A Fruit Tale

Language not only reflects our attitudes and opinions, language helps form them. How we use language reveals how we think, and helps shape our future thoughts.

so, for a long time, oranges pretty much had the upper hand in a lot of social arenas, and the apples were rightly pissed off about it. so they pushed for their rights, and attained them, and although the apples still weren’t at parity with the oranges, they were closer than at probably any other point in history.
of course, there was a lot of ill-feeling toward the oranges on the apples’ part, for legitimate reasons. There were, in fact, angry and hurt fruits on both sides, because such conflicts always hurt, and always draw their share of hateful, bitter fruits.
some of the apples had created  ‘appleism’, and some of the oranges created the ‘orange rights movement’ – both were attempts to deal with concerns and fears each fruit type had, and those hateful, bitter fruits on both sides of the issues went on being hateful and bitter. the more moderate fruits on both sides shook their heads or pretended they didn’t see what some of their fellow fruits were doing, and just tried to get through life as best they could.
both sides said they were working toward equality, and fairness for all fruits – even though neither side seemed to have a good grasp of plums and bananas and strawberries – and both sides had their good points and their bad points.
what both sides seemed to miss completely was the problems each thought their own were really the problems of all fruits, and by saying ‘bruising is a problem for apples’ and ‘sourness is an orange problem’, they were dividing themselves, ignoring the fact that bruising and sourness were problems all fruit faced.
the fruits who supported ‘appleism’ wanted their vision of how fruits should be dealt with to be adopted by everyone, and the supporters of the ‘orange rights movement’ wanted their vision to be adopted by everyone and both sides seemed to forget gentle handling, and proper care, were not just good for apples or oranges but were good for all fruits. it was silly to say ‘appleism’ was the solution to all fruits’ problems, or the ‘ORM’ had the answers… by their very names, they declared their primary focus. there were no ‘apple problems’ or ‘orange problems’ exclusively – there were just fruit problems, but both sides kept wanting fruits to identify with their brand.
it was all so silly. instead of working together to help all fruits, they often fought about which fruits’ problems were more important, and how to talk about fruit problems, and how to solve them for all fruits, even the fruits they didn’t understand too well.

and this, boys and girls, is why i’m not a feminist, i’m not an MRA, i’m an egalitarian. it’s a gender-neutral term. (which should make me very popular with the left, given our love of gender-neutral terminology). i will not be a part of something that by its very name excludes part of our species. i’m happy once again men have been invited into the ranks of feminism, and the issues of hate and misogny/misandry acknowledged. but thank you, no.

no man should enjoy any privilege, right, or duty, that women do not also enjoy.
no woman should enjoy any privilege, right, or duty, that men do not also enjoy.
that’s called equality. it’s what everyone says they want. but let’s get more gender neutral.
no person should enjoy any privilege, right, or duty, that all others do not also enjoy.
there, that’s better.

domestic violence is not a woman’s problem, or a man’s problem, it’s a human problem.
sexual assault is not gender specific, anyone can be sexually assaulted and anyone can sexually assault another.
it’s as silly as saying the common cold is a male disease, or cancer a female disease, or syphilis a Christian disease, or tuberculosis a French disease.
our problems as a species are not gendered, nor race/creed/color/orientation/nationality-specific, they are endemic. they may show up more frequently in some segments of the population than others, but the underlying causes need to be dealt with on a species-wide level, or we’re wasting our fucking time.
and i’m really fucking tired of us wasting our time.

music: Hey I Don’t Know – Kongos
mood: quite irritated

First Fannish Obsessions

okay… yeah, if you count a storybook of Disney’s “20000 Leagues Under the Sea”, i was reading science fiction when i was six.
if you count ‘real’ science fiction, it was encountering Heinlein’s “The Green Hills of Earth” in my fourth grade reader.
so yeah, literary fans, represent! i’m an, i guess, third generation SF&F gangsta. the originals taught my predecessors, who inculcated in me a love of fandom as fandom, with its own history and traditions.

but media fandom… well, there i’m second gen gangsta.
Star Trek TOS, chil’ren.
watched it, much to my grandfather’s dismay, when it was originally broadcast.
first convention i ever attended was a “Star Trek” con in San Antonio in the early ’70’s. i organized the whole trip, transportation courtesy of a friend’s mother, talked with the hotel staff several times making sure how to get there… including the head of hotel security.
which was a good thing… ’cause i got the keys locked in the car, and while i was trying to get it open with a coat hanger, well, i attracted some attention.
security attention. (hardly the last time i’d manage that feat… remind me to tell you about the Admiral’s Birthday one year…)(which is itself another “Star Trek” connection)
and the head of hotel security knew my name, and i got to meet one of the staff who’d been so helpful.
and he helped me get the fuckin’ keys out of the car.
way back when, i had fuckin’ memorized David Gerrold’s books “The World of Star Trek” and “The Trouble With Tribbles”. i had the original “Star Fleet Technical Manual” and pored over it like some Holy Book. courtesy of reruns, i could tell you an episode’s title within seconds of the teaser beginning. i watched the animated series. i waited and prayed for a feature motion picture, and tried to convince myself “Star Trek: The Motionless Picture” was better than it was. i jizzed blood over “Khan”, enjoyed “Search for Spock”, treasured “The Voyage Home”…
and then “The Final Frontier” almost killed my love…
but “The Undiscovered Country” brought it back big time.
loved “The Next Generation”… although it took a while to grow on me.
thought the Next Gen movies were more miss than hit.
was bored by “Deep Space Nine”, and couldn’t hold on long enough for it to get interesting.
never really gave “Voyager” a chance, even though i loved its theme music more than any other.
tried “Enterprise”, but quickly lost interest…
LOVE Abrams’ reboot, both films.
hell, my daughter was born while i was in the father’s waiting room playing “Star Fleet Battles” with friends…

so yeah, that first media fandom for me has stuck around.

i was reminded of this while reading about “These Are The Voyages: TOS Season 1″ and “2”… books researching the making of the show, the personality conflicts, the twists and turns and neat facts and dirty little secrets.
i want these books. it feels odd to be going back to that ancient well for more entertainment, but i’m gonna.
’cause i’m a fan.

listening to: four fans going at once
mood: happier… and cooler

Matters of Culinary Import

if you’re like me, occasionally you want to sit down and have a bowl of chili – not a lot, just a bowl full of beef, grease, spices, and goodness.
maybe some crackers.
seems the logical place to go for such an occasional treat is to the canned meat aisle of your local grocery.
not in this lifetime, buckaroos.
i can now say i’ve tried all of them, and for the most part, they suck. i don’t mean they don’t taste like my Holy Ideal of Chili… they fuckin’ suck. if i eat somethin’ that looks like diarrhea, and tastes almost as bad, that’s not a matter of not meeting my standards.
that’s industrial-grade sewer-scrapin’ suckage.

i decided recently to purchase the last kind available i hadn’t tried,  Amy’s Organic.
doesn’t suck.
isn’t chili.
first of all, beans, it has ‘em. now, even the International Chili Society has decided there’s a place for beans in chili, and i’ve decided the ICS has lost its goddamn mind. there are days i argue against tomatoes in chili. days when i believe chili should be meat and spices, so it was, is now, and evermore shall be, Amen.
most days i’m not quite so rigid.
and i have nothing against beans – you put a bowl o’ black beans next to my bowl o’ chili and i damn well may put some in, stir it around, be happy as can be.
but beans should be at the consumer’s discretion, not the cook’s. they’re just fine as one of any number of things that can be mixed into a bowl of red once it’s reached the table in a pure unadulterated state.
i view this as taking a stand for the purity of chili and the rights of chili fans everywhere.
secondly, Amy’s Organic was fuck near tasteless. chili requires chiles, and chiles don’t leave things bland. there shouldn’t be ‘bland’ and ‘spicy’ chili, there should be chili and ‘spicier’ chili. the difference being one leaves you with flavor (not all spicy is hot) and a little heat, one leaves you with flavor and more heat. hell, add a ‘spiciest’ and throw in ghost peppers. i won’t touch it, but you go on an’ eat if’n you’re of a mind to.
third, it sure as shit wasn’t good enough to justify the price Amy’s wants to charge. for an example, let’s look at Amazon, where Amy’s is available.
a pack of 12 14.7 oz cans – $47.41.
that’s $3.95 for a little ol’ can o’… well, i won’t call it chili… meat & bean soup. bland meat and bean soup.

so, i can state that in my humble opinion, there ain’t no such thing as good canned chili.
this means that i, or my friend Lee, will have to cook up a big ol’ batch, and put some of it in freezer bags or somesuch, so i can have a goddamn bowl o’ chili when i’m in the mood to.
maybe with crackers.

 

listening to: “Mexican Blackbird”, ZZ Top
mood: consternated

Doing It Wrong

so i’m reading an article in Rolling Stone on LGBT youth who are homeless because their families cast them out, and no big surprise, religion plays a big role in why they’re discarded, and it makes me so angry i’m having to read it in short chunks so i don’t grind my denture plates to dust.
here’s the thing, and i’m on sound theological ground here. Christianity, based on Christ, has no place in the hate and shunning business. Christ shunned no one, although he did lay some righteous whupass on those who turned faith into a business (and why don’t we ever hear that sermon in our mega-churches?). in fact Christ never mentioned homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender people at all.
what he did mention a lot was love.
now my idiot-fuck Christian step-siblings are gonna start screaming about the Old Testament, and the writings of Paul, and i’m gonna reply:

This isn’t Old Testamentianity, and it sure as shit ain’t Paulianity – this is Christianity, and i’m pretty fuckin’ sure if the Creative had wanted an opinion on such matters on the record, It would have had the Son say something about it. Period. End of fuckin’ argument.

so if your religion, or your religious elders, or your religious upbringing are leading you to shun your own children because they’re LGBT, you’re not practicing Christianity, you’re practicing something else. love, that thing Christ spoke about SO much, does not involve casting aside your children because of their sexuality or gender dysphoria.

that’s not love, that’s hate and anger and disappointment, and a whole lot of shit that isn’t their problem. it’s yours, and you need to own it and deal with it yourself, and not try to lay it off on your children as being “their fault”.
your children need your love, your support, your approval and acceptance.
and if you’re using Christianity – or any other religion – as an excuse to deny them that, you’re doing it wrong.

 

listening to: “Intoxica”, Man or Astro-man

mood: angry as hell

Okay, Let’s Talk About This A Bit

me and depression… so yeah, there’s that.
as far as i can tell, it started being a problem for me when Dorris took a contract in San Antonio, and i was only seeing her two days (more or less) every two weeks. it didn’t get nasty ’til she was in Plano and i’m seeing her three-and-a-half days every three weeks.
i don’t get suicidal – i feel useless, and as bad as it gets is “it would be easier on her and other folk if i wasn’t around”. (don’t worry, rationally i know better. but the funny thing about depression is it don’t give a fuck about what you know rationally) and yeah, if there was a magical “erase myself from existence” button, i might have pressed it a time or two.
my thanks to this artist for helping me vocalize that feeling:

https://medium.com/the-nib/i-want-to-live-6a40fbc76ef4

this search for a therapist has been going on for close to two months – i’d fool myself into procrastinating,  thinking i was doing better, that i wasn’t doing anything i wanted to do/get done because i chose not to, and coming to realize again and again “No, schmuck, you haven’t been doing anything but staring at the tv/playing vid games/reading/sleeping because you’ve been depressed.”
turns out i’m better at lying to myself than i thought. who knew?
so now, i’ve stopped procrastinating.

i remember the last time i was in therapy, back when i was living with Dave & Julie Pollard in Arlington.
it wasn’t a pleasant experience – if i didn’t leave the session feeling like i’d been put through the ringer, the therapist wasn’t doing their job.
i’d told my first therapist that if we got too close to something real, i’d start dancing around it, and i’d make it real entertaining, but to nail me down because i was in evasion mode. (you’d think i wouldn’t need to tell them this, right?)
she found my dancing Very Entertaining and refused to nail me down, so i found another therapist at the same clinic who would nail me down, and not enjoy the show so much they forgot why we were there.
helped me deal with some anger issues i was having at the time, and i’d have loved to continue – ’cause there’s a buttload of issues up in here – but didn’t at the time.

even with that successful experience, it’s been hard to actually do this – ask for help, make arrangements, call therapists and play phone tag with them. but it’s done.

now, let’s see what comes of this…

 

 

listening to: “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways
mood: overall, pretty good

The Reverend Earnest Angry and the Disco Temple of Comedy

in the beginning was Cosby, then Pryor, and Carlin, and once i made it out of Smithville, there was Williams.

i’d avoided ‘mork and mindy’ like the plague, despite my deep-seated need to have a meaningful, religious experience between Pam Dawber’s thighs. i was aware of it, of course, it was at the time a cultural icon, but no matter how funny it was, i avoided it. therefore i was vaguely aware of Robin Williams.
i don’t remember how the album “Reality, What a Concept” was introduced to our group of friends at (All Concrete All Corpses Autumn Cottage) Austin College, but believe me, i played the shit out of that record, and even all these years later can remember vast chunks of it.
and then i knew who he was. fuck ‘mork’, this brilliant, improvisational genius was Robin Williams.
new recordings weren’t listened to so much as consumed, devoured. more comedians joined my personal comedic pantheon, and Williams held his own. Cosby faded, his clean and relatively safe comedy no longer suiting my tastes and the times, but even with Kinnison, Leary, and St. Hicks, Williams held on, not by his fingertips but by his manic, improvisational stream-of-hilarious-thought bits.

and let’s talk about the films… not the comedies, but the Good Stuff.
Moscow on the Hudson – a film i don’t own, for good reason. i think it’s brilliant but it tears me up emotionally to watch it.
Dead Poets Society – another film i can’t bear to watch too often
The Fisher King – and yet again, too radiantly painful
Good Will Hunting – so worthy of the Oscar he received
the roles that showed not his already amply-established comedic skills, but his incredible gift at portraying emotion and humanity so poignantly that they are exquisite holy tortures.

the two best tributes to Robin Williams’s effect upon me are the number of bits of his comedy i can easily remember, and the innumerable ways his comedy influenced me and flavored my own sense of humor.

the Disco Temple of Comedy… the Central Texas Home for the Terminally Twitchy… feel the similarity? when you read my work, if you look hard – and sometimes not all that hard – you’ll see this man’s comedic fingerprints.

we all face our own demons, and we fight hard, and we seek out help, or we go it alone, and it never really stops, but we make our way as best we can.
and sometimes the demons win.
Good-bye, Robin. tell Richard and George and Sam and Bill ‘hi’ for me.

 

listening to: “Shakespeare (A Meltdowner’s Nightmare) – Robin Williams, “Reality, What a Concept”
mood: bittersweet

Housekeeping And Updates

so before we get too far into this post, here’s a picture of Conan, being silly in the sheets on the floor of the master bedroom:

photo 1 (1)

i am a firm believer that pictures of the silly dawg are a good thing and should be shared, if for no other reason than to keep Sister Becky amused.

next up… housekeeping.

i washed silverware yesterday. this is momentous as i Hate washing silverware with a passion.
i hear you say “well throw them in the dishwasher, idiot, and quit yer bitchin’!” (it’s true, i hear y’all sayin’ that)
y’all obviously don’t live in Pflugerville, where the water’s so hard, so full of minerals, third-world countries contract to  mine our water. (for the especially gullible among you, no, not really)
so dishwashers Never get the dishes Looking Clean, and ya have to run vinegar through them to keep them from clogging up entirely (have i mentioned the fact that i Hate the smell of vinegar, and therefore the idea of vinegar steam is exceedingly revolting – i tolerate it to clean the coffee maker because… Coffee!)
so i wash dishes by hand.  that’s okay, because the mostly mindless act of hand-washing dishes is restful for me. i enjoy it.
except fuckin’ silverware.
so, as has been the case lately, dishes galore have been piling up on the counter because the sink has a silverware load in it. i’d been washing just what i need to cook/eat with, when i needed it, for 3-4 days, and finally i’d had enough.
i broke down and washed the silverware.
of such small triumphs are good days made.
seriously thinking about buying more silverware though…

on to other issues.
if you think a chili burger is a fine and good thing, lemme tell ya, you’re right.
but you’re probably wrong as well.
you’re probably thinking of a regular burger, however you like it, with a dollop of chili in there somewhere.
rank fuckin’ amateur. you should hang up your “Chili-Burger-Lover” t-shirt.
this… This Is A Chili Burger!

photo 2 (1)

it’s my standard Moonie’s burger – Texas Toast, 2 patties, fried egg burger (plain and dry thank you very much) – covered with a ‘bowl’ of their Really-Pretty-Damn-Good-for-a-Burger-Joint chili.
yes, we took tupperware to Moonies, i put the burger in, poured the chili on, and brought it home.
yes, it looks kinda gross, but chillens, it was Fuckin’ SUPERB.
Conan thoroughly approved of it as he cleaned out the tupperware afterwards, and who the fuck are you to dispute the word of Dr. Dawg?

 

listening to: Lee play “Watch Dogs” on the PS3
mood: full and happy

 

So, On That Whole “Reaching Out” Thing…

long, Long time ago, when i was still in junior high, when i lived in Smithville, i met a guy, don’t remember how, who became one of my best friends. he was older, worked for the railroad (a common occupation in S’ville at the time), and so his hours were rather erratic, but we shared a lot of the same interests.

i used to hang out til all hours of the morning talking – something my mother never quite understood – about books, comics, films – trust me, there weren’t a lot of SF&F fans in my patch o’ Texas.

he taught me how to listen to music. he was – probably still is – an audiofile. before an album was put on the turntable, you cleaned the record, you cleaned the turntable, you cleaned the needle, and then you Listened.

you didn’t talk, or read, or sing along, or even tap your feet.

You. Fucking. Listened. and nothing else.

taught me how to really appreciate music.

the album was listened to once, a cassette tape being made of the album at the same time. (first person i knew who had the equipment to transfer music directly from album to cassette. the rest of us had to sit there with a tape recorder in front of the speakers – or the radio – and hope nobody talked or interrupted us.) *

once that cassette was made, that was the everyday listening copy, and you could talk, whatever while that was being played. but albums were sacred things – music in as perfect and direct a pipeline from creator to listener as you could get.

hell, i still remember one of the best gifts i got in those years. he brought out the album, and recorded me a first generation copy of “Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds”. generally, i got second gen tape copies. but as a present, i got a first gen. that fuckin’ meant something.

he was the first guy i knew who had a video recorder – a betamax. i was with him when he got it, and why he got it is an indication of what kind of geeks we were.

so he’d been thinking about getting one, but hadn’t committed yet. this would’ve been May 23, 1977. KTBC, the CBS affiliate out of Austin announced they would have a clip from “Star Wars” on their 10:30 PM news the next night, in advance of the premiere of “Star Wars” the next day. the afternoon of the 24th, we made a mad, barely-touching-the-road trip to San Antonio to his credit union so he could get a loan for the betamax, then an equally speedy trip back to Austin to pick the betamax up – i think at Montgomery Ward, then back to S’ville so he could unbox it, set it up, figure out how to use it, so he could record that clip.

it was the Millennium Falcon/Tie fighters fight as they escape the Death Star, and we watched it at least 30 times that night. we were back in Austin at the Capitol Plaza Cinema, first showing of “Star Wars” that next day… we got out, bought tickets for the second showing. got out of that one, bought tickets for the third showing, and finally went home after having our minds completely blown three times.

we did the same ‘three-showings-in-one-day” for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. we went to a lot of movies together.

i went to college, albeit briefly, ended up in Dallas, we lost touch, and he eventually ended up in Fort Worth, and we kinda sorta got in touch with each other again, but a lot of years had passed, and a lot of mileage, and it didn’t quite click like it used to. some of the asshole/dumbshit things i did pissed him off – and rightly so – and we fell out of touch again.

periodically i’ve reached out to him since i’ve been back in Austin/Pflugerville, and we’ve talked a little, but it still isn’t the same, and he shows little interest in maintaining contact.

but i’ve reached out again, left a message on his voice mail, hopefully he’ll call me back. i sure do miss him.

* (favorite story about that… my friend Ricki was recording “Red Octopus” by Jefferson Starship onto tape. there was a disturbance, he dealt with it, and kept recording. we loved that tape – middle of first side, you hear his mother yelling from downstairs, “Ricki! Ricki”, then Ricki’s reply. “Mother, shut the hell up!”)

 

listening to: Spanish Train – Chris de Burgh

mood: hopeful

Some Things Don’t Change

y’all can skip this post if you want. it’s personal, but not, in a lot of ways. it’s a downer though… do what you like.

 

in sadness related to that group of friends, the ’80’s crew, those who lived in the Zone, orbited the Zone, or visited the Zone somewhat regularly, out comes the Pink Floyd.

you’d have to have been there – trust me.

i mean, Rush, Marillion, and Harry Chapin got played as much or more, but Floyd… Floyd was the ‘oh shit’ music.

sometimes it was the ‘call the ambulance’ music.

took me a long time to be able to listen to Floyd and not go back to those unhappy times, longer still to be able to listen to ‘The Wall’ without it giving me daytime nightmares.

and right now, the guitar licks in the intro on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” feel like home.

i really wish they didn’t. i wish i wasn’t listening to them because i Need to. i wish i didn’t know i was going to cry through “Wish You Were Here”.

remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.

yeah, i remember.

 

listening to: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I – IV) – Pink Floyd

mood: edge of tears

Last Goodbyes

funny thing about life, you never know when it’s going to end.

got word today an old friend has passed. he was, more times than i can count, a rock of sanity and near-normality in the chaos that was our group of friends in Dallas, back in the ’80’s. where we were pushing the boundaries of chemical alteration, him… not so much. he drank, even got drunk a time or two perhaps, but not like we did. our debaucheries were Epic. his were casual. he was a good man, patient and caring.

in later years, Jason married another friend from the same group, Kat, an ex-girlfriend of mine, and they have a son, Davy.

i always enjoyed talking with Jason, although i never spent as much time doing it as i’d have liked. and now i can’t.

every goodbye could be your last. think about that. don’t fixate on it, as i’ve been prone to do at various times in my life, but remember it.

i know when we’re younger we’re immortal and invincible and nobody is ever going to die – until they do – but then it’s “them” not “me” and we remain immortal/invincible and go on spending our days on whatever. as we get older,  it gets a lot more real, and it sinks in, that whole ‘last goodbye’ thing, but you can’t live with that in your head all the time, so we  resolve to say all the things we want to say, and visit with the people we need to, and that’s all fine and good, but life gets in the way, and like i said, you can’t keep going with that living in your head 24/7, so we forget and then someone else goes beyond and it’s the same thing all over again, and we swear we’re going to do better this time…

but we can’t live with that in our heads all the time. so we forget. it’s natural, shit, it’s even healthy.

and it hurts like hell when we are reminded yet again.

so let’s do away with the grand pronouncements and pledges to do better. at some point, in the next week, reach out just once. just once. make it a promise to yourself. tell that someone you’ve lost contact with you still think of them, you still love them. get together with someone you haven’t seen in a while. don’t be morose about it, this shouldn’t be an occasion for sadness – rejoice in company shared, celebrate words finally said, revel in time shared.

and when you’re tempted to think back on the people you’ve lost, and not spent enough time with, let the time you spend with the people you still have be in honor of those who’ve already passed. no big thing, no angst, just smile, and know that if there is a beyond, those you’ve lost are happy you’re not letting this opportunity slip past.

 

listening to: “Poor Man” – Old Crow Medicine Show

mood: sad