a long way to making the universe a better place. Of course if you write to NASA about it, they just send you back a Cease and Desist order so I guess it’s not going to happen any time soon. It looks like we’re stuck with it.

In any case, I think if there’s me and there’s that guy vandalizing public property with cryptic tweets about what a fucked up feeling it is to know that Jupiter exists, then maybe there’s more people out there afflicted with the kind of reasonable objectivity that would cause a perfectly rational man to stay up all night just getting more and more pissed that one of our astronomical brethren refuses to respect the solar color-scheme. I figure we could get a whole support group together and maybe express our feelings in a safe environment or some other activity proscribed by one of the many doctors I visit on a weekly basis that hasn’t completely given up yet. If we pool our resources and harness the power of the easily distracted cheerleaders who seem to have taken over the once proud medium of America journalism, maybe we can actually affect some kind of change. I’m even planning on figuring out how to use Kickstarter as soon as I’m done with my personal survey of the entire catalog of pornographic material currently available on the Internet.

Just a note: since security just removed all the staplers from the office – which I have a feeling is going to be blamed on me – someone’s going to have to bring one to first meeting.

What ever happened to the atmosphere of acceptance and trust?
What ever happened to the atmosphere of acceptance and trust?

Charlotte’s Web: Why I Should Probably Keep My Mouth Shut

This may come as a shock, but I managed to piss off one of my coworkers today. As per usual, this was not my fault and everyone’s being completely unreasonable except for me (which you’d think I’d be used to by now). It’s a real shame too because I had just reached a state of magnanimous grace that would have lead me down the path to nirvana but then it got ruined by a simple miscommunication about how I’m always right and completely above reproach. Now everything’s been blown out of proportion once again and I was not surprised to find out that I’m “the bad guy.”

It all started with a simple little spider that managed to slip past security and gain an unacceptable level of access to the office. The minute it was spotted everyone started screaming and dancing around like it had been diagnosed with Ebola so someone had to do something because it was forcing me to maintain an uncomfortable level of being awake. All I did was squash it with my shoe and leave its body on the floor as a warning to any other trespassers that might dare enter my realm without a signed visitor’s pass – just as I believe is proscribed in the company handbook. This is where the trouble began because, as I’ve come to find out, spiders are actual living beings and it’s considered bad taste to spit on their corpses and then seek out their families for further retribution.

I believe it looked something like this.
I believe it looked something like this.

No sooner had I gotten back to my desk than some pencil-skirted hippy-chick was breathing down my neck about how I didn’t have to kill the spider: I could have just captured it and put it outside – because apparently that’s a reasonable use of my time. I simply explained to her that she had just witnessed what happens to things that annoy me and – since I’m a kind and compassionate man – I questioned why she would take such an unnecessary risk to her life. I’ve since been informed by management that my choice of words falls into an ambiguous category labeled “uncalled for” and could, under the right circumstances, be viewed as threatening. Since I stopped paying attention when the HR Manager’s voice turned into a dial tone causing me to start daydreaming about a monkey playing a banjo, I somehow got roped into writing an apology (like I’m in third grade) to explain myself in a professionally remorseful manner.

They'll probably blame me for this shit too.
They’ll probably blame me for this shit too.

This is clearly E. B. White’s fault for writing Charlottes Web. Before you all jump on my shit about it, let me take a few moments of your time to calmly explain why he should be run out of town by a mob carrying torches. All children are subjected to this book in a mandatory film adaptation at some point in their lives because why not get the laughs rolling early (I can’t imagine any other reason why ending a spider’s undeniably pointless life would be a matter for debate). So now that this movie has reached the status of children’s classic, I’m suddenly supposed to think twice and “rationalize my actions” before shuffling some arachnid off the mortal coil? I don’t remember agreeing to that — and I’m dangerously close to sober.

It’s probably no surprise that I’ve got some real issues with the presentation of Charlotte’s Web. At a glance, it looks harmless enough: a friendly spider trying to help out a buddy who’s having some trouble dealing with the fact that he looks absolutely delicious (I mean, we’ve all been there, right?). Charlotte really goes to the mat for this gratingly pathetic pig too: even so far as to figure out the correct spelling of the word “terrific,” which I would never bother with if it weren’t for the modern miracle of Spell Check — even if my best friend’s life was on the line (trust me, he’d understand). You might be fooled into thinking the whole thing is a hart-warming story of friendship, love and loss that somehow seems to flourish despite the creepy, horror movie setting of a rural county fair, but follow me on this one because the pills are starting to kick in. There are some details that strike me as being kind of unsettling and I’m wondering what kind of fucked-up world-view we’re promoting by letting kids watch this movie.

First off, why do we suddenly like the spider just because she can talk? In any other situation we’d introduce Charlotte to the business end of a rolled-up newspaper; but since she’s got a nice voice (which is disturbingly alluring when you listen to it without watching the video — not that I’m into that kind of thing) we’re all okay with the fact of her otherwise inconsequential existence. Personally, I think there ought to be limits to what the expected results of anthropomorphizing an unusually large insect should be. If I saw that thing anywhere near my house, I’d probably burn it down and have the ground it stood on consecrated; but then again, I’ve always been very thorough.

Fucking moth.
Fucking moth.

Cartoon or not, a spider has eight legs and eight eyes and anyway you cut it, that’s a fully unwarranted number of appendages. They hang out in dark corners and live in structures built from something that dripped out of their backsides; and though it’s true that these are also traits regularly found in the demographic of people who shop at Wal-Mart after midnight on weekdays, the difference is that humans slide under the bar of “acceptable” because they have the good sense to keep their skeletons on the inside (it’s just common courtesy). Not to mention spiders eat other insects, which might sound like a good thing at first but if you’ve ever watched it happening then you know there’s something ethically questionable about how angry and aggressive they are about it. How the hell can someone expect one of these things to come off as sympathetic and loveable when nature clearly designed them for the specific purpose of making our skin crawl?

Consider the following and ask yourself what kind of mixed message we’re sending to children when they watch Charlotte’s Web: The protagonist is a kind and loving spider that meets her peaceful fate while singing a heart-melting song to the best friend whose life she just saved. Then, before the kids have even stopped bawling their eyes out, we take a can of over-the-counter chemical weaponry and spray it on every last one of these little bastards that has the poor judgment to enter our communal living spaces. Maybe if we stopped getting children to engage emotionally with things that we’re inevitably going to smash-on-sight with a hardcover dictionary we’d have a few less serial killers wandering around. That’s just my opinion, anyways.

Even if this thing quoted Shakespeare at you, you'd still want it dead.
Even if this thing quoted Shakespeare at you, you’d still want it dead.

It’s not just Charlotte either: there’s really not much likeable about the whole environment of the film. Everything looks uncomfortably hot and somehow seems to gives off the odor of fresh manure being spread across the northern forty at high noon. Not one of these animals looks in the least bit comfortable, which would explain the unrelenting attitude problems they all proudly exhibit. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I hate that loud-mouthed, shrill-voiced, know-it-all goose so much that it literally keeps me up some nights. Looking back across the years of this odd experience I’ve called my life, I’m struck with the sad realization that Charlotte’s Web is the only film that has ever made me want to punch a bird as hard as I can directly in the face; and I have enough legal problems to deal with without that shit going on my permanent record.

Your day is coming, bitch.
Your day is coming, bitch.

Is it just me or is Templeton the rat particularly nasty looking? I get the impression he smells like three-day old chicken and probably has a least one cross-species sex-crime on his criminal record. I recognize that he represents the essence of inclusion and is part of the circle of life that supposedly all livestock accept (as they hump and eat each other off-camera) but couldn’t he run himself under a faucet for a second or two after crawling through the garbage heap? I can’t brag that I’ve never eaten litter before but I always had the good sense to leave anything discarded by a carnie alone – though, admittedly, I do live by some pretty high standards.

I can’t be the only person who’s taken issue with the fact that every inbred hick at the fair is so taken with a back-flipping pig that they’re not in the least bit concerned with the fact that there’s a spider who can write words. That strikes me as the kind of thing that you’d want to pay attention to because it sounds like trouble. What’s more, she does it in pretentious calligraphy, which is all the more disturbing for some reason. Shouldn’t at least one of these guys have suggested studying the spider under a microscope to make sure no more of these Godless, arachnid cannibals reaches a sentient state – perhaps while enjoying some delicious ham sandwiches? Who gives a shit about the web saying “Terrific” or “Some Pig?” I would have just assumed that those are clear and very reasonable descriptions of a well-prepared, herb-crusted pork loin roast. Then I would have burned down the fair because writing spiders are just fucking wrong.

Then there’s the question of where the egg sack came from. By the end of the film, Charlotte has created a lumpy little pouch that is presumably filled with either spider eggs or anthrax and the director unreasonably portrays this as being a good thing despite the fact that it makes the movie a possible prequel to Arachnophobia. Also, spiders reproduce sexually last time I checked (which is often enough), so at what point did Charlotte get her funky on with some desperately horny loser-bug that left her knocked-up and living in what is literally a pigsty? When the eggs hatch, their mother’s already dead, their father’s off probably banging some other carnival spider-hooch and no one seems to give a shit that they’re being carried away to God-knows-where by a gentle breeze. This is exactly the kind of behavior we should seek to curtail in the younger generations: it’s an unhealthy cycle of self-propagating poverty that threatens the economic stability of this country. Maybe I’m just reading too much into things – I’ve been told I do that sometimes – but I still find it objectionable.

Not to mention Templeton-The-World’s-Least-Trustworthy-Rat is still out there somewhere. Is anyone keeping an eye on the little perve?

Sleep well tonight.
I thought you should know that he watches you when you sleep.

I also find it peculiar that Wilbur – the useless crybaby of the food chain – is the only one whose life seems to matter. The rest of those animals are counting down the days until they end up as a high-calorie dinner but they all seem to have made their peace with it. The only reason Wilbur doesn’t end up resting comfortably at the bottom of a slow-cooker is that everyone rallies around him to trick the world’s most gullible farmer into thinking he’s special and should be allowed to grow old enough to die a natural death of overwhelming depression. Is that the pecking order we want to portray to the next generation of Americans? Either you’re special enough to qualify as paranormal or the world will begin researching a subtle wine-based sauce to compliment your naturally gamy flavor? Think about that the next time you hear about the bullying epidemic that’s become so prevalent in our national school system.

The more I think about it, Charlotte’s Web is really dangerous. We’d be safer spending family movie night watching homeless people bathe slowly in a forgotten gas station sink (I assume those are the only two options of the table). I guess that’s just life: E. B. White writes some sappy little story about a bug singing songs to a barbeque dinner that would never be and now I’m not allowed to set fire to insects with a magnifying glass or risk being labeled “a neurotic deviant with psychotic tendencies and an overwhelming God complex.” (or whatever my therapist was rattling on about while I was watching porn on my phone). I guess I just don’t fit in anymore and I should probably start keeping my mouth shut.

Wilbur's intrinsic potential will never be fully realized now.
Wilbur’s intrinsic potential will never be fully realized now.

So here we are, yet again, with me having to apologize for being the only person in the company who can see how irrational everyone else is acting. I guess it’s my fault for not allowing my mind to be twisted by the pro-arachnid agenda being shoved down our throats by the all-powerful children’s literature lobby. I suppose I should promise to conform seamlessly with the cattle-like droves of slack-brained desk squatters that currently populate the majority of the corporate sphere and would never threaten to murder a coworker for merely disturbing a clearly scheduled nap. I accept full responsibility for my completely understandable actions and promise never to be proactive or take initiative ever again.

There. Happy now?

It's nice to know I got through to someone.
It’s nice to know I got through to someone.

Japan: Why The Internet Smells Funny

So the Internet is a pretty messed up place. I suppose I don’t have to tell that to you since you ended up here again (I’ve been keeping track, by the way). I’ve heard it’s like the entire subconscious of the human race – that formless ether where all our thoughts and dreams collect and meld into jpegs and poorly written fan fiction. Considering the kind of crap you can find out there though, I’d say we’ve got some real Dr. Phil-level issues with sex. Maybe it’s time we went ahead aired out some of our dirty laundry.

Now, in my defense, I want to go on the record saying that all I was looking for was some mild erotic literature featuring light bondage and Flo the Progressive Insurance mascot; but then I clicked on one harmless-looking little blue link and the next thing you know I’m being bombarded with so much two-dimensional sex that my computer had an emotional breakdown.

Of course, it was just that moment when my supervisor decided to visit the no-man’s land known as my workstation. I spent the next twenty minutes listening to her lecture about the company’s policy on proper Internet conduct and how we’re not supposed to view pornographic materials on our work terminals. I tried to tell her I wasn’t viewing it on the terminal, I was viewing it on the monitor but she failed to see the difference, so I’ve got another fun meeting with Human Resources this afternoon. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have peanut butter cups in a bowl on the desk or something, but ever since I bit off the old Benefits Administrator’s finger (in what I still maintain was a complete misunderstanding and totally his fault) management’s been frowning on leaving candy out. Either which way, this is going to be a shit afternoon.

She's a dirty, dirty girl.
She’s a dirty, dirty girl.

Personally, I blame Japan for this.

Seriously, has anyone been keeping an eye on these people? It’s like they haven’t realized that the world has completely globalized and we can all see what their doing. At least I’d like to think they’re as-yet unaware of it because it’s somehow less disturbing than them thinking they’re maintaining the world standard of “normal.” Japan is clearly on a downward spiral and I think maybe we should all keep our distance because I get the distinct impression their section of the World Wide Web is all sticky (that’s just a guess). Everyday they’re over there, in their tiny Smurf-houses with misshapen roofs and miniscule computers just feverishly unloading all kinds of sexually repressed depravity on the net that most people would reasonably consider to be an outright act of war. Sure, maybe sometimes they post a cute “Hello Kitty” picture, but let’s face it, they’re just trying to lure you into a false sense of security right before they school you on what the clinical definition of the term “fucked-up” is.

This really is kind of tragic. I remember when Japan used to be that cool, sophisticated and exotic foreign land full of ninjas, giant robots and state-of-the-art video games. Granted, they had that brief spell of siding with the Nazi’s a little while ago, but they settled down after the word “atomic bomb” was casually added to the ever-growing list of things that can be dropped on people. They always had the coolest Saturday morning cartoons too. You’d have to sit through the mass-produced, morally sound bullshit we were milling out, like Gobots and Inspector Gadget because grown-ups found those ones cute and they had credit cards. But then, if you made it through with your delicate sanity intact, you’d get your fix of Robotech and Gundam – you know, fun shows where giant robots beat the ever-living shit out of each other for reasons even they’re not sure are valid. The characters were all well developed, the story arcs had substance and the animation was absolutely magnificent. When other people would have drawn the gun into the robot’s arm, Japan said “No! We will give it hands and make it hold an awkwardly-oversized rifle!” You’d think it would look stupid (it certainly does when you type it out) but the fact is that the anthropomorphic quality of the design gave a real edge to the robot-on-robot violence that made the whole thing so much more engaging. It was like watching people running around shooting laser cannons at each other but you didn’t have to give a shit when one of them blew up. The format was perfect, so why’d they have to change it?

The clinical definition of “overcompensating.”

Now it appears that they’ve decided the source material for every anime should be an unnecessarily complicated, functionally unplayable card game. It’s a lot of spiky-haired post-op transsexuals staring angrily at each other from opposite sides of a split-screen because it’s supposed to be all tense and epic – and consequently it eats up a handy amount of running time. I’m sure the stories make sense if you watch them from the beginning, but life is already hard enough without adding that crap to the list of things I have to learn. What the hell happened to the comforting cartoons of my misspent youth? I was hoping for some explosion-heavy space battles and flying armored knights that transformed into reasonably accommodating commuter vehicles but now I just stare at the television wondering why I should give a crap. That’s just not going to charge me with the kind of motivation I need to make myself put on pants on a Saturday.

If you’ve seen any of their animated motion pictures, then you’re probably aware that these people will stare at pretty much anything so long as it’s full of bright and vivid colors. I pray that a day will come when they learn how to give their movies a rationally satisfying conclusion because the last time I checked, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Princess Mononoke made absolutely no sense. There’s definitely a theme building though: it’s all a bunch of visibly organic meat-puddles growing larger and more threatening until the credits roll and you’re wondering what the fuck that was supposed to mean. It’s not right because I did my part when I sat through Akira — and pretended to get it — and I think I deserve something for my trouble.

While we’re on this subject, would someone tell me what the appeal of Dragon Ball Z is? Is there a plot in there or something or is it just their louder and slightly more homoerotic version of the WWF? Either way, the fact that the episodes continue to proliferate without curtailment is indicative of a wider societal breakdown and a distinct upswing in the use of recreational drugs.

What? Why?
What? Why?

I can forgive all of the above because, after all, everything changes over time. But sooner or later they’re going to have to get over this schoolgirl fantasy they’ve been cultivating for the past decade or so. I’ve seen an episode of Sailor Moon and I’m still not sure if it counts as porn or not. Considering the amount of focus Japan places on making sure these pastel-haired, cookie-cutter-faced girls look as young and innocent as possible before they get molested on a subway by a sewer-mutant, I’d say its about time to change up the uniform to something that includes pants. How is this not considered a major humanitarian crisis?

In the interest of fairness, we should probably admit that America went through its schoolgirl phase too; but now we generally just use Britney Spears as a measuring tool to gauge how far down the rabbit hole Miley Cyrus has fallen. And come to think of it, I don’t get why we’re suddenly all okay with Mike Tyson; I mean, just fucking look at him. It’s also true that we elected George W. Bush to the highest office of our government, but we were having such a good time with the funny-talking southerners running things that it just seemed like a great way to keep the laughs rolling. Now before someone brings up that strange autoerotic asphyxiation thing some of us have gotten into let me just remind the world that the rest of us have the good sense to find the whole thing weird.

He's out there. He's really, really out there.
He’s out there. He’s really, really out there.

And you can say what you want about David Carradine, but at least he died doing what he loved.

The point is that Japan has finally managed to realize its dream of becoming the world’s leading exporter of tentacle rape videos. What’s more, they seem to be absolutely at peace with that fact. Are sexually aggressive cephalopods a valid concern in their country? I haven’t been paying much attention to the news lately so that might be the case because they seem to be pretty preoccupied with them. I suspect this has less to do with them finding hentai sexy and more to do with them snickering to themselves while we have to awkwardly explain our un-cleaned browser histories to our less than open-minded moms/sisters/girlfriends/IT managers. At least I hope that’s the truth of the matter. Either way, if they’re so proud of the pictures they drew, then they can stop posting them online and instead, secure them to a refrigerator with a novelty magnet. Then they should probably bury that refrigerator in the desert and never speak of it again.

Finding a picture for this section was unnervingly easy.
Finding a picture for this section was unnervingly easy.

At this point, I think maybe it’s time someone give Japan a message from the rest of the world. They need to know that if they don’t clean up their portion of the web – or least break up the endless series of animated paranormal bestiality videos with a cute little song about a puppy once in a while – then they’re going to have to register their country as a repeat sex-offender. Honestly, is this the reputation you want, Japan, being the equivalent of that house down the end of the block where children aren’t allowed to play?

Of course I don’t have tell you about any of this. If you’ve clicked more than three links in a row, there’s a thirty-percent chance that you’ve witnessed a green-haired, cherub-faced pre-teen doing unspeakable things with a sea-creature. We all know there’s a problem, but no one wants to broach the subject with Japan because, let’s face it, it’s kind of embarrassing for everyone involved. In a way, I think we all carry some responsibility for this; but for some reason, I’m the one who’s got to explain myself to the IT Manager yet again.

Just a quick reminder.
Just a quick reminder.