Ignorant and Blithely Oblivious, Part Two

uselessbox

I gotta love this Plastic Jesus guy for this particular prank.

I have to wonder how many people tried to buy the Useless Plastic Box.  I can just imagine the look on the Best Buy Team Member‘s face when he/she got questions on that one.  Then again, where I live, I’d be happy to find any retail store with a Team Member who a.) speaks English as a first language, and b.) actually gives a rat’s ass about the poor suckers who buy their crap.

can't touch

The greater question would be, “Who would want to?”

I also have to wonder about the WalMart creatures.  I know it’s not polite to make fun of other people’s poor clothing choices especially when those choices appear to be motivated by extreme drug abuse and/or profound brain damage, but it is funny.  I freely admit that I don’t score high in “ability to empathize with others” at times.  Appearing in public looking like a stoned and deranged circus clown (no offense intended to actual circus clowns) should invite derision as far as I’m concerned, not only from me, but from society at large.

back fat

These two could use a rear view mirror.

Speaking of society at large, we seem to have grown a substantial “Emperor’s New Clothes” mentality.  When you know what you’re seeing all around you is completely ridiculous, uncalled for, trite, and without substance, but you’re afraid to speak out about it and call it for what it is, you end up with wannabe vapid figureheads in lieu of leaders.

My question is, how deep do you have to be mired in denial to fail to see that the gutless wonders in government and in the public sphere at large are devoid of substance and incapable of leadership?

Weiner4Mayor

Need I say more?

How long does it take to understand that there are moral absolutes just as there are physical and material absolutes?

I’d also like to know, while I’m at it, why it’s OK for black thugs to victimize and kill other black people, which happens hundreds of times a day, and that gets a pass from the media, law enforcement and the “leaders” of the black community, but it’s positively offensive for a white (or Hispanic) guy to defend himself against a black thug when he fears for his life?  Where’s Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson speaking out against black on black violence?

Don’t get me wrong, violence and thuggery are equally wrong and I don’t give a rat’s ass what race the perpetrator happens to be.  How about looking at the crime and not the color of the perpetrator’s skin?  Why is there some kind of crazy “affirmative action” that gives black perpetrators a pass?

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You want true equality, then stop giving anyone of any race preferential treatment because of race!

It amazes me still as well that the most adamant critics of capital punishment are the staunchest supporters of abortion on demand.  I don’t get this “logic:” Kill and brutally dismember the innocent for being inconvenient, but let’s all shed some crocodile tears for some unrepentant jackwagon axe murderer who slaughtered eighteen shoppers in a convenience store in a fit of drug-fueled rage.   Let’s give the axe murderer three hots and a cot, cable TV, and a free education for his trouble. Give me a break.  Public execution was a deterrent against violent crime and swift public execution for those convicted of egregious capital crimes needs to make a comeback.

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And murderers and child molesters too! In public!

When I was growing up there were Things You Just Don’t Do. Those things were forbidden not because they were dangerous things, but because they were disrespectful.  Walking on people’s graves, for instance. It wasn’t cool to be trampling all over someone’s Aunt Sadie’s final resting place.   Eating or drinking stuff in the store before you pay for it, (still a pet peeve of mine when someone is letting their rug rat eat out of a box of not-yet-paid-for-snacks,) or failing to clean your plate at dinner if you had been invited to someone’s house to eat as a guest.  Even if what was being served was positively vile and/or would make you violently ill.

nasty dinner

Yep.  The metal ring too.

Many of the Things You Just Don’t Do had to do with behavior in church.  As Mom is and was a very strict old-school Catholic, if you missed any part of the Catholic calisthenics during Mass you were wide open for swift retribution ranging from a relatively subtle Vulcan Death Grip to being yanked out of church by the hair and getting a good whacking on the stairs.  You did not forget to bless yourself with the holy water.  You did not forget to genuflect in front of the altar before sitting down.  You said all the responses at the proper times.  You sang all the hymns.  You sat quietly during the homily and did not occupy oneself by doodling on the missal.  You did not get a pass on any of these things even at age two or three.  The Catholics (ironically enough) don’t believe in having an nursery where you can take infants and toddlers during worship.  A good Catholic mother takes those rug rats to Mass from day one and makes them mind in church during Mass no matter what.  Up to and including flogging their offspring to get the point across.

Mother of God

I don’t condone praying to saints- but I would have to have added: “That Mom doesn’t go over the deep end when she beats us!”

I can sort of understand Mom’s obsessive detail to our behavior in church because it taught me that God is watching- but He’s not just watching to make sure a scared little kid is doing the Catholic calisthenics the right way.  I learned about the wrath of God long before I discovered His mercy.  There’s something to be said for that in a way, but it makes it a bit more difficult later in life to be merciful, to be forgiving, and to try to see the other side.  I’m not very good at it.

The Lost Art of Redneck Cookery, Historical Excursions, and Inevitability

It is fortunate that my grandmothers taught me how to cook. Since it is legend in my family that my Mom’s atrocious culinary offerings caused Suzie the Dachshund’s premature death, I’m glad my grandmothers were around.  In all fairness, Suzie wasn’t a particularly picky eater, even for a dog.  She was known to eat underwear, socks, rocks, her own poo, Barbie heads and assorted limbs, and pretty much anything else that would fit in her gaping maw.  So Mom’s cooking- I can still see the mashed potatoes with the big black burnt flakes and the accompanying “gravy” that was the texture, flavor, and consistency of partially hardened concrete- might have been a contributing factor or even the final tipping point, considering Suzie’s complete lack of discernment in her eating habits.   

I won’t say that I am the best cook there is by a long shot, but I can hold my own with most old-time redneck cuisine.  I can roll my own noodles, (no I do not “roll my own” anything else, except maybe pie crust) fry chicken, grill steaks, bake breads, pies, cakes and cookies, make soups and casseroles and roasts, etc.  Unfortunately these are skills that most young people see as being quaint and obsolete.  I could not be any more weird to the kids if I went out and shot deer, tanned the hides and made my own shoes .  My son and his friends consider microwaved ramen noodles, pizza delivery, and Taco Bell to be the apex of fine dining. 

The relevance of learning cooking skills  just doesn’t register with the POMC.  He worked at Taco Bell for two years and figured that was enough cooking for him.   He thought I was completely nuts to be boiling a chicken and rolling out noodle dough when you can get chicken-n-noodles all ready to be microwaved in less than five minutes, courtesy of Marie Callender. 

In my humble opinion- while some microwave meals aren’t half bad and I am not above eating them on occasion- when you do have the time and motivation to do the authentic slow food thing it tastes better.  My old time redneck cuisine isn’t all loaded down with salt and preservatives and heaven only knows what else either. 

Admittedly, most women of my generation (and most likely those younger than I) are about as clueless about home cooking as I am about football or other assorted man-sports.  My grandmothers’ generation was probably the last generation to consider cooking an essential skill. 

So here I am with my archaic skill sets- yes I can cook and bake, and do needlework for what it’s worth.  I enjoy down-home slow cooking when I have the time.  So there.  But it does disturb me that it’s a dying art.  It’s getting harder and harder to find things like shortening, cornstarch and various spices. Even worse, it’s getting harder and harder for me to find the time.

I am looking forward to Dad’s Birthday Cruise on Saturday.  It’s sort of disquieting for me to go since I’ve not had a classic air-cooled VW for years, but his buddies in the car club are cool and it’s always a good time.  I wouldn’t miss it barring extreme illness or Act of God, since it is also Dad’s birthday party, and an opportunity for me to get him an embarrassing gag gift.

We always go to one or two historical sites in Marion County.  This year we are going to the tiny village of LaRue to see a collection of Jim Thorpe memorabilia and then to check out another guy’s extensive collection of license plates.  Dad is always good at picking out interesting places to go.  I was sort of disappointed that we weren’t doing anything architecturally related this time, (I so enjoyed touring the Harding Home and Etowah a couple of years ago,) but it’s good to mix it up.  I might be surprised at what I get to see.

In a way it is almost painful to go home and revisit the past.  So much that I see in the history of those places points to a future that should have been better and brighter than today.  Unfortunately I was born into a place and time that was just on the cusp of catastrophic decline, and in a sickening sort of paradox, as I grew up, I watched it all fall and disintegrate and decay.

I know the reasons behind the fall, but hindsight is 20/20.  When one is confronted with the lingering shadow of what could have been, that which has become a spoiled, dusty, failed memory, and today’s more sordid reality, it can be disheartening. Sometimes when I drive past the decaying monoliths of a long-dead industry I see my own heart, my own spirit- something that belonged to the past and sort of exists, at least in form, but isn’t really there anymore.

I look at the idle, rusting frameworks and I see my own metaphor drawn out, speaking the unsaid, wrought in cold, dead steel.

Everywhere and nowhere, all points converge here.

I can find divers examples of proof for the devolution of humanity, believe that.  Just go to WalMart.

I don’t know what is more frightening- WalMart in the summer, or the stunning vision (or was that a sight) of fat, bald dudes in Speedos that we were treated to at Put-In-Bay.

The Birthday Cruise always ends at the Marion Cemetery, which I have not even come close to fully perusing despite emptying out my memory card and spending a Sunday afternoon last March taking pictures of almost everything that caught my interest. A 2GB card is not enough, especially if you want high res pics.

I’ve always thought this to be the saddest monument in the Marion Cemetery, poor six year old Wallie.  For being almost 150 years old, his monument has held up remarkably well.  Perhaps a grieving mother put this up years after Wallie’s unfortunate and premature passing, but it is consistent with the often maudlin Victorian traditions of memorializing the dead.  In those days death wasn’t just an Old Person Thing confined to hospitals and nursing homes, shrouded in wiring and tubes and technology and sanitized by distance and closed doors.  In 1864, when Wallie succumbed, death was a Living Room Thing, something that visited old and young alike, that was intimate and piercing and all consuming. 

Perhaps in society’s sanitization of death we have also depersonalized it and in the process have stripped ourselves of some of  our humanity.  We live with the false assumption that we have forever. 

Granted, medical science has come a long way in postponing death.  I would have likely been worm food thirty-odd years ago if not for antibiotics (yes people did die from rheumatic fever) and was almost worm food for sure twenty years ago- even with an eleventh hour c-section.   Delaying the inevitable is exactly that, though.  We all have to die, but we aren’t very good at facing it.

Dylan Thomas exhorted us to, “Rage, rage at the dying of the light.”  I think there is a sort of futility in that gesture.  On one hand there is the tragic death of one who seems to forfeit so much potential- someone young, someone with a great deal of talent, but then there is also the tragic life of one who is suffering and weary of life who longs for the sleep and peace of death and can’t find it.  God can make sense of such paradox, but I can’t.

There have been times in my life when I have wondered why I have been left to suck up valuable oxygen while those who I feel to be more worthy of life die.  That’s a question that I can only leave to faith- and to trust in the wisdom of God.  I figure no matter how long I am here, it’s only for a limited time.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls…