Saturday, June 5, 2010

Commander in a Chief's Jersey

If I were campaigning for president, I would talk a big game. I would list wildly optimistic goals as my main priorities. But in reality, I would only have one real goal: collecting as many free, personalized jerseys as possible.

The president often meets with championship teams, but only those of major sports. In many of these meetings, the president is presented with a personalized uniform, usually carrying the number one. I would push this tradition to new heights by doing a photo-op with any team that is willing to give me a jersey with my name on it.

Division II hockey champions? Come on down to Washington. Arena football league? Heck yes. Mathletes? Hit me up with one of those jackets. If you won, there is more than one of you, and you all dress the same, then I would like to exchange national recognition for a free jersey. My first act as president would probably be to create the Department of Championship Celebration, since I will be spending about as much time with whoever is coordinating these things as the Secretary of State.

People around the country will be wondering, "What is this idiot doing? He's meeting with a different team like every other day! There's no way he'll be elected again wasting this much time! Plus, couldn't the president afford to buy these jerseys?" These people clearly do not have their priorities straight.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pet Problem

Growing up on a farm has given me what I consider to be a healthy disliking of animals. If you want to own a pet, that is totally cool, but they are not for me. The way I see it, animals that aren't for eating only function as money-to-feces converters. You may say I'm missing the point of pets, but to that I say that this is America, and I can dislike anything I want, for whatever misguided reasons I choose.

However, I have been forced to consider the possibility that I might marry a pet-lover. Since I have also considered that my future wife will obviously be very good looking, and that I am a sucker for a pretty face, I needed to discover some sort of compromise ahead of time. These are the conditions under which I will agree to buying a pet, and some notes on each:

1. The pet will live outside, unless it is a fish. Houses are for people. This is because animals are generally too stupid to understand such nuanced facts as, "I have a very important day tomorrow, so tonight would be an especially bad night to wake me up," and, "This person who is visiting our house is allergic to you, so please avoid him." In addition, pets make your house smell. If you have a pet in your house and disagree, that doesn't mean your pet doesn't smell, it means you are willfully ignorant of pet-smell. It's kind of like how every parent thinks their child is a great athlete. Fish are exempt from all of these rules. If my wife desperately wants to own a fish, she can skip the rest of the conditions and just get one, and is also much more boring than I have imagined her to be.

2. Condition number one implies that we will be getting a dog. In the cats vs. dogs debate, I invariably choose animal control services, but dogs have the advantage in this scenario. I've noticed a trend that cats who live outside either A) spend all their time trying to get inside, or B) are not really your pet so much as they are the neighborhood cat that you have taken on the responsibility of feeding. I chalk this up to the fact that no one ever really has had control of their own cat.

3. The dog will be a bulldog. Bulldogs are the optimal combination of being small and not girly. Have you ever seen a bulldog jumping incessantly at anyone? I don't think they even have the energy required. Need to fence your dog in somewhere? It only needs to be three feet high. Also, I'm pretty sure I could run faster than one. I have no idea how this dog gives off the illusion of being tough. I guess it has good PR or something.

4. The dog will be named Cat. This will be hilarious, and will also test anyone's desire to be associated with it. Do you really want to explain why you are ordering dog tags that read "Cat"? Are you willing make a missing dog poster reading, "Answers to Cat" and include your phone number? Do you want to put our family dog in our Christmas photo enough to end the greetings with "...and Cat"? Do you want to run the risk of our kids not being completely sure on what dogs and cats are? Hopefully the answer to all of these questions is no.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In The Dark

Nothing makes a person feel stupid quite like having the electricity turned off. This happened in my house today, which, as I predicted a sentence ago, led to me feeling stupid. It may have had a lasting, damaging effect on my writing skills, as I am not making sense even to myself now.

Every entrance into a darkened room is a sad ordeal. Instinctively, I flip the light switch on, only to be surprised at its ineffectiveness. The second spent squeezing the answer to this puzzle out of my mind grapes is overshadowed by the lingering minutes of sanity-doubt. Seriously, I just tried to turn this light on like two minutes ago. It doesn't work.

Since my bathroom is in the basement and has no windows, any cleaning ritual now carries the difficulty of a Survivor elimination challenge. Shaving without looking will make you feel fourteen again faster than nervously entering a dank locker room, or watching an actual Survivor elimination challenge. Brushing one's teeth should not be at all harder without lights, but it is. I didn't even take a shower today; I just put on a hat.

Other than that, everything's cool as long as you don't mind living in the 1930's. Want to warm some food up? I guess you should try to start it on fire. Want to find out some information? Have fun at the library and/or in your ignorance. Want to log your misadventures in lacking electricity for others to enjoy? Sorry, it will only reach people within yelling distance. Want to call the cops on your incredibly loud neighbor? Sorry, you'll... wait I guess the phones still work. Want to send a squad car to the house of that guy rambling really loudly to no one? Okay, yeah, the cars work too. Want to get into a loud argument with the police about freedom of speech vs. disturbance of the peace, resulting in violence? Yeah I'm in jail now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pointless Pondering

These are worthless subjects on which I waste an inordinate amount of mental energy.

-The annoyance of changing my email address and username on social networking sites if I were ever to become "Internet famous," since I use my full name in all of them.

-Ways in which I could prove my lost iPod is in fact mine if it were in a lost and found. For some reason the person in my head who works at the lost and found is incredibly belligerent and I would give them details of incredibly obscure bands and play counts of songs that only the true owner of the iPod would know.

-Money laundering schemes.

-The fact that football should change its name to downball. Each team gets four downs to get another set of downs, a play ends when a player is down, and the most important aspect of the game is the touchdown. Everyone knows not much time is spent kicking the ball. Most of this time is spent trying to convince an imaginary member of this debate's opposition why it would be a great idea, how it would really clear things up between football and soccer, and how we, as a nation, could pull off this difficult change.

-Excessively detailed hostage rescue scenarios, optimally executed by myself or a group, in varying public locales.

-Which countries would be on which teams if World War III were to break out and why.

-Finding a way of sending secret messages to my family in an Al-Qaeda video. They often make videos of people they have captured and force them to say they are being treated well. I need to come up with certain words, phrases, or body signals that could be interpreted by my family or friends to indicate my well-being. My family or friends could then inform the government of the truth in the situation.

-How I would utilize the powers of Magneto from X-Men.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Avoiding Lamesauce Insults

As a non-confrontational individual, I naturally avoid heated, argumentative situations. I honestly don't want to make other people feel bad, and also do not enjoy being pummeled. I do however, enjoy watching the quality delivery of a particularly deserved burn. Unfortunately, the execution of insults today lack intelligence or creativity. Two people in an argument pull their verbal arrows from the same small quiver. These phrases are meant to be shocking and hurtful, but most people I know have heard them hundreds of times by the time they graduate from junior high.

No one recently called a son of a bird* has emotionally broken down while thinking, "Oh no, has my accuser rightfully bestowed this title upon my mother as a consequence of an unpleasant social interaction? In suggesting my mother lacks character, does my opponent imply I have been raised improperly and am thus a bad person? This shocking revelation of the deficiency of my moral fiber forces me to question every decision of my life so far, including the current point of contention. I concede defeat." The act of being called a piece of corn* has never produced this train of thought: "Am I truly now being compared to excrement? Another human being thinks I not only share physical characteristics with one of the most agreed-upon vile substances in existence, but also the personality of an inanimate object. Profound changes must be made in my life to redeem myself."

If you decide to enter this verbal fray, a true insult should draw attention to flaws in his character, causing self-doubt, shame, or anger. A well timed, specific, and hurtful phrase can cause many different emotional responses, depending on the character of the insulted. Many will choose to avoid further conflict by ending the conversation, while the more violent types will choose to end the conversation by furthering the conflict in the form of a violent beat down. Through the strange combination of hastiness and cowardice, dolts respond with one of the meaningless, overused phrases mentioned earlier, revealing that they have been verbally bested.

No one applies these cop-out phrases to themselves or feels hurt by them. Insecurity causes one to spew them at strangers, hoping to instill fear in those who could physically hurt, or distance from those who could emotionally damage. They also exist to express displeasure in the words or actions of an acquaintance in a way that make the speaker seem tough. Saying, "I'm very sensitive about the way I look and now feel hurt; please don't comment negatively on that subject in the future," takes more openness and courage than most people possess, so they instead decide to advance the intellectual discourse of our country with a courteous "Go enjoy* yourself."

If an argument is unavoidable, think about what you really mean to express. Inform this doofus of his ignorance, ugliness, personality flaws, etc. in a way that he will remember the next day instead of dodging the issue with dime a dozen catchphrases. If you receive an intelligent retort, then we've got a prime argument on our hands.

*This word has not been censored by The Man, but by the author, in accordance with my previous post regarding censorship.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Music Censorship, Part II

After those in power stopped caring about messages of cultural or governmental change in music, only the listening audience remained as censors of music. Immoral lyrics pushed radio stations to remove songs from the airwaves to avoid offending the sensibilities of the general public. Apparently incapable of writing about non-reproductive subjects, this potential ban led artists to create cryptic verses that only hint at the true meaning. The Beach Boys "Wouldn't It Be Nice" appears to be an innocent love song from a star-struck youngster. Take a closer look at a sample of the lyrics:

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long

You know it's gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it

The actions in other portions only go as far as holding and kissing, but it appears to me as if these lyrics are entirely about a man wanting to copulate with an underage girl. An outright statement of this intention would upset parents everywhere. This artist chose to censor his adult and possibly criminal desire into a message acceptable to everyone, avoiding a negative public reaction. Concealing the song's deeper meaning welcomed kids, along with their innocence protectors, into the listening audience. A decade later, Foreigner's lyrics were so uniform in their content, the band may as well have changed their name to Fornicator. However, their less disguised allusions were still ambiguous enough to avoid public relations problems. This allowed adults old enough to say things like, "Young people these days..." to not object, and possibly even enjoy what they're barely hearing.

As society got used to increasing vulgarity, topics of this nature started to be discussed openly in song. "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris basically lists dozens of ways in which he plans to give his lady friend the time. Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop" consists solely of the aforementioned rapper striving to get a Bill Janklow* from a female bar patron. Even if you ignore the parts where he says outright what he wants her to do, no one above the age of 12 thinks Lil' Wayne is going out of his way to encourage a woman to enjoy candy. Only specific vulgar words are censored, but no disguises are created for moral messages.

I suspect that artists who take advantage of this continuing loosening of censorship will lose a large portion of their potential fan base, and will become creatively lazy. Why bother coming up with a clever and sneaky euphemism like "Baby, you can drive my car" if you can get away with a shocking and overt one like "I want to friend* you like an animal?" Why not skip euphemisms altogether and describe outrageous behavior in the clearest way possible? Many people formed assumptions about that aforementioned clever lyric of The Beatles' "Drive My Car," but listeners could understandably have interpreted the words literally. Many years later, the song's creator stated what he truly meant, but the phrase fit into the song's vehicular context so well that some people still didn't believe him. To those who can't relate in your intended message, this ambiguity enables them to give the song a meaning they can identify with or enjoy your tune as simple fun. Only people who don't understand English will get anything other than the intended meaning of "When Ludacris get to the bed then start baking*," and those innocent kids and grumpy old people I mentioned earlier won't ever even hear about it.

In an ideal world, music would have a positive, clean message, and would need no euphemisms or censors. Artists who must communicate this kind of message have a choice. Say exactly what you mean and catch the brief ear of the the youth, or censor yourselves and grip the attention of the nation.

*This word has been censored by The Man

Music Censorship, Part I

The act of sneaking messages through the censorship of oppressors has been popular in music for generations. Spreading a controversial message under the seemingly unimposing form of music keeps oppressors from catching on. Songs like "Follow The Drinking Gourd," according to legends, were sung among slaves hoping to escape to freedom. Its seemingly vague lines offered to those who remembered its words geographical directions to a starting point on the Underground Railroad. They learned the safest season to embark on their journey and which rivers to follow or cross. Forbidden from learning to read, repeated singing embedded life-saving details in determined minds. The consequences of such a song being decoded by authorities would be so disastrous, that everyone involved set new records for being outrageously hardcore. I speculate many more musical numbers concealed massive burns against slave owners.

The abolition of slavery granted all the right to literacy, meaning dissidents could now spread ideas in writing. This took away music's usefulness for memorizing instructions, unless very small children are planning something devious. However, music still carried the burden of publicly spreading a message of change that newspaper or book publishers shied away from. Folk group The Weavers braved the Red Scare of the 1950's, trying to improve worker's rights through music. Even after diluting their political message to appeal to a wider audience, the FBI claimed they adhered to communist beliefs. The entertainment industry began blacklisting The Weavers and many other artists after scrutiny from The House Committee on Un-American Activities. Termination of their record contract and removal of their songs from radio play proved The Man still worried enough about the influence of music to censor it.

After the country came down from the bad trip that was McCarthyism, artists were finally free to speak their minds on subjects of political or cultural change. This of course leads us to the whiny, dirty hippy era of music, which I am gracefully skipping over on my way to gangster rap. NWA announced their hatred for cops and accusations of prejudice against the justice system with their hit single, "Hug* tha Police." Deciphering their top-secret message to listeners must have been difficult for those in power, with such ambiguous wordplay as, "I'm a sniper with a doozy* of a scope, taking out a cop or two." Things like this are generally frowned upon, so the government was understandably upset. However, the retribution only consisted of stern letters from the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI, which are probably framed with pride next to NWA's gold albums. Removal from a few concert venues and a short ban from Australian radio provided more publicity than financial harm. Despite the controversial and threatening statements, the group was never in any danger. The Man's interest in censoring messages that could damage him faded.

The invention of the Internet allows any and all contentious directives to be spread easily throughout the nation in secrecy. This has caused The Man's concern for scathing music lyrics to die completely. Even with messages of enjoyment in illegal activities, the oppressor of free thought, whoever you consider him to be, doesn't care anymore. Reggae artist Sean Paul seems to exclusively express his love of marijuana with such hits as "Ever Blazin," "We Be Burnin'," and in a new level of blatancy, "Legalize It." No one cares, and The Man probably hasn't noticed. At this point, a detailed, step-by-step single entitled "How To Overthrow The U.S. Government," could be released without consequence.

This once dangerously awesome theme in music has devolved to Green Day beating the dead horse of the Bush administration's popularity to increase their sales. Musicians no longer fight The Man, because The Man has exited the ring. I'm glad we are all literate and don't have an imposing government, but using music to secretly spread information concerning an uprising is infinitely cooler and more meaningful than political debate with instruments. Anyone who won't pay attention to a message of change unless it has a cool beat behind it isn't in any kind of mental shape to be voting anyway.

Since the voice of the oppressed no longer requires the mask of music to hide behind, protest music is dead. If you have a message to spread, ditch that mask and just write the message on your face. That would get people's attention.

*This word has been censored by The Man