Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Hatred Of Christmas (And Why I Am Right)

Every year around this time, I find myself assaulted and assailed by the relentless good cheer of people who apparently are hell bent on making me break my resolve in re: boiling people in their own pudding.

For every person who is shocked by the notion that anyone, anywhere would so despise their Beloved Season Of Good Cheer, I wish to make this public, if ignored, comment: Fuck off. Thank you.

Leave us, now, to determine the causes of this "irrational" mindset, shall we? Or are you too timid, too cowardly to read on?

I care not. This is MY blog. Not yours. Neener, neener, boo boo.

For what it is worth: like all "irrational" hatreds, mine begins with ugly childhood memories. Every year, like clockwork, my father's family would gather on Christmas Eve. Good food, good cheer, all that: what's the problem?

Getting home at about 2AM on the 25th. Being an only child, being drug out of bed by parents and grandparents will harsh, barked (sometimes hangover induced) commands: Be Happy. (Or what? You'll beat me until I cheer up?) The moment was caught one time on 8mm film... a wee child staggering, sleepwalking into a slow wakeful state, and BAM! That horrific glare of a hand held sun explodes, and you can actually SEE the retinas burning. Cut to: staggering child (undoubtedly blind) moving from object to object, wondering what the hell is going on...

Bitch Number One: Enforced frivolity should be allowed, legally, to be responded to a single brutal, physical response. My fist, your nose. Why? Think: how would you respond to a happy clown showing up at the funeral of a loved one? See? A happy clown! Laugh, damn you! LAUGH!

A little over the top? Maybe. BUT: once a year, I am advised by some pinheads that want me (and I assume you) to believe they live by the credo Do Unto Others As You Want Them To Do Unto You.... do they WANT me to demand an emotional response? If that is what they are doing, and they are, then I guess I am going to have a team of clowns on retainer, and send them a group of names: Watch for next funeral....

Everyone likes to whine about the materialism in Christmas, and so, too shall I. No apologies, just the truth. Again: Only child. So many read that and say Ah Ha! Spoiled rotten! Got everything he ever asked for...


My parents started a tradition that my wife, and family, have made every attempt to follow. Demand (not request, demand, which is really fucking annoying coming from your kids, okay?) a list of material goods.... that will then be completely ignored. Completely, utterly. (As a child, this was devastating... even my friends that came from huge and impoverished families would get at least ONE thing from their list...)

Bitch Number Two: (and yes, this is directly related, Things I Have Learned The Hard Way)... there are more in the world who get nothing than those who get anything. Allegedly, we are celebrating the birth of Our Lord And Savior. (I am all about that!) Somehow, we have begun to ignore the homeless, the poor, the orphans and widows... say what? Is that (wait for it: Drum Roll) What Jesus Would Do?

Worst part of Bitch Number Two: Every damned year I get suckered into it. I fall right into the line to the showers: gimme. Gimme. Gimme. THAT is embarrassing. That shopping zombie look, the open drooling mouth... gimme. Gimme. Gimme.

I hate it when I do that.

As time went on, and I became less enchanted with This Idiot Season, I recall most distinctly hearing a (ready?) Pastor, a Man O' Gawd, going on at length about how the most pagan of rituals was accepted into the Christian faith, and thus, made Holy. He then went on about how one of the symbols of Christmas, the Tannenbaum, the Christmas Tree, was one of the most pagan traditions ever subsumed into the faith.

Every year, the world goes 'round the sun. Every year, the planet reaches a point where it appears that the sun is going farther and farther away. The darkness of the night becomes longer, the light of day less: the world was ending. Bring in a tree, that one that is ever green, and it will be a reminder of when the world was not ending. We will festoon it with candles, and chase dark away by bringing our own light.

Bitch Number Three: Christmas, in the way it is celebrated, and even when it is celebrated, has absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever to do with the faith. Nothing.

The Nazis... oops, sorry, their spiritual predecessors the Romans, kept rather accurate records. They marked their calendars with important dates and events, like we do now, and those dates can be easily if not flawlessly determined. According to the Scripture, Mary and Joseph had to return to their hometown for a census. This was recorded, and the date can be approximated within a week or less. Christmas did not happen in the dead of winter, folks.

If it did, "certain shepherds in fields where they lay" would have frozen to death, not too mention their flocks would have died.

Christmas, then, as it exists currently is nothing more than a materialistic pagan orgy of spending.

Oh, and by the way: while the birth of Our Lord And Savior is of vital importance, it was his blood, shed for us all, that we are saved. Not his birth. His crucifixion. Sorry. Hate to be the one to tell you the truth, but... tough.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Childhood memories of Adult moments (II)

Ever been driving down the highway, and see the spinning lights of police and rescue? Notice how the traffic slows, and how we'd all like to pretend that we are slowing to make sure no one else is involved in a wreck, but deep inside, most if not all of us are slowing to see the carnage.

Ever actually see it happen? That Naked Lunch moment, where everyone sees what is at the end of every fork?

Being either emotionally repressed to the point of sociopathology or emotionally retarded to the same point (thus not making a difference), it is my twisted nature to observe and remove myself. I cannot respond immediately. It is not possible. I don't know how, and when forced to respond in The Moment, the results are usually pretty unpleasant.

On the plus side, however, it does allow for the perception of a moment and place The Moment into a more condensed version that allows for a deeper understanding.

Watching my parents was most instructional on how Management and Labor behave.

Mom worked at the Pontiac World Headquarters on Wide Track Drive (or was it Widetrack? Who cares...), the front office. At one time, she was part of the pink-collar You're Just A Woman brigade of human fodder that the corporate fascists love to feed to their own version of Moloch of the Burning. As the years progressed, and slowly so did the corporate/social order, she moved higher in the ranks. Never in a position of what others would call "power," she was privy to inside discussions.

One evening, Mom came home in the typical Allard fashion: high dudgeon. Ah, the reddened face, the swelling of the cranial veins! How I remember it well, and still fall prey to it. The cause on this fine evening was the result of her watching Higher Ups return from the then-normal "three" martini lunch.

Enter the gentlemen of industry, and the topic of their conversation was the pending legal requirement that all automobiles built in the US had to have an impact resistant bumper. It seems that the model designed and being pushed through production had a minor flaw: the distance between the bumper and the vehicle was a little more than anticipated, and there was a gap, and nothing to fill the gap, so (Miss? Another round here) the decision was made to use a certain cheap ... inexpensive, sorry... plastic that was available, paint the plastic and pop it in. Problem solved!

Mom, whose intellect was never in doubt (and why I always prefer to associate with women of intellect), had read the reports of said intended plastic. Enter, Angry Woman, snarling and spitting with rage: The plastic was rejected because it didn't hold the paint, and even on the slightest impact it was known that the paint would come loose from the plastic and look like Hell.

The parental example was to allow the Spouse to rant and tirade, but not really focus. Really, was it all that necessary? Let them get it out, and move on.

Dad worked for the then GMPD (General Motors Parts Division), a warehouse for all of the extra parts sent out to the dealerships and all other outlets that sold Genuine GM Parts. He was an hourly employee, Union man.

One fine day, oh, a few months after the great Three Martini Lunch Decision, Dad came home, raving and raging. Mandatory overtime, more work than anyone wanted to do but with no options. Reason: all of these parts were flooding in, seems that on a low impact to the front end of GM vehicles, the paint flaked off the plastic to such an extent that the product owners (you know, the customers) were certain that the visual damage reflected greater damage than actually existed, so the company was cranking out replacements.

Mom = Management. Dad = Labor.

What did I learn?

1) Management does not fully understand what Labor does. In this case, if they had, perhaps a few more moments of (sober) conversation would have lead to, But what will happen later?

2) Labor does not fully understand what Management does. In this case, had Labor (Dad) asked, perhaps the end result could have been understood rather than merely a point of complaint.

3) Management can change the events in the life of Labor, but the reverse does not hold true. All Management can do is turn a deaf ear to what appears to be whining and complaining.

From that point on, I have yet to see a single corporation I have worked for, large or small, regardless of industry, that sees the problem may (gasp! Dast I suggest such a thing??? I dast, I dast) be at the top of the ladder and not at the bottom. I have also yet to see in the rank and file, union and non-union, a single moment of clarity that allows for a frank discussion of a problem that could help both Management as well as Labor come not merely to an understanding but a resolution for both sides.

While I am Labor, and will always be so (I'm okay with that), I place the blame more on Labor. Whining don't cut it: learn to speak Corporate. That is not the same as the Cheerleader Rah-Rah that some think, but rather that straightforward "Here is the problem, and here is how we should make it go away, and make more profit for the company as well as improve our lot."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Childhood memories of Adult moments (Part I)

I have often said that my home in Clarkston, MI, was the place where the event now referred to as The Culture Wars began. I am not referring to the town here, but the actual home. (I would put in the actual address, but there is a different family living there, and would not put it here without their express permission.) I double checked this with my father, and this matches his memory of the event, so, here then is the first real Adult moment in my childhood that I recall as clearly as if I were able to travel there and watch it like a movie.

My mother, Wanda (now gone, died 5/5/96) had returned home one evening from work, carrying her latest purchase. She opened it, pulled the long playing record from its sleeve and put it on the old Motorola. (Fine machine, had to wait a few seconds before using it: tubes had to warm up, don't you know...) She placed the album on the turntable, and played all of side one, and turned it over and played all of side two.

It was the then hot new release: Meet The Beatles.

She locked eyes with my father, and the two glared at each other, and I honestly don't recall a word spoken or an eye blinked. I know I had to be breathing, else I would have died! Regardless...

At the end of side two, my father, never speaking, just turned and walked out of the house. My mother put the album away into the family collection, which was a rather minuscule thing, as I recall. About an half of an hour later, my father returned with his newest purchase.

Like my mother, he opened the long playing record, pulled out the album, played all of side one, and then side two. Again: staring contest. Nothing was said, and when it was over, my father put his album next to hers. His: 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong.

Tension in the Allard house then at that time normally would reach a boil-over point, angry words would be followed by bitter recriminations, and on stand out occasions, air borne furniture. (Never any actual physical violence, no one beat on anyone else. I think they were afraid of not being able to stop once it begun.)

I could not understand the problem. After all, at the time, the greatest music I'd ever heard in my (very limited) life was home grown from Hitsville USA. Who needs some Southern boy or some long-haired hippies when you could listen to The Temptations? How silly!

Be that as it may, take into account that this happened when the first Beatles album had just been released in the US. This was 1964 or 1965. It remains the touchpoint to the way I look at the world, and that whole batshit insane time of the 60's and 70's.

Tensions built up over things that could so simply have been approached with a Live And Let Live response.

My parents never argued about those records, and I never even attempted to convince them of the obvious errors in judgment they were showing. There was no attempt by anyone to just talk. Better to be angry, and wasn't that America, then?

As Rodney King said, and I agree with him 100%: "Why can't we all just get along?"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Collapse Of Culture In America

Andy Warhol once said that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. That was before the internet. The fact is now everyone is famous for about fifteen seconds.

Art serves a purpose, to illuminate areas within the human condition, both good and ill. That notion has mutated into merely lighting an area, showing behavior. There is no illumination, as illumination would suggest an understanding or at the least an invitation to understanding. The human condition, when reduced to nothing more than mere recording of events without context, becomes an exercise in societal masturbation.

Assigning blame is mostly pointless, but in this case it underscores prior comments here in regards to the creation of a Police State in a formerly free and open society: we got what we asked for.

Writers of comedy have slowly been replaced by cameras focused on human beings in Skinner boxes; who needs context when the audience only wants to watch itself? People, when jammed together into tiny quarters and have behavioral options limited are nothing more than monkeys, and not very smart monkeys at that, but they are funny when slinging (verbal) excrement at one another. Mere vulgarity has replaced wit, and all that is required to "prove a point" is a snarky comeback.

Tragedy withered on the vine of gossip. The fall of kings is now nothing more than a Princess' auto accident. There is nothing to learn from circumstance, no growth of soul in the tabloids.

We did this. We allowed it by demanding more. It is so much easier to watch than read, easier to expel flatulence than wit, easier to gawp stupidly than to read. We did this.

Worse: we trained our children to do the same.

An informed populace is the strongest vanguard against tyranny, and the American populace may be many things but informed would not be one of them. We need Information, but In Formation. Factoids are not facts: an informed decision cannot be made from charting the fall of snowflakes.

One of the most important political events that happened in the United States was noted, underscored and commented upon, but apparently, no one caught the point: that event? The election results between George W. Bush and Albert Gore.

So much has been said that it may appear to be a pointless endeavor, but there were two salient points, one brought forth in the Micheal Moore film Fahrenheit 911, and the other (apparently) noticed by myself and damned few others.

The point Moore makes is shown in the U. S. Congressional Building. Over and again, Representatives are shown standing, demanding that the results be brought to a vote. Over and again, Moore makes the comment that all that would have been needed to bring that vote was one (mark that: ONE) Senator to agree to their call. Each time Moore shows that call, and each time Moore comments that only ONE senator was needed to allow a vote.... he cuts back to the President of the Senate, Albert Gore.... who does nothing.

Here, then, is an interesting thing: perhaps Senator Al Gore was acting in the best interests of the country rather than his own interests. (This would be reminiscent of the then Vice-President Nixon allowing the questionable count in Chicago to stand unchallenged.) That could be. The question Moore does NOT have the courage of his alleged convictions to ask is: there were 99 other Senators... did they not hear the call?

The other, more interesting point is the hew and cry about the alleged corruption of the Fox Network. All of the other networks, Moore shows, declared the race too close to call. Moore then shows Fox declaring Bush the winner. Ah ha! See? (say the ill-informed and intellectually suspect) See? Fox GAVE the election to Bush!! Foul! Foul!

Apparently, what is never seen, is the fact (sorry, too bad, get over it: FACT) that the other networks caved. They didn't say, Hmm... mayhap Fox is a tad premature, that the vote is just too close to call. No. What they did was bow to Fox and say, Fox has declared the winner.

The point, in case it is being missed, is this: the so-called professional journalists simply failed to do their job. They ignored their ethics and instincts and merely stood by and let someone call the vote over. Done, finit! Who needs to make follow up calls or ask questions?

Not the cowards at NBC. Not the cowards at PBS. Not the cowards at ABC. When I CBS, I know it for what it is....

This point is made not to return to that election for the pointless rage it causes the closed, stupid "minds" of the left or the right. It is made because: wait for it; drum roll....

We were there, we saw it happen and no one cried Bullshit!

We, the people of the United States just watched. We had already become so used to being fed a steady diet of crap that we, the people, did nothing. Moore showed us a small, angry group that tried, and nothing came of it, nothing was done.

Yet, still, there are those blind and foolish enough to feel that one party is better than another. Conspiracy? Doubtful. Mere laziness explains it so much better.

There is an old saw, a tale told in the basement of churches. If I boil a pot of water, and throw a frog into it, the frog will flee. If I put the frog in the pan and start to slowly heat the water, the frog will stay until it is boiled alive.

That point is no longer valid.

If I slaughter a monkey, and I train other monkeys to just watch and do nothing, they will eagerly come forward into the knife for their moment of glory. If the monkeys are inured to it long enough, even the most clever will fail to notice: the knife waits for them, too.

Think I overstate this? Am I serious?

The morning "news" programs are not part of the same news department that brings you the evening report, did you know that? They are ALL part of entertainment. NOT news. Watch them. Carefully. Take the time to note: what story is SO important, that it leads?

How many nations are currently at war? How is the economy faring?

Who won Dancing With The Stars? Who won (aptly named) American Idol? Who is sleeping with whom? Who is dating or breaking?

This is not news. It is Valium. Take a bottle full and wash it down with Busch Beer. Try to relax.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The End Of The Internet (as we know it and I feel fine)

Follow the money.

Reading or watching the manufactured infobytes that currently pass for journalism would lead one to be mislead. The recession is ending. Times are good. The recession is over, times are going to get worse. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Follow the money.

If a police state is to be created, what is the fastest, most cost effective means of such creation? The soon-to-be ruled must ask for it. Why bother with tanks in the streets and guns in faces if the people simple turn to an Almighty Big Government and ask to be controlled in every field of human existence?

Follow the money.

What happens in a free society when the populace surrenders all freedom, all sovereignty? The power that already rests in the hands of very few becomes stronger, and that power becomes a whip by which the people may be flogged. Give up, surrender and let us take care of you. We are from the government, and we are here to help.

Follow the money.

When corporate fascism corrupts the notion of capitalism to such a point that it no longer exists, when the corporate fascists erode the ultimate freedom of the free market to a point in which the market must be controlled, then the work place becomes a battlefield. From the Communists came the notion of "you can't say that! You'll get us all arrested!" The corporate fascists have mutated that into: You can't say that! You'll get us all fired!

Follow the money.

Freedom, at its most basic level, cannot exist without communication. The ability to say "2+2=4" is meaningless without someone else to hear it (in a deeper political sense). Truth must be spread like a virus. To spread the truth, it must begin, and then go forth. (QED) The internet allows this to happen at the touch of a button. Click: boom. Just that simple.

Follow the money.

Recently, in the United States, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has begun to make headway into the death of the internet. They have decided, and this is all but signed, inked and passed forth, to begin allowing broadband providers a tiered system. This means: the more downloads you are doing, the more you will pay. Here, voices will cry out: Why is that bad? Shouldn't you pay for what you are using, just like water or electricity?

Follow the money.

As of this writing, all of the newer HDTV sets are becoming Internet Compatible. Older, non-HD TV sets are disappearing, useless doorstops in the future HD 3-D world. Remember the commercial? "When I was a boy, we didn't have to pay extra for color? We feel you shouldn't have to pay extra for HD."

Dear jackass: When I was a boy, WE DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING FOR TV.

Follow the money.

Is it really that difficult to see coming? A day when NOTHING is broadcast for free, where if you want to watch TV at all, you will be given a surcharge. How much can the populace afford to pay? A new HDTV, more for internet connection to watch it. It adds up, and fast.

Follow the money.

How long before the internet becomes a place of only the select few, and not the entirety of us all?

Follow the money.

How long before broadcast TV becomes a rare and expensive item?

Follow the money.