Strange Song Lyrics, Walmart, Livestock, and Back to 1981 (or not)

Guillotine-Names

I was just thinking what an interesting world it would be if I wrote trivia questions for money. I have stored away too much esoteric and ephemeral knowledge for my own good over the years. Making it multiple guess would be too easy.  I go for fill in the blanks, which at least requires some thought and/or creativity.

The first question I came up with? It’s a real blast from the past.

Name a song with the word “guillotine” in it.

I am sure there are more than one, but the one I am thinking of is, “Bastille Day” by Rush.

Even cooler is the rest of the phrase: “the guillotine will claim her bloody prize.”

Beheaded

At least I used a cartoon. Lighten up.

Imagine the lyrics police on that one today, although it’s better than all the sister raping and cop killing in rap music. If you could understand the lyrics in rap music, that is.

I am dating myself in saying that, especially knowing that rap has been around since before Blondie and her song “Rapture,” and that dates back to 1981, when Reagan was President, Steve Perry was the hottest thing in Spandex, and all was right with the world, except that the cars sucked.

steve-perry

Some things really suck about getting old. Since my car was trashed almost 3 months ago (yes I am pleased with the new Corolla, but still residually pissed about the perfectly fine 2014 Corolla that got trashed) I am finally feeling somewhat normal again.  Therapy for my shoulder did actually work, which I am glad about even though I have had to fight the other guy’s insurance for bloody everything and I am still hashing over various things.  I didn’t ask to get rear ended by some moron with a history of seizures who should have known better than to be driving.  I didn’t ask to deal with four or five full blown arthritis flares along the way either.  Thanks, asshole.

Maybe I should have gotten a lawyer, but I hate the legal profession even more than the medical industry. I refuse to refer to the medical industry as “health care.” They don’t care, and the last thing they want for their pocket books is for anyone to actually be healthy. The legal profession, insurance companies and the medical industry are all rip-offs, and all are in cahoots.  Follow the money trail.

Yesterday I saw another one of those displays of cross stitch patterns that are a bit on the dark side. I love cross stitch, but haven’t done it in a long time.  I would like to indulge in a nice cross stitch piece with a dark saying or two.  I saw one that had a cactus, then underneath it the word, “prick.” That one is funny. I am considering designing a simple one about being a sweetie and wiping the seatie if you sprinkle when you tinkle.  Then again, maybe a subtle DON’T PISS ON MY TOILET SEAT would serve me better.

field-of-f-cks

It’s been enjoyable being able to cook again- real food like beef and noodles or rotisserie Cornish hens, or grilled meat. Jerry was never pleased with anything I cooked, except sometimes bacon, and toward the end about the only thing I could get him to eat were chocolate covered mini-donuts. It was sad but there wasn’t anything I could do, and I felt like everything I did do was wrong.

I have said it before, and maybe it’s cruel to see someone’s passing as a relief, but Jerry’s truly was. He had been unhappy and ill and suffering for many years, and I bore much of the weight of his frustration and pain and sorrow.  When I see people who I’ve not seen in awhile and have to explain what happened I can’t pretend to be all grief stricken and weepy.  It’s not my personality anyway to be emotional and maudlin – yes, autistics get emotional, but not on cue, and not usually in any kind of “normal” appearing way.  I strive to keep my emotions private and sometimes I am so good at it I convince myself I don’t have any at all.  Then something taps the latch and the floodgate springs open at the most inopportune time.

I’ve had a few freaky dreams lately. The one about hanging out in a pen with a bull- yes, as in bovine-was especially weird.  Why was I the only one he would be docile around? Everyone else would just aggravate him and make him aggressive, but I could do anything with him.  Maybe it’s about boundaries or control issues- both are things at which I completely suck in the real world.  Being the bull master in dreams- not really the stuff power trips and fantasies are made of- but I guess I have to take whatever power I can get.

I’ve had that effect on dogs and a few cats, but I generally avoid animals larger than dogs. I have a healthy respect for horses.  It’s been years since I’ve ridden a horse.  I like them, but they are harder to read than dogs and there is a lot less margin for error with them.  You cheese off a dog and you get a warning snarl or raised hackles or any number of other warning signals.  Dogs are good at body language, even to the point of getting an autistic person to get it. Dogs normally want to help.   Cheese off a horse, however, and you are like as not to get kicked across his stall with little or no warning.  Horses don’t have to be nice.  They are only nice if they respect you.

Of cattle, I know nothing.

I never really had to hang out with cattle, except in Newark, Ohio.

There were, and likely still are, some Really Fat Cows there. Even 20+ years ago there was a stampede of heifers sporting too much cleavage stuffed into too small bras, and the parade of big butts hanging out of leggings stretched beyond reasonable limits was on.  It was when I worked in Newark that I could buy “dinky sizes” such as 10 or 12 on the clearance rack at the discount store.  I could also find 38D bras marked down which never happened in less ample parts of the world. It was also in Newark that I learned there is such a thing as women’s size 20 underwear, and that they could also serve as a car cover for my Corolla with room to spare.

Granted, morbid obesity is a thing in rural Ohio and it’s almost as bad as heroin or crack. People don’t have much to do other than watch TV, play on the Internet, screw, and scarf those dreadful greasy $5 pizzas from Little Caesar’s, unless they’re shooting heroin, making meth or smoking crack, that is.

There is Wal-Mart though. Wal-Mart is an endless source of entertainment.

Sometimes I think it would be funny to strap on a Go Pro in Wal-Mart and just see how it goes. What kinds of weird shit would I encounter?

walmartian

An Unexpected Blast from the Past, A Self-Esteem Boost at Walmart, and a Strange History

 

Steve Perry 2014

I was a bit delighted as well as taken aback this morning at seeing my long-time most favorite singer, Steve Perry appearing live on stage again.  I even liked the song he performed with the Eels (a band I didn’t know existed until today) even though the more prudy types would be offended by the language in it.

Sometimes coarse language is the only way to describe aptly the frustration and pain in one’s heart.  Been there.  Done that.  Don’t want to go there again, although in my heart of hearts I know I will.

It’s still a good song, and for a guy of Steve’s age and ill health, he still sounds good.

axe phoenix

 

Every time I go to Walmart with Steve-o it’s a new adventure.  First he was pissed because he couldn’t find the one kind of deodorant he likes – Axe Phoenix, the blue gel, NOT the white paste- except in a two pack.  I thought I was cheap.  I told him, he has two pits, so why not a deodorant stick for each pit? Just label them “right” and “left” as borderline OCD as he can be.  Finally he decided it would just be easier to buy two, as if he’s not going to use one up in a week or two anyway?  It must be the opposite of the Costco mentality- buy barely enough for a few days, then make a trip to buy more.  Personally if I have the scratch (and he has more than I do) then I usually buy in quantity- not only for the discount per unit, but to save myself a trip.

Of course we encountered the Freaky People of Walmart  en masse-  such as the morbidly obese woman who probably was not even 30 yet, trolling about in the little battery powered Mart Cart, sporting her bleach blonde ends and about three inches of black roots, and a plethora of extremely poor quality tats on a good portion of the exposed surface area.  

mart_cart-xti

When your ass is bigger than a Toyota Corolla, that “bright, Corvette-like finish” on your lard-ass cart is a sure bonus!

I guess my quandaries about the Mart Carts are:

1. How do they actually move under the suffocating heft of their passengers?  If a normal sized person got in one and took off in it, would it set land speed records?

2. Is the minimum weight requirement at least 300#?  Because I’ve never seen anyone under 300# trolling about in one of those.

3. Do they use deep cycle batteries, sort of like for boat trolling motors- or more like the batteries in a Prius?

4. Would the need for the carts be vastly diminished if some of the riders got off of their behemoth asses and actually walked a bit while in the store?

 bad fashion 5-14

 I sort of enjoyed Jelly Roll woman too.  She wasn’t quite large enough for the carts (give her time, she was probably in her early 20’s) though I don’t think she realized that a cherry red tube top is a poor fashion choice when your body sort of resembles the Michelin Man’s.  The badly done pink dye job on her hair and misspelled neck tats (when one is trying to say, “Missy loves Ray”  it is not spelled “love’s“) were the icing on that cake.  Woof.   I am glad I didn’t have the pleasure of  feasting my oculars upon “Ray.”

Then again, it’s Steve-o’s reactions to the wildlife of Walmart that I find absolutely priceless.  Such as when he was looking for that men’s three-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and a rather large girl in low rise Daisy Dukes bent over right in front of him, exposing a rather hairy and somewhat substantial ass crack.

muffin top

I thought he was going to hurl right down her shorts.  That would have been camera-worthy,  if only I had the courage.  I don’t take pics in Walmart precisely because the wildlife are large enough to devour me in one bite, or to sit on me and squash me like the unfortunate “lost” Chihuahua in the “Lost Dog” cartoon.

 lost dog

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t remember people being so flipping fat.  I feel like a freaking anorexic when I go to Walmart, and I’m no Calista Flockhart by any stretch.  The rural areas are absolutely the worst, as far as the really behemoth size 20+ underwear wearing chicks – (and there’s plenty of hefty dudes too) as if they have nothing better to do than watch Direct TV and tie on the feed bag.  I can understand that in those places, though.  There really isn’t much to do.  Even screwing must get boring after awhile.

In defense of the portly rural poor, healthy food is expensive.  It’s really cheap to go and get a bunch of store brand snackies or ramen noodles and mac and cheese if you don’t have much cash.  It’s not so cheap to buy fresh produce (I even balk at that- frozen is cheaper and it’s less wasteful) or lean meat, or to buy minimally processed ingredients to prepare and cook one’s own food.  A can of Spaghetti-os is a lot easier (and cheaper) lunch option than grilled white chicken on wheat with provolone, tomato, lettuce, onion and mustard on wheat toast.  I have been there and done that.  Canned and processed stuff is cheap and easy but will lead one down the primrose path to lardassism with the quickness.

 

 spaghettios n doritos

I do love me some Skettios and Doritos, though! mmmmm!

 As an aside, I just got put on hold and was subjected to a rather odious rap “song.”  The only lyrics I could make out were:

Prestone

Body

Daddy

Anything you like

Whoever included those words and phrases in a song needs some serious psychotherapy time.  Either that, or I just can’t make any sense of rap.

 

 

Picking On the Emotionally Impaired, and I Wanna Be Sedated

no-stupid-people11

But how do you keep them out?  They’re like zombies- and they’re multiplying.

Every once in awhile I like the Ramones, even though their songs are to music as junk food is to real food- trite, and full of empty calories, but oddly satisfying while they are being consumed.  I don’t think I could sit through hours and hours of “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated,” but I like to just zone out and not have to think too much every now and then.  The Ramones are good for that.

My penchant for rock, metal and the occasional grunge or punk fix would make my voice teachers cringe, but the line between classical music and orchestral metal is a very fine one.  Even though I’ve not played bass or fronted a metal band in 20 years, I still find the musician in me analyzing what I’m listening to.  I still have an appreciation for what is technically good and what is more or less musical junk food, for whatever that’s worth.  I hate to say it, but that’s probably why most of my MP3 collection dates back to 1985 and earlier.

your music sucks

There is some good new music out there today, but it’s not mainstream.  You have to know where to look. The unholy crud that is currently polluting the airwaves and the TV screens generally does suck.  It sucks like sucking has never sucked before.  We have fantastic, amazing, digital technology but we’re recording and distributing total crap on it.  We traded Steve Perry for Katy Perry (really sucky trade there) and I don’t understand why.  I mean in 1981 we had Steve Perry as the greatest singer ever and Ronald Reagan as president.  Today we have Katy Perry and Obama.  Go figure.  The evidence for devolution is right before our eyes (and ears.) Blecch.

I’m just thankful that through the gift of technology I can bring the past up to date in some ways.  I can get good music on MP3s and save good songs to my SD card so I can spare myself from the pollution of the airwaves.

passenger car

When Jerry and I went on the train ride last week it was cold.  The train was delayed because they had oversold and had to add cars to the train.  A fat old lady took Jerry’s seat while he decided to go out and smoke because we had to wait, even when I told him that it was crowded, therefore, the “move your feet lose your seat” rule would come into play, so we had to find different seats to sit together.  Even so, it was a good time and very interesting.  The train car we rode in until the first stop was built in 1927, the second car we rode on for the rest of the trip was built in the mid 1950s and had two levels.  We sat up top in the second car for a better view.

AnimeGirl

On the first car we sat behind a Japanese family.  Mom and Dad were facing Jerry and I, while their teenage son and preteen daughter were sitting across from their parents. I could see over the boy’s shoulder that he was more interested in his i-phone and his animé cartoons that would be porn if they weren’t cartoons.  My question is, since animé is just cartoons, is it really porn or is it just a porn substitute?  His mother probably still would have been mortified if she had seen what I was getting an eyeful of, but either she didn’t know or didn’t care about what Junior was watching.

I remember Steve-o’s brief infatuation with animé “sort-of-porn” at the same age.  I knew full well what he was gawking at online, but I figured if I made a big scene over it like my mother did over anything even remotely risqué that it would become an obsession for him.  She was more wigged out about finding rubbers in his personal effects than about finding cigarettes, which struck me odd.   Sex can potentially kill you, but wearing a rubber can help prevent STDs, so he’s mitigating that risk.  Cigarettes are in no way safe.  I was more upset about the smokes.  But Mom’s Catholic, and as far as I know for Catholics, smoking is not considered a sin- you can be a priest and smoke- but sex (unless one is married and having sex for procreational reasons only) is a mortal sin.  Doesn’t that suck?

questionable morals

I’m no paragon of moral virtue, so I have absolutely no room to talk.

An Ode to the Crapper, The Big 80’s, and a Japanese Toilet, Too

office-space-copier

Technology is beautiful…when it actually works.

When I was in high school, there was a discount department store that had pay toilets.  The theory was that you put a dime in the slot, turn the lever and the bathroom stall door opens.  It was slightly reminiscent of a parking meter, only it wasn’t timed.  In practical application, however, people liked to do funky things with the slot, such as jamming it up with popsicle sticks (what they were doing with those in the crapper I’ll never know) or super glue.

The end result was that even if you were one of those people who were willing to pay the dime to keep from having to slide under the stall door, the odds were very good that even with the dime you weren’t going to be opening that stall door any time soon.  Many individuals saw fit to shimmy under the stall door or barring that option, (somehow, considering this was a ladies’ room) pee in the sink, pee in the floor drain, or, which did happen on occasion, drop a deuce on the floor drain.

paytoiletlock

The motivation behind that great old poem:

Here I sit, all broken hearted

Paid my dime, and only farted.

I don’t think that I ever had to use the bathroom so urgently while at that store that I couldn’t make it across the parking lot to the Burger King to use their (free) toilet.   I was never good enough at doing the Limbo to consider trying to shimmy under the stall door.  I wasn’t tall enough to consider peeing in the sink either, and considering how many people just relieved themselves on the floor, I didn’t want to risk touching that floor with clothing, body parts or hair to begin with.

Today is one of those “somebody jammed a popsicle stick in the crapper lock” sort of days. It’s an automatic “go to option B” sort of day.  Our invoicing system isn’t working, which means I’m not selling anything.  I can’t do reports.  I can’t check inventory.  The phones are still on though, so I can still listen to people bitch, and I can freak out about all the people I’m going to have to call and all the catch up I’m going to have to engage in once the system is actually working again.

paytoiletlockcompanyvig

Leave it to the New Englanders to find another way to make you pay!

Pay toilets seem to have lost their popularity, at least in central Ohio.  I am surprised someone hasn’t figured out a toilet lock that accepts MasterCard and Visa.  If the City of Columbus can find parking meters that take plastic then I’m sure the technology exists. If I really, really had to go, I’d be willing to pay, let’s say $5 on my debit card to get in.

I probably shouldn’t give people ideas, although maybe there was a lesson learned from the behavior of the sink whizzers and floor crappers of the early-to-mid 1980’s.  It just might not be worth the potential $5 per crap in the toilet if most people forgo the pay device and just crap on the floor and/or pee in the sink.

Considering the dismal condition of many public toilets, perhaps a $5 debit card swipe at the door (at the main door, not the stall door) would be worth it IF the toilet was kept immaculately clean.  The Japanese have it pretty good as far as toilet technology goes.  I’d be willing to pay to use one of those funky self-cleaning Japanese toilet/bidet/health monitor things.

hightechtoilet_Miyako

Elimination: Star Wars Style

Unfortunately most public bathrooms look more like this:

gas station crapper

No wonder I see so many trucker bombs.

I don’t understand the motivation behind wanting to trash a public restroom.  One might think it a good thing, a sort of karmic justice issue so to speak, to keep the crappers one uses tidy so the next time it’s necessary to use one it might be clean and somewhat safe to use.  Then again, the lesson I’ve learned over the past week is that logic doesn’t necessarily apply to what actually happens in the real world.

In high school I used the school bathroom once.  I didn’t even attempt it at the old Freshman Building, because it had the original (wooden seat) toilets from 1915.  In 1982 these were not safe to use.  The way they were originally designed was cool- you sat on the seat, used the toilet, and when you got up there was a spring-loaded device that automatically flushed.

I’m sure in 1915 that was amazing state of the art technology.  But by 1982, when (and if) they actually flushed, they would send a geyser of toilet contents skyward, often showering the toilet user with the toilet contents.

vintage toilet geyser

A shower that will not promote bodily cleanliness.

In the main high school (built in 1959) the functionality of the toilets wasn’t the issue.  They were regular industrial-style toilets with the toggle-lever flushers like one might see in your local Taco Bell. The things the girls did in the bathroom was the issue.  There was graffiti- everywhere- that would make a porn star blush.  Many people smoked in there.  I didn’t have the courage to light up in the school crapper though.

I used that bathroom exactly once.  It seemed OK, until for some inexplicable reason I looked toward the ceiling.  To my horror, a heavily used maxi pad was hanging by the tiniest bit of adhesive on to the ceiling.   If that tiny bit of adhesive had let go before I made a swift exit, I would have had a very nasty mess splattered all over my verdant, thick, big 80’s spiral permed hair.

big hair

Yes, I had hair like this at one time- long, long ago, back when the air was dirty, sex was clean, and Steve Perry was oh-so-hot in Spandex. Spiral perms (i.e. the infamous Uni-Perms) not only fried your hair, they sucked the color out of it too.  Needless to say it would have been rather nasty to clean a bloody mess out of a massive hair nest like that.

Skoal was bad enough.  At least the girl who saw fit to spit Skoal in my hair ended up getting pinned down and having her head shaved.  I did have a few good friends in high school who really enjoyed the fact that I had cigarettes- and a car.

steveperry80s

The Big 80’s.  Steve Perry was probably the best thing about that entire decade.

I’m Not Normal, You’re Screwed Up, and That Might Be OK

 

screwed upStraight to you from the compost heap.  Steamy!

The self-help subdivision of pseudopsychology offers a rich source of fodder for the cynical mind.  Since my mind is one of the most cynical around, I’ve found self-help (with rare exception) to be more of a source of self-humor than self-help.

True self-improvement is a beautiful thing, but changing one’s character or habits in a meaningful way is neither typical nor easy.  I’ve been saying for years how I want to have washboard abs (yeah, right) or thousands of dollars saved back, but those things don’t happen.  My physical condition is better than it was, which only means that I have both feet out of the coffin instead of only one.  Financially, well, there are people worse off than me and I’ll leave that exactly where it is.  I’m thankful every time I’m able to pay for my scripts and have food in the fridge.

pink coffin feet out

I think the thing that really turned me against the self-help genre was the plethora of vapid works available in the 80s and 90s.  Crap like “Think Yourself Thin” and “Co-Dependent No More” might actually be useful for some people, depending on where they’re coming from.  However, I am not a typical woman.  Appealing to my emotions doesn’t generally do squat for me.  Appealing to my intellect can influence me, if the information given is relevant.  I need a do this=____result.  I don’t do very well with a maybe do this and maybe something might result- or not.

There is a lot to be said for making a conscious choice to behave differently, to achieve specific goals, etc., but that determination only goes so far.  I’m all too aware of how finite and limited my efforts are.

One of the techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy (which, by the way, can be effective if it’s used properly) is to “re-write your script.”  The thought behind this is that if you can convince yourself that you really weren’t the little geek kid who was continually getting beaten up, you’ll be able to respond and function in a healthier way as an adult.  If you can convince yourself that you used to be Billy Bad Ass back in the day, instead of the nerd who got tossed face first in the trash barrel every morning, then you might be able to act like Billy Bad Ass now, instead of always being the town doormat.

As much as I like the concept behind the re-write, it’s a bit intellectually dishonest.   I was never Billy Bad Ass.  The closest I ever came to it was the one time I beat the hell out of my oldest sister, and that was a gut reaction fueled by years of repressed rage.

However, with a little creativity, “re-writing my script” could be hilarious as hell.

I wasn’t a sickly kid born into a poor family who got my ass kicked on a daily basis for the first thirteen years of my life.  Hell no.  I was a freaking princess, complete with a tiara.

snow white yeah rightCheck it out!

I liked to kick ass, so I took martial arts lessons and got my black belt in Karate.

i'm a ninjaHow you like me now?

And when I got older and was mega-cool, I got to hang out with Steve Perry.

me Steve PerryYeah, we were buds back in 1983.

While coming up with such stunning fictional scenarios can be fun, then it raises the question, “What the hell happened?”

Apparently I need to lower my standards.

I wonder if this is creative use of Paint or Photoshop, or if someone really had the balls to spray paint this on a real sign:

speeding excuseSomething in my twisted sense of humor hopes it’s real.

Bunkies With Beezelbub, Absolute Power, and Who Needs What?

Now we know the Voice of the Teleprompter!

Perhaps it is not very nice for me to insult Beezelbub that way, but the pursuit of power corrupts in ways that can turn an honest man crooked, and a crooked man into a ruthless despot.  This is why the Framers of the Constitution wisely included separation of powers, so that at least in theory, no one man can hold too much power.  I am not a fan of our current president, to put it mildly.  I understand it takes a strong personality and a buttload of money to get elected to public office. There have been precious few po’ folk in the Oval Office (Harry Truman was probably the last.)  How many people with strong personalities and a buttload of money are particularly moral or ethical?  Some politicians are less odious than others, some are positively vile and devoid of any redeeming features, but as far as genuinely “good,” maybe they exist, but I’d need to see it to believe it.

Having neither a strong personality nor buttloads of cash, it is highly unlikely that I would ever aspire to hold public office.  I have a healthy cynicism toward politicians (even Republicans who claim conservatism/fiscal responsibility when it serves their purpose) anyway.  I don’t see how it would be possible today to be honest- or at the least to attempt to stick to one’s principles- and survive in the world of politics.

Ted looked normal, anyway.

I can see how psychopaths could do very well in the political sphere.  Is Obama Ted Bundy’s political cousin?  What about Bill Clinton? To be fair, the most recent president that Obama reminds me of is Richard Nixon.  Here was a guy who was also paranoid and secretive and involved in shady business, though Dick Nixon’s a choirboy (as is Clinton) when compared to the current Obfuscater In Chief.

I don’t think anyone’s in the political game for altruistic motives.  One can argue that there is no such thing as true altruism, because people reach out to others to fulfill their own needs for belonging and self-esteem.  Obama reaches out to the entitlement crowd because to them they’re voting for Santa Claus.

I can go on for days on this one.

Of course, human beings have needs.  It’s just not the function of government to provide those needs for people who should be working and providing for themselves.

Another tidbit from Psych 101: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Not to disagree too much with Maslow, but I know people whose hierarchies are a lot different.  Such as Jerry’s:

Not just any beer.  Natty Lite.  Acck.

I think that hierarchy stays pretty consistent as one ages too.  As a little kid mine would have looked something like this:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose– the more things change, the more they stay the same, and yes, I drank coffee even as a very young child- thanks Grandma, for putting the Folger’s monkey on my back!

I think part of the problem with society today is that self-esteem is over-rated.  You shouldn’t feel good about yourself if you suck.  Normal people naturally feel shitty when they know they should do something about their suckiness. Save the feeling good for when you’ve accomplished something.

I remember all the vapid little cartoons and sketches and stuff designed for kids back in the 70’s to make them feel good about themselves. I watch that stuff today and a good bit of it makes me want to vomit.  Some of it was good, such as telling girls that they can be astronauts just like the guys, and that it’s OK for guys to cry in public, even if it makes them look like pussies to the rest of the world.   The problem is that touchy-feely stuff has morphed even further into the notion that the world owes you simply because you’re vertical and sucking up valuable oxygen.  I still remember Steve-o and his attempts at the “I’m entitled because I’m breathing” tactic to get out of doing unpleasant tasks, such as, “I don’t have to clean the cat box, Mom, because I’m just fine the way I am.”  Ok, keep up that philosophy and you can talk yourself out of doing anything menial- or meaningful- for that matter.   Nice try, but I won’t let you get away with it.  I was a Mean Mommy.  I made him do chores.  It was good for him.

I think for a long time Steve-o thought I was the reincarnation of Joan Crawford, which is erroneous on two levels.

First, I don’t believe in reincarnation. Second, Joan died in 1977.  I was born in 1969, which makes such a notion logistically impossible.

Why would anyone want to improve themselves and work to reach their potential if they’re convinced that they’ve reached the apex of personal achievement simply by getting out of bed? I have a problem with that.  Perhaps it’s my flaming type-A personality shining through yet again, but if you’re going to suck up valuable oxygen, do something at least halfway constructive with it.

“You’re not a *eff-tard…You’re just a tard,” probably isn’t a very good apology when you’ve called your son an *eff-tard in a fit of anger.  I’m sorry, Steve-o.

Mommy doesn’t do well with things like empathy and compassion.

Anyway, I know this election season I’ve found it hard to hold my tongue, and while I strive for civility, I often fail miserably.  It looks like I will have to settle for my two good friends, satire and sarcasm, to get me through.

Sadly, no matter how things turn out, ‘ol Splitfoot is going to have a field day.

Fire and Brimstone, Faith for the Cynical, and Unpopular Moral Absolutes

Crucifixion was not this pretty.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of my life researching theology.  I am wired in such a way that it’s difficult to take anything on faith.  The way that I’m wired, I generally default to Murphy’s Law.  The sad part of that is I’m right way too much of the time when I take my own default and assume the worst.

That might have been the reason why I was terrified of everything when I was a kid.  A good deal of my unrelenting fear was justified.  I did get my ass kicked a lot.  But I also had a certain knack for imagining the worst in a situation, like when Dad’s weirdo friends thought that I enjoyed swinging upside down while being grabbed by the ankles.  All I could imagine, other than sheer terror, was the ass pilot letting go and my sorry carcass flying clean through the picture window.  I don’t like too many people grabbing at me to begin with, but add the elements of my poor balance, centrifugal force, height, and a moderately shady character, and I am good and truly freaked.   Perhaps it is a good thing that I have to be on the verge of death before I can puke.  Then again, if I would have spewed a good one (after eating Spaghetti-os or something else colorful, like lime sherbet) perhaps Dad would have prohibited his buddies from repeating this torture.

Come on down to the Baptist Tent Revival!  Music!  Fun! However, no dancing, and no liquor will be served.

In Christian traditions the Pentecostals and Baptists get a bad rap for fire and brimstone sermons, but the Pentecostals and Baptists have nothing on the old-school Catholics.  Pentecostals and Baptists could “get saved” and then they’d have a “get out of hell free” pass.  In traditional old-school Catholicism, you don’t just “get saved.”  God is keeping score, and hellfire awaits the person who Dies In Sin.  The only way to clear your slate is to go to Confession and then do whatever Penance the priest assigns you.  It was always better to get a laid back priest who would give you easy Penance.  Father Furey was everyone’s favorite because he was pretty easy on the small stuff and he had a sense of humor.  The other ones could be downright scary and mean about it and you’d be saying Hail Marys and Our Fathers for days.

Yes, you are headed straight to Hell for setting your Mom’s tape deck to the “Like a bat out of helllll!” portion of the Meatloaf tape.  And for flipping the bird at the bug eating kid at school, and for calling your sister an “asshole.”  You get to be bunkies with Beezelbub unless you say 400 Hail Marys, 1000 Our Fathers, and clean the toilet with your toothbrush every day for a month without being asked to do it.

It was usually my luck to end up with whichever priest hated kids the most.

The worst thing about Confession is that it would only be a matter of minutes before sin would rear its ugly head again.  Almost everything I did or thought could be considered a sin, so it was a vicious cycle. Sin-confess, sin-confess, etc. and so on.

Mom was really good at dragging us kids to Confession at least once a month if not more often.  I understand her logic- because if a Catholic Dies In Sin, you at the very least get time in Purgatory, and at the very worst, if you have a Mortal Sin on your scorecard, you go Straight to Hell.  And you don’t have to actually do the Mortal Sin- you just have to want to.

I can admit I never had this problem.  I always had plenty of sins on my plate.

Sins were everywhere when I was a kid.   Using swear words- even the word “fart”= sin.  Taking the last fish stick on the plate= sin,  unless you were sure no one else wanted it.  Giving my sister’s Barbies buzzcuts= definite sin.  Hanging out in the farmer’s field behind the houses across the street (even though the farmer had a 12 gauge and dogs and he and his dogs would chase kids if he saw them) was also a sin.

So by the time I was about five I was terrified of sin, and even more terrified of Mortal Sins even though at age five I had no idea what “adultery,” “fornication” and “apostasy” truly meant.  I did know if anyone was going to die with Mortal Sins, it would be me, even if it’s not even really clear to me at that point what they are, and I would probably be on the toilet, which means I’m partially naked, and being naked is a sin too.  I had some pretty scary logic as a child.

Believe me, Catholic kids were taught a lot more about hell than one might think, at least back in the day.  At least on the rare occasion Mom would let us go with Grandma to the Baptist Sunday School (it amazed me she ever did, because at that time Protestants were considered “heathens,”) we sang “Jesus Loves Me” and made crafts with popsicle sticks.  I always wondered why Jesus loved us at the Baptist church, but at the Catholic church he lived in the little gold box on the altar -when He wasn’t out making rounds with His scorecard, marking down our sins.

I’m surprised that I ended up having any kind of faith at all, but that is where the grace of God comes in.

The apostle Paul, (who strikes me as a fellow rational thinker) in his letter to the Philippians, puts it as “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling…for it is God Who is at work in you.” (Philippians 2:12-13)  God, not me.  God, not inept leaders.  God, Who isn’t primarily occupied with keeping score, or for sending people to hell for having naughty fantasies about Steve Perry in spandex, or for having the bad fortune of being on the toilet and partially naked at the hour of death.  The challenge is to slow down and listen to God’s voice- not my own, and not the talking heads.  It’s not as easy as one might think.

Yes, he did have one hell of a voice!

It’s comforting for me to understand I’m not in charge, and neither is Mr. Murphy, no matter how much Murphy’s Law seems to prove itself out.

I do believe in the perseverance of the saints, though maybe not in a strictly Calvinist sense, (I’m not a Calvinist but I do agree with certain elements of Calvinism) because it’s God doing the transforming, or the saving, if you will.  It’s not about me trying to be good- because I’m not.  If I had to explain my theological position it would be that of Molinism.  God knows, but I don’t, if you take it to its Cliff’s Notes version.   It’s OK that there are some things I’m just not going to understand.

Even though I believe that salvation is by the grace of God and is not contingent upon how much penance I attempt to do, there are still absolutes.  The rules are there for a reason- mostly to act as boundaries to keep us from doing more damage to ourselves and others than we would were we left unfettered.

Anarchy always fails.  While it might sound good to have freedom from rules, when society breaks down it’s not a good thing.  Simply take a look around and see what all the drugs and violence and thievery have led to.   Free love bought society broken families, rampant VD and AIDS.  The decline of traditional social mores and the prevailing moral free-for-all where there are no absolutes has turned society into a freak show, that I can’t necessarily say is a good thing.