Al Gore wants to save you and I want you to DIE!

Tonight marks the near end of the mildly publicized National Green week. Corporations nationwide are rallying their efforts to persuade you that they are doing what they can: to lower their pollutant emissions, or lessening their carbon footprints, greasing their assholes, increase recycling efforts and other tree hugging methods of enjoying life a little less splendidly. Contrary to what the blog title states, I don’t necessarily “…want you to DIE!” but rather enjoy yourself. Americans have grown accustomed to the long legacy of making the rest of the world our foot stool why should we stop now? Our disregard for other countries and cultures beyond our economical or ‘civic’ interest is what makes this country so damn great. Where else can the term ‘from rags to riches’ truly have merits?

Yes the North American landscape at one time was a lot lusher but our industrial deforestation was paramount in our eventual rise to world power-dom. Sweet sweet industrialization has set the precedent of modern industry of which the world economy functions… the economy sucks now but the international economic community is relatively a new concept as the world has only just got smaller after the end of the cold war and the emergence of the internet. Why stop now when there’s so much work to be done? America may eventually gay it up and set the standards on green living in decades to come but force the third world to stop what little productivity they can scrounge because they’re poisoning a few rivers? Should we ask China to lower their emissions ergo shut down plant productivity and return a percentage (of over a 67* million) of struggling impoverished near slave class back to grovel into fields which they’d work and never own? I’m sorry but if I didn’t know a life outside of making 15 cents a day you bet your sorry ass I’d be livid should some granola eating NPR-tard protested my few shillings away.

The world is a jack fuck roller coaster of which we all have to ride. Humanity cant exist without exploiting the exploitable which is the sure fire-able reason why 1st world nations exists in a sea of countless 3rd world countries. You cant condemn a country or a culture for doing what it can to survive even as frivolous as it seems in the “civilized” world. So eat a steak, don’t exercise, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drive fast, because the concern of the world isn’t your responsibility; instead try not being a dick to one another first.

“Going” Green Ranger out

The Rhetoric Prince

In my expedition to live healthier I’ve been medically advised that there is a direct correlation between my mental and physical states. We’re not talking, braving a cold or being utterly too batshit crazy function; a further explanation reveals that the hungrier I am the more depressed I get due to my preliminary stage diabetes which actually works out for me because I don’t have any aspirations to live past 60. Being the starving artist that I am (no pun intended) I can’t afford the recommended five meals a day to keep me from my sociopathic tendencies therefore my artistry reflects my strife. My inspiration is drawn from fear and desperation; my lyrics are derived from obscure social mishaps and avid resentment of today’s popular culture.

My ailments stated, I’ve found alternative means of remedying myself which have had positive results. A daily workout releases endorphins as well as sugary snack every four hours or so peaks dipping blood sugar levels but what I’ve discovered is that now in my new placid and controlled state I’ve lost a considerable amount of creativity as well as inspiration to do art. I’ve traded creativity for normality which quite bluntly fucking sucks.

Of course I’m not cured, and never will be, as I struggle to delay the inevitable but the sheer assholery of it all, is acquiring the residual clinical depression which was brought about by prolonging a diagnosis of this condition.

I’ve been in this state of misery for so long that I’ve learned to function and somewhat make a living off of it but a simple change of diet and I’m “fine” for the low price of creativity? If you knew me personally then you’d know that I’ve a have a speech for you in which I’d ask you look at the absurdity that is your disgusting life and ask you, “What would you do to change it?” I’d ask you to look out side of your shitty little anonymous internet world and grab life by short and curlies and be damned if your one and only fear would be how you were perceived.

I never had an agenda it was more of (now- realized) sense paranoia of a corporate world that excludes me in their demographic and quite honestly, I’m saddened because this is one of the first signs of old age. I know better now; my frustration with the world although permanent can easily be swayed by a bowl of pasta.

but please, don’t let my rants antagonize you from picking up the new lady ga ga CD you fucking dipshit.

Green Ranger

Grinning Garbage-eaters

We are the crayfish eaters
Right here in Bishop Hill
We are the crayfish eaters
Right here in Bishop Hill
See how many crayfish you can
Eat eat eat!
See how many crayfish you can

I had an awful Saturday. I know I don't usually come here to journal (from the Latin journar, "to bitch about one's day"), but this is just a story I have to share. It is a tale of deception, harrowing escapes and a little shit brat whom I would gladly behead.
Last week I was asked by a "friend" if I wanted to attend a crawfish dinner and swing dance party, $5 admission. My initial misgivings against shellfish were assuaged with "there will be Swedish meatballs, too." Seeing as how the only things getting me out of the house these days are working out and Bible study, I said "sure." I then signed an agreement to attend in my own blood, using a raven's feather for a pen.
It turns out "come" means "help set up for a dinner you have no interest in eating." The long and short of it is I wasted a couple of hours setting tables and cutting bread. I did it all with a shit-eating grin.

That's the one.

This whole thing was a Swedish "cultural" event, in the sense that culture is an amalgamation of stupidity and garishness. So, everything was decorated with crawfish and we had to wear stupid hats. These included sskullcaps with graffiti-like designs of black people eating hot dogs, "Cat in the Hat" types and even a couple of jesterly choices. Of course, in the spirit of "ausgeshlofen," as the Germans call it, I could not be let alone when I didn't want to wear a stupid hat, despite the excellent hair day I was having. Oh, no, I just had to put on a hat that screamed to the world, "I have embraced the Swedish ways with a tie-dye yarmulke."

This androgynous sap has my envy, for shit's sake.

Then the old people arrived. I don't know why I thought an event I was invited to by a woman in her early 20s would have more people in my age range, but there you have it. I could talk to my Bible study group, but most everyone else could remember Pearl Harbor and when "grifter" was something you could put on your W-2. The only exceptions were two of the men at my table. Trying to strike up a conversation, I asked, "so what do you guys do?"
"I farm."
"I'm a butcher at Jimmy Dean's."
Polite speech would then include, "what do you do?" But no, they didn't care, being so boorish I could have stabbed them with my fork. Instead, I got to listen to them discuss rain while another guest at my table wheedled his inanity. Sure, this kid was at least 12, but why act your age when your farmer daddy will placate you, since your his son; the man was clearly embarrassed by his daughter, which perplexed me because his son was a little hellion.
I was trying to acclimate over a dinner of crawfish, and that was the big problem. I had been hungry for hours, and when I'm hungry, I'm irritable. And when all I have to eat is this:

This is how it's served, by the way.

I was in little mood to eat, especially since the process of eating these bugs includes the step "suck the salt water out." I do not eat anything I have to fellate first. Of course, this didn't stop the aforementioned wheedling, which I received from the little shit and the two "adults."
"Try a crawfish."
"No, thank you."
"No, you should try one."
"I'd rather not. It has eyes."
"Try it."
"I respectfully decline. I don't really like seafood."
Then the kid really sets in. "Do you like shrimp?"
"Crab's legs?"
"Is it seafood?"
"Then no!"
I was sick of this stupid shit and it wasn't getting any better, thanks to our coordinator denying anyone access to the side dishes (fruit salad, another fruit salad, Swedish meatballs, Swedish meatballs in gravy, potatoes, potatoes in cheese) until some of those crawfish had been eaten.
Then it happened: the kid, this fat kid in a Junior Football League shirt decides it would be funny to put the thorax (if you remember that as an insect term, good for you: the crayfish is an insect) on his finger. This sort of behavior seemed asinine to me when I was his age, younger, even. My parents would also have known better than to have let me be so obstreperous. Instead, the shit shows his grandmother, who swoons and takes a picture.
Encouraged, despite my snide remark about a rule I remember hearing about playing with your food, Little Shit decides to go for five on his fingers. He succeeds, but starts complaining about how cold it is, as the pickled monsters are not heated, but served from frozen, being precooked. The salt water drips down his arm, prompting him to fashion a napkin wrist band.
His father says nothing, his grandparents continue to beam with pride at the child brandishing their collective failure to rear a human being deserving of air. The obvious happens: 10! With some help, Little Shit gets 10 thoraxes on his chubby little digits. Pictures are taken, and I continue eating my fruit salad, the only thing available without massive fat, making it unlike Little Shit.
Eventually, I mention to one of my friends at the table that I went to Yorkwood High School, which prompts a response from Farmer Shit. Apparently, he went there, decades ago. The best conversation I had at dinner beyond the cost of visiting Sweden (ranking that 1 of 2) was about a high school I hated and doesn't even exist anymore. People around here are so interesting.
After dinner, I start helping clean up a little. I help very little, in fact, because I was duped into this awful experience and I knew how to look busy, thanks to a lot of time working in food service.
It is around this time I discover my friends, the ones who invited me here, have left. I hunt one down and discover they have gone to the dance party, leaving me behind because I should have had the ESP to know that's how these things went.
When I get to the party, it sounds like Lawrence Welk. It is at this point the evening got tolerable.

-Black Ranger (will eat things with faces, once they're removed)

Because poets are filthy, filty people, that's why.

Coming from the cesspool of Smalltown, America, I've often smelled the reek of willful illiteracy, a stench so strong it could choke a duck. Ducks are smelly animals, by the way. While I would love to combat this chosen ignorance as a whole, it would probably be more worthwhile to conduct sorties against specific stupidities. I will begin by addressing the inanity espoused in the question, which I once heard and I'm almost certain you have too, "why don't poets just say what they mean?"

This is where I grew up.

If we responded, "because they're artists," or, "because they love the craft," or anything similarly esoteric, we'd be speaking a whole different language. We cannot communicate with the dunce on our terms any better than we can understand why they embrace the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. What we do, is we address their base understandings and make the reasoning practical. To point, we wouldn't tell them music uses a minor key to elicit feelings of dread. You say, "sharp violin sounds put you on edge." The person will agree, because violin makes them nervous no matter what, since you never know what those artsy types will do next.
So, let's take a look at poetry and figure out why those queers (odd fellows) like to use such flowery language when they could just say, "you're pretty. Nice weather is also pretty."
I remember a classmate of mine, when reading aloud (which we still did in high school, did you?) mispronounced "tidy." It was not intentional, maybe, but either way it came out "titty." We all had a good laugh and got on with our story, which was probably Mort D'Arthur and probably had something to do with shriveled up "duggs."

My search for "duggs" was surprisingly fruitful.

Now, imagine if you were a poet, and you wanted to get away with telling a dirty joke, and you live in Renaissance Europe, when poetry was probably at its peak. You live in an era in which women can't be on stage, you can't belong to a church other than the monarch's and everyone listens to astrologists because they apparently clung to stuff about not having sex before marriage but didn't get around to Deuteronomy 18:9-11. So, it's not so different from today.
In spite of all this, you want a dick joke in your work. Shakespeare was the man for this. To grab an example from Michael Swaim:

Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

Ophelia: No, my lord.

Hamlet: I mean my head upon your lap?

Ophelia: Ay, my lord.

Hamlet: Do you think I meant country matters?

Ophelia: I think nothing my lord.

Hamlet: That’s a fair thought to lie between maid’s legs.

Ophelia: What is, my lord?

Hamlet: No thing.

Ophelia: You are merry, my lord.

Which doesn't sound so bad, and that's what ol' Willie Shakes was counting on. Swaim goes on to explain that "country matters" is a wordplay for "cunny matters." Hamlet is talking about putting the tip in, how awesome it is and Ophelia responds by telling him what a horndog he is.
This sort of "slipping it in" wasn't just something for the 1600's bullshit piety. You can look in the 20th century and find it, like in e.e. cummings "she being Brand." I mean, he could have literally "oiled the universal joint" or meant "slipped the clutch," but I doubt it.
On a related note, you can use poetry to talk about some gross stuff that is, theoretically, acceptable, but in a more palatable way. Donne is a good example of this in his poem "The Flea."

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be...

At the time, poets used conceits, which is a term for metaphors strethced so thin you could say they were, "condoms over broomsticks." That's a conceit, more or less.

"stretched condom" did not yield great results.

One of these conventional ideas was the idea that sex involved the mingling of blood and this idea was accepted as scientifically sound as the idea of chemo therapy is today ("What is this?" asked Bones. "The Spanish Inquisition?"). What Donne is talking about is, a woman turned him down, but they practically boned because this here flea sucked them both. It was socially kosher, but still weird.
Another good example is his "Song," which reads,

Go, and catch a falling star
Get with child a mandrake root
Tell me where the past years are
Or who cleft the devil's foot
Teach me to hear the mermaids singing
Or to keep off Envy's stinging
And find, what wind
Serves to advance an honest mind

To put that in common English, "here's a list of impossible shit to do. While you're at it, could you tell me how to make bitches not cheat?" Everyone back then would agree with this idea, but just because you believe it doesn't mean you say it. That's rule #1 of prejudiced humor.
Saying what everyone's thinking is a long tradition of poetry, and sometimes everyone's thinking "wow, that sucks." You can talk about some mean stuff with poetry, and Carl Sandburg saw a lot of mean things in the world. By the way, he grew up about twenty minutes from where I did; and he hated it.

Even though they named a mall after him. Whadda douche.

Sandburg's Chicago Poems is one of the best volumes in American literature, representing the Windy City as a brazen, sublime, tormented place.

GOOD-BY now to the streets and the clash of wheels and
locking hubs,
The sun coming on the brass buckles and harness knobs.
The muscles of the horses sliding under their heavy
Good-by now to the traffic policeman and his whistle,
The smash of the iron hoof on the stones,
All the crazy wonderful slamming roar of the street--
O God, there's noises I'm going to be hungry for.

That's from "A Teamster's Farewell" and it's a pretty moving piece. Now, your average journalist might have just said, "another mob peon was arrested and it sucks to be him, locked in a cage for a couple of decades." That journalist might also wake up dead, which is to say, not at all. Sandburg frames it with verse and makes it something to discuss. As an added bonus, he died with his lungs inside him.
Which is a lot of why artists do what they do, how they do: no one disembowels artsy folks. This is mostly because people aren't sure if that will kill us weirdos.

-Black Ranger (rhymes with "sack danger")

You Totally Wish I was Lying

Like you, I live an uninteresting life sprinkled with fits of inspiration and sporadic moments of mild criminal hijinks. My nights are spent mostly trying to convince myself to not debase my weakening moral core and drink myself into adventures. In these transcendental dilemmas I often read on what others are doing to combat the same issues and I find myself almost always, chalking up points to do whatever the hell I feel like doing. Although there might be a out there I’m way too lazy (ahem*) preoccupied to look it up and take notes. I do things the hard way and look for wisdom in blogs, news articles or through conversing with other deviants and wander through life on aimless recommendations. This has brought me to the recommendation to listen to Tila Tequila’s "SUMMERTIME HAS GONE AWAY". Oh how I’d love to write something witty and spiteful about this song but I can’t get past 29 seconds. I listen to it to remind myself why people hurt other people and to tense my supraspinatus to an ass clinching point of uneasiness that can only be described in the feeling of when you’ve witnessed someone getting slapped in public. Surprisingly, I become speechless in those few seconds wondering if some weird joke has been played on me as if “comedian” Jamie Kennedy jumped out from my closet and screamed, “You’ve been X’d!” Yes…that show was on television when I decided to stop watching television and, I know, he was funny in the first Harold and Kumar movie but my insatiable dark comedic thirsts demand more. I think I know what you’re saying America, in assuming that we know each other, you may be asking, “Why bother listening to Tila when you could be looking at her?” and you’re right; Tila’s fame wasn’t based on her music inabilities and far be it for myself, unpopular and talentless, to complain but I do have an observation. From what I understand, fame is subjective and by my mixed up perception of fame: fame is when you’re mere presence is enough to provoke revenue and the interest of the masses in what could be summed up by what I could imagine of what it would be like to be insanely attractive however, in this misogynistic society, the goods eventually have to be exchanged for currency. You can’t tell me that my best friend Tila hasn’t visited the bone zone to get what she has and that’s totally cool (and American!) but average shmucks like you and I have got to have the coin or the endowment of a gorilla to peak behind those drapes. Until then, we get to settle for little snippits of near nude swimsuit pics and heartfelt ballads which, to me, inspire the want to die early. I understand a person’s interest in wanting to see seductive photos and a chance glimpse of a vulva with a very good likelihood of more mileage than a rental car but why bother when there’s perfectly good nudity on countless websites…well except hers so hers so subtract one.

-Green Ranger

Lazy Americans Won't Pick up Their Toys

I was asked to write something for the theme "inanimate life." I didn't point out that that is pretty much also saying "still life," but instead gave it some thought. I decided that while Americans aren't still (Ansel Adams photographed America, not Americans), we are increasingly inanimate. Seriously, find the nearest couch. Is there a person on it? If yes, then poke them. Was the response audible only, or did they move? Did the person poke you back? Are you sitting on your ass at your computer monitor with no intention of performing this little experiment? Excellent.
So I wondered when all this malaise of our once gumption-infused national spirit. I considered the advancements of entertainment media, the sociological faux paz of intellectualism, the proliferation of fatty fast food, a culture rushing around to do nothing, making such a diet attractive. Many of our schools barely have PE, escalators are in McDonald's, "meh" is a rallying cry. I wondered if these were the cause of our doldrums, or merely symptoms. I wanted to know when, if any point or series thereof could be held responsible, we Americans became objects to ourselves.
And, like anyone interested in American history, I looked at this overwheming harem of vaguely tactile trends, considered what and how they are and, realizing I just wanted to play Call of Duty 4, blamed it on Vietnam.
Then, coming back from my game of US Super-Marines of Righteousness v. Dirty, Filthy Hadji OpFor, I sat down to do a little more research and write this article. It was at this point I realized the problem was not Vietnam. 'Nam proved to America that hard work, dedication and criminal defoliates will not always show you right and get you ahead and that, if that's the case, there's no use trying. I mean, if burning an entire country with jellied gasoline that seems to stick to kids especially well, tree-killing chemicals that would make Grand Moff Tarkin blush with their severity and enough VDs that the VCs would have to get some sort of burning urine syndrome, well, what can we believe in anymore? So, yes, we learned not to believe in Vietnam, but we did not learn to not care in that particular hellhole.
Actually, we stopped caring in Korea. I know that doesn't seem likely, as we won the Korean war, but did you know we actually won two Korean Wars? Look it up! you'll find that there was a series of incidents taking place after M*A*S*H* (because all your history is from TV and movies)

Did you know John Adams liked wine and shooting at Clive Owen?

in which there were some altercations between the Democratic (ha) People's (Ha HA!) Republic (now you're just being silly) of Korea. This unpleasantness includes us losing a whole freaking battleship.
That's right. On January 23 1968, in contested waters off the coast of the DPRK, North Korean sailors boarded and captured the USS Pueblo. Guess what the US did.

A) Bombed a country already more pockmarked than Richard Belzer into a quivering submission?

B) Promised them that "A" would not happen if the Pueblo was peacably returned, then do it anyway.

C) Goddamn nothing.

If you guessed "C," you are a cynical bastard. Which, incidentally, also makes you correct.
That's right. We did nothing. Just to put that in contrast, when the SS Mayaguez was captured in 1975, shit went down.
The merchant vessel Mayaguez was in Cambodian-claimed international waters (don't mind that). Coasting along in these calm seas, they noticed a number of US swift boats approaching. These boats were left (see!) by America after the Vietnam War and appropriated by the Khmer Rouge. If you don't know anything about Khmer Rouge, look it up or take my word for it that it's the holocaust of Southeast Asia, except replace "Jews" with "college-educated citizens." Anyway, the crew of the Mayaguez was taken to the mainland for questioning.
The April before, in a Washington Post interview by Tom Braden, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had said, "The U.S. must carry out some act somewhere in the world which shows its determination to continue to be a world power." This can be translated as, "Come on. Give us an excuse. Not that, you know, we need one."
So, of course, America lowered the boom, something akin to Thor's hammer slamming into Pol Pot's skull.

Iron Man is only slightly less facistic than Asia's Hitler.

We went in there and tore those Cambodians apart so well, they didn't even know what hit them! In fact, we weren't sure we hit them! See, the whole thing wasn't planned. The American sailors were fine, and were going to be released unharmed, but we can't let things like facts get in the way.
Or policies, for that matter. The Marines have a saying, "No man left behind." That is a Marine slogan, for Marines. It is not a Navy slogan, so they went ahead and left some Marines behind. Those Marines names are on the Vietnam Memorial because they, I guess, died during the Vietnam War... in Cambodia.
On the other hand, one could consider the USS Liberty incident, in which, during Israel's Six Day War, they bombed the hell out of a US battleship in international waters. Pop quiz.

America responded to the attack on Liberty by:

A) Dropping the big one on Tel Aviv.

B) Negotiating with understanding of the likelihood of friendly fire and coming to a monetary agreement.

C) Become Israel's bitch.

Now, I'm by no means anit-Israel, but you can guess where this is going.
If you compare all these things, you'll see that America just will not clean up its room (the whole world). They leave their toys lying about, and when those playthings are stepped on, America just says, "it's okay. We'll get another." Even when we do go to the effort, we screw it up so badly it defies time (the Vietnam War was rather over) and space (and wasn't supposed to be in Cambodia).
Hell, North Korea has even offered to give the freakin' Pueblo back. All we had to do was go talk to them. It's almost as if America hit a ball into the neighbor's yard and the neighbor says, "look, just have the fat, ugly kid come over here and say you wouldn't mind having the ball back and it's yours."

That kid.

And we said, "no. Thanks." This might explain why we look so silly ot the rest of the world. We are buffoons.
Well I say "no more!" Since our government refuses to stop America from being a beacon of inanimate life, it is up to us, the people, to rouse our fellows to take what's ours. It is up to us to go to North Korea and take back the Pueblo, which is now an only moderatley-guarded museum. Moderately guarded for DPRK, anyway, which is like a lot of guards with assualt rifles, but we can do it! We can restore America's place in the world: the sole of the all-crushing boot. Let's animate, people.
Or, barring that, get up from your computer and take a walk, read a book, something. Me, I'm going to get my many automatic weapons and a ticket to North Korea.

-Black Ranger (can't be seen at night)

How to Fix Health Care, or, I'm so Pissed off I'm Going to Kill Everybody with Hospitals!

Considering the prompt this week is "anger," I looked inside myself to find something angry. After letting scientists know I found the new shortest measurement of time, I proceeded the long process of weeding out the less rewarding idiocies which plague my soon-to-be-embolismic brain. This was no easy task, as the list ranges from little things like doing the dishes, to big things, like American education. Let me share a few choice weeds with you, just so you can appreciate the phosphorus-rich fertilizer of my anger:
  • My future in-laws torment my every waking moment, and I can't return the favor as I should. That is, with bamboo and a hammer.
  • My own parents annoy the hell out of me and I don't know how to make a car bomb.
  • Even if we unfucked the education system, people would still choose to be dumb.
  • Garth Nix is published and I am not.
  • The guy who directed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is remaking The Crow.
  • The food service industry.
  • The continued breathing of many, many celebrities.
  • The continued breathing of many non-celebrities, including Glen Beck (not a celebrity, which is a type of human).
  • My non-existent readership (especially after alienating over half of it with the car bomb comment).
Most of this is not worth writing about, as you know it, I know it, it's rather universal and not worth your time. I'm just sharing. What is worth your time, though, is what pointed me in the right direction. This here article more or less points out what's wrong with American civil discourse, but focuses on the historic position of the health care debate. Any considerate, thinking person knows that the best way to fix our health care is to put the Enzyte people in charge, because if they can make white penis worthwhile, they can do anything.

White: can now pretend to compete with Black!

This sensible approach, though, is frowned upon by the White House. It's not that Barack feels threatened by the idea of a Congress with the confidence of knowing their interns will actually be able to tell they are being sexually harassed, and not just being asked to check the paper tray on the copy machine. He just wants to keep the cracker Senate in its place. It's kind of like what Andrew Jackson did with internal improvements, only with boner pills.
Anyway, to get back on track, that would be the smart thing to do, but would make too much sense and make Capital Hill implode or something. So, the President proposed this crazy idea of offering a government option, so people could get affordable health insurance from the US of A. Republicans were quick to point out, though, that this solution works about as well as fixing a flat tire by adequately patching up the hole and repairing the tread so as to prevent further air leaks and blowouts. The right has raised such poignant criticisms as, "Will our old people be killed with guns, or is our slow neglect of social security problems enough?" "Will universal health care preclude me, despite my living in this universe?" "Is everyone on the left a fagot?" The answers to these questions are, of course, "case by case basis," "the health care is in a different plane of reality" and "some of us are bi."
So, I've polled a representative sample of intelligent dissenters (here defined as "1") and asked them, "Well how would you do it then, Mr. Smartypants?" While Mr. Smartypants, who prefers to be called "Dave," gave an answer that smacked of the intelligence his master's in economics should afford a person, his answer was not funny and won't be recounted. I will, instead, tell you what I think the right would rather do.
I'm pretty sure the right doesn't want the government option because it would increase their taxes. While suitable health care is a privilege, much like education and food, even the right recognizes that there must be a way to save face with the world on this one. Remember, that's the world where every civilized nation except for America has universal health care. Man, it sucks to stand alone next the the river of truth.

Pictured: American Foreign Policy

So the logical thing is to do away with taxes. Taxes are always the problem. Ask any rich person. I know I'm always sick of the poor eating free food at soup kitchens and having finger-cut gloves and all the other things I've always wanted. Those bastards. So, we should get rid of taxes because government uses them to help poor people. Yeah. This makes sense.
If you're asking questions about roads, schools and the Department of Defense, remember, the wealthy can afford Hummers, tutors and security systems. You are a damn leech for wanting these things for a percentage of your income.
The other heinous thing is the public option, and thank God we dodged this bullet, would force the privately insured into spontaneously switching their coverage against their will, because that's what an option is: a compulsory stipulation. The alternative is to do the right thing and make sure everyone who can afford health care gets affordable insurance and the rest of us get HMOs, because we deserve options; options chosen by other people.
Speaking of, that was one of the big gripes: bureaucrats in charge of your health care, standing between you and your doctor. Never mind that there are bureaucrats at hospitals, HMOs, private health insurance companies and just about everywhere else who form a Berlin Wall with Tesla coils designed to keep kids with leukemia from the West Germany of treatment. The right makes the logical argument that bureaucrats are fine for running your government, just not deciding a person with cancer needs medicine they can actually pay for somehow. Stupid bureaucrats.
So the way to fix this, I guess (because I have no idea) the right would suggest putting someone who isn't an administrator of any kind in charge of administrations. And you know who isn't an administrator, but is a doctor and knows a lot about health care? Spider-Man villain The Lizard.

Here you can see the Lizard keeping the Webbed bean counter from putting his feet of unjust politics on a boy. Or something.

Yes, Lizard would be the most valuable member of the pansy, liberal cabinet of Obama's, full of people wanting to do good and help the less fortunate. He would provide the stabalizing force of being albe to eat the others, which is what Republicans know we need in our government.
Which brings me to "death panels." This is something Palin said, and since she's so sharp, I won't question her remarks. All I'll say is, giving a person the choice to undergo grueling procedures or enjoy the time they have left in the company of their loved ones is the same as taking a page from the Soylent Green catalog. We are just this close folks, THIS CLOSE, to becoming a socialist nightmare and NRA president Heston is not here to help us now.
And Heaven knows we need him now more than ever.

-Black Ranger (is happy to have SDIA, the super-immuno disease)

The Smell of Sex (Cuts Down Trees)

There are certain things guys do to prepare for a date. They might dress up real nice. They might even comb their hair, or brush their teeth, or shower. In the attempt to woo a woman (or man, whatever) most men simply struggle to not smell like Fritos and Mountain Dew.
Some people want to be smelly, though. Mostly, these are women as the notion of spraying something on yourself to "smell nice" is a pretty chick thing to do. Sure there's cologne, but firstly, that's unisex and secondly, it's still a gamble. Most guys, being made out fat, crap, of anything but money, will most likely opt for either Calvin Klein or Old Spice. That is to say, fragrances that will enable the wearer to either pretend they have a six pack, or are their grandfather.

You could try mixing them, but this is dangerous.

"But Black Ranger," you say, "what about all these commercials I've been seeing for this Axe stuff? According to these commercials, I won't be able to walk down the street without attracting the rapaciously-strong affection of mobs of strictly and exclusively comely young women."
"Well, my well-spoken friend," I respond, "you're missing out on a couple of facts." This would include the fact that Axe bills itself as a deodorant, but actually has an odor, making that a misnomer, but let's not get into that. We'll be focusing on the body spray, anyway.
"What facts?" you ask, rapt to find out what magic aerosol you can spray on yourself, not to help you overcome your crippling fear of talking to women, but to make it moot. After all, the women in the Axe commercials are running the man down, not the other way around.
"Have you ever smelled Axe?"
Your eyes suddenly narrow, as you can feel me about to crush your dreams of unprotected group sex with a smorgasbord of women who look like the girls who wouldn't talk to you in high school, only hotter. "No..." you say.
Well, friend, read on, and I will burst your bubble like a can of hairspray in a fire. If you're lucky, I might even mix a few more metaphors.
Just while I'm thinking about it, I must point out the questionable wisdom behind naming a fragrance "Axe." To compare, we'll use the common "smell-goods" mentioned earlier: Old Spice and Calvin Klein. These are two brands established enough to be good watermarks. After all, the former was responsible for the Baby Boomers and the latter for the legitimization of male models, or, Old Spice is killing Social Security and Calvin Klein made my self-image plummet. Thanks, bastards.
Anyway, Old Spice is known for its musty, tingly scent. You might even call it "spicy." Its symbol is a sailboat, because the sea smells like manliness, not dead fish and rotting wood. Its ads promise to grow body hair and proclaim its hand in the conception of your parents. Old Spice forces you to grow bushes under your arms and think of your grandparents having sex.

This was considered kinky because that guy is wearing a white bow tie.

Calvin Klein is a more modern brand, but its effect on the brains of men my generation is, while less disturbing than forcing thoughts of ancestral lovin', is no less immutable. Whenever we hear the name "Calvin Klein," we can only think of one thing. No, not designer fashion or the lifestyles of beautiful people who shop at Walgreen's. We think of it as the alias Marty McFly used when he visited his parents in 1955. Unlike his other monikers like "Darth Vader" and "Clint Eastwood," he didn't have to come up with that one himself because his mother found it on his underwear. This was while she was falling in love with him, but before she tried to get Marty to, ahem, park with her. So, yeah, I guess cologne invariably leads to incest.
So Axe has that going for it. At least it's name may only remind you of that scene from American Psycho where Christian Bale splits that guy's head open while playing It's Hip to be Square. Or, if you aren't crazy like me, you think of lumberjacks, which is pretty manly and has nothing to do with people fondling their relatives.
Axe still has a problem though, and it might be the most important problem a scent could have: it smells bad. More accurately, it smells stupid. Not that it started that way, but rather aspired to have the most juvenile and gag-inducing odors to come out of a can, short of that stuff you spray on your couch to keep the dogs from getting on it. Yeah, it's kind of like that, but for women.
Axe started in 1983 in France (strike 1) as a spin-off of Impulse, which was a spray for women (strike 2). Its first three scents were Amber, Musk and Spice. Only Musk, a smell most people associate with caves and attics, is still in production. These three styles make sense, though. While amber doesn't have a smell, it illicits an idea, which I guess would be tree sap. Their spice, I like to think, was probably cumin and paprika, becuase then you could smell like chili, which is pretty manly. So those weren't too bad.
It started getting silly four years later with the Oriental variety, the progenitator of the annual novelty scent line. While I'm not sure what this smelled like, I am prepared to offer a few theories. It smelled like:
1) A Chinese restaurant, a sort of "ode d' cat covered in MSG."
2) A junk boat, with subtle undertones of rancid drinking water to subdue the fish gut base.
3) A Thai ladboy prostitute.
I think these are all equally likely.
After this, there were a number of varietals named for various geographic locations. There was Nevada (because arid wastelands are sexy), Java (think coffee from Southeast Asia: land of 1,000 terrors), Alaska (because frozen wastelands are sexy) and Africa (AIDS).
"I've never heard of this shit," you say. "You're making this up."
Oh, friend, I wish I was. The reason you've never heard of these is because they are all European smells. The US line launched in 2002 with Apollo, Kilo, Orion, Phoenix, Tsunami and Voodoo. Now, I ask you, what the hell do any of these things smell like? Two of them are mythical, one is a unit of measure (for drugs), one's dark magic and the last is full of dead fish.

A recurring theme in modern cologne manufacture.

Fast-forward a few years through the other boring and atrocious Axe sprays to the newest two: Dark Temptation and Instinct.
I'm not sure what Dark Temptation smells like, because the Wikipedia article claims both that it, "did not smell like chocolate, but claimed that it made the user 'as irresistible as chocolate,'" and "A chocolate-smelling fragrance; advertising implies that because women like chocolate, they will find men who smell of chocolate irresistible." Either way, you're irresistible. Understand, I love chocolate, but I don't want to smell like it. This isn't even the problem, though, the problem is this:

Now look at that. He looks like the freaking Golgothan from
Dogma. That's supposed to be irresistible? If you've ever left a Hershey's bar in your pocket, you know that answer's "no." Think about that Hershey bar. Think about how, if you were lucky, it melted in the wrapper. You opened it up and it oozed brown all over your fingers. You couldn't eat that, let alone have sex with it. Now let's say you weren't lucky, that it escaped its confines without your leave. You walked down the street with all that milky candy oozing out the back of your pants. You look like you have diarrehea, which is why you think you need Axe, so you can get the confidence to talk to the women who think you crap your pants. By the way, Axe Pulse makes you dance so well you get the confidence to talk to girls, so there you go. Axe to the rescue.
So, that pretty bad, but possibly not as bad as the newest scent: Instinct. Instinct "includes cardamom, amber, and atlas cedar to produce a spicy scent of leather." This seems like an awful lot of effort to yield a conditioned response in your lady friend's memory banks, namely making her remember the leathery smell of when she lost her virginity in the back seat of her 3rd-string quaterback sort-of boyfriend's faux leather El Camino seat while behind the gas station off the highway and how badly her ass stuck to the bench's cheeseburger wrapper-covered upholstery. Which is to say, Instinct is the smell of romance.
Wikipedia, which is definitely never updated by advertisers in the employ of the article's subject, says, "The advertising campaign features a caveman who sprays the fragrance on himself and becomes irresistible to women. The tag line is "No one can resist a man in leather.'" I would like to call this into question.

Ladies, you know you can't resist.

There's your proof that Axe is sex in a can. Its unique combination of insane names, gross ads and adolescent foolishness is the most sexiest smells on the planet. So, fellas (or ladies, whatever), next time you're getting ready for a date don't forget to style your hair just right, change out of your manure-shovelin' coveralls and hose yourself down with some Axe body spray. Second thought, you might want to just stick with your Speed Stick. It has Irish Spring scent now.
-Black Ranger (smells like gun oil and the jungles of Vietnam)

Be the Good Guy (?)

Morality in video games is either the setup or the punchline, but either way it makes me laugh. When I started playing, it was simple: bad guy kidnapped girl (Princess Peach, girlfriend in Double Dragon), you beat the hell out of every son of a bitch stupid enough to get in your way. Nowadays, the kids have options, such as playing a game in which you're the bad guy and the world is too happy and peaceful and you need to kill everyone who's stupid enough to oppose your menace. Moreover, some games don't care either way and let you just run around and kill people and collect coconuts. No More Heroes is a fine game. Some games, though, have made the judicious decision to let the player decide whether or not to kill the hooker! And everyone always kills the hooker.
And in GTA, this is nary a problem. You don't play a game named after a felony to explore the nuances of ethics and morality, so of course the benefit (return on your cash) will outweigh the consequences and risks (none). There are other games, though, where the judgments offer rewards and drawbacks either way, but this determines less who you are than what you are. Which is to say, are you a good or bad person? It doesn't really matter, but if you pick the evil path, you get to wear black!

Yeah, you're a real badass.

The options offered in these games are so clear, it's painful. It's almost like those Choose Your Own Adventure books, but the bottom of the page would look like:

If you want to get raped to death by crustaceans, turn to page 38.

If you want to get sexed to death by Brazillian women, turn to page 39.

If you're looking for a threeway, read both and work it out in your head, you sick bastard.

Seriously, it's generally that obvious. The thing is, most of the time, it's all equal. You'll probably get the same ending, more or less the same abilities. Characters might treat you differently, but it doesn't matter, as you can't really treat them differently back. This seems pretty counter-productive for role-playing games, I'd say. After all, some things offend some people and not others. If my character smoked weed but didn't molest children, I'd expect him to be treated differently than if he smoked weed and did molest children, but also depending on who he's around; my dealer should be more okay with this than the kid's parents. This sort of so-sane-it's-radical thought defeats the simple morality slider so prevalent in games today.
Having given this a lot of thought, I've realized the best thing to do is go back to the books. Books. You remember, those things with paper and all those words. Dungeons and Dragons has books, and pretty much invented modern role-playing.

Not exactly what I... that's perfect.

D&D version 3.5 has a fairly complex system of judging where you are on this four-point graph of Lawful/Chaotic and Good/Evil. It's kind of like the Ninja/Pirate Vampire/Zombie graph you know, but will offer you more perspective on whether or not your character would break a toddler's skull. The cool thing about this system is it actually works for role-playing because, like in video games, you can do the same damn thing (kill everything) for different reasons (save or conquer the world) and it makes a difference (be self-righteous or awesome). There is also neutral, which can be applied to both the ethics and morals, but those are the same people who let the party know orcs are coming to fist them with the "Beige Alert."
To give you a quick rundown of how this works, well, I'll let Batman explain:

Batman: your portal to understanding.

So, keeping these things in mind, I thought we'd take a look at some of the most common moral "dilemmas" gaming has to offer, and what this more robust perspective affords us.

#1 Do I finish the Job?

This has nothing to do with you being a mercenary and honoring a contract with a dead man, because those stories have that as the entire plot. No, I'm thinking the first even of Knights of the Old Republic, a game in which the only real question is whether or not you want to pay more skill points for Force Lightning and nothing to do with whether or not the Jedi Council, in their infinite wisdom, will condone you. Brilliant.
So the sit-rep is: a guy is getting racketeered on the street, because that's where you racketeer, right?

Game offers: Be boring (do nothing), be heroic (save dude, return cash), be a dick (save dude, take money).

This is crap. I'm not doing all nine, but let's broaden our minds anyway, shall we, Bioware?

Lawful Good: Arrest evildoer, return money.

Chaotic Good: Kill the mugger, scold man for getting involved with mob. Possibly take money because he's too dumb with it. Maybe donate.

Lawful Evil: Really, one is a criminal and the other an accomplice. Kill both, take money.

Chaotic Evil: Kill mafioso. Rape his victim. Kill victim. Rape again. Rape money.

So while the final product is more or less the same, you get a different person with the course of action. Let's continue.

#2 Do I Kill a Little Girl for Profit?

The much-lauded Bioshock had this neat thing where you could take this whacked-out little girls and either release them from their suffering and restore them to normal--thus letting them venture back into a mutant-infested, underwater hell all alone-- and be rewarded later or harvest them for, essentially, money. Whether or not this made you the "good guy" somewhat depended upon who you asked, as one character thought the girls were demons and the other her children, but it's pretty clear where this was going. One was good, the other evil. I say, if you think there are two sides to any story, you're not looking hard enough.

Neutral Good: Free the girl, demand payment to save yourself and anyone else you can, none of this "little bits as you do more" bullshit.

Lawful Neutral: There's no law in Rapture, and papa needs a new gene-splicer...

Chaotic Evil: Rape little girl, take currency, find her benefactor, repeat.

See, the first and third offer similar ending points, but should change the tone, and rating, of the game.

#3 Kill the Hooker?

Back to GTA3, should you kill the hooker?

Lawful Anything: Hooker=Yes.

Chaotic Anything: "Money Back Guarantee" is not a safe phrase to throw around.

Neutral: If I run her over on my way out of the alley, I won't avoid the money.

#4 Shocking, Isn't It?

The latest game to jump on the goodness slide is Infamous, a game in which you are an electricity-based superhero who isn't black.

Did you know the NAACP has been around for a century?

And in Infamous, you can revive or execute people with jolts of pow-ah, and this little mechanic applies to both your enemies and innocents caught in the crossfire, which is pretty neat. Never mind the physics of it,though, as we're exercising in philosophy. You want science, you should be reading XKCD.

Neutral Good: You know, I'm busy chasing the bad guy. I might get back and get your heart beating again. We'll see.

Lawful Evil: Killing an evil gang member, right now and you know what? I'm not a doctor, and if I mess this up you might just sue me and really, this will be a mercy killing BAZZZZAPP!

Chaotic Evil: What bad guy? Oh, that bad guy. Thank you for the heads-up citiz-BAZZZZAPP!

See how much more fun a world with more than two choices is? Now if only we had a political system closer to this. For instance, I'd like a party to fall in the "good" category.

-Black Ranger

My First Job Interview in a While: Gangsta Disciples

After I escaped my job of working in a freshman dorm cafeteria by simply not going, I didn't bother to get another job, because I thought I'd get paid to write. This didn't worked so well, since while I've gotten the opportunity to scribe for you, I'm so damn poor. So, I need to get a job.
Taking into account my situation: no money, angry disposition and that I'm hoping for a shitty apartment in the city, coupled my my job skills (read: none) made me realize my ideal position. I decided to be a street gang member.
After noticing graffiti reading "74" in the bathroom of the Panda Express off Michigan Avenue, I realized downtown Chicago seems to be Gangsta Disciple turf. Now, I always considered myself more sympathetic to People as opposed to Folks, but a job's a job, and I filled out the online application. It had a bizarre ethics exam, by the way.
A few days after I had thrown my name into the hat (do-rag?) I got a phone call from my neighborhood's HR rep. His name is Tyrone, but everyone calls him "Rhino Banga," but mostly just "Rhino." He told me all this on the phone, which was good because my expression was akin to confusion and consternation mixed with a profound disappointment in myself that I had not come up with my own street name. I knew I'd have to get this and some other shit done before I had my job interview, which Rhino and I had set for the following week.
This was going to take some effort. First, I needed a handle, one that showed I was tough, but also not so white. I also wanted to build in my affinity for big asses, but that can be difficult to also make tough. In the end I chose "Wyld Copshooter," which conveys I am a joy to be around and have gunned down police officers, possibly wildly. This took me about 30 seconds to decide upon.
After that, it was time to dress for success. Since generally I dress in T-shirts featuring superheroes and jeans from Target, I knew I'd have to step out of my comfort zone a little. I'd need to think baggy. I went to Urban Outfitters, thinking the store was made for this sort of thing, like Uniform City has scrubs. I found out I was wrong, but was thrilled to find out where I can spend $30 on a pre-faded tee. After that let down, I went to a sports apparel shop. My usual sportswear involves knickers, so this would be a stretch. Knowing the GD's colors to be black and silver, I picked up an Oakland Raiders jersey and some baggy sweatpants. I considered getting some boots with fur, but opted for Nikes instead, maintaining this color scheme.

More or less the look I was going for.

Being a person who can use "laconymal" in a sentence (even though it rarely comes up), I've always thought diminutively of ethnic slang. I created a Snoop Dogg station on my Pandora and listened for about 35 minutes. I was sure I could talk street, now.
That was my first and only day of prep. I spent my remaining time before the interview drinking a variety of red wines and watching Fraiser reruns. In retrospect, this might have put me in the wrong frame of mind.
The big day was at hand. I went into Rhino's office, which was much more decorated than I expected; I didn't even know there were velvet Tupac paintings. Other than that, it was a typical mid-level manager's office:

You're on the right track. Just less honkey.

three-ring binders, a picture of the ho and kids, that sort of thing. So there I was sitting on the opposite side of Rhino's desk (which was pretty nice for plywood) and realized how nervous I was. About being shot.
"So... Brandon..." Rhino starts.
"Oh," I chortle, "you can call me 'Wyld.' That's with a 'y,' like in Wyld Style." I'm already making a good impression!
"Wyld. Okay. So, Wyld..."
"'Copshooter' is the surname to that, by the by," I say, crossing my legs at the knee and smiling as though I'm sharing a private joke with Rhino.
"Oh, yes. I will be more than willing to shoot a po-leece man." I even head-bobbed when I said "po-leece." I was acting like David Hyde Pierce.
"Right. So. What makes you want to be a GD?" Rhino doesn't have the street accent I was expecting, so my brain couldn't even process the sentence.
"What makes you want to be a GD?" Now that I think about it, he isn't dressed so much like a caricature from a rap video, but I chalked that up to his being a little higher on the totem pole.
"Oh. Well, I believe in your business acumen." Now I'm sporting my Alec Guiness circa before Star Wars.
"And what, exactly, do you understand this 'acumen' to be?" Rhino asks. I think he suspects I'm so full of crap I could burst.
"Drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, murder, specifically of Latin Kings, Black P. Stones, et certera." At this point I looked just plain self-satisfied; Wikipedia has always served me well.
Rhino makes a note, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth, a grin I now know meant, "this son of a bitch got that off Wikipedia." What he said was, "oh, yeah, that's definitely what we're all about up in he-ah."
Sarcasm: for the fist time, lost on me. "Yup. I might even get a tattoo."
"Really? And what would you get that would show up?"
"An inverted shepard's cane."
"Because you hate Vice Lords," Rhino beams at me.
"Because I hate Vice Lords," I uncross my legs and switch knees. I've done it. I've gone full-on Truman Capote.
Rhino composes himself. "So what got you interested in this little operation of ours?"
Having done my research, it was time to name drop. "I studied the lives of David Barksdale and Larry Hoover and thought they are just great men."
Rhino dons that grin again. "And what job skills do you have that would be any good for this line of work?"
Suddenly, my heart was exploding in my ears. Wait, wait. What would Aaron McGruder write for me to say now? Umm. "I can hide all sorts of things in my body cavities."
Rhino doesn't miss a beat. "And?"
"I can shoot okay while holding my pistol sideways."
At this point, Rhino just lets the silence hang in the room. He doesn't make a note. He doesn't even move. Under his gaze, I start getting nervous, realizing my encyclopedic knowledge is actually just bullshit. "Ummm," I say, waiting for that to fire off a synapse in my brain, which is now far too busy being nervous about either whether or not I will get a job or shot.
Rhino sets down his pencil. "Cracka, I've had enough fun. Get your white ass out of here before I shove something unpleasant in your body cavity."
He might have said more, but I didn't hear it as I was already gone.
So, that's how that application process went. In the end I spent $400 on clothes and made $0. Apparently, designer sweat pants can get expensive.
So I've been thinking, where can I go where I can have a fraternal atmosphere laced with abject senses of duty and fear, where I can shoot people, wear colors and live in deplorable conditions? Next week, I'll see if the Army wants me.
-Black Ranger

Shits with a Slight Chance of Giggles

I told my students today that they were all sheep, almost simultaneously they all baa’d in response, “no we’re not!” I asked them to explain to me in what way they weren’t mindless animals and they proceeded to tell me about their personal experiences. Unsurprisingly, after we went through four different scenarios these teens realized that they all pretty much had a collective dismal feeling, regardless of the details pertaining to their individual perils. I understood at that moment that the comment that I intended to be an insult afforded me an opportunity to engage my students and assure them that despite their differences, they were empirically not alone in their struggles but I berated them for listening to shitty music and dressing all alike instead.

I could blame my ageism for not helping them but really it’s my lethargic impersonal engagement tatics that never exceed past a student-teacher relationship. I’m finding (much accredited to my ageism) that the youth, nowadays, aren’t really worth the extension of kindness. Let’s face it, kids today live in a world where, literally, anything is possible to which I implore to many a student that “ANYTHING CAN BE ACHIEVED!” but no, it’s far cooler to have bad grades and knock up your 13 year old girlfriend which I completely abscond concern to. I fantasize that my kids are aspiring historical Purists commited to reliving second century Rome, emulating a population of a lower working class supporting a aristocracy, or in this case, capitalist graphic tee company that prints snarky tee shirts and wallets for these students to waste their parent’s hard earned cash on.

To the four “emo” students I have, I advised that they should share quotes from their “feeling” dairies to each other and possibly be alone together but no apparently two boys can’t be friends and not keep their dicks out of each other as I was told by these: make up wearing, tight jeaned, sensitive souls that my idea was too “gay”. I wrote resumes for my students and scheduled interviews at local fast food joints and movie theaters knowing that these places have the propensity to hire felons, as many of my students are. Alas, my students declined the interviews because the theater and fast food industry wasn’t a suitable “first job" environment. Obviously my job’s social demography adheres to particular mindset where education isn’t really valued but I’m not too upset because I get my revenge by selling the really bad ones to gypsies.

Green Ranger out

Things on the Internet You Should Fear #1: The ACA

The internet is the apex of masochistic tools. Don't get me wrong, now, a pair of high heels are all well and good, but the internet is the way to let anyone, anywhere step on your balls. If you don't believe me, post something on YouTube. Your sexuality, your mother's virtue, whether or not you're retarded will all be addressed in minutes: ur a fag; ur moms a whore; ur a tard. Of course, you and I know this is not polite discourse. That would read as: I must say, sir, that you seem to be of the homosexual persuasion; I do believe your mother has rather loose morals; ur a retard. We know how to be civil, and would appreciate civility toward ourselves, yet we sojurn on the interwebz anyway, and if the reason is other than self-hatred, it's someone else-hatred. Of course, the internet is the best place for this, mainly because there are so many things to hate. And they hate you back.
The more savvy among you are saying, "But I don't go to 4chan, and I don't read YouTube comments." Good for you. Unfortunately, you have no idea how terrifying the internet really is. If you don't believe me, go to Google, type in "preteen" and hit "I'm feelin' lucky." Done? Well, as long as you're waiting for the FBI to pick you up, you could exercise another classic move. Try because you feel like doing whatever I tell you. So, what did you think?
Now that you believe me that the internet is a manticore of tubes and dumps, I'm going to teach you what to do about it: embrace it. I'm going to take you around to the crap-tastic places online you shouldn't find otherwise. I'm doing this for science, to share knowledge. I'm doing it for fun, as this is humorous. I'm doing this because you should suffer like me. This isn't Something Awful's cutesy, "Hey, look! I made a rape joke!" garbage. This is stuff that's unsettling on a whole other level: people believe this stuff.
Our first stop on this odessy of odiosness is the American Cornhole Association (ACA) website. I came across this innocently enough: I wondered what the first website with 'cornhole' is. Turns out it's a recreational site for enthusiasts of cornholing, which is not what you think.
It is somewhat similar to what you think. For starters, it involves getting something through a hole. It involves a bean bag. That's about all it involves, because "cornhole," or "corn toss," as you might know it, is a game of the Horseshoe family, and is about as fun. It's played with two teams throwing bean bags through holes in propped-up boards from few yards. I don't think it will even make it to ESPN 3.

Seal: Approved.

Now if you're saying, "Oh, that's right, corn toss. Yeah. I've seen that before," you're remembering when you saw some frat boys playing it. It's probably the quintessential douchebag game, and if you know the internet, it's a douchebag Old Country Buffet (which attracts people. Magnets do not.). If you're wondering how many asshats are on this site, the answer is over 30,000. That's right, over 30,000 people have said to themselves, "I love playing a game called Cornhole so much, I want to join the fanclub." Granted, I'm a member of the Marshmallow Peeps fanclub, and I did that mostly because it's funny, but these people are serious.
There are rules beyond "on box=1 point, through hole=3."
How serious?
Serious enough to write a theme song, is how serious. According to these guys, this game is awesome because you can play it, and play it well, while eating a burger or carrying an opened brew in your back pocket. "Cornhole is good for your soul," apparently. I'm pretty sure this is parody, but, as with any time you make fun of idiots, they latch onto it (see: Blue Collar Comedy, Presidency of George W. Bush). They consider this their anthem.
But that's not the worst of it. Having a goofy song about your sport might just mean you attracted the attention of "Weird Al" Yankovic. That's no big deal. These guys have gone further: they've taken a game designed for tailgating and
codified official rules. These cover all aspects of play, including the stringent equipment requirements. "Each cornhole platform shall be a 48" x 24" rectangle made of half inch plywood. ACA sanctioned tournaments should only be played with wooden cornhole platforms as there is significant variance in play between wooden and plastic or other surfaces." Alright, well, that makes some sense. I guess. You should always know what to expect when you're doing anything involving Cornhole. What impresses me beyond this is how specific the rules are. For instance, the board must be "sanded to a smooth texture," and "painted with a high gloss latex paint" so the bag can slide on the board, but not so much as to fall off. Oh, and they are none too hazy on the specs of an official board.
Only pussies play with the 4". 2 1/2 is for men.

As with any game, well-defined play parameters are important. This is not just true of rules of conduct, but physical perimeters. Basketball not only has out-of-bounds, but a half-court, the key, the free-throw line and all sorts of other lines I don't understand. Football has more lines than any damn sport I know. Cornhole, being a mainly impromptu game, has no visible lines. Don't worry, the ACA has got ya covered.

This is some ol' algebra shit in here.

I assume this means frat boys and rednecks have a tape measure in their back pockets, along with their brewski (there is a special rule for the proper place of beverages). There are separate foul lines for adults, children, the inebriated and those who just want to play the fucking game. Bags thrown in violation of these rules are "foul bags," and are not counted for points.
As you might have realized by now, the only real reason to have rules for any game is sanctioned play, and the ACA has it together. This month alone, there are 37 special tournaments, plus the eight recurring tournaments. Team fees range from about $35 to $50. Not surprisingly, many of these are held in North Carolina. If you do well in one of these gladatorial meetings, you could get ranked on the ACA's website and enter the glory your forebearers always knew their bloodline would reach: putting a bean bag in a hole better than a drunk hillbilly.
Which is, really, a goal to which we all aspire. I hope to be better at something than a hillbilly someday.
-Black (is beautiful) Ranger out

How I'm Going to Parent

Someday, because the Saffron Ranger doesn't believe in genetically enhanced designer children, I'm going to have kids of my own. Naturally, I look back on the fond memories of my childhood for ideas on what to do with my own kids. I'll play catch and Mario with them, read them Tolkien before bed and teach them how to ride a bike. I might even not laugh at them when they fall (both on the bike and in life in general).
I'll also try to avoid things I didn't appreciate so much when I was younger. I'll try to be nurturing of their interests, communicative and I will not actually sell them to gypsies; the threat will still be used, as nothing got me in line faster than being reminded of the possibility I could be auctioned off to a bunch of vagabond circus folk who would make me clean up horse shit and repair turbans.
Unfortunately for my kids, I've also gained some ideas about parenting from popular culture, which, I suppose, raised me more than my public education ever tried to. Here's some of the more important principles.
#1: Unethical Psychology
A lot of what I've seen here relates to fast food, much like Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) claiming he would punch his kids in the face whenever they saw the Golden Arches. This is called "Positive Punishment" because it's punishment that positively works, but only possibly alienates you from your children. While these instances amuse me, I won't embrace the notion entirely. I will not tell my kids masturbation causes stupidity or blindness, because that's wrong (being, I'm assured by my internet research, a lie). I will also tell them the truth about drugs: people will like them more, until they run out of drugs to share, and that shit's expensive. Parenting is about honesty.
It's also about fear. I'll be anywhere, the beach, the mall, the trailer park and I'll be amazed at the white trash all around me. What really wows me, though, is the parenting. Some fat woman will, without fail, be yelling at her kids. She'll threaten her kids with all sorts of harsh punishments, which, inevitably, are as lacking in her parenting as vegetables in her diet. Those little shits know, they know they can get away with it because Mom isn't getting off her fat ass to smack them or take their Pokemon cards away. It's just not happening.
This is where I'll be different. I won't threaten my kids with punishment when I want them to behave. No, I'll make them ever aware of how important it is they not step out of line. Most parents, mine included, simply always followed up with their stipulations: do that and this will happen. I don't want my children to grow up with such a cause/effect mentality. I want them to be incessently wary. They'll just be too busy to be bad. I don't mean to say I'll be like some drunken hillbilly who could, at any moment, fly off the handle. I'll just raise them in an environment in which they can always be on guard of the worst happening to test their mettle. My kids will know that at any moment, well, not so much that I'd hit them, but more that combat is always an option. They will have to be fully aware of their surroundings as they could be dangerous. Keep your wits about you and answer the riddle correctly=dessert. Incorrectly? Run a mile. It's not waiting for the other shoe to drop; it's knowing it is squared off with your (kickable) ass. This sort of rearing breeds success.
#2: WWBatmanD?
I think this is one of the most important moral questions of our time.
And it's not just for kids, either; it's for parents. When you think about it, Batman has parented no fewer than three Robins, and he only got one of those killed, and according to Meatloaf's Law of Uncaring, two out of three is reasonable.
If my child asks, "Who are you to tell me what to do?" I can paraphrase,
"What are you, dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!.. Er, your Father!"
They keep making a ruckus at, well, anywhere, and I'll give them some Bat-corporal punishment.
They want to drive the car, well, no one drives the car.
But I can also teach them important lessons, like, the law sucks. I can show them that there is a difference between it and justice, but, no matter how angry we are, we need not resort to violence. I can teach them that, in Bruce Wayne's words, "...this world only makes sense when you force it to." Wait, no. I double-checked and the bit immediately preceding is, "My parents taught me something else, twitching in a pool of their own blood." Huh.
Before that, though, TDK (as his friends call him), was letting Superman know how lame he is for bowing down to any authority figure kind enough to give an order. Lesson: don't be America's bitch.
Batman actually has a biological son now, and it took him about five panels before he screamed at him. Reason? The little snot was crying about not getting his own laptop. Batman told him he was dishonoring himself and his sensei. The text was in read, which must be pretty harsh.
Overall, I think Batman is a parent's best role model.
#3: Setting an Example
I was once asked, "Brandon, if you had to chose between your kids liking Batman or Star Wars, what would you pick?"
I gave this little thought. "Both, or they're out of the house."
While I probably wouldn't be that inflexible (but they have to prefer DC to Marvel), I guess I do like the idea of my kids being like me. I like the idea of them loving the things I love because finally someone will agree with me. Which should happen more often, because I'm always right, but them's the breaks.
I want the chance to educate my children in what's important to me in order to give them good lives, to evidence the value of my own, to make the world a better place. I'll also teach them not to expect the world to go along with it.
A part of me wants to tell my kids that they will be beaten down by mediocrity, scorned for success, marginalized for talent and punished for brilliance. In this respect, Marge Simpson has offered the most succinct advice. "Kids," she said, "aim so low that when you fail, no one will even notice."
I think about his statement, and it makes sense to me. I've seen it myself, all my life. But Homer's (and, I kid you not, my own father's) words echo in the back of my mind, "OK, son. Just remember to have fun out there today, and if you lose, I'll kill you!" Regardless of the humdrum-ness of the world, kids should be encouraged to succeed. I'll just have to show them how. My only problem is, going into film, the easiest way to do this is probably with porn.
Oh well.
So there you have it, a little method to how I will, insanely, raise my kids. Mostly, I want them to know I'll be there for them, or, as Woody Allen put it, "When I was kidnapped, my parents sprang into action. They rented out my room."
-Black Ranger out