Archive for October, 2010

Eat, Eat

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Today God told me that I should think of the fall and winter holidays like a very long meal. I’m not sure I see any value in looking at things this way, but after some back and forth I was able to at least see the metaphor she was making.

In this meal Halloween is the appetizer. This may be the weakest part of the analogy, since Halloween is all about the candy, and candy it would seem should be dessert, but the thing to note is not what the candy is made of but how it is presented. Halloween is where the “fun size” candy bars made their debut and the “fun size” is definitely appetizer proportions.

Next we move on to Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is most assuredly the main course. Sure Christmas is a bigger holiday, but when it comes to food, nothing is bigger than Turkey Day. Christmas then gets to come in as dessert, with its candy canes and fruitcakes and plum puddings it’s a veritable gingerbread house full of confections.

Finally New Year’s comes along and gives us a nice after dinner drink.

Again, there doesn’t seem to be any real point to this analogy, but I like it even without one. So Happy Halloween and Bon App├ętit.

See?

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

In the movie “Young Frankenstein” Dr. Frankenstein, at one point, says to Igor, “Damn your eyes!”

Marty Feldman, in the role of Igor, points to his bulging eyeballs and responds, “Too late.”

God pointed out to me this week that this exchange can be seen as an analogy for the film industry as a whole. It represents a problem they have been struggling with for decades, all without realizing that it can never be solved. To understand this we have to bring in the famous aphorism, “Seeing is believing.” In the imagined exchange between the film industry and us, it’s customers and audience, the film industry is the one damning our eyes. If only we didn’t have such keen vision they say, if only we couldn’t so easily see the falseness of their visual effects, then they could immerse us in their perfect visions. We would accept their art because seeing is believing.

And our answer to them is simply, “too late.” It is too late because we know that the visions they sell us are false, and no level of perfection will take us the final mile to believing that the vision is truth. They have managed to teach us that “seeing” is not “believing.” In fact, the ever increasing perfection of the artificial images they bring to us is largely helping us to recognize that even in our daily lives, we cannot just accept what we think we see as being the truth of the situation. So in their quest to bring us illusions as good as reality, they have ironically only succeeded in bringing us to believe that even reality is sometimes no better than illusion.

Halloween is Coming

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Through the millennia a lot of things have been offered up as “gifts” to God. Now of course when it comes to material things, well, what can you give to the one being that really does have everything? Well, nothing, but that’s never stopped people from trying.

The thing is that the people that are actually sincere about this, try to give God things that they value. There’s been a lot of money over the years, enough to make the Catholic Church one of the richest institutions on the planet. But there’s also been less materialistic things, like sacrificial virgins. God admits to there being a strong ick factor in things like dead virgins, or decapitated Mayan ball players (and people wonder why I don’t like sports), but she says it’s just something you grin and bear.

She told me that most gifts are given in good spirit but that they’re rather like when a small child holds out a piece of candy, covered in spit and clutched in their dirt encrusted hand, offering to share their bounty with you. You appreciate the offer, you want to nurture their generosity, but really, you’d rather the thought just hadn’t occurred to them.

Getting Older

Friday, October 8th, 2010

There’s an old adage in American politics that we tend to be progressive when we’re young and conservative when we get older. Of course American politics is as much about economics as government, particularly given the confusion by which most Americans think that Capitalism is a governing system rather than an economic model. So looked at through those glasses, the adage can roughly be equated to the notion that most people don’t feel much need to protect their stuff until they actually have some stuff.

Viewed that way, it does kind of manage to explain Young Republicans in a more progressive light. They may not have much now but they’re sure they will when they get older, so best to start protecting it now. Of course most of them are delusional about how much stuff they’ll actually have that’s worth protecting.

Now it struck me the other day that God, as portrayed in the Bible, doesn’t follow this rule. God in the Old Testament is a mean old bastard doing the equivalent of yelling at us to get off his lawn, but in the New Testament, in the form of Jesus, he’s all about “love your neighbor” and “loaves and fishes for everybody!”

So I asked him about this. He told me that maybe I wasn’t extending my model far enough. He told me to go back not just to when we get our political awareness but all the way back to when we get awareness at all. Kids, when they start out, tend to have an “everything I see is mine” attitude. Their natural tendency is to keep all their toys to themselves and we slowly teach them to share, to be kind to others, and to have a little empathy, maybe even a lot of empathy. It is these traits that lead them to their initial liberal political attitudes.

So we start out kind of mean and self-centered, then we learn to love and share with everyone, then we start to hoard and expect everyone to be “looking out for number one” justifying doing the same ourselves. In this light, maybe God is just in that middle phase, maybe in God terms he’s really much younger than we think.

Now that’s a scary thought.

Rolling Resistance

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Last week I drove a thirty-four foot long rented truck filled with most of my worldly possessions, roughly from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I say roughly for four reasons. The first being that since I was coming from the Los Angeles area, but not the city itself, and where I was going was in the Bay Area, but not in the city of San Francisco itself, I was strictly speaking not making the journey I stated but roughly speaking I was. The second reason is that the vehicle I was piloting drove, well, like a truck. The third is that being that I was driving a truck, I was compelled to stay in the right hand lane, and probably because of all the truck traffic it gets, the right hand lane is in the worst condition of all the lanes. The final reason is that I made the trip alone; God did not join me, and when you’ve gotten used to having him around, you kind of get to notice his absence.

Still, the trip was fairly uneventful and gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with FM radio, which I’d pretty much abandoned more than ten years ago. Ignoring the quality of the music that was played, which seems to fall into the camps of either playing nothing new or mostly trash, the listening experience itself was pretty shabby. There was an incredible amount of noise in the cab of the truck. The engine was loud. The wind noise was loud. And the truck itself would rattle and shake and be none too quiet about it.

When I did get to my destination and did get a chance to talk with God again, I made these complaints to him; I asked him why they couldn’t engineer a truck to give as pleasant and quiet a ride as any car, or if they could, was the rental company just too cheap to pay for good quality? He told me that he wanted to get me thinking in another direction. God told me that for just a minute he was going to play Devil’s advocate. Then he went on to ask if I wasn’t maybe looking at it all wrong. He asked me if I knew the statistics on the number of deaths caused every year by people falling asleep while driving. I allowed as that they were high. He pointed out that I was making the drive after having slept several hours short of my normal the night before. He then asked me if, because of that, I had ever felt the least bit like I was going to nod off durning the trip. Thinking back, I had to admit I hadn’t. Had I ever felt less than alert, which could have been fatal given that I was driving a vehicle very, very different from what I was used to? Well,no. So wasn’t it possible that the reason the truck was as noisy and unwieldy as it was, was to keep me aware that I was driving a big honking truck and to keep me alert and alive? Perhaps they weren’t being cheap at all and were actually just looking out for my best interests.

It was certainly possible. But it does seem awfully suspicious that it was probably also the cheapest thing they could do.