Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When I Get Dry, I Go Back To The Well

“...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!” ~ Jack Kerouac
Am I too old to still be drawing inspiration from Jack Kerouac? I still draw inspiration from Dr. Seuss too. And Kurt Vonnegut. Whatever heals over that raw and urgent feeling you have in youth must have short-circuited in me, because I'm still wide open.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


"He's being rewarded for thinking" ~ Bill Clinton, on why he thinks Newt Gingrich is enjoying a surge in the polls

Newt & I have some core disagreements. Our main area of departure revolves around what we want (and don't want) from the welfare state. In my view, the welfare state is the philosophical linchpin of a working democracy, and the bedrock of a fully functioning capitalist system. To Newt, it is a wasteful system that incentivizes failure and dependency.

I think his view has merit, because certain aspects of the welfare state don't work. Where we disagree is that I think they can work, and I think Newt is mistaking one aspect of the larger system for the whole.

But--of all the Republican contenders--Newt is the one I respect the most. In him I see a fellow nerd & thinker. I see an idealist and pragmatist. While it is highly unlikely that he will receive my vote, I think the Republican party and republican voters would be doing themselves a disservice not to choose him as their candidate. He's the only one among them who is fit to challenge President Obama in the general election, and the only one with a troubleshooting mentality that can win independent votes. I believe Gingrich--like Obama--sees himself as bigger than the party he works within, and would be able as President to think outside the box in a way a candidate too beholden to the party would not be able to.

I don't have anything to say about the so-called baggage that Newt carries around re: his previous marriages or various consultation jobs with different companies. If you'll remember, I'm the guy who defended Anthony Weiner to the end; if you can't beat them on ideas, you don't deserve to win. Newt is someone I'd like to beat on ideas. I hope he wins the primary.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Live?

Qualia Soup put this video out last year, but I thought it might serve as an appropriate sidebar for that 'what's the point of it all' post I wrote a couple of days ago.

I'll tell you a few things I am currently living for.

I'm reading Moby Dick for the first time, and I love it. I don't think I would've gotten it if I had tried to read it earlier in my life. I needed to live a little first; the road to Melville was a long and winding one for me.

My youngest son, Langston, has discovered drumming. He drums on all kinds of surfaces, all over the house. He shakes his little baby-ass when I beat box, and it's adorable.

I love my job. I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.

I love my wife and my kids. I savor the time I have with them.

Homemade Brand Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip ice cream. It will eventually kill me with diabeetus, but it's wonderful.

Patchouli oil. I love the way it smells. I have a little ritual for applying it that gives me a small pleasure.

Movies are great. Good TV shows are great. The new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes is everything the Guy Ritchie version is not.

Cats. I respect their individualism and self reliance. They've managed to retain their wildness, yet are able to thrive alongside humans. Unlike dogs, cats have not sold out.

I love this time of year. There's something really beautiful about Fall. I love the smell and the feel of it. It's a beautiful time of year. I also like this period now, right before winter. It's kind of austere and there's something vaguely ominous about it. The clouds are all fluffy and heavy, and the cold is moving in. It's exciting.

I enjoy the fight. I enjoy the struggle of life, trying to live it right, and trying to live it honestly. The discomfort that comes from my everyday jihad fills me with vitality. I don't know how long I'm going to be on this planet, but however long or short the time, I want it to be as consequential as possible.

And of course there's the music. To borrow a Joe Zawinul quote from one of Lodo Grdzak's posts:
"Music can do it. It can't save the world, but music can bring something out in a human being. ...Simmer it down a little bit. ...Less volatile. A little friendship in the heart. You know..."
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Go boldly forth, and do whatever it is you do on this particular holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good Parenting Advice

'Anyone can give them answers. They'll get plenty of answers in school. And they'll be tested on them in school. What we give them is an environment where they can question safely.'

That came out of a conversation between the guys at Penny Arcade about talking to your kids about religion.

I would imagine this advice isn't limited to religion alone. All kinds of people have all kinds of ideas. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad, and most people (including us) aren't hesitant to share their ideas with our kids.

A long time ago I realized that the people who go around 'telling it like it is' are often the most full of shit*. If I can teach my kids how to wade through the shit to get to the good stuff--and how to recognize good stuff when they get to it--I think I'll have done a pretty decent job in a key area of parenting. If I can teach them how to wade through my shit as well, I'll have gone above and beyond.

* as someone who spends a lot of time sharing his opinions with folks, maybe I should meditate on that a little bit.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Know this meme has been done to death

but I'm a Lovecraft nerd, and I couldn't resist sharing:

via  The Elegant Ape.

This Movie Was Just What I Needed

Republican Presidential Slogan 2012

Since the republican presidential candidates all love referring to the bible--and all seem to want to dismantle the welfare state--I think the following would be a good campaign slogan for whoever wins the primary:

Republican Candidate, 2012: "Am I My Brother's Keeper?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

As Thanksgiving approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few scenes from my favorite movie of all time:

"I want a fucking car, right. fucking. now"

"You're going the wrong way! You're going to kill somebody!"

"You wanna hurt me?" A funny movie with a big heart that reveals its depth early:

You'll never beat Kevin Bacon in a race for a taxi cab:

and, the scene that never fails to make me cry:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Drinking the Mortal Brew: Come Join Our Hopeless Cause

"Some men spend their whole life furnishing for themselves the things proper to life without realizing that at our birth each of us was poured a mortal brew to drink" ~ Epicurus, 30th Vatican Saying.
"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." ~ Samuel Johnson

I have a disease that is eating away my intestines. It has spread to my stomach, created great ulcers, and has the potential to eventually form a cancer that will kill me. I'm sorry to bring it up, but it's a fact. There's often a mild pain in my gut that reminds me that I'm not immortal. I'm thankful for it. I may not die from this specific condition, but I will die somehow; this is a fact that can be forgotten as we carry on with our day-to-day business.

In my best moments, I am always trying to affirm life--always reminding myself to appreciate clouds and bright Autumn leaves and the sight of children playing; but it's impossible to affirm life without factoring in decay. After all, clouds dissipate. Leaves fall, children grow into adults, and adults grow old and die.

It's good to remember death. We are all dying. We are all transitioning. We are short, strange bursts of energy, and we are as alone as we are together. It's humbling to realize that one day all memory of us will be erased. These words, and the handful of people who read them, will be gone. There will be a world that doesn't know Shakespeare. One day, there will be no world at all. While we're alive, we're those brightly burning Autumn leaves.

So, if all of our work amounts to stitches in a great fabric that will one day be unwoven, why work? And if our lights will one day go out, what difference does it make when they go out?

Of all the advice I've received on this issue, I think Albert Camus puts it in the best (and possibly least comforting) way:

"The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions ... and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the "divine irresponsibility" of the condemned man"

I guess the reason we keep going on is because we can, as an act of sheer will in a mechanical and impersonal universe. We provide the universe with the personal. Our lights will go out, and we will accept the extinguishing when it comes, but until then we will persist, because we can. And we will do good work because there is nothing else worth doing. If we're all residents of the Titanic, what's the point in pillaging the rooms of rich evacuees and transporting the goods they left behind to our own rooms, which are rapidly filling with icy water? The only thing worth doing is good. We will play our instruments as the ship goes down. We will help others to higher ground while there is higher ground to go to. We will value each other as intensely as we can in this moment, because our last moment is rapidly approaching.

for more posts in this series, click here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


No on Issue 2 (Ohio's infamous Senate Bill 5), No on Issue 3 (tea party backed initiative to allow Ohio to opt out of 'Obamacare'), yes on my school district's levy (because my kids need art, music, and gym, goddammit), and I wrote Hunter S. Thompson in for the board of education. So, if things go the way I want them to, union bosses will be running through the streets naked & insane with power, Ohioans will be stuck with death panels & long lines at the doctor's office, and all of my neighbors will have to pay higher taxes just so my kids can do a little finger painting during school hours.

I have done my civic duty for the day.

PS: you would think death panels would shorten the lines at the doctor's office, but I guess government isn't efficient at anything.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why Should I Cry For You?

This is a great version of what is easily my favorite Sting song:

Men are brought up in my culture to be very low in emotional intelligence, and when I discovered (around 15 or 16) that Sting wrote this song about his father, I was surprised and intrigued. Lines like 'sometimes I see your face/stars seem to lose their place' aren't written for fathers! We write lines like that for girls that we want to fuck.

In my cultural context, guys aren't supposed to be sentimental about each other. We're not supposed to love one another. Fathers raise their sons to be soldiers, and sons raise their sons to be soldiers. Creatures of mere utility. Like replaceable liners for garbage cans. I know I don't want to raise my children like that, and I know that I can't be reduced to some utilitarian function. I love my boys, and I want them to feel comfortable loving me.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to write this post. Maybe I need some more years on me before I'll be able to make enough sense of this subject to talk about it. Maybe it will never make enough sense to talk about. All I know is that life is short, and there are aspects of it that can be difficult to understand. Our relationships are constantly evolving, and if we don't pay attention to them, they can atrophy.

I'm glad to be a father, whatever that means. I think it's supposed to be a support role. As our father below did, I suspect I'm responsible for sharing some kind of illumination with my children; some kind of hard-won knowledge plucked from the tree of my experience. I think fatherhood is about stories, and games, and openness, and daydreaming; but also discipline, and hard work. Christ, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October, Cincinnati, 2011

A few snapshots from my 5 day interlude...

the structure at friendship park by the Ohio river:

inside the structure:

getting rid of some unwanted furniture in the fire pit in my backyard:

it's easy to take nice pictures when everything is naturally well lit:

corn maze at Shaw's Farm:

laying on my back on one of the supports on my front porch, looking up. Half sky, half roof: