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Sunday, February 28, 2010

At The Museum or Things Not To Tell Children


I've been in NYC for the last day or so. I like going to the City once a year and do do my regular geek-related activities: go to the Strand book store, hit a museum, walk through Central Park (very pretty with all the snow), and see a play.
This is about my visit to the Guggenheim Museum. For those of you not familiar with the Guggenheim, the inside is like being in a barrel of sorts. You walk around the sides on a ramp that gently goes upwards. Art is displayed on the wall of the barrel. To your other side is empty space. It's a beautiful effect kinda like being in one of those domed churches (without the nasty superstition).
So, I'm pretty oblivious at times. OK, OK, most of the time I'm fairly aware of my environment in case of a natural disaster or random zombie outbreak occurring. When I'm in the Guggenheim it's different. My paranoid, "Flight or Flee" (as against to Fight or Flee) response is shut off. In those moments I'm less aware and pragmatically speaking... stupid.

I walk into the museum, and I soaked up the space (the place is all white to magnify the spaciness). I slowly walk up the ramp. Do I notice there is NO art on the wall? No. I'm just being stupid Andy at the Guggenheim chill'n in the space. Suddenly, this little 10 year old girl with braces introduces herself and starts walking with me. My first thought? Oh my God, I'm not a pedophile, and I shouldn't be talking to you. My second thought? This is some kinda scam or maybe I'm in some horror movie with Evil Children with mind control powers that are going to drain my brain.
Then she asked me, "What is Progress?"
Now I'm really disoriented as we walk up the ramp of all white with bare walls. I thought for a moment and started to say what I thought, with minimal editorial control from my higher brain functions. "Progress? It's man's escape from misery," I quipped. She repeated my statement (she must have been taught to do that when grownups say crazy shit). "Sure," I continued, "think about it, for the majority of human history life has been: nasty, brutish, and short." "Nasty, Brutish, and Short?" she replied. "Sure, progress is moving away from that. Take some of the more uncivilized areas of the world, let's say Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has a life expectancy of what? Forty? Forty-Five? There's a whole lot of progress needing to be done there." I didn't stop there. I just kept talking in the same vein.
By then I figured out this HAD to be part of the exhibit. No art on the walls?
Someone willing to listen to my crazy talk? Then a high school kid (male) met up with us and introduced himself. The little girl related (with uncanny efficiency) our conversation. "This is Andy. He thinks Progress is man's escape from misery. The typical human experience has been: nasty, brutish, and short... historically speaking. Take Zimbabwe..." Have you ever seen Dr. Phil? It's a show I don't often watch, and then only for a few minutes. There is a typical segment when the offending loon gets to see themselves on camera doing their looniness, The typical response is, "Wow, I didn't realize how loony I was acting." As this precocious, 10 year old was basically relating my thoughts on the human condition I thought, "Wow, that sounds pretty brutal -- true, funny, and brutal." She said her good-bye and scampered away apparently unscathed by our discussion. I meant to say something like, "It's not all bad. Things are much better than say, Medieval Europe when 1/3 of the population died of the Black Death!" Too late. My new friend was asking me followup questions about Progress. This went on all the way up to the top (the ramp wind around the wall like a screw). When the last person I was talking to was an older guy.

I usually dislike interactive art. I'm lazy. I just want to look at pretty stuff. That's why I paid my $18. This exhibit actually made me feel like I was part of an artistic process. Mind you, the process was kinda like me going out drinking and talking smack only in a nicer environment. And people HAD to listen to me (after all I did pay something). The exhibit was the creation of artist Tino Sehgal. I have to tell you, this was my most pleasant experience in the Guggenheim.
Now, some of you who haven't been in the museum are thinking, "Andy, you got played. You paid $18 and all you got was a twenty minute conversation outta it?" Point taken. What I failed to mention on the way down the ramp I walked into the rooms off to the side and saw some lovely painting/sculptures from the Parisian inter-war period. So I feel like I wasn't completely ripped off.
In retrospect, if I hadn't been so disoriented in the beginning I would've added some rainbows and butterflies to my assessment of the Human Condition, at least to the 10 year old.

Children shouldn't know they're in Purgatory.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Talking The Atheist Talk or There's No Such Thing As Monkey-Men!


Surprisingly, in public I don't initiate the Atheist talk too often. I play defense. It has more to do with my low tolerance for certain kinds of comments that I find sooooo egregious I have to speak up.

You want an example? Luckily I have one right here!

This is so ludicrous I feel like I have to remind you dear reader that this is a true story.

I was throwing one of my parties back in the day (pre-kids). I was happily full of the drink and meandering through the crowd. I then heard this, "Man and monkeys can mate and produce young." I turned around expecting one of my wife's (sorry) friends to have said it, but no it was one of mine. My buddy who was stating this genetic "fact" wasn't dumb. His college major was English (that may explain it, but c'mon even a 9th grader knows that shit can't happen!) and had a minor in Philosophy. The guy was much smarter than me (may not say much). Worse still he was saying it to one of my wife's friends who seemed to be buying it. This had to end. I took him aside and said, "Dude, there are no monkey-men or monkey-women." To which he mentioned the popular nugget of information that man and monkey share 98% of our DNA to which I quipped that the last two percent must do a lot of the heavy lifting.

I'm not here to talk about monkey-men. I'm here to talk about when I don't talk the Atheist talk.

I was at my friend's grandfather's funeral (got that?). We were at the post game show at his house when I started chatting with the local rabbi. The conversation went it's normal course and than suddenly veered off course to Crazy Land. The rabbi informed me that his 19 year old daughter was going to get a tattoo. Even a gentile like me knows that is a no-no for old school Israelites. He then said he planned to cut his daughter's money for college if she chose to do that.

OMG! The blood swirled in my head! Here is a guy so arrogant in his craziness that he talks that kinda smack in public to a guy he doesn't even know. I have to tell you, this is what I dream of. Self Important God-guy talks the crazy he always talks and I inform him he is talking nonsense. I get tingly just thinking about it. People like this guy never get challenged.

What did I do?

I smiled and kept my mouth shut. That was not the place and certainly not the time for my shtick. I like my friend too much to start a verbal brawl on the day he had his grandfather buried.

Sometimes you have to take one for the team.

What do you expect in Purgatory?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

7DAYPSA Ceremony


I dislike award ceremonies. If I may be so brash to say it, many folks in the funny business dislike formalities. By nature people who do the funny are bomb throwers in the cultural sense of the word. Our job is to make fun of those graybeards and self important people whose job it is to make sure we recognize them for all their awesomeness. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld I would rather be in the back of the room making fun of the people in the front of the room. This is even more interesting when one considers it was a ceremony celebrating Jerry Seinfeld's contribution to the entertainment business when he made that statement.

What's worse is that I have to look like a respectable human being. Most of the time I am in my gym shorts (as I am now). When not in shorts I may be found in a rugby shirt and jeans. I'm all about my own personal comfort and if I dress up all the time people may expect stuff outta me. You know... like reasonable adult behavior. Sorry, you have to go somewhere else for that.

But I digress.

It's difficult for even a nihilist curmudgeon like me to get all sarcasticy at the award ceremony I went to this past Tuesday night for the Rhode Island 7DAYPSA. The 7DAYPSA is a competition between different teams of filmmakers and their quest is to make the best Public Service Announcement for a charity in Rhode Island. The teams are given 7 days to perfect their PSA. The Big Sister Association and the Sensational Child (an organization that assists people with autism and other disabilities along with their families) were the non-profits involved. I was impressed with the quality of the PSAs. What I found difficult was being my normal cynical, caustic self. What am I going to do, make fun of the Big Sisters? Nah. I also had a hard time wrangling with these unaccustomed warm wholesome feelings. Maybe the warmth was from the HUGE rum and coke the bartender gave me. Who knows?

Anyways, the next 7DAYPSA is going to be held in Portland Maine. Here is some basic information:

There is an Information Event at 9 AM February 28th at the Maine Studios.

Teams may pick up their client (charity info) package on these dates:
May 13, 14 & 15 by 7:00 P.M.

Teams must drop off their completed PSA on the seventh day from their
pick up date: May 20, 21, & 22 by 7:00 P.M.

There are forms found at this site (y'know for unimportant things like rules 'n stuff): http://www.film-festival.org/7DayPSA.php

Me? I'm hoping to get a team together for the Maine event.

Wait, the voices in my head inform me I should actually tell who is in the above photo. Until my next dose of anti psychotic medication, I'll listen to them. From left to right: Duncan Putney (Boy Genius and GTHTIFT (Guy Who Had The Idea For This)), George Marshal (Executive Director, FLICKERS), John E. Seymore (Exec. for The Maine Studios sporting his "Big Sexy" look, Krystal Kenville (Organizer of the Maine Event... do you notice she is trying to get as far away from me as possible?), ME! Andrew Hall (Please insert your own snide remark about me), and Andre Stark (Exec. Producer, OCD Associates).

Did I mention I'm organizing the Boston Event?
That is a whole other post.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raising an Atheist or Disciplining in Purgatory


This may surprise you, but I am an Atheist. I know you're surprised... astonished even.

The thing is a person may look me and say, "Hmmmm now, Andy is an Atheist, he votes Democrat a lot (though not always), and he lives in Massachusetts. Andy must be one of those permissive, liberal parents whose kids are always screaming in the grocery store and restaurant."

You would be wrong. I run my house like a Gulag. Maybe not that bad, but my children know that there are consequences to their actions. Bad behavior means punishment. The word punishment is out of vogue. It's too punishy and not enough loving cuddles. When I'm talking punishment I'm not getting out my switch and taking the child to the back of the shed. No. But something unpleasant is going to happen and the aim of that unpleasantness is to stop that bad behavior.

What brings up this topic you may wonder.

Allow me to answer your query.

I got a phone call from the vice-principal today from Will's school. She informed me that my wunderkind has been applying the dreaded, "Wet Willie" to a younger kid on the bus. The victim doesn't want to go on the bus due to my boy's moist finger in his ear canal and who can blame him. I have been victim of the Wet Willie before and it is icky.

I waited for my boy to get off the bus. He was happy. He's all like, "Hi Dad! It's just us two today." Yes. Just us two. His sister was at the Children's Museum with the in-laws but I digress.

"We need to talk."

"Is it bad?" Everyone knows that talking is code for upcoming unpleasantness.

We sat down at the kitchen table and I went down the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

First Step: Allow the Defendant to Come Clean.

"This is your one chance to tell me the truth. What happened on the bus today?" I gave him my "serious" look.

"Well," he began, "I was bored on the bus and did this." Will stuck his finger in his mouth and pretended to stick it in someone's ear.

Second Step: Categorize the Behavior

"That is considered bullying. The kid you did it to doesn't want to get on the bus because of you. I am not happy."

No response from Will.

Third Step: Punishment

"This is what's going to happen: no snack, no trip to the comic book store tonight," it was a special trip because his sister was doing something special, "and you get to write the kid a note saying you are sorry. Understand?"

At this point Will started to tear up, but he took his punishment like a man.

"OK, I'll go do my homework." He went upstairs.

Not every behavior problem is going to be solved this easily but all you can do is take it one day at a time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Johnny Baptist 2



This is my second Johnny Baptist short. Once again Johnny is out harassing the populace.

I think the idea of religious folk trying to convert the non-indoctrinated is funny. For all the folks who grew up in faith you were told all the crazy stuff upfront; stuff like: Jesus was born from a virgin, Jesus rose from the dead, or the obviously crazy/evil stuff like God wiped out 99.9% of humanity in a huge flood. When I was younger I gave the aura of an idiot (my aura is now more respected) and many religious fanatics tried to convert me.

Ohhhhh, they have their ways. Pretty girls are the best bait. I was chatting up a pretty girl back in the day (pre-married life) in a quickie-mart and she was really into getting me into her church. I backpacked in Britain when I was 19 and a very pretty older woman (jackpot!) started chatting me up about a new coffee shop down the street. Coffee? I like coffee especially if it was with her.

It turns out she was a Moonie. The coffee shop was run by Moonies. I didn't flee (I was still hoping to have sex with her) and in the end no one was happy. They didn't convert me and I didn't get laid. Sigh.

So I hope you enjoy the video and if you have any funny stories on how people tried to convert you please tell under comments.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johnny Baptist or Religious Fanatics Can Be Funny!





This is a short I wrote a few years ago. The gentleman playing Johnny Baptist is David Wheeler. David is quite the character. Besides being brilliant he survived growing up in Texas! This character was his idea, but having been brought up in a Baptist household I thought I could do him justice.

What? You didn't know I was brought up in a Baptist home?


It would be difficult not to have been brought up in a more Baptisty home. Dad was a Church Deacon and Ma was the Church Organist and Choir Director. We weren't Southern Baptists. Those people were traitors to the Union. The Southern Baptists became their own sect in 1845 because they liked doing the slavery (ergo the Southern qualifier in Southern Baptist). You shouldn't think that my folks were liberal types. Oh no, Dad was in the Korean War and fought alongside African Americans and didn't like the "Darkies" (his word not mine!) one bit.

This is the first of two Johnny Baptist shorts and I'll post the other one sometime when I don't feel like doing too much writing. That and a desire to dig up more of my Christo-Fascist past.

I have recently sent this short in to the Atheist Film Festival in Portland, OR. I'm waiting to hear back from them.

Weight loss and Atheism


I had my, "Yay! Obama Hasn't Gotten Shot Party" last night and all went well. My wife was able to outsource our childcare duties to her parents for the evening. We had a respectable assortment of beer and if I do say so myself I did a fair job cooking.


It's been a week since I started my, "Oh my Fictitious Divine Being! I've got to lose some weight!" campaign (See my post, "Sleepy Time in Purgatory). It's been mostly effective. Though I did imbibe a bit more than I usually do (with the party and all) I weighed myself this morning and I'm down a pound... 194. For those of you who haven't met me in the flesh, I'm 6 feet tall with a fairly light frame. My ultimate goal is to be 180.


My undergraduate degree was in Psychology and I've done Graduate work in Psych too. One of the most important things I got out of college is an understanding of how behavior works. Whenever I want to change a habit I start out with small changes. Once I see positive results I build on them. For example, when I started working out ( a few years ago) I bought some hand weights and only exercised for a few minutes at a time. I dropped some weight (I was 230 at the time) and when I became more confident I joined a gym.


A lot of folk get really irrational about weight (I am not immune, once again see my Sleepy Time) . There is a Weight loss -Industrial Complex which feeds off this irrationality. Regardless of the amount of Paid For TV Commercials there are no quick fixes, no magic bullet. What these quick fixes do accomplish is to give a person a false sense of hope.


Kinda like religion.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vacationing In Purgatory or Hooray For The Confederacy!

The flag of slavers.

Many people think I bad mouth the South. Of course , when I mean the South I'm not talking South America (though Hugo Chavez is giving it a bad name) rather I'm talking about the states that made up the Confederacy. "Andy," people say, "no one really cares about the Civil War in the South. That whole War of Northern Aggression has been made up by late night comics."

Well, I'd like present Exhibit A in my defense.

I was vacationing south of the Mason Dixon Line a few years ago. This was not my choice. I was out voted. You see it was a group vacation with my in-laws. My brother in-law and his wife lived in Georgia and it was thought a good idea to meet approximately half way... Virginia. We rented a house in Mathew's Parish (just the name makes me think of a shallow gene pool) by the beach.

I am not a "sun and fun" guy. I am a "let's go to a museum" guy or "watch me get drunk" guy. Needless to say the beach and beautiful sunny weather got lame pretty fast. I was going to LA for a pitchfest (being a masochist I write a blog and screenplays) and had to prepare. This meant going to the Kinko's the next town over. I drove off.

It was easy to find and I completed my tasks quickly. On the way home I spied a DWG's (Dopey White Guy's) heaven: Denny's. What's there not to like? High fat greasy food and they serve it by the truckloads! I went in. I forget what I was eating (maybe due to all the cholesterol swishing around in my brain) when it happened. A happy white family walked by me and being a people watcher by trade I watched. Yep, first comes Dad Patriarch of the family. There's Mom and little Sis. Oh, and here is Jr wearing...

A Heroes of the Confederacy t-shirt.

Yep all the heroes were there: Jackson, Davis, Beauregard, and my personal fave Robert E. Lee. It was wrong on soooo many levels. Let's say my boy when he's old enough to do really stupid stuff ( he's only 7 right now so it's still pee-wee league stupid stuff) buys a shirt like that and I find it in his drawer I would simply burn it in front of him. If he wore it out in public I would hope that he'd get his ass kicked. And I'm sure he would.

But this is the South. Obviously there are few safeguards against such prime time, major-league stupidity.

People may say, "It's OK. It's their culture. It's their heritage!"

Yep. Didn't they fight to keep slavery going? Did I miss something important?

I don't think you see many Germans parading around in public with, "Heroes of the Third Reich" shirts on.

Maybe I wasn't in Purgatory anymore. It was suspiciously hot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Most Tedious Month


I'm throwing a party on Saturday. It's my, "Yay, Obama hasn't gotten shot" party. I've decided to throw a party every February regardless of a reason. I need to pep it up. If you are a regular reader of my blog you are well aware (or not) of my personal jihad against this particular month.
February isn't a cool month with a cool name like July or August which was named after Julius and Augustus Caesar. No. February was named after the Roman purification festival of Februa. Februa seems like it was a pretty lame holiday. It was a festival cleaning and washing (I'm not making this up... thanks Wikipedia). So February has sucked for a long, long time.

It doesn't help that I've got a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's not like I have a full blown malady, rather during the winter I have difficulty getting anything accomplished after it gets dark. I live in Massachusetts so it gets dark at 4pm during the dead of winter and that can be... limiting. February isn't the dead of winter rather it is the last leg of a really really dark and cold marathon. Ick.

This post isn't about February however. It's about diversity.
I have a very diverse group of friends. I have Big Lefty Democrat friends. I have religious friends (hard to believe but true). I have friends who don't think global warming is real. The thing is...

they are all white.

White. All of them. Sure, I have many Jewish friends, but if you were to walk into any of my gatherings you would think you were in a ski lodge. Trying to say it's a diverse grouping of people is tough when they all look Caucasian.

So I have a conundrum when I invite non-white people to my party. I feel like I have to say something beforehand. Otherwise, they could show up and say something like, "Andy, I didn't know you invited me to a local meeting of Republicans," or something like that. It's just as bad when I invite someone gay. I mean, I wouldn't call myself a guy who rigidly accepts the social norms for male behavior (I like musicals and I watch Logo since they are showing repeats of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) but I feel like I should let them know that there will be a lot of straight people at the gathering.

I muddle through these episodes the way I typically muddle through most things, poorly.

Luckily at the party there will be the magical brain tonic of alcohol. It's what Homer Simpson refers to as, "The cause of and solution to all of life's problems." My brain demands I drink a lot at times and who am I to argue with it?
And that's my upcoming party in Purgatory.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Raising an Atheist or Thor vs JC


Every once in a while I like to check in with my son (Will age 7) and see how I'm doing as Atheist-Dad.


I asked him what does he knows about Thor. I didn't ask him to differentiate between the Marvel superhero against the mythological deity (I think a lot of people would have difficulty with that task).

Will's responses in order...
1. He has a day named after him, Thursday.

This is true!

2. He's god of thunderclaps.

Two for two. Thor controlled both lightning and thunder.
3. He has gloves that protect his hands.

This is true for the deity but not for the superhero. Thor needed gloves (Jarngreipr from the Old Norse "Iron Gripper") to protect his hands. When he threw Mjolnir (Thor's magic hammer ) it would be white hot when it returned.

At which point Will remembered...

4. Thor has a magic hammer that returns to him when thrown.
People believed that when lightning occurred it was Thor throwing his hammer.

I asked a follow up question, "Do you know the name of the hammer?"

Pause.
"No." He replied. I was okay with that. Hey, he knew the guy had magic gloves.

5. Thor has a helmet with wings on it.

This is true for the superhero. I have seen several depictions of the deity and he is sans hat.
At this point Will was more interested in the TV show we were watching (Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares). I thought I'd ask him some more followup questions.

"Where does Thor live?" I queried.

"Asgard" Will said without hesitation.

"How does Thor get to and from Asgard?" This is a kids, "Double Jeopardy Question."

"The rainbow path."

The actual answer is the rainbow bridge (Bifrost), but as the only judge I decided to give it to him.

I turned to Will, "Who is Jesus Christ?"

Will looked at me, "Who?"

Ahhhhh, job well done.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Evan Bayh Is Not Henry V


It reads like an anti-Hollywood movie.

It's not "High Noon" where Gary Cooper stands alone against a crew of gunslinging criminals aiming to gun him down.

Nor is it "Seven Samurai" (or it's Western equivilent, The Magnificent Seven) when seven warriors defend a hamlet against maurauding bandits with no reward except a roof over their heads and a few bowls of rice a day.

It certainly isn't Shakespeare's "Henry V". On the morning of the Battle of Agincort the English were outnumbered 5 to 1. When the cousin of the King, Westmoreland, wishes for more men Henry declares, "No, my fair cousin; If we are marked to die, we are enow (enough) To do our country loss; and if to live, the fewer men the greater share of honour."

Courage in the face of impossible odds. Grim faced stoicism knowing that the only reward one will receive is the knowledge that they did the right thing.

This is not one of those stories.

Evan Bayh is not one of those guys.

He is the moderate Democratic Senator from Indiana. Senator Bayh is known as a consensus maker. He is the guy who is retiring from the Senate because, "There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem- solving."

Wow that sounds serious.

That sounds like the country is in deep trouble.

And Evan Bayh is getting outta Dodge on the last stagecoach.

He is mouthing the words of Cartman from "South Park", "Screw you guys. I'm outta here."

How much is Senator Bayh screwing his fellow Dems? Not just bailing out when Universal Healthcare is threatened or Don't Ask Don't Tell may be rescinded. Senatorial candidates need 500 confirmed signatures from each county in Indiana to get on the ballot. He didn't leave a lot of time for his fellow Democrats to get those signatures.

Maybe Evan Bayh should've seen those movies.

But this is politics in Purgatory.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Water and Soap Please


I was browsing through the New York Times online when my eye caught, "Hospital-Clean Hands, Without All the Scrubbing".

Intrigued I read on. A new product is in development whose purpose is to sanitize hands. You place your hands in a box which bathes your hands in plasma ergo killing all the nasty disease causing pathogens (bacteria and viruses). The box will "probably" cause a hundred dollars or less.

Plasma is a pretty murky subject for me so I checked out what it exactly is. Plasma is a distinct form of matter (solid,liquid, gas, plasma) in which a gas is ionized (fancy word for giving an atom an electrical charge). Plasma can act like a solid under certain conditions.

A companion device is being developed so that plasma may be inserted into a hospital's ventilation system and killing all the air born germs too. This would be particularly useful in fighting drug resistant diseases like MRSA.

It all sounds like sunny days and puppy dogs.

Me?

I'm skeptical.

If you look how people thought we'd be living today, say forty years ago I'd have a flying car, a robot washing my dishes (I can tell you my friend that isn't happening), and vacations on Moon Colony Alpha. Who knows how long (and if) this technology will take to develop.

Not only that look at another miracle of modern science, DDT. DDT was the chemical thought to be the magic bullet in controlling mosquito populations (and thereby controlling Malaria and other diseases). It was sprayed around willy-nilly. And one day...

Oops! DDT causes cancer and wrecks the ecosystem.

Even if the technology of plasma sanitation reaches the marketplace I think I'll be reaching for soap and water for sometime afterwards. Maybe five or ten years. That should be enough time to see if people grow a third eye from using it.

Of course a third eye could be useful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sleepy-Time In Purgatory


I am eating some fruit right now.

Why?

I have violated the first two rules.

Rule the first: Don't f@ck up.

Rule the second: don't f@ck up.

It's not like I did anything dramatically bad like making a bad stock pick and losing all my money.

No.

My weight has been slowly heading north since Halloween.

Like any kind of addict my first knee jerk response is, "It wasn't my fault! I blame it on the ooey-gooey goodness of the holiday." And then were those other bothersome holidays and how can that be my fault? Now? I've been doing a lot of writing and hey that's fairly sedentary so that's not my fault either.

Andy, Andy, Andy...

Denial. Repression. Denial.

Well, that came to an end this morning.

I've been getting crappy-tossing-turning all night sleep for the last few days and Andy needs his sleep. I have limited game and I can't afford to lose the precious little I have from poor sleep.

What does my sleep have to do with my weight?

I have sleep apnea. Apnea is a condition when a person stops breathing for itsy-bitsy mini-seconds during their sleep. This non-breathing is associated with snoring. Apnea is bad. If you wake up several times an hour your REM sleep cycle gets all messed up. REM sleep is when a person dreams and if you don't get enough bad things happen (daytime weariness, agitation, the list of fun goes on).

Apnea gets exacerbated by being overweight. So that 10 lbs I put on over the past few months (it's hard to tell when I'm in my winter clothes) has put me over the tipping point.

I put the evidence together...

Bad sleep.

The scale doesn't lie.

I've been told I was snoring last night (when I'm lighter I don't snore).

So I'm hitting the panic button! Hard.

Part of my Grand Strategy of weight loss is doing the occasional post about it. I'm hoping that this, "Public Statement of Intent" will keep me on track.

The fear will help too. Alot.

To make this process all the more transparent I will list my weight with each post.

Today's weight (drum roll please)...

195

My goal weight is a lithe 180. It's a bit lower than the 185 I started at but I feel 180 is good for my body type.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Egyptian Farmer or I'm Glad I'm Not Guy!


Today I'm glad I'm not an Egyptian Farmer circa the time of Moses...

I'm going to let the Bible speak for itself...

This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. ”
— Exodus 11:4–6

Sooo...

I am no Biblical scholar, but the facts are pretty clear. Yahweh went on a killing spree.

OK, it's easy to feel bad for all the boy infants, kids, and tweens that got killed (hmmm... the bible did not mention fetuses. Does that mean fetuses don't carry the same value as babies in the eyes of the LORD? I'm sorry... that's another post).

Let's not forget the fathers.

Say I'm a subsistence farmer who toils from sun up to sun down day after day after day. My life expectancy is what? Thirty? Thirty-five? Not only does my life suck under normal circumstances but there have been these crazy cursey things happening too! Frogs are crawling everywhere, the local drinking supply suddenly turned to blood, and then the sun is blotted from the sky for three days (curses 2,1, and 9).

My life really sucks.

I have one bright light in my life: my baby boy.

He's got my nose!

He grabs onto my finger!

He's the reason why I get up in the morning.

And now he's dead.

Why?

Because my non-democratically elected leader pissed off God and somehow it's OK that my boy is dead.

There are folks who may say, "Andy it's not important if the story is factually true rather it's the moral to the story."

Moral?

Babies and children getting wiped out because God wants to make a point? That's the moral one walks away with from this story my friends.

I'm just glad I'm not that guy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Have No Poop In My Pants

"Daddy's Mister Poopy Pants!"

"Daddy's Mister Poopy Pants!"

Ahhh... the sound of my two wunderkinds Will and Ali (ages 7 and 4) chanting together at dinner.

Me? I was trying to think of a non-traumatic way of making them stop. A way that wouldn't pop up in their future therapy sessions. I can hear it now, "And then my Father yelled at us for no reason!"

I tried a more "educational" approach.

"Very funny, but you two shouldn't be happy about having a poopy pants Dad..."

I just want to say for the record my pants are poopy free.

"because you two have poopy pants DNA."

This caught Will off guard, "What do you mean?"

"You know that your DNA are instructions to make a William, right? Well where do you think you got that DNA?"

No answer from Will.

I smiled, "Half of that DNA is from ME!"

Will gave me the look, "Where's the other half from?"

"Mom."

Will peered into me, "How does that..."

Oh-oh I could see where this conversation was going... birds and the bees. I prefer Will to find out how "DNA co-mingling" happens the way I did...

via the pages of National Geographic magazine.

Luckily my daughter came to my rescue.

"Daddy's Mr. Poopy Pants!"

Will joined in.

"Daddy's Mr. Poopy Pants!"

Indeed I am Daddy Poopy Pants.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not Talking Smack or Gay Rights Are Human Rights


I talk smack.

A lot of smack.

There are times that I try to make a point in a rather respectful and serious way.

I know it's hard to believe.

My default setting seems to be stuck a lot of the time on: Contempt, Sarcasm, and Contemptuous Sarcasm.

However, when I talk to a friend who has a different opinion than I do I typically switch outta the default setting and gently but persuasively make my point.

Such was the case today when my old high school buddy joined the Facebook group: Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman

He stated that a lot of states have allowed folks to vote on this issue and they practically all agree that Gay Marriage is wrong. Also that he has a right to stand up for what he believes in. As a reason for being anti-gay marriage it's a matter of faith and that Gay Marriage undermines Conservative Morality.

I'm not going to cut/paste the entire discussion (too long and I'm lazy), but I will re-state my basic argument:

Here is my basic point about the government taking rights (wait... they can't take rights away though they can stop them from being exercised) away from anyone...

they need a really, really good reason to do so. The burden of proof is on the government to prove that there is an overwhelming need to hamper the rights of an individual. Otherwise, the government can restrict and oppress any minority (Evangelicals included).

Listen, let's say I signed up for, "Killing The Elderly At Age 70 Will Solve the Medicare/Medicaid Crisis"...

Now as a friend of mine I would imagine you would comment something like, "Dude, I think you're off base on this and this is why..." At which point we would have a discussion on the topic. In good faith, of course (sorry for the pun).

So when you say, "I support infringing on the inalienable rights of others." I'm going to say, "Dude, I think you're off base on this and here is why..."

I say this with respect.

When you say gay marriage undermines conservative morality what you are saying that gay marriage undermines anti-gay policies and feelings... it's a circular argument.

As to the voting issue...

I imagine in the 1940's if one took a vote in the old South a majority of people would vote for Segregation.

I imagine in the 1740's if one took a National vote the majority would be pro-Slavery.

By protecting rights of people we don't like we protect our society from Mob Rule (mobocracy).

No one says not to stand up for what you believe in (as I am doing now), but beliefs need to be questioned and challenged so that a person doesn't break the first two cardinal rules (Rule #1: Don't f@ck up.... Rule #2: Don't f@ck up).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Republican Master Plan Part Deux

In an earlier post (The Republican Master Plan Revealed) I went into the dark stratagem the Republicans were using to gain control of the country.

For those of you who didn't read that post you may ask, "Which country are we talking about?" After all our armed forces are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as smaller conflicts like the Drug War in Columbia.

Our country, the good old U.S. of A.

Soooo a synopsis of their plan is basically to impoverish the country to keep whitey in power (no economy means no immigration) while dumbing down the populace (Evolution is the Devil's work) so much that the smarties emigrate. The only ones left would be Sarah Palin supporters.

Fiendishly fiendish indeed!

Here is a new twist to their plan...

even the smart immigrants are avoiding us.

As reported in the Jan. 14th's Economist, the U.S's immigration system has gotten so onerous that the amount of foreign students have dropped. In 2001 28% of students who studied abroad went here. In 2008 the number has dropped to 21%.

So what you may say...

The problem seems to be that the U.S. produces a lot of dolts.

Foreigners make up over 50% of the U.S.'s scientific researchers. Post-doctoral students that engage in the highest levels of scientific research are 60% foreign nationals.

Less foreign smarties means we have to rely more on our native born talent.

We are in trouble.

Deep trouble.

The Republicans have killed two birds with one stone! Keeping out the foreigners as well as dumbing down the country.

It's genius.

Must've been thought up by some foreigner.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Filmy Fun




It's odd that I do a fair amount of film-related stuff and haven't done a post about it.

Well I'm going to remidify (I know it's not a word) that problem.

Doing a film (even a small 1 minute short) is like being in one of those "guy ensemble" flicks like the "Dirty Dozen" or "Ocean's Eleven". Planning the caper (film shoot) is paramount, everyone involved has a job(s) to do, and very often things go wrong... horribly wrong.

You'll be happy to know that this a story about how things went right (I know... it's abnormal). The idea for the short came from the pro-life ad that was aired during the Super Bowl. The ad involved college football star Tim Tebow and his mom. They talked about how a doctor had suggested that Mom (while she was carrying Tim) should have an abortion because she had a medical condition that could kill her as well as the fetus. She decided not to and Tim was born and now a kick ass football star. The moral to the story is of course prolifey and made by Focus on the Family.

As a note: I just went on the Focus on the Family website (I feel dirty. I need to shower.) and they spew the typical Evangelical anti-gay, creationist God talk mumbo-jumbo. My fave book that they have in their online shop is: The Lie: Evolution, Study Guide & Workbook .


So... Kevin Anderton of Midnight Chimes Productions (it's a channel on YouTube check'em out) came up with a skit about another famous pro-lifer with a similar story. The shoot itself was under an hour (which was good since the shoot was outside and it was veeerrryyy cold yesterday) due to rehearsing indoors where it was nice and toasty warm. David Kornfeld worked the camera, co-directed, and did the editing. The man is a wonder worker and did most of the editing within an hour and a half. Our two actors Lou Fuoco and Hilarie Wenzel did fantastic work.


On the funny spectrum I'd rank it "piss your pants" funny.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Death In Purgatory

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker the other day...

Chris (who is a guy) is from Kenya and out of the blue he turns to me and asks...
"What day do you think would be the best day to die?"

"Personally? I don't think any day is really optimal to die. How 'bout you?"

"Sunday. I've gotten the weekend in and I feel like I'm getting out of work."

I've never taken a poll to ask folk how many times a day they think about their own death. I understand that a good portion of the population probably don't think about their own mortality on a regular basis.

Maybe they should.

Me? I probably clock in at about five times a day. It usually isn't about how I'm going to go, rather it's more in the line of non-being. Reflecting about my own mortality helps to keep me on track...

and off track

at the same time.

Thinking about death makes me think "Fuck! How much time do I have to do meaningful stuff?" I mean it just isn't a question of longevity it's about keeping myself in decent enough shape (like avoiding cancer, stroke, heat attacks) to do all that meaningful stuff. So I spend time going to the gym, working on my writing, not screwing up my kids, and not being an asshole.

On the other hand...

I think, "Fuck! how much more time do I have to do all the fun stuff?" It isn't just a question of how long I'm gonna live. I think life will be have a lot less "lifey goodness" if I can't enjoy the BIG 3: Fornication, Defecation, and Inebriation (not in that order). So I put a high premium on the here and now.

Even though I loooooove the Big 3 the fear of interfering with the "Meaningful Stuff Directive" is very strong. Unsurprisingly, this feeds into my daily inner conflicts particularly around food. I see a very nice chocolate brownie and I say, "I can't eat that brownie! I'm trying to stay in shape so that I can avoid physical and mental deterioration." Then I think, Dude, you could die of an aneurysm in five minutes. Do you really want your last thoughts to be, "Damn! shoulda had that brownie?"

Unsurprisingly I flee from the brownie.

Otherwise that brownie is a gonner.

One of the more useful things I've heard about death comes from Samuel L. Jackson. He was talking to George Lucas about Mace Windu's death in Revenge of the Sith, "I know I have to die; just don't let me die like a punk."

Good policy overall.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cat Haiku


I found a copy of some Cat Haiku I wrote years ago.

1

Cat on my stomach
Grandfather clock tic-talking
the eternal purrrr.

2

On the windowsill
raining, drenching all the world
Mondays are for naps.

3

Waiting to be fed
the bowl always seems empty
Merton licks his chops.

4

Sleeping on her chair
a tiger eating catnip
dreaming within dreams.

5

Kitten in my bed
two-thirty in the morning
friendship is timeless.

6

Hidden in tall grass
Light wind rolling a green sea
unchang'd, unchanging.

7 aka "Whiskers"

Cloudless summer day
prowling through the dandelions
field mice fear his name.

8

New moon, winter night
darkness envelopes the town
attack cat on guard.

9

Darwin on a limb
chirping robins above him
silently watching.

10

Watching the fishbowl
swimming in a private sea
pawing at the glass.

11

Spot begs for a treat
smarter than any canine
Cleo begs for no one.

12

Cold, hard winter rain
the teapot is whistling
Ethel dreams summer days.

13

Moonlight through bare trees
bed of crab apple blossoms
rolling with delight.

14

Home sick with a cold
Cleo lies curled on his bed
unseen and unheard.

15

Light December snow
Mittens reaches for the stars
Christmas tree falling.

16

Purring contently
in the depths of the closet
cashmere sweater bed.

17

Cool May evening
children playing on the grass
Ethel cleans herself.

18

Between the bookshelves
Woody crawls and paws the wires
all my files are lost.

19

Telephone ringing
Ethel wakes from her slumber
where are her servants?

20

Old beer bottle cap
under the radiator
just out of Cleo's reach.

21

Shoelace bundled up
lying on the hardwood floor
No one to play with.

22

Tuna can opens
a sleepy home comes alive
symphony of cries.

23

Twilight, daylight dies
crows stop their nightly crying
Max prowls the garden.

24

Paw prints in fresh snow
icicles already drip
my grandmother smiles.

25

Baby boy crawling
thoughts of pulling furry tails
Leo peers from his perch.

Another Post of Haiku...
NYC Haiku

Monday, February 1, 2010

Archer On FX

A buddy of mine suggested watching Archer on FX a few weeks ago.

I ignored the advice...

That's not entirely true.

I lead a fairly regimented life... akin to a monk except for the sex (their lack of), chanting (me? not a big chanter by nature), and that whole God thing. OK maybe it's not the best metaphor. For some strange reason any new idea (good or bad) needs to rattle around in my cranium for a while before I act on it. I consider this tendency to be a relic from my Flight or Flee (as against to Fight or Flee) response that worked so well for me in the past. Due to this I unconsciously respond to any new idea as suspect.

I know.

I'm working on it.

Regardless, I saw the first three Archer episodes On Demand (they're free) and I laughed out loud several times. In terms of comedy the only higher praise is pissing yourself laughing (that has never, ever happened to me though I have heard of it happening to other people). Archer is an animated half hour show centered on the Oedipally-challenged, super agent/narcissist, Sterling Archer. Malory Archer, his mother runs the spy organization ISIS. Archer's ex-girlfriend, the super curvaceous Lana Kane is another spy working for the organization.

I don't want to ruin any of the episodes, but I have to give you all a sample of the over-the-top humor...

Archer's mom (Malory) was being held at gunpoint by a Soviet agent. Archer decided to grab Lana as a hostage. Archer thought they had a Mexican standoff. The villain kindly pointed out that a Mexican Standoff requires that each hostage taker must have a hostage of value to the other hostage taker. This was not the case.

At this point Lana (who was pressed up against Archer) said, "I can't believe it! You're getting a hard-on!"

Well, hilarity ensued.

I'll leave you with a quote from Archer's Twitter account (it's on the FX website)...

Nigeria gets a pretty bad rap. It's also a flyblown shithole.

Oh yeah, Archer is on Thursday nights at 10 on FX.

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