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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oh, Really??

Someone somewhere should do a study that investigates the premise that gay folks are more prone to being dimwits, psychopaths, liars, and all-around bad people than straight folks are.
I know a shitload of gay people. An overwhelmingly large percentage are people I actually like, and another big percentage are people I know well and love. I have taken this personal statistical breakdown and compared it to my equivalent statistics on straight people. With a margin of error that is plus/minus 1%, they are damn nearly exactly the same.
Included in both samplings are people I can’t stand, don’t trust, and who dress real funny. Oddly enough, none of this dislike and distrust has anything to do with any of their sexual programming. It’s because they are, as people, basically tools, untrustworthy, spiritually corrupt, and/or sartorially iniquitous.
I wonder what this hypothetical study will find, given the related question of how homosexual lifestyles do or do not threaten, destroy, or render redundant the straight lifestyle that some folks would have us believe is as old as creation and personally ordained and endorsed by either The Christian Big Guy, The Hebrew Big Guy, the Muslim Big Guy, or any other relevant Big Guy you choose to choose.
We would need to establish some basic facts about the alleged societal infection, and one item should be how long this proposed threat has been in existence. Based on copious research, I am willing to bet that homosexuality has been around as long as homonids could bang rocks together. Some of those primitive wall scratchings are downright racy, if you ask me. Especially the French ones.
Given this premise, if  homosexuals are indeed bound together in an unholy conspiracy in order to threaten, destroy, or render redundant the straight lifestyle, they sure as hell are taking their sweet time about it. Could it be that their nefarious plans are being held up by all that homosexual sexual distraction? I mean, come on people, it’s been a while already. Sex is really fun (it should be, anyway), and if gay sex is so much more distractful than a straight hope-and-grope that it ceaselessly confounds such an evil plot, well, then, maybe these same-sexuals are onto something.
As far as I (and numerous anthropological and sociological studies done by impressive institutions and universities) can tell, gayly programmed men and women have been living together FOR-FUCKING-EVER. And the state of marriage hasn’t suffered one bit from this. It has been, up til lately, a 100% straight affair, and we can’t blame the gay population for any of its faults or congratulate them for its successes. The sanctity of marriage has, in fact, taken some severe and crippling body blows from, as stated by (and they should know), financial problems, communications problems, family problems, sex problems, friend problems, addiction problems, abuse problems, personality problems, expectation problems, and time problems. I checked the list several times; nowhere did it say “gay people getting married.” And none of these reasons are LGBT specific.
More statistics. Wanna know what the current divorce rate in America is?
According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. (
Let’s look at the trend over time:
1940: 20%
1950: 26%
1960: 22%
1970: 33%
1975: 48%
1980: 52%
1985: 50%
Currently, half of all marriages in America fail.
And this is WITHOUT gays getting married.
I dunno; seems to me like the sanctity of marriage ain’t been doing so hot for a while now. 
So then, if the sanctity of marriage is, in reality, less than what it’s purported to be, then what exactly is the perceived threat of homosexual marriage? Bear in mind “marriage,” as discussed by the U.S. government (which is where the argument is taking place) is only a legal term; as stated before, homosexuals have been living together as couples since time immemorial without benefit of having a legal contract.
Exactly whose marriage is threatened by those two guys who live in the apartment down the hall having legal status?
It seems to me that the whole thing is kinda whiney and spoiled-childish; “If we can’t have the whole pie, then none of it will taste good.”
I know several gay couples who have tied the public and legal knot and can state categorically that it has not had one iota, whit, crumb, grain, jot . . . nay, nor even a notarized scintilla on the state of my own legal marital status or my personal relationship with my wife.
I won’t go into the reproductive reasoning; that just breeds contempt. Nor will I vouchsafe the cultural morality argument; that just has no values. I will, however quote one of the most important and heavily referred-to books on the top ten shelf: The Bible. In it, Jesus (through Matthew) cautions us to basically treat others as we would treat ourselves and to remember that whatsoever we do to the least of our brethren we do to God. And to these words of infinite wisdom I add words from my (quite unexpected) cohort on the progressive side of human rights, the renowned Bill O’Reilly, who says of the Supreme Court debate, “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals.” To which he added that the proponents of DOMA and Prop 8 had no legitimate rationale except they “(haven’t) been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”
And with those words I rest my case.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Worst of Us, Again

Yes, I know people have been talking about this for weeks now. You don’t have to read this, okay? But I’m gonna chime in anyhow because (a) you can’t stop me, and (b) another voice should be heard. If not mine, then yours. As long as shit like this happens, voices need to be heard. 
It’s a choice.
It is not something that you do unexpectedly while you stand by innocently. It is something that you, while being capable of rational, coherent thought, and having a established knowledge (if not sense) of right and wrong, choose to do. It is a conscious decision to act in a certain manner and perform certain acts and go against not just the laws of the society but also the laws of ethical and moral humanity; to go commit an act of violence against someone who is vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves against your strength and animalistic desires.
It is finding someone who is weaker than you and imprinting upon their psyche and body memory an act so brutal that no amount of therapy or programs to reduce it to some sort of status less than horrific will ever succeed.
Its result is to cause the victim to have a permanent sense-memory of the touch, of the sounds, of the smells, of the person committing the act. These memories never go away. They are not like the first time you smelled a chocolate chip cookie; they are neither entrancing nor welcome. They are a nightmare, a cold terror so deep as to be incapacitating.
No one asks for it. Ever. At any time. Despite the excuses made about how someone was provocatively dressed or the impaired condition the victim was in at the time. Ya know what? Should someone be in an impaired state, unable to fend for him- or herself, it is the duty of friends and bystanders to ensure that the unfortunate person is brought to safety and protected. It is not open season for animals.
It is rape. It is always rape. It is like being dead; there is no gradation or level of rapeness. A dead person is dead; completely and without exception. A rape victim has been raped. An assault victim has been violated. For all victims, security has been permanently destroyed. One’s body is no longer one’s own. Safety is eradicated forever. There is no middle ground.
It is an active choice, and it is made willingly by the perperator. And in doing so, the perpetrator forsakes all pretense of humanity and admits to being a predator and a thug. And he will always be one, even if he never commits the act again.
You are not truly defined by what you look like, or what gender you are, or by which god you follow, or by who you are programmed to love, but by the actions you perform. Because your actions illustrate your morals and ethics. What will you do when confronted with a particular situation? And once done, actions cannot be undone. There is no erasure, no legitimate way to lessen or diminish or deny. Actions are written in the record and are indelible, despite the machinations or decrees of law courts or the false salvation of psychological legerdemain.
Our age makes great efforts to change the past to accommodate the present. We try to lessen the severity in order to allow a relatively guilt-free future. We frequently  try to clothe the emperor in shimmering white when in fact he is not just naked but covered in scabs. To admit to his pestilence is to acknowledge the possibility of our own, or to admit that our modern, progressive, successful, privileged Utopia is a flawed and faulty construct.
We have been over-sensitized, tenderized to the point of being largely unable to face our ugly side, ironically through the absence of graphic evidence. And at the same time, we have been desensitized; we cringe at real wounds, yet cheer at Hollywood’s CGI version because we know it’s all artifice. Real evidence of beatings, rapes, mutilations, aftermath of battles and bombings are much too upsetting for our sheltered psyches. The truth is hidden from us because we refuse to see it.
And as a result we exist in a society that creates TV commentators who bemoan the thrown-away futures of convicted rapists, who, young or not, have betrayed all that is decent and ethical. These talking heads are complicit in denying that people who attack others make their choices willingly and with malice aforethought.  No amount of reasoning, rhetoric, or sophistry can whitewash a crime that is total and horrific. Every word spoken that ignores the victim, that in any way attempts to mitigate the viciousness of the attack, contributes to the next one.
Only as a society that faces up to the hellish side of its nature, that completely decries those who try to diminish acts of evil, can we recognize and prevent further personal catastrophes.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

G'night, John-Boy.

There's a scene in “Terminator II” when the good version of Schwarzenegger's killer cyborg picks up a toddling two-year-old and holds it up in front of his face, staring at it, trying to determine, well, who knows? It's humanity? Purpose? It's a small moment, but a potent one in which we see one being somewhat befuddled by the very existence of another.
So my friend (let's call him) Poindexter is telling me about a trip he will take soon, and on that trip he will visit his (I hope I remember this right) “first cousin, once removed.” A man he has not seen in FIFTY YEARS. I, like the the killer cyborg mentioned above, pick this concept up off the ground and stare at it, trying to determine its reason for existence. I ask the Poindexter/toddler the simple question, “Why?” The Poindexter-toddler shrugs and says all it needs to: “Family.”
“Family.” There are those among us who take this concept and explode it to encompass the vast web of DNA-connection that binds all of us at the atomic stage of kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species and who will insist that we are all related. (Cue the opening strains of “Kumbaya” or “It's a Small World After All.”)
But if we limit the definition of family from pan-global to Poin's, or for that matter, my wife's, we still manage to encompass a stunningly multitudinous array of perambulatory protein.

If the above schematic is correct, “First cousin, once removed” means (I think) we go back three generations to great-grandparents. Great grandpa had kids (your grandparents). Grandpa and his brother had kids. Those children produce one of your parents, on the grandpa's brother's side another child who then went on to continue the DNA legacy. So. If you share a common great-grandparent then you are what they call “Second cousins.” Now if your second cousin has a kid, that kid becomes your “second cousin, once removed.” “Removed” meaning “removed from your level of generation and placed in a subsequent one.” Kinda like a nephew or niece but a little farther away on the monkey tree.
Two things strike me at this point: a headache from figuring this crap out, and yes, you can marry your second cousin, removed or not.
So where, (yes, yes, if ever it does) does the concept of “family” lose its wood? I'm sure that if you go back far enough, we're all probably descended from about twelve different people. That makes us removed about 10,000 times. Is that family? Again: when does “family” become null? Obviously it depends on who you are and how you were indoctrinated into the family of homosapiens.
It staggered me when I realized how extensive my wife's family is. First of all, they're Irish catholics, so right off the bat you stand a good chance of populating a small country with them in about four generations. (This despite the fact that some of them are clergy and effectively taken out of the reproducto-loop.) But still. Cousins everywhere. All over the Irish map. And she knows, within a three-generation range, who each is. It's definitely a talent. It scares me.
My own family consisted of my mom, dad, moi, and my grandmother. There were some first cousins, but they were so distant and hardly ever seen as to not matter. There were issues between my mom's WASP family and my dad's Italian working class clan. Or there would have been had they ever actually met. Never the twain should meet, god forbid. You can imagine the bluebloods against the grape-stompers: the class and cultural divides sufficed to keep the tribes quite well apart from each other. According the the DNA rules, I had three brothers from my father's first marriage, but in 35 years I met them each twice. This, to me, is not “family.” Technically, yes, they are close blood relatives, but they are not family. My sister-in-law, no true DNA/blood relative, is closer than any of them and serves as the only “family”member I have apart from my wife.
(To be fair, one of my half-brothers did try to get to know me later on, and I have to say I was less than receptive to the idea. I definitely could have handled all that with more maturity and aplomb, but past issues and the bitter legacy held sway. And I am not the most easily swayed hominid on the firmament.)
I admit that Poindexter's definition of “family” amuses me. To include someone kinda far away on the monkey tree and especially one you don't even know at all as family, well, that indicates to me a generosity of spirit and/or a curiosity in random people that I do not possess.
As my dear old saintly grandmother used to say, I'm a “cranky little fuck.” I don't eagerly adapt to a concept of familial inclusion as readily as others might and I don't follow the general stream of cultural mass indoctrination. (If Mass Mega-Mall America worships it, I do the Groucho “I'm Against It” song; I refused to see E.T. until nine years after it was released; I mistrusted The Beatles for years as 73-hit wonders.)
Our nuclear unit was marginalized, isolated (and split within, also; my grandmother and father were sworn enemies. Made the holidays a wee bit dicey, depending on the level of beer (Dad) and Wild Turkey (grandma) that flowed.). The concept of “family” as represented by popular culture went directly against what had been exemplified by my parents, which was “who needs 'em?”
So P-Dexter's idea of inclusion across the vast generational sea initially confuddled me. “Family.” Yeah, well, technically, I suppose. And what's particularly vexing is that I think, nay, I know, that P-Dex beats me hands down in the “cranky” dept. And yet he's the one who's being inclusive.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I Should Have Been a Gynecologist Like My Mother Wanted

I wouldn't give up playwriting for anything. But every once in a while the absurdity of life juuuuust misses contact with my funny bone. 

And people wonder why I get testy. My intended, but not sent, reply follows. 
See below. 

"Dear George, 
My name is X and I am the literary director of XYZ Theatre Group. We recently had the pleasure of reading your play, “Oatmeal and a Cigarette.” We found it to be a fascinating psychological study in growth and parenting. From the beginning of the play, we cannot help but root for Billy. The dialogue and dramatic action really drive the play and one begins to want time to slow down so that Billy has enough time to figure out his decision to leave, but 30 years is too much time to reverse the damage done. The moment where Billy asks whether Jane actually loves him and her inability to answer his question is crushing and the play builds fully to that moment. And when Claire's order has been restored, there is nothing settling or encouraging about Billy's future.
Unfortunately, XYZ Theater Group cannot give “Oatmeal and a Cigarette” a home. We really do appreciate you taking the time to send it to us, and of course we also appreciate the passion you put into your writing.

Dear X,
First of all, let me thank you profusely for actually reading my play. As far as I can tell, you are probably the first responder since 2009 who makes me think that you got past scene one and actually read through to the ending. That is, of course, unless you just read scene one and then skipped right through to page 52.
And your painstaking explanation of what I have always believed I wrote not only reassures me that what I wrote is indeed what I intended by all those days of exacerbated typing, but clarifies for me that the synopsis I took three days to write was hopelessly inadequate in light of your succinct and yet moderately incorrect summation of my award-winning dramatic piece. But on the plus side, it's nice to know I didn't accidentally plagiarize "The Glass Menagerie," or even more embarrassingly, "SpiderMan: I Peed in My Costume."
However, primarily because I am the playwright and feel somewhat like a father whose child never gets picked for dodgeball, it's a shame that a play you call a "fascinating psychological study" in which "the dialogue and dramatic action really drive the play," where the catastrophic moment to which "the play builds fully" is no less than "crushing," oddly enough hasn't got what it takes to make it at XYZ. Perhaps instead of "crushing," I should have aimed for something less effectively dramatic, such as "fluffed and folded."
But what ho, every failure is a lesson, they say, so I thank you for incrementally elevating the quality of my life experience while teaching me that excellence of script isn't quite the barometer of success I had been led to believe. And I am further redeemed by the announcement that you appreciate the passion I so naively and yet futilely infused into my pathetic scribbling; perhaps you'd like to stick a maple sugar tap into the script and let the passion drain out onto the floor where you and your cohorts can frolic naked and receive a contact high from the fourteen months of sweat and soul-searching I so foolishly poured into the play.
Please keep an eye on your mailbox as your thoughtful and thorough reply has prompted me to consider sending you a second work in the hope that you may receive a major and extremely painful paper cut upon opening the envelope.