I Will Kick Someone if Malaysia Air Starts Charging Fees for Magic

I need to vent.

Today is  March 19th 2014, a day when the NSA is secretly keeping our emails and texts, the IRS can  go practically proctological on us, and I can’t even get through TSA without feeling violated.  We have satellites that can see people pick their nose from thirty miles up in space, a telescope that still transmits from outside the solar system, and people living halfway to the moon.  So, the idea of a plane being able to just disappear gives me a severe case of the howling fantods.

Seriously, we’re talking 250 people in a big effin’ jet that has Rolls Royce engines, which signal every turbine turn and fuel burn.  Nearly everyone on that plane probably carried a cell phone and the jet had a black box that is about as indestructible as the fruitcake I got on Christmas.

I don’t know if this is some international spy ring, or a terrorist group or pilot suicide or perhaps some ridiculous David Copperfield trick, but I don’t want to see planes disappearing, It’s not cool.

When I get on a plane, I want to feel cramped in my seat and eat shitty, hard-to-open bags of seven peanuts, and receive half-filled flimsy plastic cups that spill with the slightest turbulence.  I want to pee in a Hobbit’s closet of a bathroom, and hear the ungodly sucking sound of my urine being shot out into the atmosphere.  I want to have someone’s overweight ass in my face as they stand up and reach for the luggage in the overhead bin because they forgot to remove that stupid magazine prior to sitting down and now feel that it’s ok to inconvenience me in order to find out which celebrity got a DUI this week – frankly, I don’t really want this but since it’s going to happen, I might as well mention it.  I want to rub up against complete strangers who haven’t showered in at least a month and who want to talk while I’m trying to sleep and who think that the perfect time to climb over me is any goddam time they feel like it. I want my seat kicked incessantly by a four year old and to hear his baby brother’s pteradactyl-like shriek from take-off to landing.  I want to eat my food off a hot plate with plastic-wrapped silverware and spill salt and pepper on my food in ways that evoke images of an avalanche and then take tiny bites of really disgusting beef stroganoff before heading off into a too-rapid bowel movement.  I want to get my head slammed by a drink cart when I nod off into the aisle because the cabin’s air-to-ovygen ratio is somewhere south of Pi.  I want to bang down on tiny wheels and hear screeching brakes to remind me that a few two-inch discs are supposed to stop this many-tonned airliner. I want to stand at my seat for twenty minutes while short women attempt to reach their baggage and while the passenger population navigates the insane labyrinth that is plane exiting.  I want to hear that well-coiffed and well-uniformed stewardess say “Thank you for flying with us” while the satisfactorily- feminine male airline attendant winks at me.  I want to see the cockpit doors open as I exit and make my way to the horribly unattractive terminal where I can discover which of my bags have been lost.

What I don’t want to happen is this:

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That is not cool!

By ccxander

A Cup with Water at the Midline

You know those pseudo-optimistic half-full cups, the ones where the water inside seems bubbly and thirst-quenching, even though you know it’s been sitting there for over an hour and is probably warm and filled with backwashed particles and more than likely has been left for someone to come throw in the trash? The latest US news reports are just like that cup.

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Though I tend to trend cynical, there are some bad things going on in our country at present.  To start, we have conflicting reports about the worst radiation leak in history approaching or reaching our Western border – so when you hear someone in LA say, “Wow, you have a glow about you,” you may be in deep shit.   We have a President who flat out lied to the American people and no one seems to care.  Our Congressional approval rating hovers around single digits and yet we still refer to them as Representatives – a notion, which suggests we don’t approve of ourselves? 50 million Americans live in poverty today.  As a nation, we are almost 20 trillion dollars in debt – mostly to China – and there’s no chance in hell of ever paying that back. Lowering taxes down a trickle does not seem to trickle down, and raising taxes makes the richer poorer but doesn’t make the poorer richer.  Approximately half our nation is more interested in bettering themselves than in bettering society as a whole, and while I have no judgment on which side is right, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be able to move forward unless something changes.

Add to this, news reporting used to be based on facts, but scanning the nightly news channels, one can see the exact same story spun more than Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom doorknob.  Take climate change.  One source says humanity is causing the Earth to heat up and the science proves it.  Another says humans have a negligible effect on the climate and the science proves it.  A third says science cannot currently determine whether or not humans have an effect on the climate and the science proves it.  The whole thing has a Gump-ish box of chocolate’s thing about it.  Frankly, all I want is a proper weather forecast for tomorrow morning – but apparently that’s never going to happen either.

The whole NSA spying thing is bothersome.  We are a government  - of, by and for – and so when the government is spying, it means we the people are gathering information on ourselves, which is akin tostanding in a front of a restaurant window and checking your appearance while curious diners watch and giggle inside.

I’m driving at something here, but as usual, it’s along the side of the road where I can feel the guardrail scraping my sides.  There are a lot of people saying things are getting better, that the economy is picking up, unemployment is less relevant, the housing market is on the uptick, and interest rates are rising.  I’m not so sure though.  A friend of mine recently told me a story about being thirsty and then getting water boarded – the horrible sense of drowning, the feeling of powerlessness, the belief that nothing he could do could change his circumstance.  And here I am, staring at this glass with its water line at the midpoint…..

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By ccxander

My New Relationship Status

Certain relationships are sacred – priests, psychologists, wives – endowed with a sort of presumed privacy one requires in a faithful confidante.  One can reveal secrets without fear of recrimination and, consequently, one can dig down into some pretty deep emotions.  These relationships allow us to learn more about ourselves, to find our true passions and desires, to be real without the superficial undercurrent that intrudes upon our daily lives.  Absent social media and mobile technology, these relationships form circles of comfort whereby we embrace our humanity.

Which all leads me to this Obamacare issue and the realization that I now have to develop a new relationship.  Today, my insurance company informed me that my current plan is non-compliant, and I will have to purchase a new plan with a new doctor.

As a heterosexual male, I’d always assumed there’d be only one man in my life, a healer with years of study and the sort of dispassionate medical attention one wants when a white-robed male figure dons a rubber glove and sticks a finger up your ass.  See, proctology is an important field – the prostate after all is one of those unseen glands that can wreak havoc upon one’s life – and one, which requires a certain amount of emotional detachment.  And so, when small-fingered doctor Gianni Corbo M.D., informed me that his company could no longer accept my insurance, and that I’d have to find another doctor (of unknown finger size) to perform my examinations, I suffered more than a few moments of anxiety.

Frankly, I’d always been under the assumption that my rectal area was part of a single lane system.  Things leave and never return.  After all, no one ever pushes water back into a sewer.   The sphincter is the one-way street of heterosexuality, and as we all know, when we see someone driving down a one-way street, its pretty much the same reaction “Asshole!” which has some pretty ironic and comedic undertones given the current circumstance.

On my first trip to the proctologist, there was some trepidation – frankly, even the handshake was a bit daunting – since I knew this man was about to violate me in ways that rapists and prisoners know all too well.  Sparing the details of that exam, I’ve decided to spend some time in jewelry shops watching gel-haired salesmen perform ring-sizing for all pre-marital males in hopes of finding a match for my digit requirements.  Asking the customers whether or not they are doctors and, if yes, what kind, is not nearly as formidable as testing out proctologists.

The point is, I now have to accept some things.  There will be a new man in my life, one with small warm hands and an empathetic nature.  There will be checks written with a sense of loss (for ex-doctors and my own innocence).  And somewhere in Washington, a President and several representatives will have no idea of the horror they’ve inflicted on a population of men that have no other option than to be doubly defiled.

And this is why I’d like to give the finger to Obamacare.

By ccxander

Things I Think About Too Often

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If 20 babies of varying races and genders were dropped onto a deserted island, would they grow to organize themselves by race and gender?

How is it that some restaurants can nab me for going back for free refills, but we can’t stop people from voting more than once?

If guns are so horrible, why are we sending them to the Syrian people?

Anyone who wants candy, raise your hand.  Anyone who wants Viagra, raise your…oh sorry.

If a woman has a right to her own body, why can’t she drink a 32 oz. cup of soda for it if she lives in NYC?

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Why has Kmart started its Christmas advertising in early September?

How come it takes me 8 seconds with my cell phone to Google map the front of my house but, after nine months, we can’t find the Benghazi killers?

After reading the literature and case studies on House and Senate term limits, I’m still lost as to why we can have Presidential and Gubernatorial term limits, but we can’t impose them for Congress.

If I started a government today, what would be the first five things the government should do to care for its people?

It is said 30 billion dollars per year could cure world hunger.  Our national debt increases 2 billion dollars per day.  We could cure world hunger in two weeks.

Voting for something to find out what’s in it is like signing a contract before reading it.

If people believe tax cuts don’t trickle down, and people believe higher taxes are a disincentive to hiring, how exactly do we work ourselves out of this quagmire?

Would government function differently if there were no re-elections, but rather,  a new group of Representatives every two years?

1 in 6 people in America is hungry.  1 in 5 is obese.  Just imagining the dinner table dynamics that would cause this situationwill either make you laugh or cry.

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By ccxander

The Hot Stove of Friendship

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The O.E.D. defines Trust thusly:

Syllabification: (trust)

Pronunciation: /trəst/

1firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something:

relations have to be built on trust


they have been able to win the trust of the others


verb

[with object]

  • 1believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of:I should never have trusted her

[with object and infinitive]:he can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation


(as adjective trusted) a trusted adviser


(trust someone with) allow someone to have, use, or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence: I’d trust you with my life

 

It continues, but then, you get the point. I guess trust nthed is faith, or maybe blind faith, as though no matter what happens, you still have faith that things will turn out ok.

So then, trust doesn’t extend that far.  There’s a limit to it, a breakability of things such that one who had your trust can suddenly turn into one who no longer has your trust.  What happens then?  This person knows your history, things you’ve thought and said and confided, things you’ve kept from others in the hope that this one trusted friend might hold them for you.  And then it breaks, the trust, and you are left with this chasm in your chest, as if someone just ripped out a chunk of you and placed it on and ice sheet before dropping a hammer and sending it off into oblivion.  “There it goes,” you say, “that part of me that I’ll never recover, sent to sea with everything in my life.”

Next comes the fear, that someone will take what you’ve said and betray you to others, even if it is just a few soft words of cynicism, or an opinion about political leanings.

And then the sadness, knowing humanity has now assumed a different form, that the masses are potential predators to your honesty, threats to your truthfulness. What is left but to recoil, to slink back into the turtle shell of your existence, unwilling to peek out for fear of danger?  Perhaps these virtual worlds arise for the benefits of fraudulence.  Maybe the digitalk is really just an unconventional intimacy that allows for bullshit without accountability.

I had some other things in mind when I started this post, so I guess I’ve gone off the rails a bit here, but like a train, relationships built on trust can crash pretty hard.  Sometimes I think we’d all be better off back in the jungle, with Darwinian rules, where speed and strength and adaptability ruled the terrain, where one could trust daily life to be filled with threats and dangers and myriadother horrible things, where one didn’t have to be surprised when teeth appeared at one’s throat, where things like rampant shootings and terrorist bombings and gratuitous killings didn’t make us so fucking sad.

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O.E.D.

Catharsis noun

1the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

 

So…yeah….

By ccxander

What if I Don’t Want to be a Valued Customer?

Anyone else privy to these ridiculously uncomfortable conversations at the bank these days?  To wit:

“Good day, Mr. Cigerne..um…Mr. Cingare…

“Cignarelli.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s pronounced exactly like it’s spelled so I can see where you’d get confused.”

“Thank you, Mr. Cignarelli. How is your weekend going?”

“I’m sorry?”

“I asked about your weekend.”

“Do we know each other?”

“You are a valued customer and we’re doing our best to ensure proper customer service.”

“And you believe absurd banter is contributing to the cause?”

“My apologies, sir.”

“….”

“So, do you have plans for the weekend.”
“Yep.”
“What are you planning to do?”

“Seriously though, do you think this helps?  I mean, the whole bank-as-personal-life-intruder thing?”

“I mean no intrusion, Sir.”

“No, I’m sure you don’t, except, you’ve now asked me twice what I’m doing for the weekend, while wearing that professional smile and wielding that telemarketing voice and batting those severely-make-upped eyelashes – do you draw those on? – and we don’t even know each other, and now I’m really uncomfortable walking into my own bank without a pre-planned response for God knows how many questions about my personal life that I am quite certain I don’t want you to have access to.”

“Wow, Mr. Cignarelli, I had no intention of offending you.  I am sincerely –

“Look, no, you misunderstood.  I’m not offended.  I’m just very distressed about having to worry about conversational issues when all I want to do is deposit my money into my account and get on with my life.  But now I have to reveal my weekend plans to perfect strangers while they’re staring at my bank account and presumably determining whether or not I’m a financially responsible client and whether the plane tickets I’m buying for my trip to Greece are really affordable based on my available funds and thereby forming judgments and considerations and myriad other assessments about my character that I definitely don’t-

“But-

“No, let me finish.  I don’t like this whole valued-customer customer service thing you’ve developed.  I enjoy the glass wall between us because I can see you and not hear you.  I give you money and you protect it until I need it, and I pay you for that service.  It’s a great gig we have going.  But now, now, you’ve gone and broken the glass and made me feel awkward about our relationship, and plus, the way you stare at that computer screen just says mountains about your opinion of my financial interests and I’m more than a little freaked out by this whole intrusion into my personal life.”

“We do have ATM’s sir.”

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After an audible sigh, I say, “I just want the warmth of a human being without the words of a human being.”

Behind me, at the front of the line, a male voice shouts out, “We all lookin’ for that!”

I turn to see the man smiling.

When I turn back around, the teller is glaring at me.

I ask for my checks back.

She says she’s already put them through and then adds, “Is that what you need the money for?”

Now I have to change banks.

By ccxander

Courage on Another Level

imagesI help support a charity called Project Child Save, a group of ex-military men whose life mission is to rescue young girls who’ve been kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade.  Tomorrow morning, I am interviewing the team leader, Ty Ritter, in preparation to write his story.   The scars on his body are a testament to his heroism and I’d be hard-pressed to find a better man in this world. This morning, someone asked me why I stay involved in this mission, to which I responded,

“The answer isn’t convenient or comfortable because most people don’t want to talk about how depraved mankind can become. Ty and his team receive hundreds of letters about missing children and spend months doing recon to gather Intel for their missions. They travel under cover of darkness and without government support. They fly in rented helicopters and wear camouflage gear, bear weapons against the enemy and courage in their souls. They descend into locales where the terrain is dangerous, the language is foreign and the adversary is equipped to kill.  They risk their lives for our daughters and expect no reward.  They have never left a child behind, often going on missions to rescue one child and coming home with ten or more.  The team’s pledge is: “If necessary I will give all my tomorrows for one child’s today.”  While relating tales of brutalized little girls who require bodily repairs and reconstructive surgery, Ty recounts stories that will leave you in tears.”

I have met few heroes in my time on this planet, and frankly, the task seems daunting.  But then, imagine losing your child to the shadows.  Imagine heading off the bathroom and returning to find your life changed.  Imagine the unyielding determination you’d discover when the final note of your child’s life was a scream for you to help them.  Yep, tomorrow’s interview seems daunting, but in these circumstances, fear is unwelcome.

Tonight I prepare for something extraordinary.

By ccxander

Brain Bleed

screamingI’ve been trying to write this book as of late, and enduring the insufferable and rather pathetic madness of wondering whether phrases like “as of late” are even part of the English language or just some hatchet-refuse of the common man’s slang that is likely to get me kicked from the slush piles of publishers worldwide.  Then too, there’s the whole cliché thing.  Taking a turn of phrase – when life gives you citrus fruit, squeeze the shit out of it until you can sell it on sidewalks for $.50 a cup in some lesson-teaching middle American homage to entry level entrepreneurship – and crafting something spectacular out of it just seems wasteful.  Plus the whole narrative structure thing, where one should have acts and subplots and themes and character arcs and heroic journeys – I thought writing was about freedom of expression for God’s sake.

Point is, I’m several chapters into this train wreck and already making the mistake of all amateur writers – revisiting the first few chapters and hacking away at the chaff.  This is somewhat akin to wiping your nose before sneezing, except instead of mild snot, you’re left with some sloughed off gray matter and a stomachache (Can’t we contract this word to form stomache and be done with it?)

To be fair, I was warned this whole process might take some effort.  They (other authors) said I’d probably lose some hair, gain a few lbs., and begin to question the nature of humanity. They neglected, however, to mention the incessant desire to throw my laptop through a window, to toss some Xanax or Strychnine over the fence to quiet the neighbor’s barking dog (won’t happen) and the awkward Oreo craving when the little hand starts to head southwest.

Alas, the point of this rant was to breakthrough my writer’s block. I think I’ve managed that now. Thanks for the indulgence.  My apologies for this literary nail in your skull.

By ccxander

Things on my Mind

How is it that 1 in 5 children are now going hungry, but too, 1 in 5 kids are obese?   I’ve never been a believer in redistribution, but somewhere along the buffet line, these oversized high-calorie kids might consider passing a plate down to their schoolmates who are starting to resemble chopsticks.

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Ever since I was a teen, I’d listen to leathery, high-sock wearing crocodiles talk about the moral decay of the next generation, and then I’d saunter away, shaking my head, wondering whether their Alzheimer’s had kicked in regarding WWII and Vietnam and Watergate.  But today, it sure seems like morality has become attached to one’s emotional opinion of things –If I feel like it’s not too wrong, then surely I can do it.  Maybe it’s all of those negative tv news shows – fires, murder, rape, political lies, impending storm – but it appears national cynicism is up and the country’s ethical fortifications are weakening.  The Pope cruises through Brazil in an open-windowed Impala while our Congresswomen get shot in the head during speeches.  Not to mention terrorists staring out from the fame-making cover of Rolling Stone.  Is morality decaying, or are we just evolving away from our own national conscience?

Humanity's Regression

LA traffic has now reached a point where speed limit signs serve no purpose. With all of the pretentious people banging out texts on their iphones as they offer lobotomized gazes from their static fishbowls, one can never attain a speed much faster than a three-legged pregnant yak.  Thus, the odds of hitting 65 mph in this city are about the same as one of your little swimmers winning the reproductive race – sure there’s a lot of fist pumping and head banging, but in the end, all but one ends up realizing they never got where they were going.

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Mark Twain once said, “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”  An anonymous writer suggested, “There are too many people and too few human beings.”  I’m starting to believe most people don’t like people, but rather, they like the humanity that people have inside them, a humanity that appears to rapidly be disappearing.

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I’ve been trying to find an accurate analogy for the game of golf. There is approximately 80 (assuming you aren’t terrible) seconds of action over the course of five hours of play time.  That’s about a shot every four minutes, meaning you spend one hell of a lot of time walking around short grass cursing at yourself and wondering why in God’s name you can’t hit a static ball straight, completed with a long iron launched into the lower atmosphere.  Anyway, I think I found a perfect correlation.  Today, this old couple was eating at the table beside me.  For most of the meal, there was dead silence, infrequently interrupted by a brief comment, followed by head shaking and beneath-breath cursing, and culminating with a fork thrown across the table.  It all got me thinking.  Young men play golf as a means of escape – something about spending time with their buddies, and nature, and freedom from responsibility.  Old men, however, have accepted life’s situation and they’ve just found a better way to have their balls busted.

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By ccxander

Update on the Recent Burglary of Me

The Crime: Somewhere between 10pm and 6am, someone broke my car window and stole my computer bag, seizing my credit card, ATM card, passport, Kindle, and an absurd amount of cash (Yes, I’m the idiot who left it in the car).

Post Burglary: I’ve gotten the window repaired, cancelled my cards, collaborated with the police and received a copy of the police report.  Turns out the criminals made five fraudulent purchases using my cards, which means there’s a 7-11, a Shell station, and a Marshall’s clothing store that do not require a pin number to use my debit card.

Conversation with Police:

”Any chance of me getting my stuff back?”

“Probably not.”

“Are you guys going to do anything with my report?”

“No.”

“So, I’m not really trying to be a dick here, but what exactly are my tax dollars paying for?”

“….”  (look of disdain)

“….” (symbolic raising of eyebrows indicating unfettered astonishment)

“Well, if we give you the report, you might be able to convince one of the stores to let you see the video of the perpetrators.”

“Thank you, officer.  Much appreciated.”

“….” (Sound of donut being bitten)

The Aftermath: I’ve communicated with the criminal division of Marshall’s clothing store (yes it exists and yes it’s hilarious), who are currently reviewing the videotapes to find the time code where we can both view the criminals.

Very Shortly: I will be donning some sort of vigilante Superhero costume (think Batman or Ironman) and heading down to L.A.s streets to post fliers with photos of the suspects.

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Yes, I understand the irrationality of this action, however, certain deviant acts require an extreme level of absurdity.  Think about it.  When a Superhero shows up at your house to retrieve his possessions, what the hell are you going to do?  Insanity has to trump delinquency, right?  This guy has got to wonder whether I’m the real deal, and if so, what the next ten minutes of his life will hold.  And even if he pulls a gun or breaks out a Louisville slugger, I’ll be so hyped up in my costume that I’ll kick the guy’s ass just for thinking of wielding a weapon.

Conclusion: Yep, I’m really onto something.  There may be a future here.  If anyone is interested in joining the cause, I think I have an extra pair of Underoos in my closet.

By ccxander