Monthly Archives: May 2014

Yes All Women

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I’m not even outraged. My heart isn’t broken. Which breaks my heart.

I’m just sad. And tired.

Some guy in America shoots and kills a bunch of random, innocent people. And he’s white, so it’s not terrorism.

And why? And why? And why?

There’s no “why” anymore. If your child, if your parent, if your brother or sister were one of a dozen shot & killed by some spoiled boy in a BMW there’s no f***ing why. He’ll never answer the question, no matter how long his manifesto is. His psychiatrists will never answer the question. The internet, the media, the NRA and any politician will only be too happy to answer the question and even be so kind as to give you someone to blame. Which is worse than not answering.

I can’t bring myself to even wonder why anymore. I can’t search for reason or meaning in this. Newtown did for me.

But I am glad other people are, in this particular case. Because when they ask why this happened, eventually the conversation comes around to how women are treated, how they’re viewed, and how they’re abused in this country.

Granted, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thoroughly aware of all this, already. But in case you’re not, go to Twitter and search #YesAllWomen. The idea, as I understand it, is that every woman in the US has been subjected to abuse by men. At best, sexual harassment, at worst, something out of a Scandinavian murder mystery. Every woman. Every. Single. Woman.

Reading some of the accounts in this movement on social media, it’s difficult for me to fit them into my frame of reference. I don’t experience the world like this. I’ve never been sexually harassed. Some guy tried to preach to me at a public urinal once. That was awkward on a number of counts.

But as a hetero guy, I’ve tried to find an analogy that will put this in real terms I can understand. And I think I’ve found it.

Prison. Federal Maximum Security Prison with all the rape and violence Hollywood can conjure.

So you’re in prison. Not every guy in there is going to rape you. Some of them are great guys who would never even think of such a thing. There are even some, probably, that you could form a close, serious relationship with. But however much the statistics are in your favor, would you really pick up the soap?

Think about your day-to-day in prison: How conscious you’d have to be as you move through life among gangs and mafiosos and the most violent men the justice department can prosecute. How aware you’d have to be of your surroundings, of your own body language. How much eye contact is safe? How much is a challenge? Which remarks, which looks do you acknowledge? Which do you ignore? What combination of posture, courtesy, and hardness is going to keep you from being stabbed, beaten, or worse?

It’s not a perfect analogy, but once I started thinking about it I was pretty sickened by how close it matched what I was reading. I was comparing life in maximum security prison to being a woman in the US, and it was matching up.

It also served to make me wonder at the resilience of women. To wade through all this demeaning bullshit, and still function in the world, still take joy in things. If I was the primary market for cleverly designed tote bags and I had to cope with this kind of idiocy on a daily basis? Well, I would not recommend investing in cleverly designed tote bags in this scenario.

Blogging by it’s nature is pedagogic. It lends itself to going full South Park and ranting about the world’s ills and then telling the internet how to solve them. But I think on this issue, mine is not the gender that should be talking. I think, in this circumstance, I’ll just listen.

Everybody with a penis, let’s all just shut up and listen for a while.

 

 

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No Pictures, Please

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There’s a memory I have, faded and foggy. It’s just a whisper, really, so ancient and ethereal it could almost belong to someone else, seeped into my id from the collective subconscious, or an episode of Barney Miller.

There was a gathering, but not a holiday. Just people getting to gether, talking, laughing. Like some sort of…what’s the word? Party?

Yes, Party. And I wasn’t tired. And I remembered names. And I wasn’t worried about getting enough sleep – I remember the idea of being awoken up at 6am by a 35-pound body slam would seem utterly alien to this strange, forgotten me.

A social life after baby drop is kind of like that lady who had a bunch of spider eggs hatch in her hair. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody it happened to, but there is very little first-hand evidence.

It’s possible, sure, and arguably necessary for a mama and a papa to get out once in a while. But it’s not the same thing it was. Not nearly.

But it would be wrong to say having a kid cuts you off. It sounds odd at first, but being a father turned me into a celebrity. Well, maybe that guy who’s always taking a celebrity places. In a moby wrap.

In those early days, Little Man and myself would go for a walk at least twice a day. I’d tuck him into 9 feet of fabric wrapped around my torso and away we’d go. The Gentleman’s Constitutional, we called it.

Well, I called it that. I took his silence as assent.

But we’d walk around the lake, to the coffee shop, to the grocery store, if it was above 20 degrees we’d go anywhere within a 2 mile radius. The baristas would fuss over him, the ladies at the checkout would fuss over him, we’d run into other parents and trade sleepy greetings.

Once we went into a restaurant in the neighborhood and the maitre’d recognized us.

No we can’t go anywhere. “Where’s the Little Man?” “How’s that little man doing?” He’s even got his own nicknames in some places. It’s like I don’t even exist to these people except in terms of my son.

Well. At least we’re all on the same page.

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The Numberjacks Are On Their Way

This may not make much sense. Consider yourself warned.

There’s this show. This British show called “Numberjacks.”

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I don’t know why it’s called Numberjacks. Or rather, I don’t get the “Jacks” part. The Number part makes sense as the characters are all anthropomorphized numbers (single digit only). And they live in somebody’s couch. In a high-tech command center. In somebody’s couch. And they…solve…things? Not crimes…kinda…situations? Vaguely integer-related situations caused by a villain. They solve these aforementioned situations when one number gets into the “brain-gain” machine which beams some psycho-kinetic electro power to a field agent number who then zaps the bad guy and restores reality to status quo.

The available antagonists are a Slenderman knockoff called the Numbertaker, a feral flying cube/sphere called the Shape Japer, a spoon with a pearl necklace monikered Spooky Spoon. And this guy:

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The Puzzler.

Yup. Louis C.K’s disembodied head is a bad guy in a British kids’ show.

The thing that’s different about the Puzzler vs the rest of the rogue’s gallery is that when his riddle gets solved he just laughs and bobbles away. He doesn’t get blasted, or zapped or whatever. He also is the only bad guy who can take the Numberjacks out of the game – he traps them in “puzzle bubbles” until his riddle gets solved.

I don’t know why. I keep telling you.

I was watching the one hundred and seventy-fourth hour of this with the little man, awake only in the most clinical definition, when I had an epiphany about The Puzzler and thus the show.

But now for something completely different.

In the comic Spawn by Todd McFarlane, there’s a demon called Violator, who looks like this:

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He appears as a hideous fat little clown guy because his true nature is so offensive to our reality that he can’t manifest as anything closer to a normal human being.

As long as we’re talking comic characters here, we should visit Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Anybody writing about deities or multiple realities after 1996 owes this series program credit at least. There’s a small character in Season of Mists called the Ambassador of Chaos. It’s a minor player in the story, but I was struck by how Gaiman made it’s motives and methods erratic and unknowable.

Which brings me back to the Numberjacks. As we watched the show, my somnambulent frontal lobe percolated on these and other esoteric bits of Nerdery and came to the realization that the Puzzler was actually an extra-planar creature from a chaotic reality. He could only appear in this world as he did because his true nature made no sense to the laws of physics, and his puzzles were genuine attempts to investigate and understand the order and laws under which we exist, but which are completely alien to him. He’s actually downright scientific if you take him on his own terms.

As I explored this idea further it occurred to me that the whole show is really his fault. His very presence in our dimensional space was jarring enough that reality itself had to create antibodies: the Numberjacks. Like white blood cells, they swarm him whenever he makes entry and drive him out. Also, his bridging the gap between realms of existence allowed other, lesser beings to make the jump, also triggering the reality-immuno response.

And like a bolt from above, the show made perfect sense to me. And I realized, working back through all of the connections I’d made and time I’d spent thinking about this that I need to either drink a lot less espresso, or a lot more.

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The Shield That Guards The Realms Of Men

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I take issue with Mother’s Day.

It’s not what you think, though.

It’s not any sort of strange rivalry or antagonism between the Mamas and the Papas that the marketing department seems to thing exists.

It’s not because it’s a holiday invented by a greeting card company. Valid point, though.

It’s not even because I forgot. Which I didn’t. This year.

It’s just…a day? Really? A day for mothers? I know I’m not the first to say this, but I really think we can do better than a day. A season? Maybe something in there between Fall and Winter? Probably tough to get that one off the ground. Unless you’re in North Korea, where anything goes.

Never thought I’d wish to be in North Korea.

How about a week, then? Could we do a week? Carnivale gets a week, and that’s Brazil. With our infrastructure we really should be able to swing a Mother’s Week. It doesn’t have to be anything wild, even. We don’t need all the masks and beads and revelry. I’m just thinking take-out and Netflix. Some foot rubs, maybe.

It’s been well established all the things that mothers do for us, that they sacrifice for us – there’s the whole gestation thing, the actual physical transformation, the nursing the nurturing, the lifetime of worry – all for nothing more than the guaranteed knowledge that they’ll be resented later in life.

But there’s another critical aspect to the motherhood and society that nobody talks enough about. Mothers are all that stand between us and total Cormack-McCarthy-level anarchy.

Imagine all the bad people in the world doing their shady doings.  It’s a lot, right? But now imagine all the shady doings that don’t get done. All the pillaging and skullduggery that could be visited upon you right now as you read this, except for the work of mothers. Every person in your general vicinity who is not robbing or bludgeoning you? That’s cuz their mommas raised them right.

And that one jerk who is robbing and bludgeoning you? Do you think he’d be making the choices he is if his mom was watching? Imagine the kind of world it could be if every crooked banker, every bought politician, every schmuck who messes up your order at the drive thru had to go about their filthy business with their moms in the room.

There is a beast in all of us. A feral, savage thing that knows only hunger and fear, that has no empathy or compassion or mercy. And the only thing that keeps this creature caged, that stops it from filling our bodies and drinking someone else’s syrup right out of the bottle in the store in the middle of the aisle while the world looks on aghast, is maternal vigilance.

If you ask me, it’s not the Night’s Watch who stands on the wall, who faces the terrors that fill the night. It’s mom up there.

And we’re just going to give her a day? I take issue with that.

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The Great Leg Of Conquering Life.

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Before his death, Bruce Lee was working on a technique called “The Unstoppable Punch.”
He’d tell his partner, “I’m going to punch you in the face. Don’t let me.” and would then proceed to punch them in the face. And these partners weren’t schlubs off the street – they were black belts of one sort or another. Guys who knew how to stop an unwanted punch.
But punch them he did. And I don’t think it was a trick of speed, even though Mr. Lee was faster than a slippery Flash on meth in a atime machine. No, it’s my understanding there was something more to it. Even knowing it was coming a person was powerless to stop it.
Or not.
It could all be a myth. Those sorts of things do spring up whenever exceptional people die young. Like Tupac, or the Big Bopper.
I only bring this up because my son seems to have developed this technique independent of the teachings of Jeet Kune Do. Even though I know it’s coming, even if I have both hands in defensive positions and my hips are spring loaded to fade back and avoid it, no matter what I do when we’re in bed getting ready for sleep the little man will unfailingly kick me in the nuts.
Doesn’t matter which way he’s facing, he could be cuddling his mama or sitting up having a drink of water. He could be across the damn bed from me, even, and yet sooner or later five little toes on an adorable foot will shoot out unerringly for my junk.
I swear, I’ve been asleep in another room and he’s still managed to whomp me in the crotch.
I keep hoping he’ll grow out of it, but if this keeps up I may have to wear protective gear to bed. As it is I flinch every time I hear Harold and the Purple Crayon

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