Why I’m considering radical extremism…

Today I’ve decided to join the radical extremists who impose terror on Judeo-Christian-Islamic etc.  nations.  The whole religion “thing” just seems too farcical for my taste.  David Foster Wallace offers this compact little anecdote to connect the dots.

There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.'” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”

The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.

Throughout history, religious wars have made up the lion’s share of imprudent killings.  It’d be easy to suggest that terrorism against a Judeo-Christian-Islamic etc. nation is, in essence, an anti-religious act and therefore another stain upon humanity in the name of religion.  However, I’m going for something on a grander scale.  Let’s just wipe ‘em all out.  Thin the herd, as it were.

Think about it. All we’d have left is a few agnostics and a bunch of athiests.  No one to question where we came from or whether evolution is theory or fact.  The toughest question would be whether the chicken or the egg came first and, more importantly, whether either is on the breakfast menu.  We’d have a whole host of new places to hang out. Lord knows churches, Mosques, synagogues and shrines etc. are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, not to mention the better seating options.  Imagine all those vacant street corners without the religious zealot – his worn-through Birkenstocks and sasquatch-like beard and expired breath mint  – preaching the words of some prophet to all within listening distance.  Imagine just letting a sneeze or an orgasm go without comment.  Imagine how much more fun you’d make your life if you knew this was all there was.

Ok, so you caught me.  This is an April Fools diatribe.  I’m not joining any radical extremist, anti-religious terrorism group.  I just thought that the Sunday morning before Easter might be a fun time to fuck around with the Almighty.  I’m hoping the big fella has a sense of humor.

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By ccxander

High School Girls and Lotteries

I used to know this girl in high school.  Chocolate-colored hair, Malibu Canyon curves, light-up-a-room smile.  When she’d tip from the waist to open her locker, hundreds of masculine eyes would drift East and West to gather a glimpse.  She’d rest her books atop her chest and parade around campus with the sort of seductive slink that causes your average male teen to blush and require a chair.   Locker room talk included terms like “hot” “smoking” and the crass, circa late eighties refrain, “doable.”  She spent little time eyeballing anyone young enough to require a fake I.D. and even the insignificant flirtatious glances she tossed out to assuage the student population, felt more like a philanthropic gesture than anything encouraging.  I adored her. Which brings me to the point.

Yesterday, the lottery was worth $640 million dollars.  For the last several weeks, its ascending value has grown in convenience store windows across the land.  When it passed the nine-figure mark, I felt that familiar sub-waist, mid-seam pang, the salacious mating call of the financial temptress.   All those high school fantasies returned – the rolling around on the bed with her, the free-flowing frenzy as legs and arms flailed about, the joyful screams followed by the ecstatic fall back onto the pillow and she falls on top of me.   Her allure was too strong.  I folded.  At $640,000,000, I purchased a ticket.  This morning I awoke to the disappointing news.  She was sleeping with some Grandpa on the east coast.

When will I ever learn!

By ccxander

…the old man is snoring.

It is eight a.m. and Mother Nature’s tears are falling down my window with the sort of slow crawl one would expect from a day’s depression.  There is an incessant thup thup of raindrops upon my roof and the sky is the color of wet cement. Outside, things have a swelling about them.  The avian silence is disturbed only by the whoosh of passing cars and the thupping.

Strange things happen beneath Los Angeles stormclouds:  Licensed citizens lose their ability to steer vehicles and Triple-A trucks appear like beach lifeguards during riptides.  Botoxed eyes become become wider, as though waterlogging has taken place, only to later dehydrate into dermatological rivulets.  Three-hundred dollar Brazilian-blowout haircuts experience post-ejaculation-like collapses.  People who live in towns named Sherman Oaks and Calabasas wear galoshes while impish youth jump in puddles and yell things like “Galoshes Kiboshes Boboshes” until you feel your ears start to bleed.  Seriously drunk men dressed in Leprechaun outfits parole the streets singing odd Irish dittys and shouting obscene limericks with enough vigor to make your average family man cringe.  Upturned lips now succumb to some insurmountable gravitational pull, as though trying to keep up with the sagging pants and un-lifted breasts now frequenting the urban jungle.  Valet parking attendants bitch, a lot.   Housewives carrying fierce-faced children in leftward-pulling strollers shout things like “dammit” and then “DAMMIT,” heedlessly.  Grown men sport folded newspapers above their heads – presumably to ward off the downpour – but effectively creating a shredding, toilet-papery mass that crumbles against their still-soaked hair in a way that reminds one of a sparse winter on the ski slopes.  Everyone walks like Quasimodo or has that “I don’t know” hunch we all get when asked questions like ‘If you dig a hole through the center of the earth and jump in, will you stay at the center because of gravity?’  In order to avoid inch-deep puddles, people perform awkward hops ending with two-toe-landings and graceless spins. nCar wash owners amble around with lemon-sucking expressions.  In parking lots, small children rotate their heads back and forth in ADHD-ish amazement at the apparent seductiveness of windshield wipers.  Individuals, who’ve never performed a cardiovascular movement, run at full tilt, pounding high heels or patent leather shoes into wet sidewalks as coffee-drinking onlookers sit and wait for the inevitable slip.  Sunscreen sales subside. Dogs endeavor to bite running water in ways that make one think “Rabies.”  Rational people experience near-orgasmic screams and preternatural arousal over the very natural and everyday occurrence known as a fucking rainbow.  Surrounded by other executives, male employees exhibit amateurish humor by pretending to poke female derrieres with the spikey ends of damp umbrellas, regrettably.  Folks who grew up in Los Angeles and never purchased anything thicker than a long sleeve t-shirt now run around huddled and shivering and wishing they’d whisked out the ol’ Visa for a jacket at some point in their blessed lives.

This is LA in the rain….and some parts of the world would give their house for a few drops of water….

By ccxander

Perspectives on the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament

Sub-Saharan temps surround thousands of tank-topped tennis aficionados ardently supporting their champions.  Two gladiators brandish rackets parabolically, as fluff the color of dandelions arcs across the arena.  In plastic chairs, a few referees’ rumps grow sore, while others spend their daylight hours leg-spread, hands to knees, staring down a vertical white line and periodically screaming “Owrghhtt!” with near reckless abandon. With their lemonade ices, at least three fans are bordering on something romantic. Across the palm tree-laden desert, tennis fans snake through the sands in hopes of sitting courtside while the world’s greatest players compete for the title. This is Indian Wells tennis.

Before Charlie Pasarell sold the Indian Wells tennis tournament to business mogul Larry Ellison, he played a critical role in the transformation of the city into a tennis mecca.  Decades ago, the tournament was a small tour event held at La Quinta Hotel. Today, the event draws the sport’s elite actors while boasting the most fan-friendly site one can fathom.  Factor in L.A.’s sports crowd, the thousands of greying resident/volunteers, and the local juniors who act as ball kids, and tennis is to Indian Wells what wine is to Napa Valley.

Conditions here are variable.  Before a mountainous backdrop, high winds may accompany speed limit temperatures. Then again, during the tournament, static palm trees, and enough heat to cause a swamp-ass epidemic, may appear. Professional players know the next-day’s weather like doctors know maladies.

Outside the stadium, the practice courts play host to celebrities – inside the tennis world – who are knocking the snot out of the ball in ways that make the five-deep audience moan like Bangkok massage rooms.  Rafael Nadal arrives to thundering applause and shyly lifts a lock of his hair in gratitude. Several prominent athletes perform cranial-busting anaerobic drills in preparation for their evening matches.  There is a lot of awkward grunting.  Nadal seems more sculpted than reproduced, and lassoes his forehand with the sort of unmitigated belief that only very sick people know.  Andy Murray has a new swagger about his aggressive game but still curses often through typically British teeth.

The bathroom lines stretch and host eerie men who say inappropriate things like “First I dropped off the kids, and now I’m dropping off breakfast.”  Beneath the enormous scoreboard, several sun-screened folks catch catnaps while a group of children are having a helluva go at overpriced doughy pretzels.  On the grounds, sponsors and vendors host display tents to hawk obscure tennis products and podgy hot dogs, which your average thinking man might think twice about before eating.  Next year, tournament directors might consider placing some orange-cone-serving-targets inside the men’s urinals.

Indian Wells’ appeal stems from Pasarell’s commitment to the spectator experience. Fans can get almost close enough to help Rafa extract his Fruit of the Looms.  Now that Ellison has built stadiums for every court, devotees can spot their champions from all vantages. One minute, enthusiasts can catch the Bryan Brothers battling against colossal Serbians, and then with a short trot, glimpse Wawrinka banging unsympathetic backhand winners from ten feet away.  In this tennis oasis, bliss abounds.

Players travel with security guards to ward off the signature-hungry fans who believe an ATP autograph will carry weight back at the local watering hole.  Female players take to the practice courts in sports bras and spandex loincloths that seem more appropriate for shorelines than baselines.  There is an NBA-ish thing about the doubles players. Adjacent to the practice courts, a grass field hosts players and coaches throwing footballs, kicking soccer balls, performing sprints against elastic devices that any entrepreneurial rice-paddy farmer might consider well-suited for oxen.

Up in the players lounge, some athletes engage in PlayStation battles, while others descend into dark leather couches and flick through foreign literature.  Djokovic and Ivanovic are the current foosball title-holders and Novak goes Mexican-soccer-announcer every time he scores. In the early rounds of the event, table tennis tables are at a premium.  Apparently, Indian Wells finalists prefer the bigger stage.  Inside the gym, girls with hefty quadriceps pedal stationary bikes and wait for the tournament desk to call their match time.  If one tries to make conversation with them, they emit something close to a growl.

Beneath the main stadium, competitors stroll labyrinthine hallways, passing photos of champions past, on their way to the competitive arena.  The player’s cafeteria offers international cuisine, although most of the guys devour pastas while the women stick to things from the ground or trees.  For drinking, the players have their own refrigerator – thermoses and bottles wrapped in three-ply aluminum and labeled with player’s names -presumably so no one with some illegal substance will drop something that would cause a two-year ban and the ire of the international tennis community.  East of the cafeteria two pear-shaped coaches smirk guiltily in front of a cookie wrapper pile.

In stadium suites, executives and their colleagues pay premium prices for refrigerated drinks and wait-service.  Thousand-thread count suits hover over potbellied weekend-warriors, who slurp salmon slices and sip champagne, as they pat themselves on the backs for witnessing the greatest player’s in the game’s history, comfortably.  No one here holds Toyota Camry keys.

 

 Tournament volunteers come from the senior citizen’s center and many have been part of this event for two decades.  Those attempting to use the electronic ticket scanner resemble Kubrick’s chimps, arthritically.  Foot traffic frequently stalls behind elderly men whose mothball-scented shirts and gangly ear hair cause young children to point and lift half their upper lip, and one gets the sense that if this tournament weren’t going on, the local Denny’s would be booming.

This year, all of the courts come equipped with Hawkeye, so players ranked 105 can challenge calls with the same abysmal inaccuracy as those ranked inside the top 10.  When Marcos Baghdatis challenges a line call, he smiles at the umpire first.  Off the record, lines people experience something close to arousal when their calls are confirmed.

The locker rooms are a language school, with eastern European “Kh’s” Chinese “Xing’s” and South American vowel endings merging in such a way that the only real means of communication is with facial expressions and unsubtle gestures, which, when combined with the half-naked well-sculpted bodies, makes the whole scene look like a soft-porn aerobics video.  Players casually observe matches on small TV’s and make un-bold predictions about outcomes.  The number of ATP abdominals is directly proportional to the WTA’s great legs.

Match sounds include violent squeaks, orgasmic screams, post-ace golf claps interspersed amongst heroic-point roars, patriotic praises, and the random idiot whose desire to be heard is almost as unattractive as the shag carpeting growing north from the back side of his beltline.  Winners complete on-court interviews and offer grateful waves to the crowd.  Draws narrow and losers head out to the local golf courses.  As darkness descends, three autographed-balls leave the winners racket and head up into the evening sky, falling softly into outstretched hands. While the desert air cools, crickets start to chirp.  Tomorrow’s schedule comes out at ten p.m. Tonight though, the hot tub beckons.

By ccxander