I've read somewhere that Nikita Khrushchev met with John Kennedy to discuss ways to make the relationship between our two countries much more normal. For the Soviets, it offered up an opportunity for some much needed political reform.
Khrushchev's alleged mistress, however, afraid of losing her privileged position, secretly undermined her lover by aligning herself with other party apparatchiks who were also afraid of losing their status. Khrushchev was ousted before he had a chance to implement the reforms.
In Christ's case, it was the Sadducees and the Pharisees, religious authorities, who became the poster children for the type of people who, fearing change, undermine the the opportunity for truth to take hold. They not only undermined Christ, but also initiated the legal proceedings which led to his crucifixion. And then we were left with the metaphor that the status quo always kills truth to protect mediocrity.
I'm watching our country burn now and am sickened by watching thousands of youths in the streets doing things that have little do with honoring the memory of the murdered victims or achieving any kind of justice. I am saddened even more by watching people who should know better trying to justify criminality and violence because they don't want to appear to be on the side of law and order which is kind of like saying that they wish they can do away with the structure and form of their own life and get out there in the streets themselves.
I've seen it before and asked myself then what causes people, especially our youth, to do such things. The answer I arrived at then is the same as the answer that I see now, that is, the lack of hope, a lack of resolve, and the lack of understanding that life is a fucking hard row to hoe for everybody.
We all die at the end, but not all of us have the courage and wisdom to live. This is our true problem. An awful lot of us wish that we can burn it all down and start over. And when you get more people who think like that than not, you will more than likely actually burn the shit down and then later have to sit out in the rain, cold and mud munching on twigs and cursing your own stupidity.
The people who are in charge of our educational system have removed all vestige of meaning from our schools. They have taught for years that children are victims and that we should just surrender them over to the nanny state and, by so doing, create paradise on earth.
The problem is that these people are too unintelligent to even know how incredibly ignorant and short sighted that they are, and how lacking in truth. They cling to their false notions because they don't want anyone knowing that they have no actual fucking clue about what truth is, and, like the Sadducees and the Pharisees, are all too perfectly willing to see it crucified rather than admit their own shortcomings.
They believe that by teaching only humanism, or the insane idea that only human ideas and shit are important, mankind will achieve ultimate harmony, while failing to notice that they are only producing the opposite.
Any three year old could recognize the fundamental truth that what's out there in the universe is so much freaking larger than our ability to understand it all, that if we have to wait for science to provide explanations, we will never achieve anything. The great and mysterious unknown should be our guiding star and not an object of scientific derision.
People want, more than anything else, their life to mean something. They can't ever achieve that though if all spirituality and sense of divine purpose is taken out of the equation.
The answer to the problem is to let all children know from the moment that they are born that not only are they all special and unique, but that their lives need to be made meaningful. We need to teach them that, regardless of their given circumstances, that they are put on this earth to make it and themselves better and the farther they travel, the greater the meaning they will create.
We act like we do this now, but not really. Most people only pay lip service to what is actually needed. When you enact educational programs that do not hold kids accountable for their actions because you perceive them as victims, you will be the one who should later be held accountable for their ultimate lack of success in creating meaning for their life.
Too many times, the people who profess to doing the most for the children only do so because they want to look good or are afraid what changes that the truth might bring. Sometimes, they obey the commands of people even more clueless than they are only because they cannot admit they don't know what else to do.
The one thing we need to teach all kids is that it is okay to be born into a world without hope, to face obstacles, and to fail. But, it is a sin to stay in that world, to run away from opportunities to achieve, and to not even try. Most of all, it is time for the rest of us to quit paying lip service to the idea that our real job is to manufacture and hand out hope.
There is one event in the Bible that people have always needed to pay particular attention to, yet very few have ever done so. I mention it because the event is especially relevant now.
And in case you're wondering, it is the time that Jesus Christ, in a fit of righteous anger, drove the moneychangers from the Temple. Somebody asked on Google where did all the anger stem from, and I think the answer is spot on, "This was in violation of God's intent that all people should be able to worship Him at the temple. The priests knew this was wrong. The merchants knew this was wrong. They were all in the wrong."
In my search for knowledge, I've have come to regard Christ as the mythological representative of the underlying truth of all creation (And before you Christians get all butt hurt, there's is nothing about that statement that says he wasn't real.)
I have also come to believe that the temple represents the highest place within the individual which would be that part of our mind which controls who we are in essence.
Preston Herald, a pseudonym, in the staggeringly brilliant The Shining Stranger referred to it as the High Place where we are meant to retreat to when everything else descends into chaos and despair. This means that our truth will not always be found in the material world. Quantum physics says that we create the world around us, so what we believe in our heart of hearts will ultimately be our truth. It is not for sale, or, at least it shouldn't be.
Looked at from this perspective, the story reads that truth itself becomes fundamentally enraged when that most essential of our self is profaned and given over to the making of profit and especially to the buying and selling of that sacred space. It will destroy us as individuals once the tipping point is reached and then as a society when more and more of us succumb to its insidious poison.
Great literature has always taught that the tension in the narrative is created when the main character is thwarted in his/her quest to become whole. The search for wholeness is, in fact, the story of life. So, this narrative structure is the blueprint for correct living, and learning how to overcome obstacles is the lesson that both literature and life teaches.
Over the last sixty plus years, since the invention of and the rise to dominance over our culture by television, the climax or highest points of tension once used to signify the transformation of the hero/heroine, are now only used as seques into the buying and selling of our consciousness.
We still get transformative endings, but we only after the buying and the selling. This changes the meaning of the narrative as it now prioritizes commercial activity as being fundamentally more important than the transformative experience itself.
This is not only untrue, but also blasphemous. Remember blasphemy is the only unforgivable sin. Selling the space that is the seat of your essential self ultimately means that your life becomes pretty much meaningless.
And to paraphrase that Google response so that it more correctly fits into our modern outlook, "This is in violation of God's intent that our minds should always be somewhat focused on truth (able to worship at the temple). The priests know this is wrong. The merchants know this is wrong. Politicians know this is wrong. Hollywood knows this wrong. Most importantly though, we know this is wrong."
Don't misunderstand me, this does not mean that buying and selling is wrong. But the story does explicitly state that when the buying and selling of our souls becomes the dominant economic and cultural truth of our world, truth will be forced to step in to defend itself. This point is also driven home in Mark 8:36-38 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?"
To put it even more simply, "What does it profit a person knowing that Kim Kardashian and her sisters will always have an unresolved issue lying around somewhere, if you have to watch a Vagisil commercial to see it resolved?" Or more honestly, "How long will it take us before we can understand that none of their fucking television traumatic issues are real."
I have grown very worried about this country. It is mainly because I have become increasingly aware of just how much we are being held captive by the Media. The Media lies and manipulates, but worst of all, it is controlled from above and does only what it is told.
The truth is there is probably not a left-right split in the body politic. There is slightly, but it ain't the Grand Canyon like we have been told. Yet, the Media has gone to great lengths to convince us that such a split is the correct paradigm. It also supports the illusion that absolutely no one occupies a position in the no-man's-land between the two sides. This is a lie seeing that that it is exactly where most of us live. It is the Great Lie of the Age and proof positive that we are being sold a bill of goods.
It has become perfectly obvious that the true split is above/below, or to put it in more simple terms, those who control and those who are controlled. This is why in times of a pandemic we are still being lied to and deluged with tweets, gossip, rumors and videos of rich and famous celebrities whose only real value lies in their ability to divert us from realizing the truth.
I am worried now because I can see that everything will become more and more divisive as we head into the November election. On one side, we have a group which says it now has proof of the greatest government malfeasance but can only hand it out in dribs and drabs, and on the other side a group that has more than once implied that lying and manipulation of facts is ok by them as long as it serves the cause and supports the ongoing narrative. It is like the whole thing is being scripted by HBO and is leading us to the greatest end of the season episode in the history of the world.
Will there be a sequel or a second season? I can't tell you that. I do know that they left it hanging in The Joker, and if that piece of shit is is looked upon as being worthy of a sequel, I guess the total fucking mess we made of things might be as well.
It depends a lot though, on just how willing we are to be used as the extras in the final battle scene, or to spread the required amount of hatred and distrust. Or maybe, in our willingness to cancel our subscriptions to Cable TV after realizing that for some reason it never tells us the complete story and keeps asking us for more and more to buy their lies.
A lot will depend on just how big of a tool we are willing to be.
"Her arched look could slam a door from across a room, and more than a few dreams had died at its command."
Yep, it was that kind of morning. I had been reading a description of the English iconoclast Jessica Mitford and the author had placed great emphasis on her singular ability to arch an eyebrow and wither somebody's heart with just a glance.
I resolved to make use of that idea somewhere, and when I woke up in morning I put the quote above in the 'to be used later' section of my journal.
I shared my morning coffee with Carl Jung. He was writing about a dream he had where he was placed into a supplicant position requiring him to touch his head to the floor. He made a strong effort but could not close the last millimeter. In his interpretation, the inability to touch the floor explained man's relationship with God, the willingness to go so far but always holding something back. Without it, he said, there would not have been a need for book of Job, or for Christ to enter the world.
It gave me some food for thought. So much of what is going on in this crazy world carries the same import of the incidents told about in the scriptures, only we are far too stupid to understand this simple fact, and too given over to the belief that what we say and do is somewhat meaningless. I never liked using the word stupid when I was in the classroom, but the word does seem to perfectly describe the condition of being intentionally ignorant.
Jung was a compassionate thinker too, but he used the phrase maliciously stupid to describe such a state. God forgive me, but I can't help but think that there is a certain maliciousness involved both in mankind's inability to perceive the truth and in our unwillingness to believe that our lives even matter.
I see Shakespeare's fingers all over this current script, and it looks a lot like he's ripping off Faustus and Oedipus the King. I think that he's also been watching some Tarantino movies and possibly The Sopranos on TV. Who knows maybe Sophocles and Goethe are collaborating on this project.
In other words, it don't seem to make any fucking sense at all. I try to keep my hopes up and remember the time that me and my brother Timmy brought Tinkerbell back to life by believing with all our hearts. But then I remember reading in a history book that World War One made absolutely no fucking sense at all either.
I was so shocked that the historian had written the F word that I ran and got a highlighter out of my desk drawer. When I got back to the book, the word was gone. I still remember it though, and that phrase has stuck with me, and I often use it to describe situations like what this old-people seeking missile of a virus has created.
To take my mind off of such thoughts I decided to ride my bike around Corcoran while listening to Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. It's a trick that I often use to try to trick the Universe into yielding up some of it's secrets.
When I got down to the road by the park, he was singing about a book of poems that she(?) had given him where,
"Every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul."
And I knew that it was his way of telling me to pay close attention to my surroundings. That there was something afoot here that most people weren't catching.
As I rode along, my mind often twisted back into the past when I was young and rode my bike along these same paths, and it was like realizing that no time had really elapsed between then and now. When I was looking at these streets through those younger eyes, I was also seeing them as I do now without realizing that it was so, the time between being the illusion.
When I got down to the road in front of the church that used to be the Nazarene church, the song was A Simple Twist of Fate with lyrics that said,
He woke up, the room was bare
He didn't see her anywhere
He told himself he didn't care
Pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside
To which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate."
Dylan, and especially this album, talks to me, and these words remind me of my wife's leaving. He wrote them to describe his own heartbreak when his wife left. Pushing the window open wide and feeling the void enter the room, damn, what a soul sucking image. The location where I was when I heard them reminds me that even churches change over time. You wouldn't think so, but they do.
What few simple twists of fate could have brought about my wife still waking up beside me in the morning and/or the Nazarenes still holding court on the corner of Letts and Hall? I'm left with the distinct impression that those should have been the choices that were made, yet weren't.
He next compounded the feeling of guilt and confusion from those bad decisions with some words from You're a Big Girl Now,
"I'm going out of my mind, oh, oh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we've been apart."
I don't know about the people who once attended the Nazarene church. I suspect that most of them have since died. But I do know that every now and then I need that corkscrew applied to remind me of the importance of making better choices.
Then later as I made my way up Letts toward home, Idiot Wind comes on, and this time, it's Job himself telling the story.
"You hurt the ones that I love best
And cover up the truth with lies
One day you’ll be in the ditch
Flies buzzing around your eyes
Blood on your saddle."
Prophetic lines if there ever were prophetic lines. While listening, I can't help but to think that truth remains the truth in spite of all the savage, maliciously stupid people we now have shouting nonsense to the winds. I don't wish anyone ill, but there will be a certain grim satisfaction knowing that them flies will buzz around those vacant eyes, at the bottom of a ditch too, and right next to blood stained saddle. He doesn't explicitly say that the horse ran off, but it's implied.
But Dylan doesn't just leave things there. He admonishes the rest of us too. He once said he couldn't find a place to break this song off, that the words just kept coming, some of them insanely beautiful, trenchant, and addressed to our materialistic bent,
What's good is bad, what's bad is good
You'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom."
Or else, frighteningly apocalyptic,
"The priest wore black on the seventh day
And sat stone-faced while the building burned."
It is the chorus though where he warns all not to go back to a world of worshipping movie stars and athletes and tells us that we need to take our politicians out to the woodshed in order to remind them they need to work for us and not the opposite. The song's title Idiot Wind seems to perfectly describe our current news media and makes me wonder if it will be all the people who pay them, follow them, or enable them who will eventually wind up seeing/not seeing the buzzing flies.
There is a message of hope at the end of the album too, but it's words are juxtaposed against the bleakness of world where true wisdom has fallen beneath the cushions of the sofa where we watch and measure our lives away as time spent between commercial breaks.
The repeated chorus of Shelter From the Storm reminds us that true wisdom only results in recognizing our situations and surroundings for what they really are, biblical settings and events where God is always negotiating for our lives,
"Suddenly I turned around
And she was standing there
With silver bracelets on her wrists
And flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully
and took my crown of thorns
'Come in,' she said, 'I'll give ya
shelter from the storm.'"
Returning from my journey, I realize that yes, there is such a thing as malicious stupidity. Covid-19 is its cousin and apathy its twin. I also know that there is a stern, austere beauty attached to my hometown . You have to squint sometimes to see it, or else mentally go backwards in time to when you can remember what it looked like before you missed the opportunities offered up by a few simple twists of time and made your own series of bad choices.
But given the choice of staying inside again and listening to the children of the corn argue about what our options are, it's well worth the effort to rediscover.
I am something of a moderate when it comes to politics. I believe that most us, if left to our own devices, generally are. I try to avoid political conversation preferring instead to concentrate on a wider and more inclusive search for knowledge and the truth, something I believe that should be unifying and not divisive. Of course, I could be wrong. Afterall, Jesus said he came armed with a sword implying that even truth can be divisive.
It's hard not to think about politics nowadays. It's is steady being thrust into our faces like a little brother holding up his skid marked underwear and telling us to 'smell this'. It would be like trying to ignore a Doberman chewing on your ankles to think that you are somehow going to be magically able to avoid being splattered with all the shit that so many of our dumbassically inclined fellow citizens are throwing without aim.
My biggest fear though is the loss of the Middle. Who stole it and where has it gone? Americans used to be able to talk to one another, disagree about some stuff, and still be able to go on with life with a great respect for the fundamental decency of our friends and neighbors. This is no longer the case. If we so much as disagree as to which day is better for watering our lawns, we are labeled as being, selfish, racist, Nazis or Commie scum.
What has changed? How about the fact that we have a media that traffics in lies and selling garbage and a too compliant and often comatose populace who thinks that this a normal state of affairs. Ninety-five per cent of our news media says the same thing at the same time with the same exact words. We used to be able to see that as a red flag telling us that something was seriously out of whack. No longer.
Our politicians lecture us. A politician's job, as our servant, should never include lectures. Lectures are our parent's responsibility. Politicians are not our parents as much as they would like to pretend. They work for us and not the other way around. They are more like gardeners, painters, carpenters, lawyers or doctors. We are not their children and even less their employees to be ordered around.
Movie stars, musicians, comedians and professional athletes are being paid millions of dollars to divert our attention away from the search for truth and from learning how to deal with the fact of our mortality. They speak on behalf of corporate masters and often feel compelled to justify their own sell out by pretending to be preternaturally wise, politically enlightened, paragons of virtue which the rest of us should emulate. I can only take that to mean that I should just take the product and not criticize the hand that feeds them even when it is my own.
They are not being paid enough, however, to tell me that I'm a bad person just because I think that many of them are freaking idiots and sell outs on top of it. How about this, how about you come to terms with the face you shave and put makeup on before you tell me anything about who I am as a person. Try doing it without drugs or alcohol. Try doing without projecting your own lack of self worth upon me and friends.
Then try doing it with the knowledge that using the word 'woke' to describe yourself pretty much marks you as a poser. (Real people don't feel the need to place a label on the idea of being a decent human being. That only comes from the deep seated feeling of insecurity that people don't seem to be noticing just how much better you are than everyone else.)
Our problems began years ago when people first learned that they could create some rules and dogma that would enable them to charge admission to heaven. Even then people didn't want to do the real work involved in the spiritual contract and if a ticket could be purchased that would bypass the need to not covet your neighbor's goods, well so much the better. The fact that people should have known that the ticket would ultimately only take them to a shabby little grave on the outskirts of nothingness and bought them anyway, should tell us a lot about our current predicament. The idea that the Church sold them, even more.
We got further sidetracked when the Pope told Galileo to shut up about Copernican theory or be burned. This created the enmity that now exists between science and religion that has resulted in the idea that human beings are somehow a lot smarter than the creator of an infinite universe. These enlightened fools, while trying to maintain their own 'wokeness', thought it was a good idea to chain us all to a Newtonian treadmill that leads only to oblivion. Quantum physics has since proven that this was a bunch of bullshit, but, so far, they want to keep that knowledge to themselves even though it offers up a bridge back to more honest approach to dealing with humankind's spiritual needs.
And as foolish and vain as humans sometimes are, we fell for it all because we were able to make great margaritas with the blenders which science had provided. And as long as the McDonald's drive through was open, pizza could be delivered, alcohol bought and consumed in copious amounts, and nothing got between us and the Super Bowl, we were willing to let politicians handle the homeless problem while pretending that a disproportionate amount of the dirty wrinkled bills we pulled out of our pockets and threw at them wasn't ending up in their own pockets and the pockets of their cronies.
I don't like talking politics mainly because we always seem to blame and point our fingers in the opposite direction and away from the one person who has really come to exemplify the problem.
If we no longer have a middle inside of us which would allow us to hold our material needs in balance with our search for truth and meaning, how can we honestly expect for it to be restored in America?
Are we making ourselves stupid? Or, are we only being blind?
I had an epiphany once. There's no other way to say it. Some people look at you strange when you say that, mainly people who've never had one. What the heck? St. Paul had one. Descartes too. Archimedes and Isaac Newton had them too. I've pretty sure that Einstein had one, probably a few.
Wikipedia says that the word epiphany originally referred to gaining sudden insight through the intervention of the divine. Mystery schools and initiatory rites used to evoke them and Greek drama would purposely attempt to "induct the audience into states of catharsis or kenosis," where the theater goer would achieve a sudden and more penetrating insight of the play's message.
Wikipedia ironically goes on to state, "Today, this concept is more often used without such connotations," referring to the aspect of the intervention of the divine. I say ironically because whoever put that definition in and felt compelled to make it more palatable to modern taste by playing down the divine origin of such a sudden expansion of knowledge has also identified the problem with the concept of epiphanous insight and the modern age of clown school thinking. (My apologies to clowns.)
The Wikipedia definition then goes on to say, "but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside." This made me want to put a little asterisk and write the word, "Duh!" at the bottom of the page. However, it is really more of the case that the divine outside of us makes contact with the divine that is inside of us. And by divine, I mean all of the immense stuff of the universe that has yet to be spayed and neutered by the lab coated high priests of mediocrity in their insane worship of Groucho, the Roman God of burnt toast.
My epiphany was basically that I suddenly understood the power of the subconscious and its importance to the life of an individual. I know that it was real because I suddenly understood a whole bunch of shit that was always right in front of my face. How literature really works, the meaning and symbolism of the classic young adult novel Old Yeller, the meaning of the book Tuck Everlasting, the role of mythology in religion, what to tell my oldest daughter about her, at that time, impending move to Portland, and mainly the realization that most human beings on this planet are playing a dumbed down but slightly more complex version of Monopoly adapted to their own setting.
The saddest thing though was I suddenly found myself like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show realizing that most of the dialogue all around me was pure blather and that a lot of my friends and acquaintances spoke it fluently. It's not like everybody else around me were just actors in this movie; no, they were all Trumans too in their own little shows who had yet to notice the props and all the other clues.
The last few years of my teaching career were open rebellion , but not because I really wanted it to be that way. Our educational system, like pretty much all the rest of all our institutions, government agencies, and organizations seem to be just acting like the Mainstreet USA sets on the backlot of some bizarre Hollywood movie studio. Worst still, they were teaching our kids how to blather too.
I read this book The Divine Code of Life written by a Nobel Prize winning professor of biogenetics named Kazuo Murakami. In the book, the professor says that not only are we capable of altering our DNA for the better, but that we are also hardwired to be the best version of ourselves.
This to be the same exact message that Jesus is speaking of in the Parable of the Talents. It is at essence, the purpose of human life, "Become the best version of yourself." Not only religion, but mythology, fictional literature, quantum physics, and psychology seem to be echoing the same idea.
It could be thought of as a method of acquiring more bandwidth, a way of gaining download speed. In other words, being able to see and understand more elevated content without any of the ads for wart remover.
Murakami also said that there are things in life that keep "the switches" on in our DNA which allow us to change things for the better: humor, positive thinking, curiosity, a sense of wonder, and even some types of stress. It goes without saying that the opposite is also true. Frustration, negative thoughts, apathy, and too much stress and anxiety can keep the switches in the off position.
What this means in terms of education is that we need from day one to let all of our students know that the purpose of life isn't about gaining success in a material world, but that our very existence is predicated on the idea of realizing our best selves, and that true success lies in learning how to overcome obstacles in order to become your best self.
I wrote about this frequently and brought up at staff meetings too, only to be greeted a lot of grass chewing stares and the same lack of comprehension you recieve when you tell someone you just had an epiphany.
My attention floated back to this subject after I stumbled onto and an old blog post I had written back then. Afterwards, an article appeared on my Facebook timeline that pointed out just how badly that Common Core has failed in its purpose.
I thought, "Well, what did they expect from a political solution to a spiritual problem? What did they think was going to happen with a program that denigrated literature in favor of information gathering, a curriculum willing to throw meaning under the bus in order to kiss the ass of a data driven corporate America?"
At that moment I had another small epiphany, an understanding of something that has been right there all along.
I have been sheltering in place longer than Noah was on the Ark waiting for a sign from God. Hell, I didn't even want a white dove, all I wanted was to find something on television that didn't involve stupidity, fighting, screaming, laughing at other folk's misery, using sex to sell me something, gratuitous violence, fake news, etc. And it wasn't there find it.
Remember what Murakami said about keeping our switches on? American society seems to be more concerned with keeping us all in the dark.
Then there was an article about some policemen in Fresno arresting two people for going to a Waffle house during the lockdown. All of the comments I read on social media regarding the incident were as heated and angry as the public commentary that preceded the American Civil War.
Can you imagine what the history books are going to say, telling future people that the Second Civil War was triggered by the eating of waffles?
The news media has become even more blatently dishonest than the Soviet Union's. You can't say that our politicians behave like spoiled children without insulting spoiled children. They are like watching terrible, coke addled actors performing in a poorly written soap opera.
We have been watching the demented comedies and moronic TV shows that Hollywood produces for so long, that it shouldn't be any wonder that we are currently living in some extremely bizarre and dangerous reality show.
But what else should we expect when even a lowly Wikipedia content provider feels compelled to dumbsplain his/her use of the word divine?
My grandpa was once put on trial in Arkansas for a murder he didn't commit. The news coverage during the trial is widely credited with giving Arkansas the backwards image that it has in the American imagination.
Anytime you give a movie a name like Arkansas, you are implying something. I recently rented and reviewed a movie named Addicted to Fresno. It was a horrid piece of crap that basically played on the backwards image of Fresno to gather laughs. I'm pretty sure that none of people in that movie had ever been to Fresno.
It's truly not that great looking of a place, but I've seen parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco that made Fresno look like Aspen in comparison. The people in Fresno are not the hicks that late night talk show hosts poke fun of for cheap laughs. I think those jokes only indicate that the hosts are really not quite as funny as they might think.
That's why it surprised me to find out that first time director Clark Duke, who also starred in and co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Boonkrong, is from Arkansas. If I wrote a movie about my neck of the woods, I would show all the warts and blemishes too, but the viewer would walk out of the theater at least knowing how much I loved the place too.
That kind of love was missing in this movie, and it made all the difference in the world as it pretty much was a missing any kind of a heart as well.
The movie really doesn't give you any reason to care about it one way or the other. So you don't. The only reason to somewhat invest something of yourself in it is because of the female lead Johnna who is ably played by Eden Brolin. Johnna was a good character, a faint glimpse of innocence, someone you could care about about, and even she ended up in Kentucky.
The movie packed some star power with Liam Hemsworth, Vince Vaughn, Duke, his brother Chandler, Michael Kenneth Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Eden Brolin, and John Malkovich. All of them did commendable jobs including the director as one of the two male leads.
Duke's performance was one of the bright spots because his character, a low level drug dealer, had some depth to him. He was witty and the more socially adapted of the two. He had an annoying porn star mustache though. Hemsworth's character, another low level drug dealer, brusque to the point of rudeness, simply lacked depth. Kyle Ribb was as shallow as the water in a kiddie pool. There was some attempt to rescue him by some selfless actions at the end, but it was not only too little, too late; his decision to accept his fate as a drug dealer at the very end, marked him as a low rent Tony Soprano or Al Swearengen wannabe, while lacking the personality of either.
And in my opinion, there are way too many of these monstrous motherfuckers being pushed on us already.
Vaughn and Malkovich both gave credible performances, but their characters were also too emotionally lacking to be compelling.
It wasn't the acting that failed, however, it was the narrative. The storyline couldn't carry the weight that it was expected to carry. The slow pacing failed to create adequate suspense and when combined with the lack of humanity in the Hemsworth character, nobody seemed to care enough to make the audience care. It was one of those movies that kept you mildly interested but not so much so that you didn't take fifteen minutes to make a sandwich in the middle of it.
Maybe the script was trying to say something about how the hardness of life in Arkansas turns you into a soulless zombie or something to that effect, but it was like it really didn't want fully commit to that concept. The script spread its net too widely in that regard and basically said that whole American South is something of a snakepit with Oklahoma City being the worst.
The high point of the movie came when Duke's character Svenn chastises Johnna for her obsession with celebrity. He goes on a rant that exposes modern culture for what it truly is, a cheap distraction that causes us a lot of us to lose faith in our lives and to mass project our fears and shame in the form of zombie and purge movies. To be honest, that thought has crossed my mind more than few times.
All I got to say is, it ain't just Arkansas, Duke. And it's even less fair to not place more emphasis on Hollywood's role in such a mass projection. Unless, that was what you were trying to say in the first place. In that case, I was fooled by the title.
It's been kind of a disturbing day. I'm new to the twittersphere but have become amazed and worried at just how many vicious dumbasses there are on the platform. And the thought that there are people who actually use it to get some idea of what other people are thinking scares me no end. Heaven help us all.
If God ever stumbles on the site we would be well advised to buy an inflatable raft or two. Strike that; I forgot; it'll be fire next time. we'll need to buy some industrial size fire extinguishers, some hand sanitizer, and plenty of toilet paper. I heard it makes a good fire retardant.
I usually don't like talking in public about the Great 21rst Century Brouhaha, or the political mess that we currently find ourselves in because perfectly normal human beings become rabid animals with a casual mention of anything to do with politics. Things escalate fairly quickly and a lifelong friendships are sometimes lost in the time it takes for an average person to prove that he/she is pretty much a complete dumbass (about five seconds for the curious).
I would rather keep my friends, as dumb as some of them silly fuckers are, than lose any of them. I love them all and care more about their character and hearts than I do about their politics. They're all on this crazy journey with me, and it seriously makes me sad to lose one to sickness and death and even more so to politics.
However, there are a lot of things I don't like that have become a part of our everyday life. It's hard to keep it bottled up inside especially now when so many truly stupid people, who really ain't got a whole lot say, either can't shut-up or are being highly paid to blather.
I know that the first amendment is a good thing, make that a great thing, one of the all greatest things the human race has ever come with as a species. But lately, I've come to realize that although it guarantees our right to voice our opinions, too many people think it guarantees that all opinions are equally valid.
And I don't want to come off sounding like a dick on this. But if I had a friend who went around saying shit like, "Damn, I used to drink Corona until CNN did a expose on its connection to Wuhan," I'd feel somewhat disloyal if I didn't kick that sumbitch under the table or give him a hard nudge or two with an elbow.
Here are some of the things that currently bug me about our world.
1) I don't like the missing middle. It was there up until a few years ago. I believe that there's a need to investigate and find those sumbitches who destroyed it. People used to disagree and still retain friendships. I feel it's desirable to get back to that.
2) It bothers me that politicians get to make all the decisions. They don't seem like a very trustworthy group, most of them seem to have a buttery sheen about them now.
3) I don't like celebrities who hire PR people to tell us how trendy, compassionate and empathetic their clients are. If you want to send some burgers and stuff to first responders, nurse, etc. Just send them. If a photograph of you doing so makes it to the internet, even it from someone who claims to have captured you doing it incognito, it's pretty freaking suspect. And I don't really need to know that you duped 25 million not too bright human beings into thinking you are the greatest thing since rootbeer floats.
4) I don't trust people who bite into a rotten apple and then claim that all apples are rotten. It's even worse when you didn't actually bite the rotten apple but just shared the anecdote for the fifteenth thousand time. I especially don't like people who paint all people with a broad brush because a dumb individual or two did something wrong.
We use to call that prejudice, and it was a bad thing. Now, depending on which side of the aisle you are on, it's considered being loyal to your tribe. It wasn't a valid excuse back then, and it's certainly not a valid excuse now.
People need to quit paying attention to fools who walk and talk like they accidentally put on their little brother's underwear.
5) I don't like the news media. I used to, but ever since Uncle Walter crossed that line back in the day, most news reporters think that they they're supposed to be virtue signaling Mohandas Gandhis Then, when they realize how hard that shit is, they try to fake it by spreading untruths about their network's enemies.
6) I really don't trust people who get only their news from the people mentioned above. People who aren't willing to look for the truth shouldn't be too surprised when everyone tells them lies. One day they'll all find themselves living in a world created out of all the lies that they accepted which would be poetic justice of a sorts except for the fact that a lot of us will have to share that world with them.
7) I really don't like most of Hollywood. A bigger bunch of whiney, self-righteous phonies have never existed. The victims of Stalin's Show Trials spoke more a lot more truthfully even though they were being forced at gunpoint to tell lies. Movies stars lie for money then try to act like normal people. You live in the hills, folks. Normal people don't.
8) I don't believe that people who throw footballs, hit baseballs, shoot baskets, or talk about sports are any more essential than my friends and I. I would never think of getting in front of a camera and weighing in on our economic policies or blathering about what wonderful person Xi Jinping is. They shouldn't either. It's bad enough they are making millions throwing footballs, hitting baseballs, shooting baskets, or talking about sports.
We used to think that that was just the way that things went, but in these troubled times, I doubt that we should still think that way. Hell, it wasn't right when we thought it was ok. Same thing goes for movie stars, singers, and news anchors too.
These are just a few of the things that bug me. For the sake of brevity, I have kept the list very short. I'm still hoping that all this time spent in exile will help us to clarify what is really important and what is not. I'll get back to you later on that point I'm sure.
I've been in a real writing slump lately because I been obsessively stuck on the thought of how millions of years of bat evolution has led to the creation of a virus that only targets old, fat people and leaves the young alone. This shit would have had Darwin reading his Bible while scratching his nuts.
This morning I went to Visalia to get my allergy shots and remembered how important that this drive was in stirring my creative juices. Right off, I used a trick to focus my thoughts where I hold an imaginary conversation on some important topic, in this case, it was with my doctor. I wanted to ask him about what he thought about all of this Coronavirus shit and needed to be prepared in case he responded.
"Hey, Doc. What do you think of all this virus shit?"
"Well, Doug, I don't feel real comfortable discussing my thoughts on the matter just yet. Ask me when you come back in three weeks."
"You're assuming I'll make it back. May I remind you that I got millions of years of evolutionary Bat poop scouring the world looking for my ass."
"How does that make you feel?"
"Well, yeah! I mean shit, I've done some dumb shit in my life, but dying just because I got old and fat seems kind of pointless to me."
"You are aware that's the way it usually works though. Tell me, are you afraid of death?"
I stared at him in disbelief, "Damn, Doc, I could get asked better questions by my dumb-assed buddy Leonard, and he has trouble opening an aspirin bottle."
"I guess what I'm asking if you think life is worth the pain and suffering that it takes to live."
"Well, that's what it all comes down to; is life meaningful or meaningless?
"What are your thoughts?"
"Since my ex-wife died, I've read both War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov because they supposedly contained the best answers to that question."
"Well, did they?"
"They were very long winded arguments in favor of the idea that life is meaningful, but only if you learn to love your fellow man."
"The late, great John Prine stated my thoughts on the matter far more succinctly in just two lines from the chorus of his song Fish and Whistle, 'God, forgive us for what we must do. You forgive us and we'll forgive you.'"
"You didn't answer the question."
"Put it this way. On the way over here, I saw a hammock stretched between two shade trees. I saw more meaning in that than all the books ever written."
And I did too. The image reminded me that creation is a lot more than some random puddle of piss. Random puddles of piss don't need hammocks; they do just fine in small indentations and ruts formed by accidental movements of wind, water, or earth.
Humans, on the other hand, are capable of looking at two trees and envisaging a hammock. I don't think I've ever seen a hammock formed by a random force of nature, or even two or three acting in concert for that matter.
At the height of all the media enhanced fear, I sat down on the the loveseat by my window. I was at least six feet away from my own damn thoughts, sheltering in place of living and worrying a lot about what the future holds for our species.
The thought crossed my mind that I could die while going to fetch a corn-dog. Which would be a damned shame considering I don't even like corn dogs.
For a moment, I was pretty scared. I prayed to God to forgive every sin I ever committed even the ones I been keeping secret for most of my life, especially those ones.
I started thinking about if I had done enough to merit going to heaven. I drew a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and started listing my good deeds and my bad deeds.
I had two whole pages of bad deeds down before I even got one down on the plus side. I started stressing and had to put down things that I could've done but didn't do in order to restore some balance to the list.
For example, I could've been a politician who took selfies of himself handing out needles to drug addicted homeless people. Had the chance and didn't do it. Gotta count for something, right?
After a while, I got kind of depressed and decided it would probably be best if I didn't go outside for a while, or at least until I dyed my hair with some Grecian Formula and lost some weight, or they found cure for this shit, whichever came first.
I did learn though that it's one thing to think you are a good person and quite another to actually be a good person. It's one thing to puff up your chest with phony accomplishments and stand there telling lies to your mirror as you shave and a whole nother thing to make a list that could actually pass St. Peter's smell test.
Lord, please give me enough time to plant two trees.
I came out of the movie theater after watching The Joker with an unshakable feeling that as a culture, we had crossed a line, a tipping point, if you will.
I had also recently watched the coming of age movie The Good Boys, another pile of donkey feces masquerading as cinema. I wrote the following at the beginning of my review of that movie.
"The world is so crazy nowadays that you are made to feel quite priggish for pointing out the flaws of a movie like this, but you
should also feel guiltier if you don't. Moviegoers have gotten quite
used to feeling slimed, so much so, that even though the slime is
always there, we no longer think of it as as a something bad, more
like sunscreen or something.
Hollywood has gotten pretty ingenious over the years in knowing
just how much shit they can put in a milkshake without taking away
A few months later the pandemic occurs. I'm not crazy enough to admit to thinking that there's a causative relationship there. I'll just state that quantum physics is some weird shit and let it go at that.
The Good Boys is a masterpiece of movie making art compared to Addicted to Fresno which could quite possibly be the worst movie ever made. I know that there's a short movie about someone taking a shit out there somewhere, and I'm taking that into account. Cats too.
According to the review site Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of people loved the movie. They claimed to have gotten the jokes even though there were no jokes to speak of just an endless parade of crude, banal blather. You're trying to be too hip for your own good, people. Saying that you get it is not a sign of hipness, it is a cause for concern. Really.
Some critics have praised the acting and even referred to the movie as being somewhat cute. It has some big name stars too. I'll do them all a big favor and not mention their names. One critic stated that the, "Strong lead performances and an energetic supporting cast elevate the uneven material." Uneven material? The script would have been a better if they had lifted one from the worse porno movie ever made.
It is so bad that Andrew Dice Clay would be justified for trashing it for lack of taste. One would have to think that the actors were being paid by having compromising photos destroyed.
The director has a sterling reputation as a TV director. I can't understand why anyone would think that poking fun at Fresno would serve as a good premise for a movie, especially a movie that is clearly more about the moral decadence and corruption of Hollywood. (If you want to argue it is not actually about poking fun at Fresno, explain the title.)
I've always hated the word shit used in a musical lyric. It is such evocative word that does it best work as an adjective, but never as the focus of discussion. I can not figure out why Hollywood has become so obsessed with the pushing of envelopes that they are mining beneath outhouses for new ideas.
I recently read a Saul Bellow quote that referred to the relationship between common sense and good humor by saying, "A sense of humor is just common sense dancing." There's some dancing in this movie but it's got little to do with either humor or common sense.
The Hollywood movie industry is increasingly and unashamedly catering to infantilism. If it continues to seek out that perfect recipe for sweeter tasting feces, it'll need to invest more money in baby wipes, adult diapers, and way stronger antibiotics.
How about a movie based on the Emperor's New Clothes? It could be set in Hollywood and the tailor can be an earnest young exec who tells the hot shot director, "Hey! That script is shit!"
Somebody needs to.