November 18, 2011
This is a very quick post, no pics, no nothing, but I need to say something…
It’s not even Thanksgiving and the War on Christmas is in full swing. Heathens, pagans, atheists, and dirty liberals, rally to me! We’re going to make sure Santa gets shot down by NATO, the Nativity gets replaced with heavy metal cut-outs, and all Christmas carols are replaced with Cthulhu songs.
If you asked the good folks at Fox and the Drudge Report, that’s pretty much what’s happening. Ladies and gentlemen, the War on Christmas 2011 is in full swing!
This is the time of year when conservatives like to bitch and moan that liberals are destroying the sanctity of their commercialized pseudo-pagan holiday celebrating the birth of their savor that was actually born in spring. They get all huffy that other faiths have the audacity to celebrate holidays in December. They insist everyone should say Merry Christmas and ignore anyone else least you show yourself to be an American-hating Nazi.
So what was the first salvo this year?
Here’s what happened. The industry is creating a self-imposed tax (note how this has nothing to do with the president) and the new regulations are going into effect. Please note how it is the INDUSTRY that wants the tax in order to help their business.
What did the Right hear?
“OBAMA IS TAXING CHRISTMAS TREES!”
There is no War on Christmas. It’s really gotten to the point where any action a liberal takes that does not involve singing carols or wrapping presents is part of some attack. I did plenty of stories on this last year, and I was hoping to have a few more weeks to prepare, but let me just lay it out for you guys.
There is no War on Christmas. There are just insecure conservatives who simply must have everything be the same or else they begin to question their faith.
Now that we got that out of the way… bring on Christmas salvoes!
And to get everyone ready for the weekend, here is a video of our future god empress. See you Monday!
Merry Christmas, everyone! Sorry this is up late, but just think of it as a Christmas present from me to you. We’re going back to a sort-of-regular schedule next week, and all things being equal we’ll get more regular updates and more regular stories.
Anyway, I hope you’re having a good time with you and yours. Now let’s enjoy a mescaline-fueled trip through a Via Rosa Christmas.
It’s all cold, no Christmas. I got a little apartment that overlooks the main road to the warehouse district further out. The neighbors leave me alone, and I know a guy less than a mile away. The walls in my apartment are still bare. There are no pictures, no posters, nothing. I have a camera I never use. My mom calls me up at 7:30 in the morning. I’ve been awake for an hour already. Haven’t been able to sleep well in more then five years, so it’s not like she’s bothering me. She asks me how I’m doing, if work is going fine, if I need anything from the store. She’s going grocery shopping in the afternoon, so if I want anything she could pick it up for me. I tell her I’m fine. I drew a Christmas tree on my to-do board. It’ll have to pass for decorations.
There’s a pause as she tries to say something.
“Arturo, I’m worried about you,” she says. “Honey, you’ll get another job. You’ll be fine. Listen, a lot of people lose scholarships, but they get back on their feet. It’s not the end of the world. You just have to try harder.”
“Yeah. I guess. I love you mom.”
There’s nothing more to say. She tells me she’ll call at night to say hi. I know she will. She always does. I put the phone back and roll to look at the ceiling.
There’s no work today. Normally, I work as an assistant at one of the warehouses at the Via Rosa city limits. I sit, I smile, and I type. I have a little desk with a plaque, black on gold, that has my name on it. It pays the rent. Not much else I can do really. It’s life. What am I going to do? Quit?
Sonny’s has a second floor most first-time visitors never visit. The walls are lined with shelves and old books, paperbacks mostly. I sit in a corner, on one of the armchairs, and just listen to the acoustic band. Blue lights and black lights barely give enough illumination to read. I’ve sat here so many times I know the books next to me by heart. Anne Rice, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, a few Alan Moore comics, Paradise Lost… Jesus Christ, who arranged these things? The couches they have instead of tables on half the floor are nice, sadly more intact than the ones I have back at my place. The bartender’s a friend of mine, Ramón. He keeps the beer coming and for a few extra dollars he’ll get me a few pastas from under the counter. Not a bad deal, either.
Have to remember to drink water, though. Don’t want to get dehydrated and get a hangover tomorrow. Ah, fuck it. Tomorrow’s Saturday. What do I care? I slam down a few more Buds as the pastas take effect. My fingertips are the first to go. Soon the band’s songs turn into little muffled sounds. The bass thumps pretty loudly, though, and it’s a good song. I can feel it snake up my stomach, through my spine, and up my head. Mars Volta, I think. I lean back on the couch and let the music just flow over me. The band goes into some Christmas song covers. They do a rock version of “Winter Wonderland” that leaves me sick. I take the little bag of mescaline powder out of my pocket and mix it in with the half-beer I have left. I can barely taste anything. The second floor’s packed pretty tight, so it takes me a few minutes to get from one side of the room to the other. Ramón gives me a glass of water, I leave a ten on the counter, and I walk out. Music’s picking up. The bass’s rhythm makes little waves of light through the room, higher frequency as the bass replaces my blood. The band’s instruments make waves of light, but I leave before the mescaline takes full effect.
Night’s cool. Mescaline kicks in and I puke in the parking lot. Wow, there’s a lot of Fords in this town… Things go blurry. Lights flash for a moment, then fade back. I’m on the ground, leaning on a Ram. How long was I out? The streetlights look like melted skittles in a black light. My watch looks like an Aztec sun and moon, but I think it says it’s not even midnight. Great. I can walk back home. It’s only four miles. Balance is pretty good. If I stay on the back roads I should be fine.
Via Rosa’s different at night. Mescaline makes every light shine and twinkle in different colors. They spread over my eyes, drip down to the sidewalk and spread like puddles. Starting to wonder if those pastas had something them. Maybe cocaine, something that’s making me more hyper than I should be. I run across a street as a couple of trucks rush past. They honk and I laugh. Why am I laughing? One truck clipped me. My arm’s hurting bad. I put my hand to it and raise it to the rainbow light. Is blood blue? No, it’s red. This stuff looks purple. The ground comes up fast and I fall in a parking lot.
I smell cigars. My eyes barely open but I can make out someone standing over me wearing a trench coat. My vision’s blurry, but I can make out a guy, maybe thirty, and he smells like cigars and tequila. Good shit, too. His shoes are worn, though. White tennis shoes with little bits of red mud on the bottom. And who the hell wears a trench coat in the desert? Even from the ground, I can see his eyes swirl blue, like sapphires and ocean water. He leans down close to my face and whispers, “Want to know the way out?”
My mouth feels like I just spent an hour chewing cotton. I roll over and stare at him upside down. He’s wearing a wide-rimmed hat, like something out of a gangster movie.
The sky’s the wrong color. It’s red, almost pink. There are stars, every color in a bag of confetti, and the sun’s wearing a moon mask over half its face. The sun just winked at me. I stand up and brush the dirt from my jeans. I still can’t feel my fingertips, and I feel like I’m walking through Jell-O. I’m face-to-face with the man now. His face is very familiar. He doesn’t look like he’s shaved in a week, and that really is tequila and cigars I smell on him. Smells expensive.
“Who are you?” My voice sounds weird, like I’m listening to myself on a recording.
He smiles and says, “I’m a metaphor.”
I shake my head and rub my eyes, but the sun is still wearing a moon mask.
“This isn’t real… I’m dreamin’, that’s it. Fuckin’ Ramón put something in the pastas…”
He laughs at me. His eyes are intense, bright under the shadow of his hat. He waves down one street, theatrically, like he has an audience, and he tells me, “We’re going to find the way out, aren’t we?”
My head’s still spinning. I can’t think too much, and by the time I stand up the streetlights have rainbow haloes around them. I look at the guy and ask, “Who are you?”
“My name’s Miguel,” he says.
“You a hallucination?”
“Not at all, ‘mano. Think of me as your guide.”
“Sure thing. How does Jimminy work for you? Or Clarence?”
“Miguel works just fine. Calling me Clarence is just wrong on a lot of levels.”
He pats my back and we walk down the street. I don’t really recognize anything. The buildings look normal, the same southwest architecture as before, the same kinds of pseudo-American buildings Via Rosa’s always had. Nothing’s moving, though. Cold wind picks up. The wind smells like sand and cactus, like it’s alive.
How long have we been walking? I can’t tell, but I know we’re still in Via Rosa. No building’s been taller than two stories, and half the street signs are still in Spanish. If we’d crossed over into Mexico we would have crossed the river. I try to find north, but the sun’s still directly above us, grinning, and I don’t recognize the stars. I don’t recognize anything. My fingertips are getting their feeling back and they don’t feel as stiff, but my head’s still very light.
Miguel walks to my right. He laughs a little and says, “You ever taken mescaline before?”
“Sure, a few times. I just needed a break, you know? Life’s getting hectic, needed to forget for a while.”
“Oh, I understand. You have problems, problems I couldn’t possibly begin to understand.” I’m not stupid. I can hear the sarcasm in his voice. He keeps going, “So you decide to pop a little eye of truth, some Huichol magic, some of the good stuff? I can only imagine what you’re seeing right now.”
I have no idea what he’s talking about now. I ignore him. He goes on about seeing the truth, shamans, the colors of reality, but I’m ignoring him. Still, he’s the only person around and I have no idea where I am.
Something’s off. There’s something in the air as Miguel and I near a street corner. There’s a haze now, silver smoke, as we near an intersection. Tall spires like a cathedral poke out of the fog. They go up for miles. How did I miss them? A man with a dark green suit stands outside looking into the building. It is a church. I walk right into the cloud as Miguel waves to the stranger. The smoke smells like Christmas, like cigarettes and incense, like buñuelos and church. It’s spicy but maple sugar sweet. The stranger’s a gringo, but he has the same intense blue eyes as Miguel. I hadn’t been able to tell much from the street, but I stand in front of the buildingr, hands in my pockets, and ask, “And who are you supposed to be?”
The gringo looks me up and down like he’s trying to figure out if he wants to ignore me or actually talk. He doesn’t smile or scowl or anything. He finally says tiredly, “Who are you?”
I can’t think of the words, or the letters. I can’t remember what letters look like. Spanish or English, numbers, nothing.
“I don’t know,” I say, “but I think I knew once.”
“Strange. Oh well.” He lights a black cigarette and says, “Where does the Border end?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“And that’s why you’ll never find the exit,” he says as smoke leaves his mouth and drops to the ground like feathers. “You don’t know a lot, do you? Pity.”
I try to look into the church but don’t see anyone. I say, “Is it always this empty?”
“It’s always empty, but I want to go inside,” the stranger says.
“Why don’t you just enter?”
“It’s very lonely when you’re the only real one inside. Christmas is about forgetting you’re lonely. In Heaven, we take the day off on Christmas.”
I walk away from the cloud and back onto the street, back towards Miguel. Little tendrils of smoke grip my legs and are torn free as I leave the fog. When I turn back around the gringo is trying walk into the church, but he keeps backing out. Miguel puts his hands in his coat pockets and says, “That guy’s a real trip, huh?”
“Yeah. Do you guys practice being vague around here?”
Miguel lights his own cigarette and says, “Not vague. You just don’t get the metaphor yet.”
I pretend to understand him and we keep walking down the street.
It’s all one big sprawl of concrete and color. I don’t think I’ve seen the sun move since I got here. It’s always right above us and yet it’s not even hot. It’s actually been getting colder. I can feel my fingertips, but I’m starting to feel tired, feel the chill on my bare skin. It was annoying at first, but as the wind gets colder, it’s harder to keep my eyes open.
My feet hurt. I ask, “So when do we stop and rest?”
Miguel lights another cigarette and says, “We don’t stop ‘till you find the exit, ‘mano.”
“I don’t even know what we’re looking for.”
“Yes the exit, but what does it look like?”
He doesn’t have time to answer. I turn back to the street and see a large dog in front of us. I stop, instinctively, waiting to see if it’s going to pass us or stop and sniff us. It licks its lips. No, not a dog. A coyote, a big one too. Miguel sees me frozen in fear, but he keeps walking right past it. The coyote gives him a passing glance, then slowly walks up to me.
It looks into my eyes and says, “I know the way out. Do you?”
I say, “No. Can you show me?”
“It’ll cost you. Pay up now or pay later, but I’ll get you across.”
“That depends on what you have to lose.”
“I don’t have anything to lose. I’m just trying to find the exit.”
“But do you know what’s on the other side? I can tell you, but it costs more.”
Miguel grabs my arm and leads me away from the beast. It doesn’t follow us, instead trotting down the same way we were walking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coyote as sad as this one. When it’s far enough away, the animal turns into a man. He’s wearing a cowboy hat, jeans, and a gray shirt the same color as the coyote’s fur. I can’t see his face. He keeps going. Miguel keeps his hand on my arm. He says, “Don’t trust those things. They’re everywhere, but you have to earn your own way through.”
“What did he mean when he asked if I knew what was on the other side? Miguel, what’s on the other side?”
He doesn’t say anything.
“Speak to me! What’s on the other side? Why would I even want to leave this place? Tell me!”
He stops and turns. His eyes are glowing. His grip on my arm is starting to hurt.
“You need to get out because you’re not a predator. You’re not working on survival instinct, and you can’t see them waiting to knock you down. Desert survival, ‘mano. It’s all about survival here, and you’re a little bird.”
“But I can’t make it out there, Miguel. I tried.” I try to wrestle his grip on me, but his fingers are steel. The light from his eyes is starting to hurt mine. “I already tried! It’s safe here.”
“And yet you can’t think of anything else but escaping.”
He finally lets go. His eyes are back to normal and he walks away. I’m left nursing my arm. When I try to follow him, he turns, way too fast, and says, “If you haven’t seen the exit by now, I’ve wasted my time. Laters.”
The confetti stars all fall at once. The moon and the sun part ways until only the moon is left in the sky. My fingertips go again and I’m left standing in a street. Everything goes black and yellow… no, not yellow. Those are streetlights.
I’m in a neighborhood, but which one? Houses aren’t that old. The trees are pretty tall, so that means it must be at least ten years old, and there aren’t any kids playing on the street. Their parents are either smart or there aren’t that many kids around here.
I know this place. I walk towards the third house on the right. I don’t know why I do it. My legs just seem to move on their own, and by the time I ring the doorbell it’s too late. No matter how much I want to move, I can’t. My head feels light, but this time I know it’s not the mescaline, or the beer, or the pastas. Mom opens the door and sees me, and by the look of shock on her face I can only guess I look much worse than I feel though the pain in my arm is coming back. She says something, hurries me in and lays me down on my old bed. My sister runs in and stares at me. I can’t see anything now. The lights look like honey.
Can’t tell how long I’ve been out. The lights look normal, but the streetlight outside is way too bright. My eyes hurt. No, not the streetlight. That’s the sun. It’s morning, or afternoon, one of the two. I’m covered in Sylvia’s pink and blue blanket. I guess they couldn’t get me under the sheets. It still smells like her tropical fruit shampoo. I try to stand and my head pounds like a construction site. My arm has a bandage across the forearm. I’m cold, but if the sun’s out it should be fairly warm. It was last night right? God, I wish I had my phone so I could check to see if it really is Saturday.
Mom walks in. She sits next to me and hugs me, tells me everything a mother tells a child when they’re sick. She hugs me more tightly. I tell her I love her. I tell her I’m sorry. I say all the things a son says when he knows he’s been wrong.
Light’s pouring in through the window now. I can’t remember seeing sunlight like this in a long time. I smell cinnamon rolls. Monday’s going to suck, but right now I have a plastic Christmas tree and a day with family. It’s not much, but it’s what I needed. Even if I don’t know it.
December 22, 2010
O’Reilly answered us!
And by “us” I mean Olbermann, Colbert, The Young Turks, and all of us who called him the self-centered hypocrite that that he is for trying to use the teachings of Jesus as an excuse to not tax the rich. It seems that my early Christmas present was a rebuttal with all the eloquence and intelligence of a five-year old trying to squirm out of getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Just to refresh your memory, O’Reilly wrote an article in which he used Christian teaching as a justification for not helping the poor. In his mind, if you cannot help yourself, you do not deserve help, which as I and others showed, is a complete reversal of what Jesus actually said.
And what did Bill “My Audience is so Old It Doesn’t Know About Youtube” O’Reilly say?
Before we get to the meat, a word of the Founding Fathers.
It’s disrespectful to bring up the fact that Benjamin Franklin liked the ladies? Sure, Colbert’s joke that Franklin uttered the phrase “The Lord helps those who help themselves” between “mouthfuls of French whore” may sound disrespectful, but only really if you think sex is a bad thing. I think most of my readers will agree that the fact that Franklin was not only a great inventor, statesman, a Founding Father, and quite the ladies’ man makes him a model to strive for.
Anyway, on to Bill-O’s rebuttal.
Bill refers to the Parable of the Talents, a story Jesus told in which a man gives three servants some money. Two invest the money and pay it back with interest while the third hid it away. The third servant is then chastised and cast out.
I remember hearing this story as a child. It’s in Matthew 25:14-30. As it was explained to me, the parable refers not to money, but to the gospel of Christ. Don’t keep it for yourself, I was told. Spread the word and multiply it. Use it. Don’t hold it in. In fact, if you’ve ever heard the song, “This Little Light of Mine,” you get the idea. It’s a call to ministry.
Bill, it seems, has never heard of a metaphor. In fact, the idea that the money in the story is a symbol, as most things in parables are usually interpreted, is not even considered.
Then Bill goes and does something really weird. He says that charity is a cornerstone of Christian teaching and then says that Mother Teresa is a perfect example of saintly behavior while instantly saying that we should not do what she did because it’s inconvenient. You know, I agree with him. I’m not so selfless that I would drop everything to go help people on the other side of the world. But then… I’m not Mother Teresa.
It gets weirder as Bill equates “rich people” with “responsible people” and the poor and unemployed with “irresponsible people.” Tell me, just how irresponsible is it to not have a job despite months of looking? How irresponsible is it to look for government aid such as food stamps to keep food on the table? Is it irresponsible to accept government loans and grants to go to college when you don’t have the means?
Bill, though, takes it a step further by saying we have no responsibility to pay for other people’s gin and cocaine, somehow assuming that’s what people do with food stamps and government aid.
Now that’s just sick and low.
First off, being rich doesn’t make you responsible. It makes you rich. It doesn’t make you some financial expert, and it doesn’t mean you create jobs. It just means you get paid a lot, and if the clowns at Fox are any indication, brains and common sense are not needed to rake in millions each year.
Kind of makes me want to write a book at Tea Baggers just to make money from them.
Look, Bill didn’t actually address the points I and many others bashed him for. He just repeated them with the same conviction. And no, Bill, Jesus wouldn’t agree with you.
He would jump down from the cross, break off a piece, and slap you with it until the seventh angel blew his trumpet.
If you want to make an argument for not taxing the rich, stop using Jesus like Republican Senators and members of Congress use 9/11. It’s like a freaking security blanket. Just say you want people to do things your way because you’re a self-centered prick with no concept of how the world works. Admit that you’ve taken Jesus and made him your five-dollar whore. At least be honest with your self-centeredness. Don’t pass the blame to a guy you believe died so you could get into heaven.
It’s one thing to be a bastard. Don’t be a lying bastard on top of that. Remember, Bill, Jesus loves you, but he doesn’t have to like you.
No links today. However, look for a special Christmas story from Via Rosa this Friday. See you then, and I hope everyone had a happy Solstice!
December 20, 2010
UPDATE! Looks like Bill-O got a lot of flak from a lot of people and he responded. Check it out and my response back to him.
If you’re going to shove Christmas down the collective throats of the American public, at least have the decency to get the religion right.
For some years now, Bill O’Reilly has been waging a war against those who would wage war against Christianity and especially Christmas. He rails against anyone who says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Christmas, as we all know, is the Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, who set up the first Christmas tree and forever tied America’s economy to Santa’s ass.
Look, I have my problems with Christmas, and most Christians realize, or I hope they realize, that Christmas as it is celebrated today is an amalgamation of various religious practices, many of which can be traced to pagan faiths. That’s fine. If you want to celebrate Christmas with Santa, Charlie Brown, and a Christmas goose, that’s your choice. If you want to celebrate with tamales, posadas, and a separate, sibling holiday to await the Three Wise Men, have at it.
However, do not betray the spirit of the holiday, the core event you claim to hold so dear, by dumping your bile-filled eggnog on Baby Jesus.
Bill, if you’re reading this, you made Baby Jesus cry. And he’s going to shove a nativity scene up your Tea Bagging backside.
If you believe Christmas is a time for charity and brotherhood, then you probably subscribe to the belief that Jesus was an extraordinary man who changed the world and his teachings and examples are something to emulate.
Apparently, Bill, though you call yourself a Christian, you’ve probably never read the Bible in any detail because, and I’m guessing here, the words were too big for you.
Let me back up for a moment, Bill. You wrote an article where you claimed, and I’m quoting:
Every fair-minded person should support government safety nets for people who need assistance through no fault of their own. But guys like McDermott don’t make distinctions like that. For them, the baby Jesus wants us to “provide” no matter what the circumstance. Being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?
No, Bill. See, I can’t claim to have actually read the whole Bible. I’ve read the Books of Moses, a fair amount of the Gospels, and most of Revelations. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it was Herod in the library with the candlestick. I can, however, use a search engine to look through the Bible much quicker than I can read it, and I can tell you right now that the phrase “God helps those who cannot help themselves” is nowhere in the Bible.
And no, I don’t mean just the specific phrase. The sentiment itself is not even in the Bible. If I may go old school Biblical for a moment, sort of Sinners in the Hands on an Angry God old school, you Bill, are headed to the hot place if your religion is correct. You’ve corrupted the Holy Scriptures.
Romans 5:6: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Proverbs 28:26: He who trusts in himself is a fool…
Isaiah 25:4: You have been a refuge for the poor,/ a refuge for the needy in his distress,/ a shelter from the storm/ and a shade from the heat./ For the breath of the ruthless/ is like a storm driving against a wall.
And what about the helping the sick and healing the lame? I’m sure this sort of health care would scare the crap out of you and your ilk. How dare Jesus of Nazareth just hand out healing to anyone who needed it at no cost? That communist bastard!
But your biggest sin, Bill, the one that cannot be excused, is your absolute ignorance, or is it stupidity, at one of the most fundamental aspects of Christianity.
Jesus wasn’t self-destructive? Bill, the man allowed himself to be killed, tortured in some of the most brutal ways imaginable, to save humanity when, according to that Bible you claim to hold so dear, we were helpless to do anything about it. We were born with sin and were unredeemable by our own works according to Romans 3:23.
In fact, Jesus didn’t even want to do it. He was sacrificed by God. He had to be strengthened by an angel, had to pray until he sweat blood, and then he went to his appointed fate. Self-destructive? He died, a small price to pay for an immortal, but the point between the arrest and death would have been torturous for anyone.
So this Christmas season, Bill, as you sit in your home surrounded by the wealth you’ve amassed by lying and attacking those who genuinely want to make this world a better place, I hope you are visited by the ghost of Christmas past. I hope you see the happiness in Whoville. I hope you realize that Christians aren’t being persecuted and that all of these so-called attacks are either fabrications of your senile mind or exaggerations.
Happy Holidays, Bill O’Reilly.
Oh, I’m sorry. That was rude.
Feliz Navidad, Jaime O’Reilly.
And now, on to the links!
- As many of you probably know, I’m an avid Dungeons and Dragons player. I’ve gotten some weird questions from my group, and people who just want to know about the game, but these questions have to be the strangest I’ve ever read.
- Looks like the Kinect will get a porn game. It’s basically you groping poor-quality digital female players.
- Is there actually such a thing as “so ugly it’s cute”? Yes! And here’s proof!
- There’s a new iPhone app that lets you instantly translate text. This is useful if you’re in a foreign country and need quick help. It will also, I’m sure, wreak havoc with ESL classes since students will now rely on their phones to do the work for them, and some of the translations aren’t spot-on with the app, either.
- The Navy just unveiled new footage of their railgun prototype. Now when the robots rise up against us, they’ll have really cool weapons to obliterate us! Yay!
- Have you noticed those cool Facebook hacks where people place their pictures in such a way as to create a window effect on their profiles? Here’s how you can do it, and if you’re really lazy, here’s the REALLY quick way.
- Did anyone really need proof John Travolta had at least dabbled with the other team? Well, Carrie Fisher lets the cat out of the bag.
- A movie about what it means to be a writer and the difference between good and bad writing? I’m there!
- And finally, for all the nerds out there, hot girls wearing Batman clothing. Not bat-suits. Clothes with Batman themes. Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday!
December 8, 2010
Censorship! Oh, how I missed you! Yes, I’ve got Palin, Beck, Fox News, and the other morons out there, but the joy of censorship, of someone trying to shut down art, brings me the kind of righteous tingle I can’t get from regular conservative idiots.
Some of you have probably heard about the exhibit at the Smithsonian that’s getting flak from the Right, and even some members of Congress, for supposedly showing pornographic gay art and for desecrating the image of Jesus on the cross. Obviously, conservatives are up in arms… except their arguments hold as much water as a venetian blind on the space shuttle.
I Know You Are, But What Am I?
One of the main gripes with the exhibit is that one of the pieces is a video showing a crucifix covered in ants. Obviously, an image of Jesus in a room filled with homoerotic art would be an outrage, but an image of Jesus covered in ants while sitting in a room filled with homoerotic art surely demands attention!
I want to ask you something. What’s the difference between “offensive” and “disgusting?”
I keep hearing “offensive” getting thrown around whenever someone talks about this or any other piece of art that depicts something which questions his or her beliefs or otherwise shows something “holy” or “divine” in a base, physical way.
“Offensive” means that something is irritating or annoying, that it is repugnant to moral sense. An image of Jesus covered in ants, then, is sure offensive!
Except it’s about as offensive as a picture of an abandoned church.
See, what Fox and the peanut gallery on the Right fail to mention, or even look up, is that the video they’re whining about is about how the morals of Christianity have been cast aside and that the teachings of Christ have been thrown to the ground.
In other words, it’s practically a call for a return to Christian morality. If you’re offended by the image after reading the context in which it is shown, then you must also be offended at the sight of old churches because they’re showing God’s house in disrepair.
It’s Christmas at the Smithsonian!
The timing on this exhibit couldn’t be more sinister. A desecrated Jesus just weeks before Christmas! Surely the Left is out to destroy Christmas once again!
Sadly, no. See, the exhibit’s been open since October. People didn’t start making a fuzz until this week.
Also, and I can’t believe how often we have to say this, Christmas does not have a monopoly on the winter season. There are plenty of other holidays this time of year. Just because something comes out or occurs during the holiday season, it doesn’t mean it’s either an attack or a celebration of Christmas.
The exhibit has zero to do with Christmas except that it’s December and it’s still open. It’s like saying Pearl Harbor Day is anti-Christmas because it also takes place in December and takes people’s attention away from Christmas.
We Didn’t Pay For It
A fair number of bloggers, including Andrew Breitbart’s lackeys, are up in arms that the Smithsonian would pay for this art. How could public funds be used to purchase art most Americans would find distasteful and pornographic?
I got news for you. Taxpayers didn’t pay a single cent for the art.
All art in the Smithsonian is privately-funded. We didn’t pay for it.
“But we pay for the buildings, the maintenance, and the staff! We should have a say on what kind of art gets shown there!”
Really? You want to take a vote on this?
Polls in the last few years have found that even Christians are warming to the idea of gay marriage, gay rights, and gays in general. While it’s still less than 50%, it’s a big enough number that it’s impossible to call gays a fringe group. What’s the difference between art of nude men and art of nude statues featuring women?
And your Art Credentials Are…
This all brings us to the age-old question: What is art?
It’s easy to say that art depicting gay sex or male nudity is not art because it makes some people grossed out or uncomfortable.
If we based art imply on the basis of “I don’t like it” or “It offends me,” we wouldn’t have rock music, Stanley Kubrick, and Star Trek. It’s hard to define an artist, but I’d like to think that an artist is someone who makes it his or her business to understand the craft. Even a critic of art should be able to describe it and analyze it beyond the superficial notes, colors, or layers of paint.
The people crying “foul” are none of that, meaning that if they don’t know how to look at art, how can they possible say it’s offensive?
Let the ant-covered Jesus be!
December 1, 2010
As Christmas approaches and we get closer to the End Times, I can’t help but marvel at how so many far-Right conservatives still cling to the notion that divine intervention is the key to salvation. More specifically, I’m shocked that we still need to discuss why we are not a Christian nation. In fact, if you were to actually dissect Christianity, you would find it is the most UN-American religion you can find. Allow me to explain.
The Tower of Babel
The people of the world decided to work together and build a tower to the sky. Seeing this, God cursed them to speak different languages so they could not work together.
It would be very easy to take this story and look at it as a metaphor for the supremacy of God and how humanity should not meddle in things it does not understand, but it has a much more subtle and much more chilling message.
God does not want cooperation between different people. This is a gross slap in the face to the community-building and melting pot attitude of America. Or patchwork quilt. Whatever you want to call it. The point is that we are a group of people from diverse backgrounds and faiths and we live and work together. Sometimes we fight, but for the most part we seem to get along.
This, it seems, is wrong in the eyes of God.
Of course, leave it to idiots like Beck, for example, to look to the story of Babel and use it as a positive example.
Render Unto Caesar
Our country was founded on revolution. Even today, the idea of the rebel is romanticized even by people who claim to stand for conservative values. A rebel can change things. A rebel can alter the course of history by standing up the status quo and enlightening the masses.
Sadly, the Bible proclaims all rebellion to be a sin. And apparently, you also have to pay the taxes they tell you to pay.
Romans 13:1-6 states the following (emphasis added):
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Did you catch all of that? Every authority that is in place was placed there by God, so rebelling against any authority is a sin. Not just a sin against a person. It’s a direct sin against God. Think about it. By this logic, American revolutionaries were acting against the honorable and rightful rule of the British. Every Tea Partier screaming about taxes and how they are un-American while also screaming that the Constitution is divinely inspired needs to rationalize this.
Here Comes the Shotgun
There are an army of things you can’t do based on the Bible. Let me just shotgun this and give you the quick version.
You can’t eat shellfish. Goodbye, fishing industry.
You can’t divorce. There go the now-traditional second and third marriages.
You can’t wear gold. Say goodbye to all your jewelry.
You can’t tattoo your body. That means many members of our armed forces are now sinners in the eyes of God.
You cannot worship any gods besides Him. Say goodbye to the First Amendment.
Most famously, you can’t be gay. There goes the assertion that people should be judged based on their character.
Women must submit to men. In fact, women barely count as people. There goes equality.
What Does It Mean?
If you consider yourself a Christian and an American, you have one of three choices to make.
First, you could stand there and claim that the Bible is the infallible word of God, in which case you must subjugate women, abstain from shrimp and pork, obey the government no matter what it says, and otherwise live only among your own kind least God strike you with aphasia.
Secondly, you can SAY you believe the Bible is the literal truth of God, but you must pick and choose which passages you agree with based on your political and personal, not religious, beliefs. In other words, use the Bible to prove certain points while ignoring the commands you don’t like. This seems to be quite popular with fundamentalists.
HOWEVER, there is a third option…
You can admit to yourself that the Bible is the work of men working and translating over several centuries, that it is a product of its time, a religious guide written in its beginning by desert nomads who had no more an understanding of science than the average third-grader and is therefore very likely incompatible with the modern notion of “morality.” While it does contain some beautiful poetry (I’m actually quite fond of Psalm 91) and some meaningful advice (Proverbs 12:1 comes to mind), it can’t be taken as utterly infallible.
To say the Bible must be accepted as it is without question is like saying that I have to like ALL of Star Wars, that I can’t see the prequel trilogy for what it is: the quest for more money. God is a bit like George Lucas. The later works seem to suffer from too many special effects, and the early stuff definitely shows its age.
All I’m trying to say is… if I hear one more idiot talking about America as a Christian nation and how we need to do exactly what the Bible says without question… I’m going to make them eat shrimp and damn them to Hell.
- It’s almost a year until the end of the world, and what better way to celebrate than to look back at all the ways robots will turn on us. I doubt any of these will be operational in a year, but one can hope, right?
- Speaking of Biblical adherence, what would Hollywood look like if Christians really did take over the movie industry? One film festival offers a chilling preview. if you’re a woman, don’t even bother showing up.
- Science fans, take note. The hardest organic substance in the world has been designed based on damaged brain tissue. In the future, our soldiers could go out into the battlefield covered in armor designed from Alzheimer’s patients brains, perhaps augmented with liquid armor. Now create shields and blaster rifles and we got us the greatest LARP ever!
- Regular readers will know how much I value education, so can someone tell me why THIS guy isn’t running the Department of Education? Let’s teach again instead of trying to just pass standards set by people who have never in their lives taught.
- When I was in college, I was lucky enough to take a class with Doctor Maurice Manning, a wonderful teacher and an incredible poet. Another professor of mine recently posted a poem of Dr. Manning’s on Facebook and I had to share it here. Even if you don’t regularly read poetry or you think it’s hard, give it a look. it’s surprisingly simple yet moving.
- For my South Texas readers… crap like this is why I worry about our region of the country. And I don’t know what irks me more: the fact that the police has a livestock division and they’re holding someone’s lost donkey or the fact that the ad misspelled “stray” as “estray.”
- Spain has now surpassed Texas and Arizona in the crazy quota. A women in Spain just declared that she owned the sun, and she has the paperwork.
- Pay close attention… if you haven’t read Sarah Palin’s new book, she praises the virtues of… the common sense of pre-schoolers. I don’t know about you, but if she runs for president in 2012, I wouldn’t vote for her simply because she looks up to people who routinely eat paste and must be reminded there is no monster under the bed. In other words, her Fox News co-stars ZING!
- And finally, Leslie Nielsen, a standard in dead-pan comedy, a seasoned actor of both drama and comedy, passed away recently. He left us a body of work from the campy yet cerebral (Forbidden Planet) to the teen slasher flick (Prom Night) and to the classic dead-pan delivery of his later years (Airplane!, The Naked Gun, etc). I think Olbermann probably did one of the better tributes to the Nielsen, so enjoy, and I’l see you on Friday.