Dark Sludge, or Crap I’ve Observed

I am totally aware that I am an iconoclast. Partial self-awareness allows me to understand that I go out of my way to question authority, superstitions, beliefs, and traditions. People build them up, I bang the foundation with a ball peen hammer to test its foundation. To some it is part of my charm. Obnoxious is what others would say. I am here to pound a ball peen hammer against a few things.

Lately I have seen a couple of things that have stuck in my mental spaghetti strainer (you know…that mesh in your brain that daily crap filters through and when examined you see this dark sludge that is too big to make it through the holes). These things are insignificant and have no real meaning, unless some ignorant blogger attempts to find some meaning. Damn you ignorant bloggers!

Note: This is going to be published with little review. I am purging here. Read it as nothing more than eccentric ranting.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, is “America’s Hometown.” How do I know this? At mile marker 51 (going south) on I-95 there is a big billboard that proclaims it. It even has a pseudo-waving American flag that emphasizes Fayetteville’s Americana importance. I am assuming the Fayetteville, NC, Chamber of Commerce is behind this fancy piece of patriotism. It is not satirically, nor is it ironically patriotic. It is straight on all-you-can-eat buffet patriotism. Step up and enjoy America’s Hometown. See all that is good about America. Another assumption is that the designation of “America’s Hometown” is a good thing. I guess a town wouldn’t want to advertise this if it meant something negative. Now I am not spun up on my Fayetteville, NC, history…but I think the Roanoke colony (empty and not on a map) or Jamestown, Virginia, has better claim on the whole hometown thing. I remember seeing a similar sign in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1994. It didn’t have the pseudo-waving flag though. Lawton and Fayetteville do have a thing in common though, they are both the sites of U.S. Army bases. Maybe the whole military installation thing allows for such historically wrong proclamations.

Hall exercise walkers at my work are goofy. It is 80 degrees, the sun is shining, DC is a very walkable city with great sites, and if you use the stairs to leave and enter the building…well then you have added a stairmaster to your workout routine. The white calf length socks add to the whole visual I get when you move by with your arms pumping. There is one guy who actually wears a headband. He is definitely one of the male models in Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” video. I know you are thinking that I should be glad they are exercising, and wondering why I would have issue with this display of get healthiness. I have issue because they give me dirty looks, as if my using the hallway is impeding their attempt at good living. My sneer probably doesn’t help in establishing a congenial relationship. Again…it is fucking nice outside.

I’ve become the nutty professor. When explaining to people about my work place I describe my coworkers as that college professor they had with the stacks of papers, newspaper clippings, and books. For added affect, some of my coworkers really have blazers with patches on the elbows. Here we deal with the minutia of policy, legislation, and the workings of government. You wanna know who won what election on what political platform, I can point out a colleague who can provide every detail of such campaign. My colleague can then tell you a specific section of a specific public law that politician rammed through. In the past 3 weeks I have caught myself quoting specific pieces of legislation. Also, I have a giant pile of paper, newspaper clippings, and books on my desk. Additionally, I constantly have discussions with coworkers about mundane details of unimportant stuff. For the record, I do not have a PhD. But I work as an academic and I do teach a graduate college course on bullshit.

Billy Ray Cyrus can kiss my ass. This honest and heartfelt sentiment has nothing to do with his “Achy Breaky Heart.” It has nothing to do with his 1980s/90s mullet (actually he is my favorite mulleted musician of all times). It has to do with his being the narrator of a show about military homecomings. BRC is in cahoots with the liberal and fascist news media. Every time I turn around someone is trying to show me some service member reuniting with their kids, spouse, and pets. None of this shit is any of our business. I am overjoyed about their homecoming. I intimately know the feeling of reuniting with family members and I would never allow anyone to film nor exploit it for commercial gain. BRC, the news media, and corporate America don’t give a shit about these people, they give a shit about ratings and the possibility of making money off this important event. Want a good show? Have a show where consumers get to meet the owner/president/CEO of some company that has provided crappy service or product, and then the consumer gets 3 minutes to beat the shit out of the owner/president/CEO who would be tied to a chair. I would thoroughly enjoy that show.

Important note…what does not irritate me: Dunn, NC, proclaims itself the “Dump Truck Capitol of the World.” Something about this sort of proclamation seems valid and I bet they have the data to prove it. I feel better knowing this piece of trivia.

9-11’s Tin Anniversary

Former President George W. Bush, in a National Geographic Channel interview, admits he and his administration had no strategy following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. I understand this completely. American Presidents have rarely had a coherent foreign policy strategy. President Thomas Jefferson paid a ransom to the Barbary pirates and sent in the Marines (…you should be humming the USMC hymn now “from the shores of Tripoli…”), President James Madison waffled on British attacks on U.S. shipping and which resulted in the War of 1812, and President William Clinton assumed there was a peace dividend at the end of the Cold War and deployed American troops to a bunch of shitty places (I spent 18 months of my life in one of these muddy shitholes) for no other reason than it “felt” like it was the right thing to do. American foreign policy and strategy is rarely neat and coherent. Historically, it has been disparate and uncoordinated. Blind men boxing in the dark is an accurate of American foreign policy history.

Strategist, in public, won’t admit this. In private, numerous strategist pine for the good ol’ Cold War days. George Kennan, while at the National War College, wrote (as Mr. X) and designed the most coherent U.S. foreign policy that lasted almost 50 years; Mr. X developed the U.S. containment policy of the USSR. This policy guided U.S. actions from 1947 to 1991. This is the only time the U.S. has had a strategy. You have to give W some slack, like most American Presidents, he was making the shit up as he went.

For the past ten years, I have written the following phrase more times than I can count: “September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” This phrase has been a staple in my professional writing career as a national and homeland security analyst. That phrase is a lemon I have squeezed until juice has run down my forearms and soaked my Timex Ironman watch. I am not sure how much longer I can squeeze it. I do have a prediction though; at the end of the 21st Century, 9-11 will be nothing more than a footnote.

Philip Bobbitt states that al-Qaeda is just the first of many terrorist organizations that will make the 21st Century a slow bleed of conflict. Many strategists at the beginning of the 20th Century claimed that Asia was going to be the focus of U.S. foreign policy; they were wrong. Europe dominated U.S. foreign policy. Now strategists are singing the importance of Asia again. Sorry Asia and China but I think your ship has sailed. Globalization has rendered specific regions as meaningless; the world is the focus. How in the hell does a country have a coherent foreign policy for the whole world?

In the Sunday, September 4, 2011, edition of the Washington Post there was an article about the “5 Myths About 9/11.” I won’t waste your time and comment on these myths, but I will point out that there is a whole bunch of us that make a living out of typing “9/11.” We have typed it so many times that it may have lost some of its power and symbology.

I am numb to 9/11. My emotional attachment to this date has morphed into a clinical detachment. Terrorism developed from an independence movement, into an ideological Cold War struggle, into a religious zealotry. 9/11 is a term on equal footing with the Battle for Algiers, the Red Army Factions, and Lockerbie. Events become words which eventually fade into a backdrops of our worldview without having a real distinction.

I’m not negating the importance of 9/11; I am recognizing the effect the date has had on me professionally and personally. I am playing in a charity golf tournament on September 11, 2011. When I return to work on September 12th I will probably type “the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” I will do this because I think about 9/11 every day and I haven’t a clue on what strategy to adopt. I’m just gonna continue to muddle through just like most American Presidents do.

Land Wars in Asia, Interconnectivity and Bad Tourist T-Shirts

A number of things have happened in the past two days that made me go “hmm.” I hope that sentence just made you think of C+C Music Factory and if it didn’t, go here. By the way, this will be the last music video link in this post. I seem to have gotten music video blog post link happy here lately…the madness stops here. The telling of the “hmm” moment is going to be in reverse. There are times when the story is better told in reverse (not often) but sometimes. Sometime the punch line or point isn’t the point, sometimes the point is telling the story.

NOTE: The following paragraph is a summary of something I read today in William Manchester’ A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance (I don’t know how to footnote these blogs…yet. But I feel obligated to give credit where credit is due). So, again, the following paragraph is not an original thought by me. However, the phrase “screwed the pooch” and the word “bitch” are definitely mine.

There was a chain of events, in hindsight, during the first year of President John F. Kennedy’s administration that were obviously connected. First, the Kennedy Administration (the CIA specifically) screwed the pooch at the Bay of Pigs, then Nikita Khrushchev made JFK look like a bitch in Vienna, followed by the Soviets building the infamous Wall, which, in turn, resulted in JFK deploying the U.S. Army Special Forces to Vietnam. JFK, upon deciding (W, he was a decider too) to send in the Green Berets, supposedly said “we have a problem making our power credible, and Vietnam looks like the place.”

NOTE: Everything that follows is my thoughts, but you will be able to figure that out by the incomplete sentences, thoughts, and dangling participles.

I’m not sure what Green Berets in Vietnam or Khrushchev have to do with medieval Europe because I have only read part of the introduction to Manchester’s book. I guess he will be telling me later on in the introduction. It may be one of those long views of history things where the battlefields of today are the result of yesterday’s mistakes (or some philosophical shit like that). But back to the interconnectivity of Bay of Pigs and Vietnam.

Reading this summary of events made me realize that it’s always the CIA’s fault and never let a Russian make you his bitch. I imagine the CIA in the 1960s knew how to party while rocking around the playground which was 2/3 of the planet during the Cold War, but being pushed around by the Soviets must have really, really sucked. It also made me think that when one thing happens it seems like happenstance, when two things happen you cock your head to the side like a dog hearing a silent whistle, when three things happen…well then you just have to either ignore it (because thinking about it may make your molars fall out) or you talk/blog about it.

While in London a coupe of weeks ago, I noticed a lot of fat, pasty Midwestern tourists (not to be mistaken for thin, pasty Londoners…who weren’t busy burning London) and thin, odd shoe wearing Asians sporting “I ‘Heart’ London” t-shirts. I had to type ‘Heart’ because not only can I not insert footnotes in this blog, but I don’t know how to insert symbols either. Also, if you don’t know what I mean by odd Asian shoes, go here, or think of off-brand looking sneakers your mom bought you at Wal-Mart …you know the non-Air Jordans or the Air Farce Ones.

Seeing these 1980 style t-shirts (think plain white, oversized, black block letters and a red heart…basically 1980 fashion that wasn’t neon. The 1980s was either neon or black and white. There was no grey in the 1980s) would not have seemed significant, EXCEPT…I had seen these exact same t-shirts in here in DC. The very same fat, pasty Midwestern tourists in London, in their “I ‘Heart’ London” shirts, also visit here and buy/wear “I ‘Heart’ DC” t-shirts. These “I ‘Heart’ DC” t-shirts are almost as popular as “FBI Witness Protection Program: You Don’t Know Me” t-shirts. Quick tourist fashion question: is it appropriate to wear a t-shirt that advertises your touristness and the city your touristing in…in the that city? Part of me says no, but who doesn’t want to put on a $10 t-shirt the very same day in which you bought it. I mean those shirts are clean right? They wouldn’t be covered in a thin layer of packing chemical or some shit (or be touched by a million other fat, patsy tourists)…right?

The camel that broke the straw (dromedaries are heavy creatures and break stuff when they step on them) was when I saw a neighbor wearing a “I ‘Heart’ Paris” shirt this morning. This was the C+C Music Factory moment. This was the moment I said out loud “Whoever thought of this line of shirts is one smart mofo.” I have no idea if there is one company (Chinese, I’m sure…if it’s one company, which means there may be a “I ‘Heart’ Beijing” shirt too) that makes these shirts, if this line of shirts is subcontracted, if someone saw one shirt in one city and then replicated (and so forth), or if a bunch of different t-shirt designers came up with the same idea around the Summer of 2011. This last possiblity horrifies me because it would mean that there is something morally corrupt about our culture that encourages different shirt designers, in different cities, to think these stupid-ass (is “stupid-ass” hyphenated?) shirts are the pinnacle of tourist fashion.

There has got to be some sort of inteconnectivity in all of this. There has to be some subatomic particle thread that connects this horrible tourist fashion. This was a spiritual moment of  bad fashionness. Oh, it also made me think of General (Ret.) Douglas McArthur’s supposed advice to JFK: “never fight a land war in Asia.” Which now makes me think two things…why did McArthur think he should be the only one to enjoy NOT winning a war in Asia, and I wonder if you can buy a “I ‘Heart’ Ho Chi Minh City” t-shirt?


Duality of Man or ‘Hos and Blow: Capitalism and Rap

The duality of man is usually described as evil versus good or emotional versus reasonable. Very smart people have written about this idea. Carl Jung talks about it, I…as the Sublimemonkey…have my own spin. It is not necessarily about two opposing innerselves battling for dominance, or the ability of a man to act in two different ways while maintaining his sanity. I think it is more about using two different approaches to achieve a single aim. ‘Hos and blow is the aim. ‘Hos and blow is both a literal and figurative aim. We do what we gotta do…I take my lessons from Ice Cube.

Ice Cube used to do this. I wanted to be Ice Cube because of this. I wanted the black jeans and ball cap. I wanted my sneakers to catch fire as I walked through a worn down and sad neighborhood in L.A. I wanted to be chased by police officers that looked like cheesy porn actors. I wanted to spit the word “gumbo” out of my mouth in a manner that made you feel like you took a 9mm slug to your chest. I wanted a posse (my buddy Kenny has agreed to be the camo wearing member of my posse…all posses have to have a camo wearing member; see this for an example).

Ice Cube now does this. I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be an actor in bad comedy movies. I don’t want to be someone who makes money off other people’s bad writing and bad ideas (I compromise myself enough by living off my own bad writing and bad ideas). You do not get a posse when you act in bad movies…you may get a coke habit, but not a posse. No matter how hard you try to be a bad ass, this type of acting just makes you a sad little clown. Sad clowns are creepy and sad clowns don’t get posses. Happy clowns get posses though…happy clowns get to jump out of tiny cars with their  posse (however, don’t mistake a happy clown posse for this).

Ice Cube is all about being a dual man. One can use gangsta rap or bad comedy acting to make money. I believe, in the end, rap is a brutally honest musical genre. It states right up front what it is about. It’s commercialization beyond ironic. There is no irony to rap. It’s about getting what you want through whatever means necessary. It’s about ‘hos and blow.

If you want scantily clad ‘hos while discussing a pair of sneakers like Nelly in this video, then become a rapper. If you want to roll in your sweet baby’s arms, become a bluegrass musician like Flatt & Scruggs. This old ass video by F&S is not well disguised though, I think we know what kind of “rolling” they want to do. Seems F&S likes them some ‘hos too and makes you wonder if there really was something to the phrase “good ol’days” especially if it involves rolling with your baby. F&S’ “duality” comes in when they start singing about Jesus. Both Nelly and F&S are using their musical ability to achieve what they want. Nelly wants “two pair” of Air Force Ones and F&S want to get laid while “lying around the shack.” 

Ice Cube wants money. Ice Cube wants money so bad that he is willing to go from gangsta rapper with an awesome Jheri Curl (yes that is how it is actually spelled…Google it) to a bad actor with a tight cut. This desire for money and the willingness to commercialize himself is so blatantly American that it is almost satirical. I get it though. I get it because I want ‘hos and blow too.

For those of you wondering…yes I just used rap and bluegrass to illustrate a point. And yes it may have not made any sense…but I am sticking to my guns. ‘Hos and blow is what we all aspire for. However, I don’t want the ‘hos and blow if it results in a dead hooker in my trunk…just sayin.

You can always have ice cream

I wondered where the boom was today when my big stone government building swayed and danced. The building’s hips moved to a beat…but I didn’t hear the band. I assumed “You Will Hear The Explosion” would be the title for a future miniseries, on TLC or Lifetime, about the terrorist attack of 2011. Probably be called 8-11 or some shit like that.

I thought there was a man-made source to the swaying, but alas it was just Mother Nature saying hello with a 5.8 earthquake. Mineral, Virginia, is now a known place. This is supposedly the first earthquake in the region since 1897…so with my shoes off…that means this is the first one in 113 years (somebody check my math). In retrospect, this was a weak way to announce “who’s your daddy!”

My professional career is based on 9-11 (thankfully it isn’t based on my blog writing abilities). So the serious side of me assumed it was a bomb. The other 95% of me found my reaction, the reaction of coworkers, and DC’s reaction highly entertaining.

So after having my “victim of a terrorist bombing” hopes dashed, I realized it was an earthquake. My coworkers and I stood in our office doorways staring at each other with an almost surreal (more on surreal later in this post) look on our faces. All I remembering saying was “let’s get out of the fucking building”…or some other inappropriate comment unfit for a professional workplace. The walk down the stairs wasn’t as panic-stricken as expected. Everyone moved in an orderly manner…matter of fact the Capitol Police were pissed at our lollygagging. At the exit, one actually yelled “move people!” “Move people” is not the phrase I expected. I expected them to tell people to calmly leave the building…but no…this person of authority (police during an evacuation are an authority) was actually telling me (and all the other peoples) to “move!” This utterance was the moment I knew this was going to be some funny shit. I wasn’t wrong.

Here is what I learned from 8-11:

1. Gaggling IS the appropriate response to an evacuation following a real event. If it had been a fire alarm exercise people would have faded off to Pennsylvania Avenue (SE) for a coffee and donuts, or heading home to take a nap…I live too far away to get a quick nap…damn!. No one strolled away, people gaggled because they honestly didn’t know what the hell was going on. This is what one would call a “goat rodeo.” Gaggling, or herd mentality, really does kick in when you don’t know what the hell is going on. In Apocalypse Now, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) asked an unnamed solder at Dulong bridge “hey soldier, who’s in charge here?” The soldier replies “ain’t you?!” Today, I had my own Dulong bridge experience. We gaggled with bureaucratic efficiency. We gaggled so effectively that I was physically pushed into the sun by a group of older ladies who weren’t going to let me enjoy the shade more than them. Note to self: in case of summertime evacuation…take ball cap with you. Also, keep an eye out for Charlie on the wire!

2. The machines are decades away from enslaving us. If cell phones can’t get a signal after a small earthquake on the eastern seaboard, there is no way these machines, or their cousins (automated bank teller machines and computerized parking meters), are going to beat us into submission. This was their moment! We were helpless. Huddled (gaggled) masses were awaiting their technological overlords. Senor iPhone (in my mind, my machine overlord is named “Senor iPhone”) didn’t have the balls or ability to become dominant. The Terminator turned into the Textinator…the best Senor Textinator could do was send my text messages at a snail’s pace. A true technological sentient entity, who had some learning from the National War College (shout out to my fellow Warriors!), would have recognized this strategic opportunity. Nope…the best thing these machines did was to allow me to only post the two following Facebook statements: “eartquake” (yes I misspelled it…give me a break) and “Holy shit.” I lost my ability to FB my nearly, sort of, death experience immediately afterwards for a few hours.

3. “Eartquake” and “Holy shit” should not be your (potentially) last words to the world. “Shawn was a dumbass” would have been how I was remembered. I always thought I would have been funnier! (My memorial service should be one where people tell funny stories about me…not an event where everyone shakes their heads at my stupidity) My coworkers would have remembered me as the guy who told them to “get the fuck out of the building.” At least I didn’t run…matter of fact I didn’t see anyone run. Proudly, I can say I didn’t wet my britches either. However, I let the world know that we were having some sort of event that  seemed similar to an “earthquake” and I thought fecal matter could be of a religious nature. I am a dumbass.

4. I never realized so many Germans visit DC in August. Every other tourist I saw wandering the streets aimlessly (obviously the Smithsonian kicks people out of buildings during an “eartquake”) was speaking Deutsch. Who knew that Hanzel und Gretyl  enjoyed the swampy confines of our nation’s capital in the summertime? Well, they needed bread crumbs today. Every other street around the Capitol, Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court was blocked, by the police, to foot and vehicular traffic. No one was getting an easy route to their destination.

5. Looting cost me $8.89. This is the price for one liter of water and a can of Skoal (straight/long cut…no nasty ass flavors for me) in DC. Not only did I forget my ball cap for my balding head, but I forgot my can of dip on my desk! The machines may not be my master yet…but nicotine sure is the lord of my existence. Note to self: throw away official emergency pack (yes…I have one of these issued to me) and make a more appropriate emergency pack. Bourbon, Skoal, water, and Oreos are far more realistic.

6. Living in the suburbs sucks. I got to walk 3 miles home; didn’t have to rely on Metro or a car. Plus, walking home allowed me to think about this blog post and enjoy the Bratwurst eating tourists. In an emergency you can’t trust your car or the automated trains (see our machine overlords couldn’t even get their railroad act together!). I did offer a coworker my sofa…he chose the trains instead. Note to self: never be a good Samaritan, all it gets you is an uncomfortable silence from a coworker.

7. You can always get ice cream. Right there on Massachusetts Avenue, shimmering gloriously in the afternoon sun was a baby poop green ice cream truck! The driver was a REAL AMERICAN because he analyzed the situation and decided to sell ice cream to Germans instead of getting into the parking lot of DC streets. He knew that his time was better spent making money than worrying with getting home. This true entrepreneur, this Warren Buffett of ice cream, was representin’!

Overall, I learned an important lesson today. In case of emergency: get a fudge bar, stand back, and watch your world go crazy…there is some funny shit out there.

Now about surreal. Surreal is defined as something being fantastic or unbelievable. I used the word “surreal” early in this post. I was mistaken. Today’s events and reactions (even my own) were not fantastic or unbelievable. To be surreal the earthquake needed to be an alien invasion, or at least frogs falling from the sky. I didn’t react in a fantastic or unbelievable manner. If you’re reading this blog…then you know me. Nothing I have recounted of my actions says unbelievable. More than anything it reinforces your opinions of me. So for the record, I should do a better job editing my writing. Obviously, that won’t happen because I am haphazard in my written communication…like FBing “eartquake’ and “Holy shit.”

The Four Horsemen of the Apocaplyse and One Exploited Child

I’m listening to The Police’s “Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings” and Sting sounds young and earnest. His future weirdness isn’t completely evident…but you get a sense that, if successful, he will do this whole dark solo career where he will go on stage barefooted with a massive back-up band, and look all reflective/deep…sort of a more commercialized Morrissey. Andy Summer’s guitar is loose and freewheeling. The early tracks are especially raw and mixed loosely that allows the vocals to run into the bass, guitar, and Stewart Copeland’s drums. They were obviously too poor to have a good sound mixer and engineer. This is the Police I like. It’s a band that is making the music of musicians who have talent and don’t give a fuck. 

But we all know the weirdness is there…we see it in their “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video. Those candles, the dancing…that’s just creepy because it’s about their willingness to be a bitch for someone and then celebrating it in song. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” is way creepier than “Every Breath You Take.” Obsession seems way more normal than self-actualized bitchness. By the way, the longer I listen to their musical catalog I am struck by the fact that the vast majority of their songs are about losing/wanting/needing/stalking women. This means The Police are the antithesis of Metallica. Metallica never sings about women, unless you consider “Last Caress/Green Hell” a love song. Note here: this would also imply that your definition of “love” is of a deviant and violent nature. 

Stewart Copeland’s foray into opera and classical music is proof too. Gen X moms love solo Sting; Gen X dudes want more Synchronicity. I have no idea what Andy Summers is doing these days (I guess I could Google him…but its more fun to think he is living off Police royalties and laughing at Stewart and Sting’s self-absorbtion), but Stewart and Sting chose themselves over music. 

Speaking of choosing oneself over their art. The world ended Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, at precisely 10 p.m. EST. At this moment, America’s self-absorption and commercial masturbation reached the pinnacle of apocalypse inducing events. The actual fabric of time was shorn, ripped, shredded. This is the time that the National Geographic Channel (HD) aired “Pint-Sized Preachers.” (http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/pint-sized-preachers-5547/Overview)

For the rest of this post I will refer to this end-of-time moment as PSP (sorry Sony…but yes, your gaming system has more socially redeeming qualities than this Nat Geo crap). 

Ok, confession time: I did not watch PSP. So now would be the appropriate time to stop reading this blog. This television show “review” is based on uninformed opinions formulated within the confines of a glass of bourbon and ice. You will obviously wonder how I can have a strong opinion (yes apocalyptic opinions about unwatched shows would be considered “strong”) on a show that I didn’t watch. Well, I feel it doesn’t matter that I didn’t watch this train wreck. I have never seen “Jersey Shore” but I know it is a piece of shit. Another side note here: I can’t quite articulate it, but I find Snookie sort of attractive. Maybe it’s the tan and hair, or (this is almost to perverted to type) maybe it’s her accent! 

I did, however, spend time debating myself on the advantages and disadvantages of watching PSP. I even set my DVR up to record it. Five minutes later, at the end of said debate, I deleted the record function. Explaining the debate is better than detailing the advantages and disadvantages. 

Me: “What a train wreck! Really?!!!! A: who thinks up this shit at these television corporation meetings? B: ….ah Hell! I am so pissed at this show already that I have forgotten what ‘B” was!” 

Me: “But you know it’s gonna be funny as Hell!” 

Me: “Yeah…but I get all pissed when I see, yet again, an example of religion being all perverted. It’s not worth the anger that will ooze from my pores while watching it.” 

Me: “But you know its gonna be damn funny!” 

Me: “Have we really, as a society, decided this is ‘normal’ enough to show on TV? I know it’s not normal normal but it is normal enough to not cause an immediate outrage. Shouldn’t social services be called on parents who exploit their children this way?” 

Me: “Dude, it’s gonna be funny! Like watching a little monkey reciting Bible verses! Then there is going to be all these adults (who should know better) encouraging the little monkey. It is going to be a riot!” 

Me: “My DVR deserves better! BBC America is showing the first episode of the ‘The Hour’ at the same time. A self-respecting human being with an ounce of intelligence would record that instead. I owe my DVR the right to record something other than ‘Squidbillies’ and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’….no BBC America wins!” 

Me: “PSP is gonna be…” 

Me: “I know ‘funny!’ but no! Nat Geo just lost some street cred!” 

Basically, we have chosen ourselves over our art. People are willing to watch PSP and not be so disgusted that this “church” is burned to the ground by an angry mob. This self-absorption, this desire to watch a child be exploited, is truly the final horseman of the apocalypse. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68SgQLKnlYM because it’s the soundtrack I imagine in my head when I visualize me kicking the shit out of the PSP’s parents. Yes Virginia there are stupid television producers and tiny preachers who want your money! Santa Clause is waaaaay more normal!

By the way, I stopped listening to The Police a long time ago. They got too “weird” for me…Metallica is singing about something other than women right now on my iPod.

The Rough Wasn’t

They were walking really fast, making me sweat as I tried to keep up. They were 20 years older than me. I referred to them as the two grumpy Hobbits. In reality they were Mark and Phil, two retired Royal Air Force officers. They knew why there were riots going on in England. The quick answer is laziness and lack of education…military conservatism is universal. The grumpy Hobbits gave me a quick (as in they played really fast) lesson in British golf. I was not up for the lesson, but I gave it the ol’American try. I swung my club. I grabbed my bag. I walked quickly to my ball (if I didn’t launch it into a sheep pasture). I moved as quickly as possible. They still beat me to the green. I didn’t want to make America appear to be the land of lazy golfers. Sorry America…I failed and I came away believing that the people who inhabit UK, the ancestral home of golf, know how to play and enjoy golf better. We may have more courses (land issue), we may have more golfers (population issue), but we don’t have tradition. I don’t think I can mentally chant U-S-A, U-S-A anymore when watching the British Open. It is their game; we just commercialize and exploit it better. 

First: I play golf, I buy expensive golf clubs, I buy (and lose) a lot of golf balls, hell…I travel just to play, and my handicap is 21 (this number means I suck at golf). That is my golf knowledge in a singularity (see: http://www.ias.ac.in/jarch/jaa/20/221-232.pdf – this is a random link that has “naked singularity” in its title). I can stand on a fairway and know where the ball ought to go (well sort of), but I can’t explain why the hole, or golf course, is designed that way. Golf courses are designed a certain way, but I don’t know what that “certain” way is. My vocabulary fails me when attempting to describe this. Golf courses are the product of art and science and these are two things that I am totally incapable of understanding beyond laymen’s terms or concepts. 

Golf course design is an art and a science. Architects who design them actually have their own association (http://www.asgca.org/). Having an association is a sign of legitimacy. Golf course architects are very legitimate. They are also bastards. All the bastards are not made the same and their bastardliness (not a word) is varied. It varies by location and the targeted golf clientele. A basic rule is that the more expensive the course the better the design and upkeep. Another basic rule, the more expensive the bigger architect bastard. 

Second: I recently played golf in East Anglia (think NNE of London), England, and the golf courses are designed in a fashion that I had never experienced before. Additionally, the manner in which golf is played in East Anglia was different from golfing in America. It isn’t as if the game was different or the rules were changed; it just had a different feel and attitude. East Anglia is not British Open country, there were no sand dunes, no rolling hills with sparse vegetation, no gnarled coastal trees (or gnarled greens keepers stalking the course with their sheep dog). “Parkland” is how it is described in England. I describe it as Pennsylvania…except it is devoid of the Amish, outlet malls, Camaros, and mullets. 

Here is how English golf is different: 

1. The rough isn’t. See http://golf.about.com/cs/golfterms/g/bldef_rough.htm for a definition of “rough.” But East Anglia rough isn’t rough, thick, or shaggy…it was just a little less flat than the fairway. It was pristine, a green velvet that stretched out until meeting a sheep pasture (sheep pastures are green too…but decorated with little black dots of poop). What the rough missed in hampering your golf shot the trees and angles made up for. There were holes where trees actually camouflaged the holes. Odd angles from one group of trees to the next never allows the golfer to aim straight at the hole. English golf course designers are crafty bastards. 

2. There are no lost golf balls. In America, if you are running low on golf balls (because you are constantly launching them into the woods) you know you will find someone else’s lost ball. For me it usually turns out to be some pink breast cancer awareness ball, but hey, I am secure in my masculinity. I have no problem launching a pink golf ball into the woods! But, seriously, I never found an errant golf ball. Now this may the result of the manicured green velvet they call rough in England which makes it easy to find an errant golf ball, or it may be that English golfers have better eyesight. Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know…make sure you buy and carry enough golf balls in your bag to replace when you lose yours. Americans are wasteful that way. 

3. British greens are soft but not bruised. This sounds like a description of perfectly ripe kiwi, and actually that is a good way to describe British green texture. Supple smooth and soft enough to cradle your bump and run shot. I played with six different golfers in England and none of them “went for” the green. All of them ensured their second or third shot was close enough to easily be bumped up and on. This may be a result of the greens’ softness or the greens’ softness is the result of the British game of bump and run. Either way, the greens were wonderfully textured…after two holes I started aiming for a bump and run shot. Americans leave heavy footprints in the world; I didn’t want to replicate it on these terry cloth greens. 

4. It’s “dykes” not “ditches.” Don’t ask me, I guess it’s like “lorry” instead of “truck,” or “torch” instead of “flashlight.” They call things differently…but don’t put your ball in the dyke. By the way, that last sentence sounded a lot dirtier than intended. 

5. British golfers walk. Walk sounds like stroll, but it isn’t; there is no strolling on British courses. You move out with a purpose (this is how the U.S. Army describes the term “range walk”…which means you can’t run with a weapon on the firing range but you better be moving with a purpose). Because they walk, there is no cart paths which means there is no lucky bounce off a cart path to give you an extra ten yards on your drive. In England you are stuck with your game; no gimmies from the course or life. 

6. British golf is not elitist. When one thinks about golf it is understandable to think elitism. In America, a certain socio-economic class is drawn to golf…old, fat, rich, white guys. In England the courses are covered in the old and the young, women and men. British golf is about tradition. You have to know the rules and you have to respect the game. You don’t have to be good (I beat one of the grumpy Hobbits), you just have to play with a purpose, know the rules, and respect the game. This equates to no cart girls loaded down with beer and cheese crackers.

I suck at golf in America; I suck at golf in England. Golf, for me, is like running…I’m not good at it but I like myself more for doing it. Both are humbling experiences. Golf in England was hobbits, moving with a purpose, and wishing I could have found a pink ball in the rough.