Thursday, December 16, 2004

This Calls For A Cold Miller High Life

Further evidence that adult stem cells are the only way to go. I would definitely be willing to volunteer my services as a test subject for this study.

There's An Old Chinese Proverb, "Once You Master One Technique Why Bother Learning Another?"

I was in eighth grade when I got my first taste of journalism. My buddy Steve and I wrote this thrilling expose on the school’s dress code and various teachers’ efforts to enforce it and what not. It was about as thrilling an expose as one could expect from two thirteen year old boys. If a thirteen year old kid were to hand me it today I’d probably say something to the extent of; “This is pretty good for a thirteen year old”. It was pretty good, until it got edited to high hell by the teacher in charge of the journalism class. Any element of confrontation or ballyhoo was completely cut out. Looking back, I suppose it was for the best. Teachers tend to typically know better than their students, at least when you’re in middle school. I can definitely think of a few professors here at MSU that I’m smarter than. But, at the time it pissed me off. And I would definitely say that it discouraged me in my endeavors into investigative journalism.

It seemed that middle school teachers crushing various dreams of mine was a re-occurring theme of my pre-adolescence, which might explain why I dropped out half way through eighth grade. I didn’t actually drop out, instead I just opted for home schooling, which never actually led to an actual “diploma” per se. I got a GED about two years ago, not knowing that I didn’t actually need it to get into MSU. I got accepted into MSU without a high school diploma, a piece of info I love divulging to the uninspired youth who remind me of myself when I was there age, all too willing to lay down and die and have their body float down the same river that all their aspirations had floated down years ago. Yeah, when I was twelve years old I wanted to be a professional wrestler, but my hemophilia was always right by my side to remind me of one particular dream that could never truly be fulfilled. It’s stupid, I know, but it’s weird how little things about your childhood that just sort of sucked can sort of become a metaphor for the re-occurring shittyness you face in adulthood.

And it’s nice to know it doesn’t stop. Ever. I’ve written numerous articles for the local Hastings newspaper. Every single one, edited beyond recognition.

Someone would say to me; “I saw you’re article, it was pretty good.”

I would say; “Really, they were ridiculous with the editing. It was hardly the article that I actually wrote.”

To which they would reply; “Yeah, I thought there was something odd about it.”

I’ve actually had this conversation more than once. But, God bless them for trying. It absolutely kills me to think of people reading those articles in The Reminder and actually thinking that I wrote them. And they don’t just edit my shit, they fuck up the grammar as well. They actually edit my articles and use incorrect grammar. I’m aware that I often use incorrect grammar on this blog. Incomplete sentences and what not. But, I often do that just for effect, and when it’s not intentional, then it’s my own fuck up. I’m not having damage done to my reputation on account of someone else’s buffoonery.

And it’s nice to know that it doesn’t stop, even when one wants to say something about their own personal religious convictions in light of an impending confrontation with death. My father and grandmother once co-wrote an article about the time in his life when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was, obviously, an extremely personal essay dealing with his own spiritual state and struggle with thoughts of suicide, it was published nationally in some magazine or newsletter or whatever. And when it was, my father found out that my grandmother had edited it to high hell. Here was this personal narrative told from my father’s perspective, and approximately nine tenths of his contribution had been cut out in favor of my grandmother’s own work.

My grandmother is a writer, she’s published a two or three books in addition to numerous essays and what not. She thought she could express what her son was feeling better than he could. Thus giving her liberty to put her words in his mouth. The people at J-Ad seem to think they know the people of Hastings better than I do. Thus giving them liberty to put words in my mouth. In the case of that eighth grade journalism teacher, if that article had been published in its original content there probably would have been a lot of problems. But, when you’re thirteen it’s really easy to convince yourself that adults don’t give a fuck about what you’re experiencing. It never occurs to you that maybe saying nasty things about the shop teacher in the school newspaper could come back to haunt you.

Anyways, about a month and a half ago I wrote a post in which I talked about how much I loved the asshole-ish side of Jesus, or at least the depictions of Christ that make him come off as an asshole. The Jesus who scoffed at Jewish custom. The Jesus who actually prevented other devoted Jews from carrying out their customs. The Jesus who referred to Gentiles as dogs. I said there was something that I like about it, but I needed to save the subject for another day.

I’m glad, because this brought me to this, which sort of gave me a thought or two. I once made a few remarks about the South Park episode in which they mocked The Passion Of The Christ. This fellow seems to articulate the same point of view, much more eloquently, and he’s an atheist, giving his statements an element of shock. The article is from April of this year, but it’s somewhat relevant to what I have to say.


>> The South Park conclusion is that "we should focus on what Jesus taught, not how he died," and that sounds very level-headed and sensible and even-handed in this age of making sure the same language can be used to describe any ideology, so that Christianity can be cast as a religion founded on the principle of "be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes", just like all the other religions-- so that we in our postmodern, non-denominational, secular world can feel comfortable coexisting with all religions and treating them all alike.

Normally I treat Parker and Stone as gods in their own right. But in this case I think they really dropped the ball, because Christianity in fact is first and foremost about how Jesus died.<<

-end quote-

It’s hard to find a religion that doesn’t have some element to it that makes it extremely unique. Christianity’s particular element would be that the religion revolves around God suffering an extremely gruesome death. However, the element that makes a particular religion unique can really only be truly understood within the confines of that religion. You have to be a Christian to understand what makes Christianity really special. I served as a lay Eucharistic minister at St. Rose of Lima for about a year, before I moved to East Lansing. Probably the most amazing experience about that was getting to take communion to people on their deathbed. I remember one guy in particular, the first time I visited him he told me to scram. Each subsequent time I visited him, his condition was exponentially worse, and he was all the more happy to see me. Until eventually at one particular mass his name was read amongst the recently deceased. And there were some other dying people here and there, most of them took to me a lot quicker than that guy.

I feel kind of naïve looking back on it, but I often found myself wondering what it was about this particular ritual that people found so comforting. What was it about this particular ritual that assuaged the anxiety that goes along with an all to soon impending death? My problem: I was looking at this question from an outsider’s perspective. Sort of obvious. I was looking at this question in much the same way as a psychologist or anthropologist, trying to figure out the dynamic of the human person taking solitude in ritual in the face of death. Pretty fucking stupid, especially considering that the question I was examining was with in the context of my own religion. Those Catholics on their deathbed found the Eucharist comforting because the Eucharist is Christ. Sure, maybe it is human nature to seek out religious beliefs to help us cope with death, but once looking at things from within the context of a particular religion it becomes sort of self-defeating to continue with that line of thought.

Or at least it is when you’re in the middle of the ritual itself. I still frequently look at religion in this light. But, when I’m involved in the ritual itself, this line of questioning sort of distances oneself from what’s really going on. When I’m approaching the altar to receive the Blessed Sacrament, it’s not the time to be contemplating this shit. Religion is, at the same time, extremely simple and needlessly complex. Sometimes I have to remind myself when it’s supposed to be extremely simple and when it’s supposed to be needlessly complex.

I’m actually a huge fan of that Tim McGraw song that was released over the summer, Live Like You Were Dying. First off, I appreciate the fact that a song which encourages the grabbing of life by the balls also promotes family values, implying that the grabbing of life by the balls goes hand in hand with family values. And I love how the chorus builds up to the hook, so that when he finally says that he hopes someday you get the chance to live like you were dying, I’m all; “Fuck yeah! After work I’m going to go do something stupid!!” But, then I don’t. I just go home and do something sensible. The problem is, let’s be honest, I can’t actually live like I’m dying until I’m actually dying. There’s just certain things I couldn’t bring myself to do unless I knew for a fact that I was going to die in three weeks.

I’ll never know what it’s like to be dying until I’m actually dying. And I didn’t know what it was like to be a Catholic until I had the experience of being an actual Catholic. And it seems to me that the wrongheaded-ness exuded by the South Park guys is a perfectly rational response. Brian Tiemann may have a basic understanding of what makes Christianity unique, but he goes on to admit that he’s missing the whole picture.


>> But it's become fairly clear to me that faith is a concept that's not something a person can grasp in a moment.


I can respect the depth of the concepts behind it, having caught one or two glimpses into how hard it can in fact make the brain work.<<

-end quote-

From my own perspective, as a Catholic, it makes sense that a person who doesn’t see Christ for who He truly is wouldn’t be able to see Christianity for what it truly is. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for the South Park guys to try and tell me how to practice my own faith and get it completely fucked up.

So, I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t understand what makes Buddhism, or any other religion for that matter, all that great. I definitely understand Buddhism’s initial appeal, but I’ll probably never understand what it is about being a Buddhist that’s so special. I know this because of the fact that my reasons for staying a Catholic are extremely different from my reasons for becoming a Catholic in the first place. In fact, if I had known beforehand the reasons I would come up with for staying a Catholic, I probably never would have become a Catholic.

Which brings me back to Jesus. The more you read the New Testament, the more you notice aspects of Christ that go against the hippie Jesus stereotype. If I had known that my probing would have led me to a Jesus who preached repentance and damnation just as much as he preached love and compassion, I probably wouldn’t have probed in the first place. But, there you have it. As Thich Nhat Han says, conversion is a lifelong process. It’s not just about learning new shit, it’s about getting prepared for certain truths that you may not have been able to handle before. This is where I think other religions may come in handy.

A small part of why I was able to handle the seemingly asshole-ish Jesus, is because I was familiar with some of the seemingly asshole-ish qualities of Buddha. A small part of why I’m so keen to the Church’s male dominated hierarchy and supposed misogyny is because I’m familiar with similar structures existing within Buddhism. Not that I think that various elements of Christianity can be justified by their similarity to Buddhism. I just think that Buddhism makes for a great example because it and Christianity have incurred such different stereotypes in American culture.

It makes me think, that’s all I’m really saying. It helps in the learning process. It can provide a neutral reference point when I’m taking in a lot of information that might differ from what I’m initially willing to accept. Over the last three years I’ve learned and accepted a lot of things that I wouldn’t have wanted to know three years ago. I like to think that there’s still things I’ll someday learn that I don’t want to know right now. And if you know what they are, please don’t tell me.

American Culture...

.....FUCK YEAH!!!


>>When McDonald's opened a restaurant in Istanbul, an ethnologist set out to document how hamburger franchises would damage traditional Turkish cuisine. Instead she discovered that the lowly American burger spurred a renaissance of traditional dishes in the Turkish marketplace.

Even more important, American popular culture can work to encourage young men and women to have confidence in their own potential despite obstacles thrown up by their political systems. Until recently, political satire was rare in the Arab world because it distracted from pan-Arab aims, but today, Freund says, "corruption, hypocrisy and even legitimacy of the Arab political leadership are regularly under attack in a variety of comedy programs."<<

-end quote-

See, I told you American culture was making the Arab world a better place (or at least I meant to tell you). Just remember this next time someone refers to a "Starbuck's on every corner" as though that's a bad thing.


I once had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Birth control shouldn't be categorized under "health care" because that gives the state a precident for forcing Catholic run hospitals and nursing homes to provide their employees with birth control, and that's simply unacceptable.

Person Not As Smart As Me: Yeah, but the Pill has other health benefits besides preventing pregnancy, so the government should be allowed to force Catholic run businesses to go against their own religious convictions.

First off, that's a horrible argument to begin with. Second of all, it turns out it's not true.


>>Federal officials Wednesday backed away from the findings of two major studies on birth control pills, saying the research was flawed and that a new analysis shows there is no evidence that oral contraceptives cut the risk of heart disease.<<

-end quote-

I love having arguments with people and then finding out a year or two later that I was totally right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

But, I Still Think Unions Are Evil

I actually know the Guy That No One Knows. He's one of my best friends, I've known him since I was like five. I'm glad that he started a blog, but I think he really should retitle it "Guy That No One Knows Hates Women". He's currently writing what I would consider, possilby, the most misogynistic blog I've seen. Thus far, all of his posts have been dedicated to women he hates. Which, in my opinion, is a great theme for a blog. And if you know the man himself, it's all the more amusing.


>>Guy scoffs.

Guy gafaws.

Guy's fists want to beat the shit out of Amy, however, Guy is way smarter then to act on those agressions.<<

-end quote-

Not Just The Otorhinolaryngological Caverns

Ghastly and boring? Come on, that's just how I like it. I've yet to actually make it through this article, I've been reading just a little bit at a time until stopped by my own uncontrollable laughter. Just how bad does fictional sex have to be in order to get the British prize for bad fictional sex?


>>(It was) like a large exotic mushroom in the fork of a tree, a little pleasure dome if ever I've seen one, where Alph the sacred river ran down to a tideless sea. No, not tideless.<<

-end quote-

Friday, December 10, 2004

Now You're A Mor-Man!!

I've been hitting up the Mormon blogs (or bloggernacle as they seem to call it) pretty hardcore this morning.


>>In Brigham’s view, masculinity is the primary definitional category, and femininity, as the natural complement to masculinity, fills in the social blanks. If it’s indecorous for a man to work at indoor handwork, and if that work must nevertheless be performed, then it is proper for women to do that kind of work.


As feminism has politicized ideologies of femaleness, ideologies of masculinity have moved out of the social spotlight. It is my suggestion that the primary and secondary definitional gender categories have been reversed since that afternoon in the tabernacle: femininity now carries most of the weight of prescriptive definition, and masculinity merely fills in the social blanks. If women must be the nurturers, and if nurturing precludes breadwinning, then men must be the breadwinners.<<

-end quote-

You Know When I Get Cold Because I Have No Sweater

I've been so busy over the past few months with school and drinking, that more and more often I forget to take ten minutes out of my day to read one of my favorite blogs, Celibate In The City. This particular anecdote right here, about an awkward conversation with a potential male suitor, reminded me of why I started reading her blog in the first place.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Randy Savage Is.....Something

It goes something like this: On Monday Savage is complaining about what a shitty pop he got at Turning Point. On Tuesday he quits TNA because they won't put the heavyweight title on him. Jerry Jarret figures out that Savage is "crazy".

A Really Quick Thought On Last Night's Raw

Of course Simon Dean's first televised match was against the Hurricane. Of course the Hurricane put Dean over. Initially I was irritated at how the WWE books Shane Helms, now I find myself getting irritated at Shane Helms for putting up with it. Message to Shane: your fans are getting sick of watching you in squash matches, go to TNA so that your real fans can see you actually wrestle, dumbass.

God's Love Is A River Not A Pie

Via Midwest Conservative Journal. Not only is this the most assinine metaphor I've ever heard of for God's grace, it's not even Biblically accurate.

It's A Shame That It Needs To Be Said....

....and God bless him for saying it.


>>Pope John Paul II said U.S. bishops need to remind lay Catholics of their duty to follow authoritative church teachings, whether in private life or in social roles. <<

-end quote-

I understand that being Pope is an extremely burdensome responsibility. But, times like this it seems really easy. Obey authority? Geez, I had that part figured out when I was three.


>>But the pope said "serious pastoral problems" have been created by ambiguity over the relationships among personal conscience, truth and the social order.<<

-end quote-

I wish he would just come out and say that the USCCB's Faithful Citizenship pamphlet was a huge waste of time.

Winning Combination: Blasphemy And Birth Control

I hope this makes your stomach churn like it did mine.

Afterall, They Are Scientists

This should make me think twice about eating fish and bats. Or not.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Archbishop Of Kirkuk Is Smart

Over the holiday weekend my good friend Brandon was telling me about a friend of his who had recently returned from Iraq. Apparently, he was quite shocked at how the American media was portraying Iraq. Apparently, he actually kind of enjoyed his stay in Iraq, where he would frequently walk down the streets completely unarmed, where all of the civillians were extremely cordial, and he even had men coming up to him and offering him their daughters. So with that in mind, I found this somewhat interesting.


>>"It is not all death and destruction," says the archbishop. "Much is positive in Iraq today. . . . Universities are operating, schools are open, people go out onto the streets normally. . . . Where there's a kidnapping or a homicide the news gets out immediately, and this causes fear among the people. . . . Those who commit such violence are resisting against Iraqis who want to build their country."


Archbishop Sako's frustration is increasingly shared by other Iraqis, who can hardly recognize their country from the foreign media coverage. Westerners, too, both military and civilians, upon their return are often finding to their surprise and concern they had lived and worked in a different country to that their loved ones, friends and neighbors back home saw every night on the news. "Our" Iraq is a place of violence, uncertainty, and frustration; "their" Iraq all that, but also so much more: work and renewal, hope and enthusiasm, new opportunities and new possibilities. <<

-end quote-

Stevie Wonder Dissapointed With Eminem

Looks like Wonder finally got around to publicly criticizing a video that came out two months ago.


>>"I was disappointed that he would let himself go to such a level."<<

-end quote-



>>The 54-year-old star said that Eminem "succeeded on the backs of people predominantly in that lower pay bracket, people of colour".<<

-end quote-


John Mellencamp Is All Kinds Of Ironic



>>"I didn't feel like a stranger in a strange land until this election," Mellencamp will say once rehearsal is over and he's back at his house, a 6,000-square-foot rococo vision of gables, arches and columns overlooking Bloomington's Lake Monroe and crammed with artwork, including his own.<<

-end quote-

...but wait, there's more!


>>"If there's one president that I've seen, other than Reagan and Nixon, who the average American and poor people should not support, it's George Bush." <<

-end quote-

Wait, wait, wait, he's not done yet.....


>>"George Bush is a rock star," he says. "If he walked in this room and talked to us, we'd both like him. We would! He'd be a charmer. He'd be one of the guys. He's running this country like a college guy." <<

-end quote-

I Don't Really Know What To Make Of The "TNA" Chant

A buddy of mine suggested that it was started so that WWE fans will have something to chant five years from now when Vince buys TNA out and then some one at a WWE show does something TNA-ish. But, big props to TNA for putting the word "TNA-ish" into my vocabulary. The company has definitely offered something unique that the WWE just doesn't seem to want to give us right now, I just hope that TNA doesn't continue to choke it out with the likes of Savage, Nash, and Hardy. Savage is retarded. Nash is old. And Hardy's acrobatics seem pretty bleh compared to the X-Division guys.

But anyways, points of order:

1. Triple X and AMW in the six sides of steel was one of the best matches I've ever seen. I'd say it's definitely in my top five all time favorite matches. It's time for people to stop paying homage to Snuka, everyone and their mother has done a swan dive from the top of a cage. Elix's hurricanrana was quite possibly the sickest move I've ever seen. For crying out loud, the crowd was chanting "please don't die"!! In this time of super jaded wrestling fans who have seen everything from crucifictions, rings collapsing, and people actually dying, how fucking sick does a wrestler have to be to get the crowd chanting "please don't die"? We now know the answer to that question: Elix sick.

2. Abyss had to have fifteen tacks pulled out of his skull with a pair of tweezers. It's too bad that it didn't come off on TV. If Abyss was bald and we could see the tacks sticking into this skull, that would have been awesome. Instead all we saw were the measly three tacks sticking in his back.

3. Savage was dissapointed with his pop. Yeah, this is probably because it isn't 1987 and you're not playing to an arena of twenty thousand people who have no idea what a moron you are in real life. Instead you were performing for a couple hundred internet savy wrestling fans who know that you've been walking around backstage with your knife and your body guards, scared to death of an altercation with all one hundred and sixty pounds of Jimmy Hart.