An Obscenely Excessive but Worthwhile Take on Pro Bull Riding

Inside the Disneyland staff room, two scores of human beings are donning well-known and highly animated furry costumes and preparing to dance, sing, and scamper about hugging young children in an attempt to convince them that six-foot tall furry fantasies are not threatening.  Tickets prices are nearing the century mark and the fee for a good burger lingers around double digits.  Children and parents will scream a lot.

Seven miles distant, beneath the steel girdered rafters of the Honda Center, it is week three – there are twenty-nine on the schedule – of the Built Ford Tough Series Professional Bull Riding competition.  At present, Australian tough man Ben Jones, whose fame stems from a post-ride jig in which he flails his hips and arms about as though he has fleas in his britches, and is blessed with the drawling cowboy accent that makes down-under folk sound moderately retarded, is in first place in the national rankings.  Jones is not a good bull rider; he is the best bull rider. In this competition, however, he has already been launched sixteen feet skyward on a 70-degree vector and ended his first round with two bleeding nostrils and a noticeable limp. Luck follows him.

The PBR was established in 1992, at first an offshoot of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), an organization whose start dates back to July 4, 1869, when two groups of cowboys from neighboring ranches met in Deer Trail, CO, to settle an argument over who was the best at performing everyday ranching tasks.  Tired of being paid the same meager wage as rope twirlers and barrel racers, the bull riders ventured out, with twenty trailblazers forking over $10,000 a piece, to the chagrin – and probable verbal abuse and ceaseless nagging – of their wives, in hopes of establishing their own brand.  Fifteen years later, they were bought out at $10,000,000 per player, although each man stays active in the corporation.

It is day two of this event.  Last night, forty riders completed the first round and then went to bed really fucking sore.  Today’s event consists of round two of preliminary action, when riders are assigned bulls and given a score.  Once completed, the top ten riders in round one and two will come to center ring and choose their bulls.

There are six major stockbrokers across America, tending to their livestock with highly engineered diets, genetic enhancements –they’ve already cloned the badass bull named Bushwacker three times – and a steady stream of Gatorade to ensure the bulls stay hydrated (apparently Bos Taurus are rather particular about their liquids).  From a young age, the bulls are supervised, scouted to determine their disposition, athleticism, and the uncanny ability to eject an ambitious cowboy into the lower stratosphere.

Slim Coppers, a middle-aged and baseball-cap-covered chap whose bodily scent reminds one of old cheese, explained the breeding process, “I’m lookin’ for the meanest bastards cuz they’s the ones that pay the rent.” He then explained his living conditions included a one-bedroom apartment that was close enough to the bar so he could walk home drunk, although he neglected to confirm that he couldn’t afford his water bill, which would have explained the body odor.  He was unpleasantly unhandsome and displayed the conversational habits of binging crack-addict, minus three teeth.

Because being catapulted from the back end of a one-ton animal has its hazards, bull riders now don Kevlar vests –presumably to help stem the impact of a crash landing but also to avoid being mangled and crushed when an angry bull stumbles upon them – along with chaps (pronounced shaps – strange since French-sounding words slung from the mouths of cowboys just make them sound phenomenally gay) metal spurs, leather boots and the tightest Wrangler denim they can squeeze into, the goal apparently to enhance the prominence of their sexual anatomy in hopes of inspiring some of the astonishingly gorgeous women attending the event – most of whom sport spandex tank tops, even tighter jeans, and perky smiles beneath those straw hats one imagines all Southern cowgirls have dangling from their bedposts.  Of the forty riders, twelve wear vests wired for auditory pleasure, so the anticipatory build-up of a Brazilian twenty-something on his way to eight seconds of glory sounds very similar to something you’d expect to hear in a side alley during Rio de Janiero’s Carnival.  All garments, protective and standard, display various sponsor logos.  At the PBR, brought to you by Ford trucks and Rockstar liquid fuel, one can also find Cooper Tires, Jack Daniels, and Boot Barn, all of which get highlighted throughout the evening as arena screens broadcast smiling fans receiving gift cards, t-shirts, and odd little mushy stress balls launched from super-squirter guns set atop a Ford truck and triggered by Dickies-clad bullfighters.  Your rookie attendee might feel there is a “white trash” self-indulgence going on here, but several of the parking lot’s pick-ups are of this century.

Bull rider training is diverse. International athletes tend toward riding repetition – the Brazilians ride and sprint back in line for another turn – while American riders spend hours running, boxing, and stretching.  Understandably, very few spend a lot of time sitting on their asses.  All riders are blessed with an inbred (no pun intended) politeness and words like “Sir” and “Ma’am” fall from their tongues like tobacco spit.  Plus, they are exceptionally willing to stand for a photo-op with an admiring blogger, even if the blogger makes in-poor-taste innuendos about the strange relationship between bulls and riders.

Surrounded by exo-skeletalish and horrifyingly frail metal fences, is six-hundred cubic yards of dirt, uniformly thick to eight inches, imported from local supplier Robin Kitchens, and retaining an exacting level of moisture measured by the curious and oddly evocative “Weiner Test.” “You grab a handful of it, and squeeze it like a weiner, and if it cakes up without flaking apart and without making your hands too wet, it’s perfect,” so says the event’s producer.  Controlled by four sets of computers, the cryos, pyros, lighting, and sound all originate from just outside the bullring.  A large collection of 1980’s music provides the evening’s entertainment, indicating the general demographic for the event runs from about 35-50 years old.  These post-disco, pre-Gen X-ers stomp around with twenty-ounce beers, and four-dollar pretzels, which drip mustard on a level of flannel that stirs up visions of a Cristo art piece. Sometime during the event, an Ahern Bobcat T250 dirt compactor – the PBR’s version of a Zamboni although not nearly as fun to say – makes its way into the arena to reconcile the dirt.

Rides are scored on a points system.  Prior to each ride, two giant LED screens provide specifications for both rider and bull.  Riders profiles include a photo, hometown, date of birth and world ranking.  Unattractive beasts, the bulls do not get a picture.  Along with their suggestive names – Voodoo Child, I’m a Gangster, Flirting with Disaster, El Presidente, and the virtually un-rideable Bushwacker – the screens show Average Buckoff time, Buckoff percentage, and Average Ride score.  As an example, Bushwacker’s buckoff percentage is 100% and his average ride time is 2.83 seconds.  This is one mean motherfucking bull.  Four judges stand ringside, each complete with a handheld electronic scoring card – the kind you see on America’s Funniest Home Videos, only these smell a lot worse and are covered in dust and old paint – and they rate bull rider style with attention to spurring activity, balance, and constant control.  Riders attempt to stay aboard for what has to be the longest and most violent eight seconds this side of a Vegas brothel. The clock begins when the bull’s head, hip or shoulder crosses the plain of the bucking chutes. It stops when the bull rider’s hand comes out of the rope or he touches the ground. The bull rider must ride with one hand and is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull with his free hand during the eight-second ride. The other half of the score is based on the performance of the bull and how difficult he is to ride. Judges look for bulls with speed, power, drop in the front end, kick in the back end, direction changes and body rolls. A body rolls occurs when a bull is in the air and kicks either his hind feet or all four feet to the side. The more of these characteristics a bull displays during a ride, the higher the mark is for the bull and the more likely it is for a rider to be hurled into a crowd-pleasing face-plant.  Both riders and bulls receive a score out of fifty.  A combined score of 90 or above causes the crowd to roar and a ridiculously attractive near-bikini-laden cowgirl to hoist a “90-Point Ride” sign northward.

On this night, three riders scored 90 or better, which is to say, 33% of the riders who managed to stay aboard the bull for eight seconds achieved a 90-point ride.  If I could stay on for eight seconds, it is likely that I could score a 90.  It is more likely that I would end up like thirty-one of the other bull riders whose injuries are probably partly responsible for America’s atmospheric Health Insurance rates. They include new teeth, surgeries, horn scars and gouges, a nose ripped off (the same nose, twice), tendons shredded, a lacerated liver (a phrase which would probably make other squeamish listeners laugh with discomfort too) two punctured lungs, a shattered clavicle, a broken ankle (although that doesn’t stop the riders from riding), and on this night, the limp figure of a twenty one year-old Montana kid flung to the ground in an unconscious state with blood pouring from his neck, spurting from his mouth, and remaining unconscious and unmoving even during the seven minutes during which medical personnel hovered above him with vacant stares and anxious looks while EMT’s strapped on a neck brace and placed him atop a stretcher to transport him to the nearest hospital for a night of morphine-filled pain, for which his girlfriend was taken aside by one of the bull fighters and shuttled off to the hospital to spend a night on her knees in prayer for any sort of good news.  Two minutes later, the riders resumed the competition.  In response to an inquiring journalist’s questions, the riders explained with the sort of clichés one finds after most athletic contests “Getting hurt’s part of it” “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger” “get knocked down, get back up” and “sometimes you gotta grab the bull by the horns.”  Vince Lombardi would have loved these fellas.

Note: The near-comatose cowboy eventually woke up with a lacerated broken jaw, broken leg, and a severe concussion.  He remains on the schedule for next week’s competition. 

Bulls spend most of the night in pens behind the ring.  Depending on their ability to get along with other bulls, they may be three or four to a stall, a picture which leads one to believe that bulls have social norms and relational abilities, a notion difficult to accept when you see them head butting each other and tossing riders from their backs like tissues in the wind.  When called to task, they are led through a series of shafts until they reach the 3’ by 8’ main chute where they are prepared for their rider.  At this point, some of the bulls wrench about and might even stand upon two legs in an attempt to excavate themselves from such tight quarters. After a brief warm-up atop a mechanical bull – riders enjoy tossing their fellow competitors about just outside the locker room while admiring spectators look on – and a few stretches, riders wriggle on their gloves, set their licorice-whip decorated chaps, and head out to the riding chutes. Wranglers situate the rider atop the bull and then cinch the flank rope so the bull knows it is show time. Presumably there is no Mensa for bulls.  With little warning, the gate opens and a large clock counts out the longest eight seconds in history – on this night, the clock malfunctioned on three different occasions* – as riders attempt to stay aboard. At this point, the arena becomes Colosseum-like. As the bulls lurch into a series of unbelievably violent and tempestuous series of lurches and twists, the audience assumes the faces of folks suddenly stricken with explosive diarrhea.  Because most riders are thrown horizontally before the four second mark, the faces change quickly, settling into an expression one might expect on someone about to have a car wreck, as the riders attempt to scurry from beneath kicking hooves and aggressive horns.

Before the PBR, PRCA rodeo clowns donned face paint and spent time rolling around in barrels and taunting the bulls.  At the PBR, rodeo clowns are called bull-fighters, sport running shoes and knee pads, triangulate themselves to protect the fallen rider, and function as security.  They are big brawny men who would look great standing guard outside Hollywood nightclub doors.  Your thinking man would not laugh at them.  Not to be outdone, however, PBR does offer non-Toro entertainment. Facially-painted, Flint Rasmussen is a forty-two year old comedian/dancer who appears overly proud of his bald spot.  Dressed in American flag silk fatigues, Rasmussen dances to a variety of pop music sound bites with the energy of a hummingbird and the uncoordinated gestures of a stroke victim.  Several members of the crowd’s forty-ounce club join him.

When the rider falls, the bull fighters step in, directing the bull away from the rider, weaving and bobbing in some pre-determined method for confusing the dumber-than-dirt beast, all the while making sure the rider doesn’t require immediate medical attention.  Should the bull head out towards the greater part of the ring, sitting atop a brown and white Palomino, Julio waits with a well-aimed lasso.  He chases the bull down and yanks him towards the chutes and then heads out to his original position awaiting the next competitor.  As the last man to confront the bull before it heads off into the stands to mount the face of some drunken and idiotic audience member, rest assured, Julio fits the bill.  Blessed with enough high-impact genetics to make his cotton shirts insecure and the thousand-yard stare of a six-tour Vietnam Vet, Julio has an internal will strong enough to make the bulls think twice about venturing out beyond their boundaries.  It has been suggested that Julio might be a tougher ride than any bull in the place.

As riders near the 8-second precipice, fan sounds crescendo into a pre-orgasmic scream, ultimately escalating into a full-bore roar replete with a standing ovation.  As the bullfighters re-direct the animal, the rider launches into some form of celebratory dance, prayer, or limping stagger.  On this evening, Brazilian Silvano Alves conquered Hawaiian Ivory with a score of 91.25 to edge out Skeeter Kingsolver and win the $15,000 prize.  Your correspondent spent the remainder of the evening pondering the heroin-like adrenalin rush required to attempt to thwart a creature so historically brazen that it appears on cave paintings.

* In a sport where the main objective is to stay aboard an animal for eight seconds, a working clock seems pretty pivotal.  Your correspondent intends to have a few words with the event producers regarding obtaining a watch sponsor.  Since only one out of four completes the task and with men’s lives hanging in the balance, your educated programmer might try some forethought as to a backup system, for fucks sake.

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By ccxander

Remember when bookstores were fun…

A few years ago, I enjoyed bookstores. The idea of quality writers tossing their wares into the marketplace of ideas had the same allure as a woman lifting the hemline beyond social mores.  I’d spend hours scouring the shelves for something intriguing – an escapist fantasy or clandestine crusade – to pass those sleepless hours beneath a descending moon.  Oftentimes, I’d plop down in a corner and indulge into the ramblings of some seventeenth century literary steward.

But recently, something changed.  Electronic media gives everyone a voice, through blogs and websites and online magazines etc.  The entertainment industry, along with the medical and legal fields, all see the literary venue as a new revenue stream.  Even social media has become an outlet for creative expression.  And so now, everyone is an author.  This means the journey through the bookstore is fraught with the danger of purchasing something awful or sensationalized or time-wasting.  It is an African plain of literary fare, the nourishing stray gazelle then disappearing into a fabricated wasteland of cardboard cut-outs and stuffed piñatas.

Worse yet, with so many people authoring novels, there is also an increase in the number of quality tales, which means I can’t possibly read everything I want to read.  It used to be that I could have a discussion about a bestseller, because everyone I knew had read it.  Today, those discussions are rare, as people digest soundbite-sized information from the internet, or devour one of the thousands of bestsellers per week.

The point here is that I no longer enjoy the bookstore.  It makes me feel inadequate in ways that old porn films do.  I’ve stopped trying to read all the  crappy books on the shelf, and I’ve definitely failed to read the seemingly unlimited number of “good books” out there.  There just isn’t enough time and no one to discuss them with anyway.

Eventually, I’ll succumb to those awful e-readers, with the vacant liquid-crystal stare and the compassionate feel of a poorly-performed proctology exam.  Eventually, I’ll scan unsympathetic websites with computer-generated reviews and unhelpful check-out personnel and start downloading books.  I imagine myself reminiscing about the days when the slow turn of a leather-bound cover and the smell of dusty pages could set me into dreamland.  Depressing eh?

But then, here I am, writing, like all other idiots who have nothing to say and too much arrogance not to say it.

By ccxander

Sick! Send soup! –An alliterative illness.

Woke up this morning with one of those scalding feelings in the lungs, the ones where you know the next four days are going to be spent relieving your body of things grey and green and boogery.  Being attacked by a virus has always haunted me.  I once saw flies feasting on roadkill, the way they buzzed about invading parts that we all know shouldn’t be invaded, and then carried fleshy pieces off to their lair – or wherever the hell flies live – presumably to feed their young.  I imagine that is what is happening inside of me right now.

They say sleep is supposed to help – that and liquids – as though I could drown the little bastards as they prey upon my cells.  Personally, I don’t buy any of these modern medicinal remedies.  I’m forty-one now, and in my lifetime, the length of a flu or cold, has not changed for even a minute. When I get sick, it is for four days, whether I sleep or run or attempt to power through a hot yoga class or stick my face above a pot of hot steam or ingest four pounds of ginger and garlic or down twelve zinc lozenges (does anyone else hate the word lozenge?) or put two shots of tequila on the soles of my feet, or any other medieval remedy currently making its way around Southern California’s “obscure medicinal cures for the morbid and depressed.”  How is it possible – man on the moon, nano-tech, the whole genetic sequencing thing – that we can’t reduce the length of a common cold?

The sad part is, the friggin’ thing probably came from some kid’s snot on a water fountain, and the little twerp is currently running around complaining about cooties or crapping himself in a way that only your average ninety-seven year old could understand while infecting half the damn city.  How do these things start?  Are these viruses just chilling out somewhere waiting for one of us to pick them up and distribute to the population, or do they spend some time in human hosts evolving and adapting and figuring out ways to survive?  Because that is my fear, that right now, inside of me, an entire evolution is going on, with tiny strains of mutant DNA mutating and adapting and preparing to infect other people.

The point here is I’m staying inside for a few days, to place all of these adaptations on the furniture and counters of my house.  I’m protecting greater society from intense infection.  If you should feel the need to reward such courage and heroism, please send it in the form of chicken soup, not because it will cure me, but because I’m not in the mood to cook tonite.  Thank you for your support.

By ccxander

Waiting for good news

When I was younger, I watched the news, believing, this is going to provide me with an education about the world.  There was just a general assumption that because these were televised adults, they had some sort of knowledge that allowed them to preach to others.  Having now reached the age of questionable maturity, WOW was I wrong.

Watching today’s news takes effort.  The new equation is: Reporting is subservient to political ideology is subservient to sensationalism.  Here are today’s headlines, although I have taken the glib liberty (note to self: Gliberty would be a phenomenal new word of the day) of placing well-paired ones next to each other:

Kim Kardashian “My butt is real”–Why you’ll save more at the pump

TSA forces 95 year old woman to remove diaper–Bodies of 6 climbers found

A sex trafficker’s worst nightmare–NZ police hopeful penguin may recover

Low fat cooking methods—Candidate loves street food

5 surprisingly raunchy destinations–Gallery: photos of Paris

New York hosts gay parade–Chinese activists silent after release

The point here is that we might consider a re-definition of the word “news.”  What is it?  Just a series of depressing murders, and celebrity fuck-ups, and fires?  Or maybe a political expose of a Congressional sexual escapade or some poll result?

I think news should add something to your knowledge base, or prepare you for the upcoming days.  News might motivate you to do something positive, or even extraordinary.  Maybe I don’t want to hear that a soldier died, but rather, that a soldier died performing a heroic act, or on some mission to aid a foreign citizen.  Maybe stories about the strength of the human spirit and how fortitude can empower, would receive better ratings than recitations of crime statistics or hurricane damage.

With society becoming more cynical everyday, conceivably someone in one of those ivory tower offices could take a glance down upon the populous and figure out that this nation was founded upon hope and determination, and then reflect those traits in the news.  Or maybe that’s too much to ask. After all, penis tweets and celebrity pregnancies are pretty fascinating fodder.

Anyway, I’m skipping the news tonight.  Heading over to the used bookstore to see if I can find a copy of CC Xander’s Skimming the Fishbowl.

By ccxander

Blank

There’s an old cliché that goes something like, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Well, what if you just don’t have anything to say?  Imagine waking up and having no thoughts or comments on anything?  Is that weird?  That’s what happened to me this morning.  I sat down to write this blog and stared at the blank page and for the first time in my life, everything stayed blank.  Forty years of odd experiences on this planet and I am suddenly besieged by an absence of internal noise.

They say the Buddhists search for these moments, the inner tranquility where the mind is quiet and ones inner thoughts retain the stillness of a placid lake.  Apparently it requires a kind of mental control.  Frankly, it scares the crap out of me.  What if I have lost the ability to think? What if last night’s final thought “I’d give my left ….for a piece of chocolate cake right now” was, in fact, the final act of my brain?

I know it tends toward hypochondriacal thinking, but at some point our brain really is just going to stop working.  We are going to move from a conscious, neuron-firing, grey-mattered computer, into a slab of pink-turning-grey meat.  Surrounded by some sort of ethereal music, someone is going to stand over us, and feel an overwhelming sense of loss, suffer the massive life-changing realization that someone’s innocence has been stripped from them, like a rupture in humanity.  And we are going to enter into another arena with some obscure facial expression that we’ll wear for all eternity.

I guess what I’ve learned from today’s entry is that even though I might not have anything nice to say, I still think I should say it, because at some point, I won’t be able to say anything at all.  But then, maybe that would make the world a better place too.

By ccxander

LMAO!

What is it about Hollywood’s magical history that makes actors, with talent levels slightly above your average 3rd grade theater extra, believe they can achieve fame and fortune?  Spent a few hours down around Hollywood and Highland yesterday – Johnny Depp costumes, obscure street performances, humanity’s genetic cesspool – observing the cadre of aspiring actors whose inability to perform is reminiscent of that ol’ American idol star, William Hung, he of the angry goose intonation and vocal control of a runaway freight train.

At some point, the performance becomes surreal.  For example, in one of the small theaters of the Hollywood Fringe festival – a showcase for upcoming talent (read: no prayer in the world) – a comedian/school teacher assaulted the stage with an unwitty combination of bad puns, ill-advised humor, and a series of jokes so unfunny as to make me consider walking to the stage and punching her in the neck, forcefully.  But I didn’t. Instead I sat there and laughed, forcefully, the sort of laugh that brings the threat of a heart attack or a  bowel movement (neither of which occurred, thankfully). It was uncontrollable, a performance so powerfully poor, that laughter was the only remedy.

And that laughter re-enforced this “comedian,” who was the perfect incarnation of being laughed at and not laughed with. She prattled on, louder and with greater enthusiasm, until the spasms and snorts turned silent as I lost my ability to breathe.  Eventually, and to her dismay, I removed my sweating self from the audience.  I can only imagine her post-performance comments of how she “killed it” today.

With all of these reality shows, I think the whole idea of human mockery is becoming ubiquitous.  We’ve reached a point where we feel more joy laughing at someone who believes they have talent, than appreciating one who does.  I think there is something wrong with that.  I think it says something about our society that we applaud the stupidity of others because it makes us feel superior to them, as though we are more grandly aware of our inabilities than they are, and therefore, better people for not showcasing our ineptitude.

There is an old phrase that goes something like “Tragedy is when you trip and fall, comedy is when someone else does.”  I guess I agree, although I’d like to believe that I’m the kind of person who might be willing to stop them before they fall. Yesterday, however, I wasn’t.  And it was friggin’ hilarious!

By ccxander

The Thing I Want Most

When I was a child, Mom and Dad would wipe my nose and band-aid my wounds. I’d sleep in their bed and huddle between the warm bodies that protected me from the monsters and goblins who threatened my every-night’s existence.  They’d feed and clothe me in ways that suggested security was omnipresent.

By eight years old, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Those puffy white spacesuits with the silvery attachments that apparently allowed one to travel through the galaxy with reckless abandon. I imagined myself racing comets and landing on oddly-shaped asteroids and dropping in on alien households for a quick bite.

At age twelve, I turned my attention to athletics, the rackets and bats and balls calling to me with the latent possibility of heroism inherent in every throw or kick.  Practicing against playground walls, I’d envision those cliché transformative moments when the clock was running out and the world’s survival rested upon my performance, and then with a prodigious swing, watch as the unbridled enthusiasm of youth launched a valiant drive into the bleachers to win the game.

In my eighteenth year, an ethical calamity sparked an inward journey to discover my fundamental beliefs as a man.  Addressing issues of political dissidence, moral imperatives, and the discovery of personal principles, life centered less around external stimulation than internal meditation. It was, in a word, a trial.

After a quarter century on the planet, academia finally intrigued me. Those leather-bound archives with the dusty scent and faded pages that bled the internal angst of long-deceased authors called to me in a way that your average Doctor-Without-Borders would understand.  In cold mists beneath orange-tinted streetlights, I read alone, and absorbed.

By thirty-two, business interests took hold and I wanted to see the world, explore the globe and the cultural nuance of humanity’s various tribes. History, empathy and tradition -, thirteen year-old Ethiopian warlords, orphaned Tibetans, London liberals – all brought a new perspective to this man’s existence.

Now passing my fourth decade, I want for one thing…

…to be a child again.

By ccxander

Why do you think like that?

Ever wonder how people – raised in the same city, in the same schools, sometimes even in the same family – can have such radically different political views?  One person wants higher taxes for the wealthy while the other wants lower taxes so the wealthy will hire more workers. One thinks a woman’s right to privacy outweighs the right to life for a fetus, while the other believes the opposite.  One stands behind death penalty and the other opposes it with a will. Is it something in our DNA, our parenting, our social environment, which causes us to differ so vehemently?  Everywhere I go, I hear political dissension among people.

When I was younger, I used to dislike other people for their opposing political views –pretty ignorant eh?  Now, armed with a more global perspective, it seems to me we’re pretty naïve to think we’re even close to getting it right. I’m starting to think we’ve come to a transformational crossroads as a nation.

There is something dastardly about this two-party monopoly on the system. The coming generation of 30 and 40-somethings is more tolerant, have had more access to the global arena, and out of necessity, tend to process information faster than their progenitors. And at the moment, neither party represents them.

But if we step outside our borders and look at the incredible number of political theories on the global horizon, perhaps we can find a solution to our ills.  Maybe there is a candidate or a party out there who engenders the political courage to bring something original to the table.  Or better yet, maybe that person is not blessed with a political mindset at all, but rather, an inherent understanding of humanity.

I guess what I’m driving at, on this ninety-degree morning where the sun is pouring through the windows and echoing sounds of seagulls bounce of the furniture, is maybe people’s opinions come from their life experience.  Maybe they form principles and beliefs based on things that have happened to them, and not according to some political ideology.  And maybe that slow fucker in the fast lane is having an anxiety attack over his kid’s cancer treatment and I should stop cursing at him.  Maybe the convenience store employee who can’t count my change properly is stressing over his own credit card payment and I should refrain from using the word “idiot” just a little longer.  Perhaps the waiter’s mother is in labor and the reason he can’t figure out how to place my order in a way that makes anything I wanted end up on the plate is because he is worried she might not make it through the pregnancy.  Maybe adding a little compassion and empathy for another’s plight can create a sense of harmony sorely needed in today’s discordant world.

And maybe people who attempt to write blogs about things that could be considered socially relevant feel obligated to add humor and cynicism in order to keep from sounding like complete jackasses.

Wow, I go downhill quickly!

By ccxander

Downloading dumbass and uploading smartass

My parents programmed me.  I am the moral equivalent of a proverb. The golden rule and don’t lie or cheat or steal.  Look a person in the eye when you speak. Work hard and stay disciplined. Not everything in life is fair and you make your own bed so lie in it.  Be kind to your fellow man. A veritable litany of cliché advice derived from centuries of weird parenting pamphlets and theology-based ethics.

School programmed me.  I am the software equivalent of a five paragraph essay, a long division answer, a reiteration of historical fact, a proven scientific hypothesis. Expressing the entire archive of my academically-learned knowledge only requires a Jeopardy template.  I can pass standardized tests with winged Crayolas and make objectionable reinterpretations of trite phrases like flying colors.

Society programmed me.  I am the civilian equivalent of “don’t rock the boat.” Spare a dime for a brother. Do no harm. Recycle. Don’t speed. Just say No. Don’t drink and drive. Got milk?

The workplace programmed me.  I am the laboring equivalent of a drone bee. Work hard and you’ll achieve.  Upward mobility is possible.  Entrepreneurialism offers great benefits. Time is money. Greed is good.

Somewhere along the path to forty, my software expired, or rather, became outdated. I feel like a computer who’s been blessed with artificial intelligence, but preprogramming bends and breaks before the brunt of human consciousness.

Recently I hacked into myself and performed a sort of identity theft.  I’ve replaced the antiquated disks with thoughts from the cloud. I am now CC nth.0 (nth-point-oh).  My new software runs on global perspective and adapts to circumstance.  It sifts information for utilization and then returns it to the cloud.  Being able to dump facts and figures for the opportunity to think creatively provides for a more agile intellectual process. The world has changed.  Have you?

By ccxander

What do you know unequivocally?

Oh sure, I’ve read that the most successful people maintain lists of things they want to accomplish over the short-middle-long-term and then spend hours practicing their rituals in pursuit of those objectives and then hit age thirty-five with twenty million in the bank and unhappy marriages and spoiled kids and the miscellaneous mistress and the overly-indulgent cocaine habit that allows them to continue to set new goals and spend their early morning hours with wide-eyed enthusiasm and jittery limbs in pursuit of something that will take away the pain of a lost childhood and an absent adolescence and tortured twenties and no concept of changing anything in the near future, shrinks and Cialis and Viagra and personal trainer notwithstanding.

Maybe this whole “goals-thing” is askew.  Maybe defining success by what you’ve done and what you have is just a different way of avoiding who you are. I think a lot of people achieve tremendous success at avoiding who they are.  I’m not referring to those narcissistic explorations of body weight and other self-quantifying endeavors.  Nor do I seek inquiry into emotional connectedness or personal optimism in the face of adversity or any of that rampant self-empowerment psychology related to positive thinking.

Instead, I’m wondering if you’ve ever posed the genuine questions of yourself?  What are my core values – those things I am certain of, and those things upon which I would never compromise?  What do I believe, completely, on principle, without doubt? What motivates me to action? Because having that foundation might make setting and achieving goals a wholly different adventure.

And so today I am making a list of goals:

I will beat the crap out of anyone I witness beating a child – I know this for sure.

I will help all people have the freedom to determine their fates, regardless of social status, race, intelligence, or national boundaries.

I will value loyalty and compassion above compensatory materials like Ferraris.

I will respect a person willing to work for something, regardless of the labor’s name etc.

I will avoid setting self-quantifying goals until I can identify that which motivates my actions.

See, this is what happens when I don’t get enough sleep!

By ccxander