Friday, December 18, 2015

OPINION: Gruesome Outdated Party

I understand the appeal of Donald Trump. I understand the “badass” attitude of not giving a f*ck and just “going for it” when it comes to national security. I understand the concept of not taking crap from anyone and being bold and brash and hardcore. I understand the mentality that this is “our country” and the need to do whatever it takes to protect it. I understand the heroic aspect of going after the bad guys and kicking their asses.

The problems with this are numerous. For one thing, we’re no longer a fledgling of a country who’s rebelling against the oppressive “mother” country, insisting we can do it on our own. We’ve proven that. We are a full-fledged world power. We should act like it.

The things Donald Trump and many of the Republicans are saying, they sound like little kids talking about what they would do if they could. It’s not realistic. It’s not mature. All this “tough talk” is for someone who is trying to convince others of their power. We don’t need to convince anyone. We need to wield it with responsibility. The more we flaunt it, the more enemies we make worldwide. We have achieved our goal of becoming one of the most powerful nations on Earth. We should act like it. Not with bullying and exclusion, but with grace and civility, which includes helping others who need it.

Building a big wall between us and the next country is a remarkably immature schoolyard type of behavior. “This is my stuff! You can’t cross this line!” We’re supposed to grow out of that attitude by the time we get out of middle school. It’s not like we don’t have enough to go around. With all the excess and gluttony and obesity we have in this country, it’s plain to see that we could stand to share a bit more. Isn’t sharing one of the first things we learn as kindergartners?

This is why I feel we as a nation have outgrown the Grand Old Party. It was Grand. In a time when we needed it, when we still used words like “Grand,” it was necessary and significant. Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, was against the war with Mexico (which current GOP seems to be in favor of), and he promoted the modernization of our economy. Times have changed, our economy is thriving, and we still shouldn’t be at war with Mexico. Now the Grand Old Party is just “Old.” We’re past that. We need a political party and a political outlook - an ideal - that has evolved along with our nation.

The “Republic” aspect of our government is well-established. We are not under the rule of a monarch. It is an outdated assertion. What we need to assert now is the Democracy aspect of our government - that the people and their voices matter and should shape the future of our nation. The Republican party is trying to cram our entire population into a pair of pants that no longer fits. The Democrats recognize that we’ve grown and continue to grow, and it’s time to get a new wardrobe. Our needs have changed, and our behavior and policies should change and evolve along with them.

I think it’s a bit far-reaching to say that the time for a new party has arrived. I realize we need to take baby steps. You can’t drastically shift something as large and complex as our country without much of it falling down. What I would like to see is for a Democratic leadership to win several terms in a row, showing that the Republicans are obsolete, and let another party rise from the ashes - a new party who takes an evolved stance against the Democrats. Let them improve on the ideas and continue to make us better.

In the fashion of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican party, which later split off into the parties we know today, perhaps the Democratic party, in the interest of fine-tuning to get us closer to perfection, should split into more specific aspects of the current party. The Democratic-Liberals vs. the Democratic-Conservatives.

Leading a mature country like ours requires a mature leader, and I don’t think Donald Trump is that person. His childish insults and boasting are not the way I want to be represented on the world stage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

OPINION: What Would Bernie Do?

In the last two days a small transformation has taken place.

I have been reading a lot of public commentary on the American presidential primaries. I've seen a lot of people get really mad at each other for their opinions. I wrote some of my best stuff on a Bernie Sanders thread that seems to have been since deleted. It's a shame, because I wanted to copy my wise words and paste them here.

What I learned from that exchange, and my passion for my responses, was that keeping calm and not descending into insults and blaming leads to much clearer, truer statements. Also, when I remove much of my opinion from it and stick to facts what I say has a lot more power.

I have often read over things I have written, sometimes years ago, and I find myself cringing at some of the things I chose to write. There may be a few nuggets of wisdom in there, but I typically don't even finish the sentence of truth before I've gone and added something that makes my face and palm meet.

I may look over this later with a palm full of face as well, but I feel I owe my serenity to Bernie Sanders. I was reading a series of posts from a woman who is a Hillary Clinton supporter who came by the Bernie thread to call out a Berner who was trolling the Hillary page. I'm sad and embarrassed to say that she was attacked by several people who said very nasty things to and about her. In responding I said that these people do not fairly represent Bernie's supporters. The more hate and vitriol I saw, the more I was inclined to say, "at least I hope not." That is when I started thinking, WWBD? What Would Bernie Do? He would keep a cool head, not let his opinion get in the way, and he would come back around to the issues: the American middle class, military veteran services, climate change, the prison business, and so forth. All the things he sticks to and believes in "to the point of monotony" I believe I said. In the first debate he even defended Clinton on the email "scandal" and that reminded me that we don't have to hate and we don't have to take cheap shots at our opponents. What we need to do is look out for our fellow man and try not to do any harm.

This has led me to be able to think clearly about things and see different sides of issues while not letting my prejudice cloud the message I'm trying to get across. For a lot of people. thinking of things from the perspective of "what would Jesus do?" works for them, and that's great. For me there's a bit of a disconnect between me and Jesus. As much as I've let Him into my heart and I love and support His word, all I have is some quotes and stories in a book which I honestly haven't even read most of. With Bernie I've seen him speak, I've heard his words in his own voice, I've seen his passion, and I can more easily put myself in a frame of mind to ask myself how he would react in different situations. No disrespect to Jesus whatsoever. But Bernie (spare me the irony of him being Jewish, I get it) is a contemporary of mine. I can relate to his word because I'm living in the same world as him. Our struggles are the same, and don't require imagination to update the message to modern times, interpreting the word to fit our circumstances. Thinking of Jesus does give me some peace and level-headedness, but thinking of how Bernie would respond helps keep me on point.

I'm very sad and scared for my family, my country and for Bernie, when I listen to the Republicans debate about how to best keep immigrants out of our country, who will be faster on the trigger when it comes to bombing the Middle East or shooting down Russian planes, and how the corporations, the big money, the 1% must be protected. I fear for my family because if the Republicans get into the White House we'll likely all be dead in a matter of months. I fear for my country because the rhetoric of the GOP only makes other countries hate us more passionately than ever. I fear for Bernie because if, God willing, he is able to get elected, his term will be short before someone, and I have little doubt that it will be someone supported by the government, shoots him dead. Based on his record I think Bernie would be glad to die a martyr for the cause of equality and true patriotism, not to be confused with the flag-waving, gun-toting, slur-slinging far right, though he fights for them too, whether they believe it or not. It makes me sad that this man, who is trying to make America and the world better for everyone, and has fought his whole life to do so, has so little to show for it. It makes me sad that a clown like Donald Trump is able to bring out the worst in people, and the media eats it up. Many people across the world get the bulk of their news and world reports from television, and television is not giving them an accurate picture of the state of the world. To be fair, I get my news of the world mostly from Facebook, which is indeed pitiful and narrowed by the people and things I choose to view. I'm certainly not getting the whole picture either. But based on the recent debates alone I can say with certainty that I don't support the Republican ideals.

But you see, in spite of my strong feelings about this topic and my concern for the American middle class, I managed to do no worse than calling Trump "a clown," which I think is an arguable point. I didn't devolve into name-calling and profanity. I think that's progress.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

REVIEW: Xzibit - Weapons of Mass Destruction - 2004

I know I'm coming late to this party, and I have not had the experience of watching Pimp My Ride, but I recently purchased this disc from my local Rhino Records.

I like the production on this album. I like the minimal instrumentation/samples. Most tracks have a good solid beat and not a bunch of nonsense.

Xzibit has a really poetic way about him. He says profound things with conviction and intensity. There are only about 3 lines on the album where he says something I consider silly. I think at one point he says that he's "build Ford tough." In Ride or Die he speaks of "real gangsters" and how they don't say they're going to shoot you, they just "hit the trunk, cock it and spray it" then he says, "Light up your Christmas" which sounds silly. I don't know what Christmas has to do with it.

The "Steady Gang" of Strong Arm Steady does a great job of supporting him and they provide a welcome variety to the tracks.

My top 3 favorite tracks on the album are Beware of Us, Ride or Die and Tough Guy which features Busta Rhymes. When you listen to Tough Guy be sure and start with track 12, Big Barking which is the intro to the song. It makes the conclusion make sense. These tracks have catchy, melodic choruses that are fun to sing along with.

Honorable mention goes to Crazy Ho, which does not feature X to the Zizzle himself, but provides some comic relief to the otherwise serious and heavy subject matter.

Other favorite tracks include LAX, Criminal Set, and Saturday Night Live.

Least favorite tracks are Cold World, mostly due to the bad synchronization of the bass and drums, and the album's first single, Hey Now (Mean Muggin) as it moves away from the simplicity of the other tracks, overdoing it with the samples and production. Plus the chorus is not very catchy.

Overall it is a very listenable album and, except for when my 6-year-old is in the car, it's the only CD I have put on for the last two months.

Great job, Alvin Joiner.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I see it now

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how we see ourselves ("Who Do I See?" Jan. 18 2013), about how our reflection in the mirror is what we think of when we think of ourselves. I guess these days the way we look in our selfies is how we see ourselves. It's why you'll notice, as soon as the selfie is snapped, everyone crowds around the phone to see how they turned out in the picture. One person will say, "No, delete it, that's terrible" when all they are looking at is themselves, not even noticing how the other people in the photo look.
That's when I realized something. It's not universal, or even that common, perhaps, but for some of us with low self-esteem the worst pictures we've ever seen of ourselves is how everyone sees us on a day-to-day basis. If we ever look okay, it's fleeting and nobody remembers it. It's always that worst angle, that most unflattering of light, all the shadows in all the wrong places, that people see and remember. As I walk down the street I'm thinking that everyone who looks at me sees those photos Ricky Gervais took of himself in the bathtub a couple of years ago. And I also, for some reason, think that, if I can see them, they see nothing but me and observe every movement, every nuance in my presence, and they're judging every bit of it.
Then I have to scold myself for thinking that I'm significant enough that people even notice me, let alone think about me. Then, if I do make eye contact with a stranger, and they do anything but the polite, innocuous smile and keep moving, then I see it as fear and repulsion at this creepy freak with no proper chin.
I will admit that I've never given too much consequence to my appearance. Even if, now in my adulthood, I wanted to, I have the excuse that I live with three women and one bathroom. What chance do I have to get any grooming time? But honestly I doubt that has much to do with it. The ways in which I'm critical of myself are probably not the things other people notice about me.

Monday, December 7, 2015

OPINION: The problem with America's gun laws

The problem with the current gun laws in America is that there is nothing we can do to stop mass killings. With the gun-ownership sympathizers, there appears to be no legal recourse to prevent such things. People are allowed to own whatever guns they want, they are allowed to buy and keep as much ammunition as they want, and in many states they’re allowed to walk around with their guns. It’s not until they actually start killing that they’re breaking the law. So that’s the line we want to draw? It’s all fine and good until you actually start shooting people.

If gun laws were more strict (I’m not talking about disarming everyone, just using some common sense) we could make it illegal at some point before the killing begins. If it was illegal to buy certain weapons of mass killing, that would reduce the number of such devices that are available. Fewer would make their way into the hands of would-be killers. If it was illegal to walk around with a gun, people could be arrested just for that, and before the killing began.

If the writers of the Second Amendment to the Constitution saw the kinds of weapons we have today, I believe that even they would say that certain restrictions or limitations should be put in place.

The NRA and other “gun nuts” act as though any kind of regulation is “taking our guns away.” That is a dangerous mindset for everyone in this country. If they feel that they’re being threatened, then they become a threat. If they believe the government is trying to take away their rights, they might retaliate in a violent way with the intent to take over the government in order to protect this one particular right.

Is it not reasonable to ask the people to relinquish some of the extremes of their rights in order to protect hundreds of their fellow countrymen?

I keep hearing the argument that armed citizens make the country a safer place. Well, WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU WHEN ALL THESE SHOOTINGS HAPPENED?

The NRA is a dangerous radical group that needs to be closely observed and monitored. The extent to which they fight to maintain NO regulation on firearms makes them a public hazard.

I normally don’t like to engage in debates on issues that affect large groups because of my concern that I might be wrong. I realize I might be wrong about a lot of this. I know that there are circumstances in which I would be glad that the NRA exists and that so many Americans are so well armed. But the sheer volume of times I wish we WEREN’T so free with our firearms doesn’t compare to the number of times I’ve been glad that we are.

I'm glad these people were able to prevent more killings with their personal guns. It's a good argument for that side. Note, however, that this is 12 examples over a period of nearly 17 years, several of the "good guys" were cops or security guards, not average citizens, and NONE of them used assault rifles.

I own a gun. I like my gun. I don’t want anyone to take it away from me. But then it’s practically an antique, with a clip that holds 7 rounds. If my household was in danger, if someone was trying to break in or harm a family member, I would be supremely grateful to have it available to me. It would do a fine job of stopping an attacker, or even just scaring them away. And ultimately that’s all I want. I don’t need them dead. I’ll be honest, if someone seriously hurt my daughter, I would want them dead, and me and my gun would do all we could to make that happen. But there is no way I am going to use my gun to take on the government, the military, the police, or a bunch of school children.

With all the weakness of recent generations of Americans, with the removal of competition from schools, the “snowflake” mentality, etc., there are a lot of butthurt psychos out there, as evidenced by all the school shootings we continue to experience. Something needs to be done there. Strength of character does not come from saying that nobody is any better than anybody else and that we’re all special in our own way. Strength of character comes from facing struggles and overcoming them.

That said, if every kid who got picked on in school can gather up his daddy’s guns and go “get them back” for what they did (and in most cases get people who didn’t do it also), we’re going to continue to have immature, unstable killers who take away the right to live from dozens of innocent (and some not-so-innocent) people, and usually end up killing themselves as well, by self-inflicted gunshot or suicide by cop. So they aren’t saved by their actions. They would be better off starting with themselves. Nobody likes it when our kids kill themselves, but better that than taking a handful of lives on their way out.

If gun owners would relinquish some of their guns and rights in the interest of the common good, we could dramatically cut down on the senseless slaughter we see daily in this country.

I say we hold the NRA and its supporters accountable for every mass killing by firearm in America from this point forward. They’re so insistent on keeping their guns “for protection” let’s put it on them to actually do some protecting. If they insist on maintaining this right in spite of all the harm it’s doing to hundreds of people each year, they should have consequences. The majority of Americans are coming around to the belief that allowing some form of regulation of guns would be helpful in this fight against gun violence, yet the gun people are fighting – AGAINST the majority – for their right to keep the killing going. If they want to fight for the rights of the killers, they need to share in the burden. Because your insistence on keeping guns “for protection” is infringing on the rights of those of us who believe in trading some of these “rights” for the lives that can be saved by doing so, you become accomplices in every killing done by these weapons.

Everyone gets mad sometimes. We even get mad enough to kill once it a while. For many of us, a waiting period is a good thing, because it gives us a chance to calm down about it and think reasonably. With readily-available guns, we might fall victim to our passion and do something we later regret. If it is not a heat-of-passion thing and you can wait it out, buy the gun, and then go do your killing, then that is premeditated and punishable as Murder 1. As it should be. But if we can flag people who buy tons of weaponry and stockpile ammunition, we can at least keep an eye on them, and if we see them coming out of their house in a bulky trench coat, we can follow them and be prepared for the possibility of an impending tragedy.

I believe that gun violence perpetrated by police is a serious issue in America. I think there are a lot of problems with the system and the mentality of police officers, and something definitely needs to be done. I actually feel very strongly about this. Nowhere in my mind, however, am I thinking, “we should just shoot these cops.” In all the tragic situations I’ve heard about, with unarmed people and harmless dogs being murdered by police, my reaction is always, “they need to be held accountable. They need to face consequences. They need to lose their jobs and go to jail. There needs to be a better screening process for police officer candidates. There needs to be a new mentality introduced into the career of law enforcement.” Never, in all the horrific acts I’ve heard, read about, or watched videos of, did I think, “somebody SHOOT those pigs!” I think they need to be stopped. I don’t think anyone should throw their life away by killing an officer. I don’t think guns are the answer.

Nobody who is putting forth any reasonable proposals is saying “take away all the guns.” I am not saying it, Obama is not saying it, the New York Times is not saying it, the CDC is not saying it. What everyone keeps saying is that we would all benefit from relaxing on our insistence that our gun ownership rights not be touched in any way. My personal belief is that no citizen needs an assault rifle. If a hunter says he needs a fully-automatic rifle for his livelihood, he should seriously look into another career, because if you need to spray bullets at 1,200 rounds per minute, then frankly you’re a really bad hunter and you should quit. There is no excuse for military weapons in the hands of civilians. So then the argument becomes, “but if the government gets out of control we need to be able to overthrow them.” To that I say, go for it. Take on the U.S. military. See what that gets you. We have a system in this country where, if you don’t like something, vote it out. Guns are not the answer.


I’d like to address the gun debate from two sides, addressed to two entities.

1)      To the NRA and its staunch supporters: they’re trying to take your guns away. Load up and go fight for your right, because the right to keep your killing power trumps all other rights and privileges including the rights of all other Americans, whether they agree with you or not. Take on the military, the police, anyone who tries to take your guns.

2)      To the U.S. Military (all branches): look out, a bunch of gun nuts are coming after you. Get ready to take them out.

Now let’s see what happens.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

OPINION: The Police Problem

Police corruption goes back a long way. It has existed as long as police have. 
In recent years a lot more attention has been brought to the misdeeds of law enforcement thanks to the prevalence of digital video. Is it worse now than it's ever been? Probably not. But in the past the people who cried foul would often be dismissed due to their relationship to the victim, their testimony ignored because they were part of "the criminal element." Well it's harder to argue with video evidence than it is to discount the tale of a mother, brother or friend of someone the system has deemed "undesirable." Due to population increase, the occurrence of these incidents will be greater by numbers alone, while percentages may or may not rise. To be fair, I have done zero research for this opinion piece. 
Are more blacks being killed than in the past? Again, sheer numbers due to population may say yes, but I think that this has been going on all along, and it is the response to it that is changing. It wasn't so long ago that blacks were considered by many to be essentially subhuman. With the struggle for rights gradually winning over the time-honored tradition of racism and hatred, the outrage over crimes against blacks rather than just crimes by blacks is growing. And rightfully so. There is no place in our civilized nation for racism and unfounded hatred. If anything, the racists need to go. Keep America diverse.
Thanks to video evidence and the increase in law enforcement body cameras the actions of officers have been under much closer scrutiny. With the inarguable and inexcusable offenses of police against undeserving citizens on display via social media, the tide will turn. The good officers will not have to suffer in silence at the command of their superiors while this kind of injustice continues unobserved. They can speak out and, without necessarily revealing evidence that will get them into trouble as "whistle-blowers" among their fellow officers, can stand up for the oppressed and abused on citizen-supplied evidence. 
In time, police departments will take a proactive approach to hiring new officers, and they should be able to phase out the power-tripping bullies who seem so dominant in the field today. Kids can aspire to be a "good cop" and help enforce the law on both sides of the blue line, and parents can take pride in their children who endeavor to make the country a better, safer place to be. We shouldn't have to live in fear of our own public servants.
Making the "war on drugs" a thing of the past will also help get cop/citizen relations under control. When police don't have to fear that every person who may have or sell drugs is armed and ready to kill them, they can maybe relax their trigger finger a little. By decriminalizing drugs we sweepingly decriminalize millions of citizens. If cops aren't being shot at all the time, then the people applying for the jobs will be a more diverse group, rather than just trigger-happy lunatics willing to put themselves in the line of fire on the chance that they'll get to shoot someone.
One important element of this transition is that citizens (and "good cops") continue to expose the deplorable behavior of the "bad cops" and continue to wage legal battles against those who ignore and excuse the actions of police acting outside of their prescribed duties and mutilating the rights of citizens.
That being said, it is a good idea, in the meantime, to not provoke police, unnecessarily flaunting your rights in their faces, unless you want to be a martyr for the cause, as the process of weeding out the losers and uniformed criminals has not really pushed its way through the entire country yet, so you may still get yourself beaten or shot, even if it's not lawful. Screaming "I have rights!" or "You can't do this!" doesn't get your heart beating again once they've stopped it, so don't be dumb.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

OPINION: Democratic Debate 2015

CNN is sort of backpedaling about declaring Hillary as the winner of Tuesday's debate. All the reports were that she won, and now their coverage seems to imply that there was no clear winner, and that Bernie definitely made an impression.

While it's great that he grabbed so much attention with the email remark, I think I can say that we are all sick of hearing that Bernie is sick of hearing about Hillary's emails. Definitely a classy move, but he has so many more important things to be heard.

I don't see his saying he's from "a rural state" as a cop-out on gun control as some have intimated, I think it's simply admitting a certain amount of ignorance on the viewpoints of those heavily affected by gun violence. It sounded to me like he's open to discuss it and take the advice of people who know more about it, who see guns and their ownership differently than someone for whom guns were a part of growing up, a part of one's routine.

I just wish I had a better understanding of The Bern's socialism. How can we take from the rich without driving them all out of the U.S.? Who will fund our science then? Big corporations which are allowed to flourish under our capitalist society do put a lot back into the country. We can't afford to have them all move to someplace where they can avoid the heavy taxes, because you know they'll do it. For example, I'm not a big fan of Disney as a company, but they bring a hell of a lot of money into Anaheim.

O'Malley made a pretty good showing. I'd never heard of him and now I remember him.

Poor Chafee was like a muppet on Who's Line Is It Anyway? "I've had no scandals!" was so comedically delivered the entire viewing party blew up with laughter.

Anderson Cooper was great. "So you'll say whatever it takes to get elected?" Killing it.

I would have liked to hear a little more of their ideas on immigration, and Cooper could have asked the other three the Marijuana question.

So I don't know. Pretty sure I'm voting Dem. I'm very keen on clean energy. But still worried about what Socialism will do to our financial dynamic.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Glen and I

This is not about me, about my need to be right or my pride or desire to show off or put people down or prove anything. It's also not about run-on sentences, so let's move on. The part that is me is the desire to respect our language and to understand it and to use it in a way that is both useful and graceful.

People have probably told you that, when speaking properly, you say "...and I" rather than "...and me." While that is sometimes correct, it does not apply to every time you want to add yourself as a participant in a sentence.

As bad as "and me" sounds to the people who told you, "it's 'and I'!", that's how bad an incorrect "and I" sounds to the discerning ear. In fact, it's a little worse, because it sounds like the person is trying to speak properly and, in doing so, is drawing attention to the impropriety of it. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at the people who tell you "it's 'and I!'" without giving you the full story.

If you say, "Glen and I went to the Viper Room," that is correct. "Glen and me" would not be.

However, if you say "There were all kinds of people at the Viper Room, including Glen and me" then saying "...and I" would be incorrect.

The difference is that you say "and I" when it's before the verb of the sentence. In the first example above, the verb "went" comes after the names, so it's "Glen and I."

You would correctly use "and me" if it comes after the verb of the sentence. In the second example, "were" acts as the verb, and the names come after it, so among the people "were...Glen and me."

The easiest way I've learned to remember the difference is that, if you remove the other name(s) from the sentence, and it's just you, would you say "I" or "me"? "I went to the Viper Room" sounds normal. "Me went to the Viper Room" sounds like Jar Jar Binks. In the singular example above "were" becomes "was" and it "was just me."

The key may be in determining what the verb of the sentence is. In the example "This is a photo of Glen and me" the verb is "is." That doesn't sound like much of an action word, but it's the only thing happening. It's sometimes called a linking verb. There is no other action in the sentence. Even if you add a verb after the names, such as "This is a photo of Glen and me posing for the camera" saying "and me" is still correct because "posing" is not THE verb of the sentence. Even with a 'real' verb such as "posing," "is" remains the verb of the sentence because "is" describes the photo, not the action in the photo. "Glen and I were posing" works, because the subject of the sentence is Glen and you, and posing is what you were doing. But if "photo" is the subject of the sentence, then "is" is the verb. Therefore, "This photo is of Glen and I" is incorrect, as it is a rare and likely archaic instance when you would end a sentence with "I".

It is I who thanks you for reading.

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/it-is-i-versus-it-is-me


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Two Goats and a Gazelle

Our daughter is a freak. A freak of nature. Like a gazelle born from two goats. Two people who were unpopular and unremarkable (sorry Mommy) generated a beautiful, fantastic, sweet, kind, talented offspring. Sure, we're biased, but at the same time notice I said she is all these things, I did not say she is "the most" of any of them. We think so, but that would not be fact. These things I state are fact.

Okay, I realize it's only kindergarten, but today our little ray of light and hope received an Academic Achievement award for reading the most books in her class. I think my Grinch heart is going to explode from all the swelling it's doing from the pride I feel for her.

I guess us goats learned enough from our upbringing and schooling years that we have been careful to give her a life experience that will keep her happy, thoughtful and considerate, and try her hardest to learn and accomplish as much as she can.

I think that, for some people, things just come easily. For those people, they may not realize the amount of effort others have to put in to achieve any kind of success, and so when they have kids, they don't understand why they have such a hard time in school and making friends and generally getting along. Yes, things seem to come easily to Delilah, as far as friendship and getting people to like her, but I'm hoping she will remember all the effort we put in to help her succeed, and to be mindful of those for whom it is not so easy.


Music As I Understand It

a class from David DM Coutant

Guitar, Bass Guitar, Basic Theory, Rhythm, Harmony, performance and technical training.

Triads? Box Figures? Pentatonic Scales? Do you know what these things are? Do you know how they apply to the stringed instruments?
Do you want to?

  • Learn that song you've always wanted to play! 
  • Impress the ladies at those beach parties! 
  • Not strongly opposed to teaching Stairway! 

You can learn basic playing techniques, rhythm, music theory, scales and exercises, care and maintenance of your instrument, use of your electronics, What Is Expected of You Onstage, and much, much more.

Learn various styles from folk (finger-picking/nylon-string acoustic guitar) to rock (light to heavy electric guitar) to funk (electric bass guitar, fingers or pick) to reggae (guitar, bass, rhythm) and more.

Learn about live performance, touring, set-up/breakdown of your gear, sound-check and what the clubs expect of you, etc.

Not a structured class, you learn what YOU want to.


Beginner to Intermediate.
Not Classically or Formally trained, but grew up with Ivan X of Tongue and 13 Knots.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Social Criminal. That's right, I said it.

I had this friend a long time ago. Well, you know how Facebook works. We've reconnected. Well, he doesn't want me posting old photos of him online. I guess too many of his current friends are seeing them and he's embarrassed. I guess.

It got me thinking: are there photos out there that would embarrass me if someone posted them online? I don't think so. I don't think I'm embarrassed or ashamed of my past. And then I started thinking: what would be the most embarrassing thing my current social circles could find out about my past? What would be the most humiliating thing that could be exposed about me on social media?

Okay, I admit, there are millions of things that have happened to me over my lifetime that I do not remember. Some of them may even have photographic evidence. But there's one thing that really stands out as the most embarrassing thing from my past that could be made public. Something I don't have to look far to see. Here it is. This is a tattoo on my right forearm. It was done on purpose. And you thought tattoos hurt while they're being done.

Look out. At any moment I'm likely to do something so socially unacceptable as to be considered criminal by polite standards. I just might break some taboo when you least expect it. Or maybe not. The thing about a criminal is that he or she is identified as a criminal not for every one of their actions, but for the criminal ones. This doesn't mean everything they do is illegal, it just means that some of the things they do are. A car thief doesn't steal every car he sees. There just isn't time. Sometimes he doesn't want that car. Sometimes he CAN'T steal it. Well, a social criminal is unpredictable in that same way. He won't always be socially inappropriate, but when he is, look out, it's downright criminal how inappropriately he might act in a social situation.

Okay, so thinking this was a good idea is a pretty embarrassing part of my past. But I deserve it. I deserve to have to look at this any time I wear anything but a full-length sleeve. I deserve to have people notice it and say, "what does that say?" and then I have to show it to them. Yes, it's stupid. Yes, it's embarrassing. But if that's the price I have to pay for all the stupid things I was doing at that point in my life, I'll take it. I got off really easy.

So, like Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect movies, I want to put this out there before some other c**t gets the chance. Most people get tattoos of pictures on their bodies. I have mostly words, phrases, an Arabic numeral. It's just how my brain works. It thinks in words, not so much in pictures.

So there it is, out there for the world to see and delight in. My most embarrassing thing. There's also this one photo of me that my dad loves, where I'm sitting in this chair in my bedroom with a cap on, and my long hair is freshly washed and extremely frizzy, and one patch on each side of my face is bleached to a lighter color, and I hate that photo. My bangs are poofed out in a mini afro under the cap's bill. It's awful. But I'd share it. I don't care. I just feel like it's part of me, part of who I am, and I can't run or hide from that. So, while I can't help but be embarrassed, I can suck it up and face it like a man. But not just any man. A Social Criminal of a man. Bleah.