Faulty Gaydar

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I’m really not prejudiced against gay people, in the sense that I prejudge them and close my mind off to any exceptions. But I’ve noticed that there exists in spades a character trait among gay or bisexual men that, to be fair, I find equally annoying but much rarer among women.

It’s that clueless seduction of a person who clearly has no interest in them. One sees this among grade-school girls primarily — obsessive crushes overbearingly imposed. But most of these girls eventually grow out of it —  or grow into it, in all the right places, so to speak. At that time, though, they seem to sincerely feel that strong desire itself, if overbearingly expressed, might fuse onto someone who feels no desire at all.

I’m tempted to blame this aberrant adult belief on our society, as it may not be entirely safe for gay kids to be open about their orientation like other kids — all the straight kids working through the first awkward stages of flirting, relationships and sexuality. Thus, perhaps, they never learn to pull back from self-centered romantic desires after a few painful, public humiliations.

But plenty of fully-grown straight women still do that same, overbearing thing — only to straight guys, at least, not to gay ones — Tom Cruise excepted. And straight guys do it as well — to straight women, and not to gay ones — lesbian porn stars excepted.

So, I guess I just don’t understand that whole orientation, desire disconnect. Personally, when I don’t see any interest in me from a woman I find attractive, I move on immediately. And if I get even an inkling that an attractive woman isn’t interested in men at all, I’m off on my merry way all the quicker.

But maybe society just needs sex traffic controllers to talk us through landing the right plane at the right airstrip.

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The Lazy Man’s Mountain Man

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I’ve often wondered if I have what it takes to survive in the wild alone. Obviously the answer depends upon whether we’re talking about the savannas of Africa or the backwoods of Georgia. Each has its own vicious predators, to be sure. But my odds would be better against the African ones with teeth.

But, if I just walked right off into the Colorado or Alaska mountains in summertime and kept going until I was out of most hikers’ range, could I forage and hunt for enough food to survive the winter, using only a buck knife to start?

I’m no Bear Grylls, that’s for sure: I’d rather die of slow starvation than eat the ass out of a decomposed moose. I could probably handle bugs though…as long as I didn’t give them all names first. And I don’t think I’d have a problem killing a deer or a bunny, either — in principle, anyway, if not in actual practice.

I once had the idea that I could trap some living rabbits and pen them up in a cave; then every day all I’d have to do is gather enough carrots and other plants to keep them happy and extremely horny — and eat their fat little kids.

Not that I would ever roast the kids on a spit while they were still young, you understand. In fact I’d probably wait until they’d made some grandbunnies of their own — even allow quality time for some generational bonding so that even the littlest would always have those memories to hold onto for a few more weeks until their time was up too.

Naturally I’d be rolling in bunny fur — able to make all the bed quilts, warm moccasins, and oven mits I could use. So cold winters wouldn’t be that big an issue. I’d just have to figure out how to store the rabbits’ food through those long, dreary, snowy months…

Well maybe I could just raise and smoke-dry so many rabbits during the warmer months that I could feed myself sticks of rabbit jerky all winter long. Then I’d just have to catch a couple more rabbits in the spring! Problem solved.

Mountain men are such drama queens.

Look Don’t Touch

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I hope our human race progresses to a point where we can all be casual, open and honest about our sexual attractions — which is not to say we jump into the nearest bushes after our eyes lock — only that we no longer play the tiresome games meant to deny the obvious.

I understand why women do this: Men are generally pigs. And no sooner would an unavailable woman show another guy her honest attraction than his ham-handed (pun intended), egotistical seduction would begin.

But women are equally at fault. In many relationships it isn’t acceptable for the man to express his honest attraction to any other woman. But the alternative is to be false — either feigning obliviousness or actually snubbing the other woman as a sign of loyalty to his first. [“God no, Jennifer Lopez is hideous.”]

Truth be told, women are only better at hiding their attractions this way. But the underlying attraction is still there. It usually comes to the surface when an attractive guy comes along who doesn’t care whether she’s really oblivious or just snubbing him — a guy who’s just honest, detached and open about his attractions generally.

So let’s just make a new agreement between the sexes.

Guys: We pledge not to take every sign of sexual attraction as a sex green light.

Ladies: You pledge not to take basic sexual attraction as a compromise of loyalty and virtue.

The Silence of the Lambs

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Am I the only one occasionally struck by the abject horror of having to kill and eat animals or plants in order to feed a body and survive another day? Was that a yes?

Seriously, though, what kind of a rigged existence is this? I can’t call myself faultless when I daily put salt and ketchup on formerly-living beings. Yet thus we must — or they taste too bland.

Vegans would argue we could all feed ourselves on harvested plants — without killing anything. But clearly they have no firsthand knowledge of the gas veggies give me. In fact, these very same plasmas of methane and sulphur — as the scientific community has already proven — cause the melting of the ice caps.

Thus, when I eat the cows, the pigs, the chickens and the sheep, I save our fragile planet by limiting their dangerous outputs and my own.

The Moby Dick Litmus Test

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I’ve always had a sort of inferiority complex about art, film and literary critics. They seem so often to find great merit and meaning in works that struck me as pretentious crap. Yet I took it for granted that I must be missing something — in the works themselves or perhaps in my own innate ability to interpret art.

Thus I was down on myself for years, having never read many of the literary classics. But too many times in school, when forced to read what were purported to be “masterpieces,” I was bored out of my mind by them.

I guess I failed to look past the pages-long descriptions of shifting weather patterns, fine indoor furnishings, and ominous land formations — the far too subtle gestures and turns of phrase — failed to appreciate the “symbolism,” the “irony,” and the “allusions” behind it all, which supposedly elevated these seeming snoozers to true works of art.

For me, real art is about truth. And truth is neither subjective — nor holographic, i.e. subject to endless, extensive metaphor. Either the characters are strikingly real and the story compelling and inevitable, or it just isn’t true art.

A perfect example is Moby Dick — possibly the most overrated novel ever written. Truly, a literary apocalypse.

And many critics in Melville’s time hated it too:

“[A]n ill-compounded mixture of romance and matter-of-fact. The idea of a connected and collected story has obviously visited and abandoned its writer again and again in the course of composition. The style of his tale is in places disfigured by mad (rather than bad) English; and its catastrophe is hastily, weakly, and obscurely managed.”

But, both then and now, perhaps in an attempt to show off their more learned sense and sensibility, critics have attempted to convince us that this long, literary cat turd is in fact a masterwork — no matter its bizarre, 200-page detour from a weak narrative about a whale hunt into an exhaustive exposition on whales and whale hunting generally.

And so this has become a litmus test for me — a test of others’ critical pretentiousness. Anyone who claims to have even enjoyed Moby Dick — let alone found it to be a work of great art — is himself missing something critical.

The metaphorical forest for the trees.

The Omega Men

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As a lifelong dork, I’d like to take this opportunity to make it clear that there are some very important distinctions to be made between the traditional dork and either nerds or geeks. My “kind,” for instance, do not generally excel at math or science as nerds do. Nor do dorks become overly excited about fairly mundane developments as geeks are known to be  — no getting “geeked” about the latest Spider Man action figure.

We merry band of dorks, in addition to our trademark physical awkwardness, are distinguished instead by an unwillingness to take seriously the “game” or the “players.” In intense social situations, you can count on us to say something embarrassingly inappropriate at a masterfully unfortunate time.

Young dorks do this unwittingly; we older dorks do it by design. We are the omega men; and our natural role is to remind the alpha males that life is not just a competition for the best women.

Life is as much about our laughing in the face of failure as it is about our looking cool at the gates of success.

An Honest Agnostic

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According to the most respected and widely relied-upon dictionaries in the world, the definition of an agnostic is one who believes it is impossible to know with certainty whether or not God exists. These dictionaries are worthless crap.

Any self-respecting agnostic clearly would not hold to such a rigid belief if he were persuasively spoken to by even a diminutive burning bush. Never would an agnostic say that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists: But the existence of God is not self-evident when, in the course of his normal affairs, he attempts to speak with shrubbery.

I hope that there is a God. And I could be convinced that He exists — but not ever by other human beings. And not by those ancient books conveyed and translated by succeeding generations of other human beings. I equally dismiss the take-my-word-for-it certainty of atheists that god — their spelling, not mine — does not exist.

And I’m not just playing “hard to get” here — holding out for a better deal than everlasting life — or 72 wives. (God forbid) I require no unambiguous sign sent unambiguously from Him that He is unambiguously God so as to comport myself guided by my best moral judgments. If, in the final judgment, this chosen way of life turns out to be not good enough for Him — we shall agree to disagree.

The threats of scorching flames in Hell, if anything, make me less inclined to take that “proverbial” leap of faith: I tend to do as little as possible out of cowardice alone.

I’m open to His existence. I’m not just sitting “on the fence,” “hedging my bets,” hoping to sneak in “through the doggy door.” I just DON’T KNOW.

So, Oxford, Roget, Merriam and you, Webster, most of all — spare me all the hollow apologies. And just remember this: The definition of a professional, you must understand– and of an agnostic too– is he who knows what he does not know.

Mind over Matter is Malarkey

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We all know that a determination to succeed can help us overcome even daunting obstacles. In this sense, I suppose, the expression “mind over matter” rings true. What I take issue with, though, is the new age/new physics notion that matter itself is but a creation of our minds.

Bullshit it is.

If that were true, then in moments when we aren’t in our right minds — LSD, PCP, PMS — there would be at least a few documented cases when rainbow unicorns actually did gallop through a guy’s basement — someone did spread wings and fly out his window — or all men did die and go to Hell.

Never. Happens.

Not all men, nor all at the same time.

The World Cup and the Nut Cup

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This latest post may land me on more shit lists than Mitt Romney and Salman Rushdie combined; but I wish to say something about the sport of soccer — by which I also mean “football,” for any of my many soon-to-be-offended, possibly-imaginary international fans.

I used to play soccer as a kid; and though I was decent at it, it struck me even at seven or eight that taking a shot to the face, the gut, or — God forbid — the family jewels, was an awfully steep price to pay for stopping a ball from entering a net.

Furthermore, as if it weren’t bad enough that players are strictly forbidden to protect Harry and the Hendersons by clutching them with trembling hands — if the ball does hit their hands by accident, it’s still a damn penalty. Who the hell came up with this testicle-obsessed sadomasochistic game? No, Hillary Clinton’s only been alive for sixty odd years.

Now, one might predict that I nevertheless feel respect for the bravado of these male soccer players, who couldn’t all be eunuchs. (We’ll leave aside their intellects for now.) But, like most American dudes, I’ve tried to watch soccer matches during the Olympics — no matter the eerily-lifeless, nauseating droning of the vuvuzelas (think, annoying kazoos) and the thrilling 1 to 0 finishes.

But just couldn’t. And it wasn’t the charming vuvuzelas: it was the sport itself.

Don’t get me wrong: If a player took a tragic one to the “boys” and had to be gurneyed off the field, I’d be as sympathetic, mildly uncomfortable and hysterically amused as the next guy. But these players — the very best in the world — were throwing themselves on the ground, rolling around and lightly convulsing — after only minor brushes with other players.

Never in my life seen a quarterback do that. (Granted, kickers do, but that’s because they aren’t real football players.)

And worse still, no sooner are these profiles in courage lowered onto the ground on the sidelines and doused with some sort of magic boo boo spray — no doubt equal parts fairy dust and vaginal discharge — than they pop back up on their feet, jump around, run in place, and signal their intention to go back in.

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!

No, it’s actually more of an embarrassment.

Edit Me? Edit YOU!!!

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They say language is a living thing. Year by year it evolves in thousands of subtle ways, each of which accrues unto a language re-conceived. Perhaps it is this very fluidity that partly explains my tireless resistance to mastering the formal rules of punctuation and style — at least those dictated by past English teachers and the style emperors who presume to know the language as it must be known.

For me, no rules of language exist at all. We ought to use whatever punctuation and whichever words best get across what we wish said, how we wish it understood. If, as has been the case with Ebonics, cultural dialects lead to the perpetuation of stereotypes and ignorance, such is the cost of our free and fluid expression.

In fact, quite charming words have fallen into disuse in only the last few centuries:

Quagswagging -noun – “The action of shaking to and fro”
Jollux – noun – Slang phrase used in the late 18th century to describe a “fat person”

WIDDENDREAM – NOUN – “A STATE OF MENTAL DISTURBANCE OR CONFUSION”

And new charmers have recently ascended to the Oxford Dictionary of English:

bromance – a close but non-sexual relationship between two men

automagically – automatically and in a way that seems ingenious, inexplicable, or magical

turducken – a roast dish consisting of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey

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But were it possible for one very humble man to alter the course of a living language — beyond his heroic refusal to acknowledge the rules of formal usage — my contribution would concern use of the article “a” before any words starting with the letter “h.” In other words, “a historic fart…” would become “an historic bowel movement…”, as it were.

Use of “a” before the ‘h” pulls from us a wheezy, perverted hissing sound; it creates an awkward, scary series of soft vowel sounds that feels as though it never actually ends. An “an” before an “h” is much more modest, reserved and distinguished — thus a suitable reflection upon the majority of us — myself included.

I would never, however, presume to make this new usage rule obligatory (Chicago and AP Stylists take note.) I only ask that, should you insist upon use of the “a” before any “h” words around me, you at least do me the basic courtesy of brushing your darn teeth first.