Friday, April 29, 2005

Say Hello To...

Listening to: Super Furry Animals, Rings Around the World

Broken Bread, linked now over under the 'Dads' category although I was tempted to place him under the 'Wonderfully Defying Category' tag because he writes well and thinks well and not always about dad stuff. Even if I don't always agree with him (See Mamcita? I do love you despite being "mean" as well).

Which happens. Hell, I bet I'd get into a shouting match with The Zero Boss - in between downing shots.

Anyway, I have to give credit to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (who finally - yes, yes - YES, FINALLY - was tipped on the otherwise lame CNN "Inside Blogs" segment) for the "Say Hello" thing. Skippy's generosity to Blogotopia (*YTCTPAOMFGDHMTDWHTFMI?!?!) is well-documented and we bow to the Blue Kangaroo now because, well, I'm a complete link-whore (**NIDCTPSFOABMMATPBISSITOLW) and Skippy generously mentioned me once, even if the link sent all of 6 visitors here and I'm sure they thought this was a site about drugs.

So... go say hello to Broken Bread (and Hell yeah, Skippy too), he's a ton more spiritual than James Dobson and those nazi shitbags and will probably renew your faith, not just in Christianity (which I still maintain is not a bad path, if that's your thing) but in Blogvana (***YICTPETIDBTGITCIIIDCTP)

*Yes They Coined That Phrase And Oh My Fucking God How Many Times Do We Have To Fucking Mention It?
**No I Didn't Coin That Phrase So Fuck Off And Bother Michele Malkin About That Phrase Because I Say She's The Original Link Whore
***Yes I Coined That Phrase Even If I Didn't Bother To Google It To Check If I Indeed Did Coin That Phrase

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Listening to: D.J. Shadow, Endtroducing...

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Yeah, OK, enough, enough, ENOUGH ALREADY - my dull root was stirred a month ago (with Cheerleader porn, if I recall correctly) and the damned lilacs have done little but clog my sinuses. Although we've had two days of spring rain earlier this week, today has been the second day of cold, fog, and light snow. It gets better. According to the weather, we're going to get another five days of crappy Canadian "Screw You, Esae" comeuppance (vicious but polite, they attempt to pass as Mexico, like some cosmic prank call).

Damn near May and it's still acting like mother fucking February. Yes, you've read this post before. And not only that but the stomach bug I had earlier this week has also returned, pinning me once again to the couch, to relive the agony of marathon true crime forensic shows.

Which makes me ask: what's the use of all the true crime forensic wizardry if, at the end of all of the poking and picking and ass impressions on the Xerox machine, the dude's roomate calls the cops and drops dime, "You got the guy you're looking for right here, Kojak, come get him, he told me all about it?" Seems anticlimactic to me and it pisses me off considering I could have been up and... well, no I wasn't getting up, or going far.

Seems like a long way to go for a bad joke.

This cruelest month is almost over. As such, I think we have everyone lined up for mixmania! and unless you work well under pressure, your mix should be ready to mail on Monday, so you'd better not sign up. None of us want crap, comrade.

As for those of you who have been spinning your mixes and thinking, "yeahhhhh," you'll be getting an email from me tomorrow (including pics of me after my 'Sudafed and Cigarette Diet"™ along with my pathetic appeal for a free IPod) designating where you'll send your little treasure. Remember: no telling what the mix is, no telling who you are, and no pussy photos (we don't do Friday Cat Blogging here).

Again, too far for a bad joke.

Thank you, T.S. Eliot. Eighty-three years later and we're still inspired by how long one can go for a punchline.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ad Libbing, Revisted

Listening to: Brian Eno, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

Last week I posted about clients I've been seeing and asked for some input; you beautiful people came through in ahuge way. In that post, I promised to keep you updated on the situation and now is as good a time as any to add a little more spice to the brew.

There was another session today, rife with confrontation. The girl is not too happy that I've made some demands on her behavior and she perceives me as much a foe as her mother. That's fine, I'm a therapist, not a buddy. I'm not paid to stroke egos or co-sign bullshit, I'm paid to reveal truths and help find solutions.

So, I'm interested to see what all of you think regarding my hard-assed approach to parenting a 14-year old girl:
  • Until she has at least a 'C' in all classes, no privileges;
  • No skipping classes/school unless mom approves. Skipping class/school gets privileges revoked.

After she has achieved at least a 'C' in every class, she gets:
  • One weekend night out, 10 PM curfew; 11 PM when she turns 15, midnight when she turns 16;
  • One weeknight out 8 PM curfew but exceptions can be made for school-sponsored events;
  • No phone use after 10 PM;
  • Can only go to a friend's house if parents are at the house;
  • No friends over unless mom is at home;
  • No friends older than 16-years old;
  • Drinking and/or drugs, not being accountable for location, or dishonesty voids all privileges for one month

As I said in my previous post, I'm also holding mom accountable. I told her, "No more nights off until we get through this. Either your on board with this 100% and keep your guard up or find another therapist." She claims she's prepared to do whatever it takes to get her daughter back on track and she's up for the sacrifice.

My hope is that the daughter will turn around. I wouldn't be this strict with my own kids - unless they were also saddled with a Conduct Disorder. However, desperate situations require desperate measures and if I can convince the girl that things will ease up if she can show she can follow the rules and earn her mom's trust, I will have succeeded.

So what do you think? Am I being an unreasonable prick? Again, I'm seeking your input.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Creeping Towards Spring

Listening to: Puccini, Madama Butterfly

Figured I ought to allude to Yeats after yesterday's snarky attack on, what I believe are, irrational beliefs. At this point I guess I should add, "I hope I didn't offend anybody" but that would be disingenuous. If I was trying to be provocative, I would have left the post open to some illusion that I'd discuss the point but the tone of my post left no doubt as to my overall intention to ridicule. I can be shitty like that.

Must be my mood. Within the past 48 hours, two kids have been puking and squirting poop with a prodigiousness previously known only to little squeeky dogs after devouring a box of bon-bons. A reeking mound of laundry has just now come through the final cycle, neglected only because I have been likewise afflicted by the ughyness. Groaning horizontally, lifting my head enough to tell Zeke to get out of the houseplants or please not stand on the coffee table or not to tip his juice on daddy's papers, I did manage to get some running around done. Well, not so much around as a bee-line back and forth to the bathroom.

The weather was cold and rainy, two days of it now. Here in Colorado, we're only accustomed to rain in small doses, usually late in the afternoon and then only for a half hour or so. Two days straight and we're wondering about "end times".

In a few more weeks, we'll be looking at most days in the high 70's and mountainsides in full bloom. Springtime is staging itself for an explosive arrival. Only then, will you wish you were me.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Preparing For the End Times

Listening to: A beautiful mix by Lu

OOOOooooohmygod, grrrrrr... who? Wha? Huh? Where's my coffee ferkrissake....?!?!

Still recovering from last night's Genuine Bash and although I have no regrets (quite the opposite), I have battle wounds.

This afternoon I watched some show about the Book of Revelations on the History Channel and of course they feature Tim LaHaye and his "Left Behind" series. According to LaHaye, the pieces are supposedly all in place for the second coming or the rapture or Armageddon or whatever and we all need to get ready and do whatever it is we're supposed to do so that when the big rumble comes so we're not looking at an empty space where our holier-than-thou friend was previously sitting and left wondering how the hell they did that and hadn't they said they were paying for lunch, anyway?

All the signs are in place, folks. Just like they were, oh, twenty years ago and oh yeah, twenty years before that and twenty years before that and on and on and on and every twenty years or so, all the way back until that night when St. John the Divine went to bed after eating some bad Gefilte fish and had hellish dreams. Had St. John taken some Alka-Seltzer® we might have been spared all this hooey but now we have to hear every nitwit hick with a modicum of bible learnin' bloviate on how now is the time when it all ends, doo-dah.

To the credit of the History Channel piece (which seemed to minimize shilling for evangelicals despite the popularity of that sport these days), they did mention several times that, well, these predictions have been ongoing for about 2,000 years. Of course, what comes to mind is the boy calling wolf and one would think folks might have caught on by now. Except, these are the same people who believe everything there is was cooked up about 5,000 years ago in less than a week's time, every animal on earth was collected onto a ship the size of a neighborhood Jiffy Lube, and that a zygote carries the same rights as a human. So it's probably not much of a stretch to imagine they're going to get bit every twenty years by what's essentially, "made you look!"

My own end times is fast approaching as I ready my humble abode for the return of the wee ones. Get some laundry done (and get it put away), re-hide daddy's candy stash, re-file this past weekend's stack of CDs. Daddy knows how to be proactive when dealing with empirically verifiable disasters. I just can't be bothered by bad dreams.
Less than a week left to get in on the Mixmania! fun so let me know if you want to add a mix to the mix (and please email me your postal address). I don't think my beastly behavior at last night's Genuine Bash gained any converts but we've got over 20 players now, so it should be interesting.

On a sad note, I found out about the demise of one of my favorite blogs, Candygenius (although she promises/threatens to be back soon). Cindy has been one of the funniest and formidable foes of comment-spammers and she will be sorely missed. She was also one of my first fans and I owe her a mountain of gratitude.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ooh Ooh-Ooh We, the Wild Night is Calling

Listening to: Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey

Got milk?

Well, bring it to a Genuine Bash only if its squirting 3-ways through a pierced nipple; otherwise bring a bottle of Crown Royal or raspberry vodka with orange juice and triple sec or vanilla extract and paint thinner. Body paint and party hats, whatever it takes until Genuine Jim passes out and the rest of us collect URLs of new finds (and friends) like co-music fiend Ben Padilla, Lalaland, Suzy, Tink, Daxohol, Jayde, and Raeven (among so many others, forgive me if I've drunkenly forgotten you) or turn our inhibitions out for those we already love here in this strange corner of the blogosphere.

Picture a lot of "I LOVE YOU MAAAAAAAAN"s and me getting naked on my webcam. Well, don't picture the latter unless you've forgotten what you had for lunch and you wnat to see it again. And for those of you who fled screaming and blinded, you asked for it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Updates, Schmupdates

Listening to: The Fugs, First Album

Gawdamighty I need to be careful what I ask for.

For all of you who graciously added input on the therapy issue - thank you so much. I'll keep you updated on how it's going (within the limits of professionalism and propriety) but as I maintained in that post, my counseling skills are more a function of my intuition than my education. Indeed, the more research into different psychotherapeutic models for family/adolescent issues that I conducted, the more I realized that practicing a little tough love and a lot of compassion goes a long way.

As you may have read back in January when I was in dire need of a job, I believe the universe twists itself in strange ways and never really the way we thought it would unfold. Suddenly I'm finding myself up to my armpits in clients (from referrals and other therapists flaking out) and that's taken up a chunk of my time. Not that I'm complaining - I love what I do.

Mixmania! has demanded a big chunk of my time but it's been learning on the fly. In fact, it's been a lot of fun so far. I think I'm going to repeat it again in June or July and I should be able to get it better organized next time.

Thus, no cutes-y dirty-diaper posts, no children's wit and wisdom, no ranting at the universe. Life is full of surprises and my daddy blogger creds are getting the short end of it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Back Here, Ad-Libbing

Listening to: Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything

Still a-glow from my weekend in Nirvana, I'm finding it difficult to come up with something/anything to update this thing. In the meantime, I'm skimming an old Family Therapy textbook to prepare for my newest clients, a mom and her 16-year old daughter. Condemned to spend time in the weird purgatory of too much on my mind and nothing to say.

I met with the clients yesterday to see if this was a relationship we wanted to establish. The mom ended the previous therapy because she felt as though the counselor was advocating too much for the daughter, not considering both sides of the story, and was not seeing any improvement in her daughter. Given the lack of results, I was asked to step in.

During my undergrad work, I had a summer internship working with adolescents; I hated it. Teenagers are difficult because they believe they have all the answers in any given moment. The teenager I talked to yesterday was insistent that all she needed was "to be left alone", that she just wanted mom to stay off her back. I told her that this was unacceptable, that it wasn't going to happen, that mom had obligations to insure her daughter was going to school, was healthy, was not hanging out with the wrong crowd, was not drinking or smoking dope.

My own concern is that I'll swing too far to the other side but I have to say that if my own daughters were skipping school to hang out with older guys, drinking, getting high, having sex, heads would roll. My cursory reading of the Family Therapy textbook is making me realize that my skills are all intuitive, that I need to just go with what I feel is right. I need to make the girl know her privacy is respected, her right to seek her own identity is honored. Yet, I need to let mom know she is right to demand that her daughter is following the rules, not taking the wrong path as she negotiates her way through adolescence.

However, any input here (especially from teens or parents of teens) would be appreciated.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Brief Vacation

Listening to: Squeeze, Singles

Spring is here - FINALLY - and time to get up in the mountains and watch winter shed its skin as the snow melt makes its way to the sea.

I'm going to post some of my favorite essays from the bygone days on my first blog at Boondoggle's website. Don't bother going there, most of the stuff is shit and I haven't even bothered to post there since March. Don't waste your time. If I wrote anything decent there, I'm posting the best of it here.

Don't flip out on the time-stamps, I'm just trying to be cute. If I'm not cute enough for your tastes, go see the Zero Boss and click his ads - better yet, click on all the sites listed over there on the left.

Two weeks is plenty of time to mix a disk, plenty of time to join in the mixmania! fun...
For all of you parents who relish reading "Where the Wild Things Are" to your kids because you remember how much you loved that book when you were young, will be happy to know that Maurice Sendak's genius is being recognized at the Jewish Museum in New York City. Check out the link (and the slide show) and the exhibit if you're lucky enough to be in NYC for the show.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Post in Which I Ridicule Ayn Rand and "Objectivism"

Chill - yes, I promised I was going to put Objectivism to rest once and for all right here and that is what I'm going to do. I know that sounds like a huge yawn, dry and acedemic but I can assure you there is no difficulty in arguing against Objectivism and the clones of Ayn Rand. I'm not going to use terms like "idealism", "anti-realism" or "Identity Theory" (the usual chestnuts in this argument), you can find plenty of that elsewhere. I'm just going to argue why Rand's "philosophy" (I use quotes there because Philosophy demands the rigor of logical examination and Rand seems to think her work is immune to such scrutiny) is simplistic and appeals to the intellectually lazy, why it is untenable and insubstantial as a political theory. Yet, I feel I must address it and discount it since it is such a poisonous and repulsive bit of thought.

First of all, check out today's website (and I'll re-link it here since I'm still waiting for Jer to fix this so the forms don't clear), it's Thich Nhat Hanh's web site. I feel the best answer to Rand's stupidity is NO ANSWER, that the Buddhist principle of Love & Compassion are essential, that anything without those principles are meaningless. If you want to skip the rest of this, bookmark that site and you'll have everything you need to put Objectivism out of your mind.

I feel like I have to answer Objectivism because of its ubiquity on the internet. Some would argue, "Well it MUST be substantial if there's so much on the internet about it!" Please. There's also tons on the internet about Bigfoot, Fascist Jesus (as opposed to Revolutionary Jesus), UFO's, and Elvis-is-alive.

I first got on the internet back in 91', the days of BBS's and USENET, there really wasn't a WWW back then just message boards. Unfortunately, every discussion board for Philosophy was dominated by Objectivists, loud and virulent ludites whose ideas of discourse was simple invective. If a non-objectivist tried posting a valid question or argument they'd be met with a gang-flame but not one single cohesive reply to the poster's point. Such behavior seems to be the intellectual legacy of Rand herself and her protoge Dr. Leonard Peikoff both of whom reduced all defenses to the ad hominem, "You're just not intelligent enough to grasp the full meaning of objectivism."

I will admit that I was attracted to Rand's work for about 5 seconds when I was 15. Rand is one of the adolescent indulgences like Kurt Vonnegut, Jean Genet, listening to one style of music (rap/metal/rap-metal/punk/techno/etc) at the exclusion of other genres, or video games, something that one usually outgrows given maturity, more education, and a sense that the world doesn't revolve around us. As I mentioned earlier, Rand doesn't hold up to (or demand) intellectual scrutiny. So when a 15-year old reads "Atlas Shrugged" she/he FEELS SMART because Rand presents some ideas that are novel (excuse the pun) to the developing mind and to grasp those ideas gives said adolescent a sense of self-esteem.

Essentially, Objectivism is just an elaborate way of saying "every man for himself". That's not just untenable, it's uninteresting. And taken to it's logical conclusion, it fails. If "He who has the most toys at the end wins the game", what's left? Nothing. Not the Nothingness that Sartre says sets us adrift from the morals of social convention (because they only lead us back to our obligation to Society) nor the "nothingness" of Buddhism where the ego is rejected to embrace the One... no, the nothing at the logical conclusion of Rand's program is extinction of everything. An unreconcilable contradiction in light of Rand's idealism, since there are no perceivers left to interprate perceptions.

I won't argue the literary merits of Rand's novels (except to say they're wretched) but you can get a witty, non-intellectual (which is not to say "unintelligent") overview at this page.

Finally, you may want to ask yourself why no reputable Philosophy department teaches Objectivism? They'll cover Eastern Philosophy, Biblical Philosophy, Teleology, et al but not a single class to teach Objectivism. Likewise, no academic journals devote any space to Objectivist thought. I think this brilliant satire on Rand, "How To Become An Objectivist In Ten Easy Steps" gets to the heart of why Objectivism is the philosophy of numbskulls (why else would Dr. Laura be an adherant?).

Enough for now. I hope I've deflated some intellectual pretensions and moved some people to think about REAL philosophy and not the phony shit that Rand proposes. If I've stepped on some Objectivist toes, wah wah wah, you're a grown up and, yup, an "Objectivist" and toe-stomping is what Rand's so-called philosophy is all about. Get over yourselves.

Friday, April 15, 2005

A Post in Which I Genuflect to Pay Homage to The Clash

I promised I'd rave about The Clash and then I took a vacation from this blog-thing-y (although nobody bitched about it, okay... or whatever, your attachment didn't open...) - forgive me. If the number of words on the righteousness of The Clash's induction into the R&R Hall of Fame exceeded what's been written about Iraq, this would be a happy planet. So, here's to showing my absolute devotion to St. Jude....

I'll try not to masturbate with the bi-blography hand-cream while inevitably exposing myself - a bit - in order to explain why The Clash were, for a time, The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.

Back in High School, I was rather amorphous, not a Jock, not a Stoner, not a Brain... I just didn't fit in anywhere - and I kind of liked that. Although I carried a card for membership in the Revolutionary Communist Party, I never got involved in anything except griping about the sorry state of music in the 70's. Everything sucked and Tom Wolfe was on the money with "The Me-Decade". My radical aspirations languished in that patchoulli-soaked polyesther atmosphere of apathy and mediocrity.

The only saving grace of the first half of that dismal decade was found in the columns of Lisa Robinson and Lenny Kaye in "Hit Parader" and Lester Bangs in "Cream", chroniclers of the brewing revolution in music. Through those monthly reports from the underground, I learned that there were other outsiders, other malcontents, other seditionaries waiting for the call to revolt.

I guess what I was waiting for at that time was a bigger and better MC5... Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Iggy and the Stooges, The New York Dolls... and later, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie... well, yeah, they sure as shit spoke to me, louder and more articulate than, say, Fleetwood Mac or Bob Seger, but these were not bands that challenged us to "Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!". They just wanted to shoot out the windows for the sake of being heard, shred the canvas for the need to be seen, a Dada sensibility with definite anarchist overtones but more art-student than activist.

Nothing wrong with that - it was a welcome relief from the self-indulgent rock and mindless booty-shaking obsession of disco that dominated the airwaves. However subtly subversive those bands were (well, that sells them a bit short), they weren't actually articulating the potential of their "Termite Art" (to cite Manny Farber) as they slowly ate away the foundations of 1970's "White Elephant Art". To paraphrase Marx, the revolution wasn't an economic struggle (much less an artistic struggle), it was a political struggle; but no one took up the vanguard to declare that the revolution would not be recognized (apologies to Gil Scott-Heron).

And so, when I first heard U.K. Punk (and I differentiate here because, in my mind, Punk existed loooooooong before the Sex Pistols made it a fashion) I busted a nut, the sound was so new, so invigorating, so in-your-face-cuz-I'm-so-pissed-at-your-middle-class-bullshit, it was so right for a 17-year old who saw the suburbs as a cultural sewer and society as anethema to authenticity. Still, the politics of nihilism in UK Punk, "You suck, I suck, everything sucks," was somehow, ummm, insufficient*. Wave the black flag all you want but if you're not offering any alternatives, you're just a vandal. The attitude was liberating, the sound was intoxicating... but I had to hate myself in the morning, like getting drunk for the first time, forgetting how I got home, and then an excruciating burn when I wnet to take a pee.

The Clash (a year late in the first wave) saved my life. Exciting and anarchic as the UK Punks were, they had a general lack of a political consciousness that was at the very least, disheartening, and when flashing swastikas for shock value, disgusting. Adolescent angst can only endure so much negativity before suicide or selling out seem to be the only options and The Clash showed me another way out: rise and resist.

From the opening chords (and gracious nod to The Who) in "Clash City Rockers", with it's promise that the band would call us to arms ("...Or burn down the suburbs with the half-closed eyes/You won't succeed unless you try..."), to the declaration of independence in the anthemic "Garageland", the first Clash LP was a manifesto as well as a challenge - give up the bag of glue and man the barricades. More importantly, the LP proved that The Clash refused to be defined (and limited) by the music: "Remote Control" states that in no uncertain terms while the brilliant cover of Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves" provides unequivocal proof. I was awestruck, I was amazed, I was....saved.

Listen. This is becoming something I didn't want it to become and now I have to stop myself but I refuse to go back and start from scratch. Now I have to resist the urge to pontificate like some lame nabob writing a review for by indulging in some pedantic band biography. I fear I've stooped to the maudlin excesses of rabid fandom and I didn't want to go there. But it is not an exageration to state that at a crucial point in my life, The Clash were my salvation and I still retain the fervor of a born-again Rock-n-Roll fundamentalist.

Nonetheless, I would not be guilty of hyperbole to claim that "London Calling", if it was the only album that The Clash ever released, was more than enough to earn them their place in the R&R Hall of Fame. It's one of those "desert island albums" ("Hack! Hack! Hackneyed!" - and I'll give that list soon, with an invitation to share yours), expansive and complex, one never tires of hearing it. Just when punk/new wave had painted itself into a generic corner, LC showed us all that The Clash were, indeed, The Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World.

I figure I've said enough (maybe I've said too much but not said a tenth of what I want to say). I'll take a line from a song from "London Calling", one that says, in 3 lines, so much more about how The Clash transformed me than I have said in this long and incoherent rant:

"I went to the market to realize my soul
What I need I just don't have;
First they cursed then they press me till I hurt (they say),
Rudy can't fail."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Whomping You On the Head With My Manly Man Credentials, Bitch, Now Get Me a Beer and Shut Up

Listening to: Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra

Thank God (that God, the original ass-kicking, sleeves-rolled-up misogynist) Dodge Trucks conducted a survey among Harlequin Romance-reading church-lady types to see what repressed tight-asses seek in a sperm producer. Because, in today's culture, there's just not enough genuflection by the MSM to Mayonaise-on-Wonder-Bread Jack Chick pamphleteering America and by god not enough pick em up trucks sportin' nekkid lady mudflaps toolin' down the road. In fact, God must really be a Murken because the Dodge Truck survey was saved from well-deserved obscurity by the oh-so Christian (and Moonie-owned) Washington Times to reassure all knuckle-dragging men that they'll soon be sleeping with Miss September.

My own sense is that this survey, as commissioned by the folks at Dodge, is nothing less than an attempt to sell more trucks; see the guy in the muddy work clothes? OOOoooo, the Lay D's are all hot for that boy. However, the phony-ass "values" crowd want to use that data to falsely ennoble a caricature of blue collar men as a cynical diversion from the fact that current economic policies are tearing working-class men down. The WT article begins:
A full 61 percent of women surveyed said they would rather see a man's hands rough and working hard than well-manicured, a slap in the face to the extreme-makeover, suave-guy crowd.

Apparently Cary Grant is out and Slim Pickens is in and if we put two identical profiles up on a singles dating site, Slim would have a 3-to-2 advantage over Cary by virtue of being a cowboy as opposed to a doctor. As consolation for the poor, lonely doctor, he's getting a massive tax break at the expense of the carpenter's health care benefits, cost of living, pension, social security, etc.

Having worn a blue collar longer than a white collar, I can assure you that this survey is utter unadulterated crap. Not all blue collar men are sports addicted idiots rarin' to run out to the woods to put some lead in Bambi. One of the toughest bosses I ever had (and one of the most instructive, rewarding work experiences of my life) was also a vegetarian Zen Buddhist who would lead his framing crew in meditation during lunch time. The guy who taught me the most about trim carpentry and cabinet-making spent his evenings acting and singing in various little theatre musicals. Surveys like the Dodge Truck kerflaffle only serve to perpetuate stereotypes; they appeal to people with intellects so limited they can't think beyond simplistic ideogrammatic terms.

In fact, the worst people I met in my blue collar experiences were the stereotypes; staunchly conservative, mean, intolerant, dishonest, petty, selfish, hypocritical, stupid, incompetent, bullying, abusive - the Republican base. I felt sorry for girlfriends or wives of those jerks. Likewise, I'd sympathize with anyone stupid enough to believe the Moonie propoganda in the Washington Times, especially some dude who thinks all he needs to do is roll around in the dirt and drive a truck in order to get his mack on track.

Am I the only one who is beginning to realize that the "mandate of November 2004" was for conservatives to tie plastic bags around their heads and refuse to breathe the same air as liberals? It's seeming that way to me but then, in re-reading this rant it's evident to me that my snark is worse than my psych. Rugged he-man I'm not, so maybe I'm better off psychoanalyzing knuckleheads than slapping them around.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Oh, My Cruel Mistress

Listening to: Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, Somethin' Else

The waiting is killing me. What began as a tease and some minor flirtation has become obsessive anticipation. My mind and heart are occupied by possibility; what will be soon but won't be soon enough. Yearning, aching, I can't reconcile the intensity of this desire with how soon it's been since my thoughts first turned towards this. I look out the frosted window, my finger aimlessly tracing the shape of an eye in the thin layer of ice, thinking, "My God, I can't stop thinking about her!"

As soon as I think she's here, it's painfully evident that she's still far, far away. The distance is unbearable. Some days she feels closer, almost tangible, and on those days she's everywhere I look. Finally, I think, finally, this is all real and settled and my happiness is assured, she's here and my life is complete. Then there are days like today when she's obviously a world away, untouchable, unreachable.

Shaking the dellusion from my eyes, I attempted to accept fate, even though my fantasies are more fulfilling. All I can do is wait and that is insufficient. Patience is not among my tiny contingent of virtues.

Spring, where are you?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saturday Ennui Makes Me Do Weird Things

Listening to: AC/DC, Highway To Hell

Alright, not too weird. I haven't been prancing around the house doing my standard weekend cleaning in a French Maid's uniform and fishnet stockings. I haven't covered myself in Pert conditioner and rolled around on the floor. I haven't chugged any shoe polish or cough syrup.

However, there's still plenty of time left in this boring-ass Saturday. Maybe later I'll try "Nude Blogging" - don't make me take my clothes off!

Despite my promise not to do the 100 Things About Me meme, I've finally posted my list. If you haven't taken the time to detest me yet, read the list and I guarantee you'll start scraping up the $25 that buys a mafia hit on me.

I also have made some clarifications on mixmania! (see below) and I'll remind everyone that there's still three weeks to go, so plenty of time to join in the fun.

Not-so-weird (and actually, the smartest, sanest thing I've done all day), I direct you to the left (so to speak) to say hello to a couple of new friends. The brilliant and comely Lauren has two blogs, Feministe and Miss Education, both listed under 'Info Fix'. Although she doesn't link me (*ding! ding! ding!* shameless hint!), she is definitely worth a daily read, her blogs are extremely well-written and intelligent. I've also added the very funny 'Z' from So-Then-What because, if Zen-like hillarity is your cup of tea, you'll be glad I turned your attention there. Naturally, 'Z' goes into the 'Wild Womyn' category. Z hails from Mexico City (but posts in English) and it's great reading a blog from another country.

Z came to my attention when she wrote and asked if she could participate in Mixmania! even though she's in Mexico. I emailed her back and pointed out that MonkeyB is from the UK and is taking part in the fun. So Mixmania! is taking on an international and multi-cultural flavor. Rock on!

For anyone wondering if they can still get on board with Mixmania! - hell yeah! You have until April 30 to get in on the fun and all mixes are due May 1. On May 1, I'll email everyone the snail-mail address of the person they'll be mailing their mix to and hopefully, we can all remain anonymous. So all you have to do to join in the festivities is: let me know & email me your snail mail address.

Like I said, don't make me get nekkid'.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Things I've Discovered Since X Took the Kids

Listening to: The Pixies, Surfer Rosa

X and I talked last week and she's certain she's ready to go back to shared custody. I'm not against that at all - the kids need their mom. We'll see. So we're back on 3/4, meaning, I get them 3 days one week, 4 days the next.

She thinks I need to change the title of this blog from "A single full-time dad..." to whatever. Whatever. I'm still single (momentarilly) and I don't feel any less full time, even if she has them 50% of the time. When she has them I get calls all the time, "Tell Zeke not to throw toys at his sisters" or "Marni doesn't want to go to bed" or "Lilly won't eat her dinner." I report, you decide.

When X gets the kids, there's a bit of a ritual I indulge in. First of all, The Nap. MMMMmmmmmmm... "The Nap". One or two hours of uninterrupted sleep. Second thing I do is run to the liquor store for beer/wine/both so I can, well, cook a lot of brisquet.

Third thing I do is start cleaning the up the devastation left by a children aged 6, 4, and 2. You've read me bitch about this before: Froot Loops stuck to table legs, jello smeared on the coffee table, socks flushed down the toilet. Standard perenting blog stuff, I admit.

At the risk of stifling reads by all but the hardcore, I still have to enumerate these things because my life is full of this. Chaos. And if you like the Marx Brothers, you know that chaos is funny.

Things I found today after my kids left:

  • A snow boot full of Lucky Charms.
  • A plastic dinosaur, several Lego's, a plastic whistle, and a half-empty juice box, shoved almost inextricably (and completely inexplicably) into the front seat of a Barbie Jeep.
  • A wastebasket shoved far under someone's blankets with the wastebasket full of Beanie Babies and potato chips.
  • Little shoes in my bed.
  • One of my shoes filled with a crushed up poptart, Mardi Gras beads and a tiny toy car.
  • A Visual Quickstart Guide embellished with new artwork.
  • Bath toys and several dish towels in the dryer.

...and the night is young.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Another Night, Another DUI Group, Another Lesson, Another Assignment

Listening to: Chuck Berry, The Great 28

My Tuesday night group again which, as I said in a previous post, is my favorite group. They're motivated (for the most part), attentive, insightful, curious - really, a group-therapist's dream. With that kind of participation by group members, I'm given an opportunity to challenge their world view, I can stretch out and really push them towards a new reality. If one person out of twelve walks out of that group with a new view of the world, I'll feel vindicated.

For the past couple of weeks, we've been addressing the concept of ego (self), what it is, what we present to the world, what it is that others use to identify us. Sometimes our identity is insubstantial ("the guy who runs the automotive department"), sometimes it is vital ("my mom"), and sometimes it's transitory ("that asshole who cut me off"). The point is that there's a concept of "self" that we attach to oursleves, a notion of what we believe we are, a notion that we assume others believe, a notion that we believe sets us apart from the billions of other humans sharing this planet's limited space. We might say, "Oh, I ain't nuthin' special" but in fact, we're invested heavilly in the belief that we are special, unique, one-of-a-kind. The ego (self-idenitity) is the essence that makes "me" me and not somebody else.

Although I'm not a Buddhist (per se), I believe that "ego" is an artificial contruct determined by the summed multitude of qualities we associate with the "self" (think of the '100 Things About Me' meme on steroids). If we posted a profile on a dating site that only included physical information, someone would rightly point out that though that information tells somebody what we look like, it doesn't tell anyone who we are. Who we are is our beliefs, what we do, how we feel about things, likes and dislikes, etc., etc., etc., all things independent of us, ephemeral - subject to change. Change all those qualities and "I" still exist but "I" am much different from the "I" that was conceptualized prior to that change.

Deep stuff (as all my clients bemoaned) but it points to a larger, more important truth, that the illusion of our ego - our "self" - is a dangerous, destructive poison. It causes us to hold ourselves apart from the universe we're connected to, it enslaves us to our fears, real and imagined. It creates a self-centeredness that, given free reign, can potentially destroy us and our relationships.

I'm not an adherent of the "disease concept" of addiction. My approach is more cognitive/behavioral and as such, I've found that addicts are deeply self-centered; they fail to consider the effects of their behavior as it relates to others. Likewise, when someone gets behind the wheel after drinking is a stupid act of self-centeredness because they're not considering how they're potentially putting the lives of others at risk. Suicide is self-centeredness taken to its extreme (most suicides are committed under the influence and/or the result of substance abuse).

Really think about it and you'll see that almost every problem in the world can be traced back to self-centeredness. Greed begets poverty, hate begets violence, inconsiderate lack of regard of everyone else begets a despoiled planet. Fear is a function of self-centeredness. Even war, tribal allegiances and xenophobia, are social manifestations of mass self-centeredness.

So how do we break out of that self-centeredness? Get out of ourselves, get over ourselves - do something for someone without consideration of recognition or reward. Perpetrate a supreme act of love, act altruistically, behave in a way that benefits someone else out of no other motivation than causing benefit for someone else. Don't think about it, do it.

This is what I assigned to them: Every day, do something for someone else and don't let them know. Indulge in an anonymous act of random kindness or senseless beauty. Do that every day for the next week and tell me how it felt. Do that enough and I guarantee, self-centeredness will dissipate, the ego center will cease to lose its relevance and importance.

I was moved to write this as an elaboration on a wonderful post by The Zero Boss dealing with his own spiritual search. He states, "Smash the Mirror" and I completely agree with his prescription. My own prescription for smashing the mirror is, as I just said,

Every day, do something nice for someone else and don't let them know.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Opening Day

Listening to: Handel, Water Music

Some people love Christmas or their birthday or the 4th of July and their anticipation for the arrival of that special day evidence of their love.

Today is opening day, the official start of Major League Baseball, my favorite day of the year. The past few weeks has been spent in anticipation of this day, foolishly following pre-season games, pulling my mitt out from underneath my matress and rubbing it down with oil, putting on my ancient, wool Oriole's cap and ruefully acknowledging the Sammy Sosa does not a season make.

For me, opening day is bigger than baseball (although the tradition of our national past time certainly adds to the mystique). Opening Day is about the windows open at the moment, the subtle fragrance of the blossoms on the apricot tree, birds flitting madly from branch to branch and busy with nest-building. Opening Day is a line in the sand announcing that winter is no longer welcome, that the time for renewal is now, that there is no looking back but only forward, to a future of popsicles and running in the sprinkler and sleeping under the stars. Opening Day is a reminder that the All-Star Game is still months away and the world is filled with endless possibility.

Zeke squealed with delight at his own harbinger of spring:

Zeke: An ant! An ant!
Me: Yeah, it's getting warmer, more ants will come in...
Zeke: Good! I love ants-es! I love ants-es!
Me: You love ants-es?
Zeke: Yeah. The ants-es hung'ee!

Zeke picked up the ant and pressed the creature into a blob of leftover banana. So much for the ants-es Opening Day. The rest of us are buzzing, however. We may need coats tomorrow but today, it's t-shirt weather and the apricot blossoms grow fuller and lovelier. The world awaits and welcomes us with a warm embrace.
The Zero Boss has jumped on board for Mixmania! and I can't think of a more glowing recommendation. Plenty of room on the party train, ya'll, so sign up!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mixmania! Marches On

Listening to: John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton

So far Mixmania! is rolling along nicely and we have seven people participating at this point. More are still welcome (and will be welcome up through the end of the month) but I'm happy seven people have stepped up to take a chance.

I realized that I'll need to get everyone's snail-mail addresses to pass on to the person who mixes your disk; you can email that info, patriside *at* gmail dot com (and please include your blogger ID so I'll know who you are, I'm not up for doing research).

I'll post the mixmania! link over on the left so I'm not cluttering up my posts with this information - I intend to write a "real" post tonight - and as long as you can have your mix finished by May 1, feel free to join the party.

Friday, April 01, 2005

This Month's Mixmania Is Upon Us, So Get Busy Mixing, Yo

Listening to: Television, Marquee Moon

We'll see how this flies...

Many of you are aware that I love making mix CDs - I offered a mix to the person who screen-captured my 10,000th page load - putting together an awesome collection of songs to put on a disk to play on a road trip or get a party jumping. I get the distinct feeling I'm not alone in this.

So what we're proposing (Mamacita is in cahoots with this) is that everyone who is like-minded with mix CDs, let me know, email or in comments, and we'll have until April 30 to make our mixes. Then, on May 1, I'll randomly pick names of everyone participating and assign who gets what. Meaning, you'll know who your mix is going to but you won't know who sent you a mix. Furthermore, you won't know what songs are on the disk because NO SONG LISTS get sent with the disks. After everyone gets their disks, we all post the song lists of the CDs we mixed so we'll be reading each other's blogs to see who the hell sent us that cool mix! If you don't have a blog, don't sweat it, I'll post your song list if you want to participate.

Sound complicated? It shouldn't, you're all bright, creative, beautiful beings. So let me know if you want to participate (and I'll be harping on this all month) either in the comments or email. Deadline is April 30 so GET BUSY!!!

PS - BusyMom, I haven't forgotten you, just haven't had the time to mail it out yet.