Thursday, December 22, 2011

Live Like We're Mayan.

It’s December 21, 2011.  The Winter Solstice.  A year from today, according to interpretations of an ancient Mayan tablet, the world will end.

It will end in very similar fashion to when it also ended at Y2K and twice already in 2011, according to Harold Camping.

You'd think that the Mayans, with all their alleged prophetic knowledge, would have been able to accurately foretell the catastrophic, mysterious downfall of their own civilization.

Funny thing is, the Mayans aren’t the stupid ones.  We are.

The Mayan ‘long-count’ calendar (actually, there are several) doesn’t predict the end of the world.   Yes, the 13th Baktun ends on 12/21/12.  However, a time of great celebration is supposed to ensue, not Armageddon.  (Armayageddon?)  Does your world end every time you celebrate a birthday?  It may feel like it has when you wake up the next morning, but in most cases you’re still very much alive.

Furthermore, the Mayans make many references to dates that occur past 2012.  Many Mayans are still alive today, and they’re not freaking out about next year.  The whole idea was coined by New Age author José Argüelles in 1987.  Yup, I’ve been alive longer than this whole 2012 Doomsday thing.  Yup,  Snoop Dogg has been high for longer than this whole 2012 Doomsday thing.

Once upon a time, I had a good-natured friend named Greta.  She bought a tome about the Zodiac, and asked me what my sign was.  “Sagittarius,” I said.  She proceeded to read me two pages about myself and how my sign interacted with hers, about how I was a natural-born leader, about how I had some inner pain that hadn’t yet been dealt with.  She punctuated many a sentence with exclamations of how spot-on the book’s interpretation was.

I let her finish before I casually informed her that I’m actually a Libra.

“Oh,” she muttered, crestfallen, and left the room.

Reminds me of an episode of Criss Angel Mindfreak in which Criss poses as a tarot card reader in Vegas.  Once his subjects have been blindfolded, he swaps out the tarot card and instead reads the same paragraph from the cheesiest small-town newspaper horoscope to each person, telling them how they are strong yet have a need to be loved, among other generic, widely applicable truisms.  Many of his subjects start crying and tell him that he’s able to see into their soul more than even their loved ones can.

At the end of the episode (and forgive me if my facts are wrong; it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it), he lets people in on his little secret:  they’ve been duped. 

We all share in this human experience.  We all need love; we all have love to give.  We all want attention.  We all take dumps which often stink. 

Mine stink less than yours.  I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have ten pounds of rotting carcass in my colon. 

No Chichen Itza for this guy.  Although a Mayan city, it sounds quite edible.

Everybody merely wants someone to reinforce what they already believe to be true.  Why do the best psychiatrists merely listen?   Why do people pay thousands to talk to them?  It’s crazy:  psychiatrists make more than Bernie Madoff.  Well, more than he makes now, anyways.

Everybody wants to be heard.   I once read about a guy who made a comfortable living on the streets of Tokyo by charging people money in exchange for letting them yell at him.

Everybody wants a framework to explain why life is the way it is, and someone to blame when things go wrong.

Americans spend $200 million a year on astrology.  I am clearly in the wrong profession.

 “Pluto is no longer a planet!  How else am I supposed to explain the powerful pull on my psyche?”

It cracks me up when people try and quantify human interaction through the use of Zodiac signs.  “Ah, he dumped me because I’m a Taurus and he’s a Cancer.  It had to be because the Sun was in transit to my natal Saturn, and.. .”  Really?  You sure?  None of this happened because you are a crazy biznatch?  Of course not; let’s blame some stars.

I am going to become an astrologer.  That way, nothing is ever my fault. 

The reason this blog sucks so hard is because I wrote it while there was a stellium, or buildup of planets in Libra.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a mediocre writer with a penchant for tangents, sesquipedalianisms and run-on sentences.

Screw it; maybe I’ll look into gender-specific psychiatry.  Men don’t talk, as a general rule, unless it’s about sports.  Or women.  But, of course, never women’s sports.   Über-lame.

I’ll just charge women $200 an hour to complain about their problems.  The best part about listening to women is that they don’t even want you to find a solution!  Solve their issues, and they have to go to all the trouble of finding new things to complain about.

Or, maybe I’ll just become a doomsday prophet.   Mr. Camping may look like a fool now, but at least he looks like a very wealthy fool.   Everyone in the Bible Belt will be getting thank-you cards this Christmas.

The best part about Camping’s prediction, and other Christian doomsday predictions, is this:  Matthew 24:36 states that no one knows the day or the hour when the world will end.   No one except God.   Well, God and Harold Camping, that is.

The truth is that the end will come for all of us someday.  It won’t come a year from now for most of us, but it may come sooner than that for you.  For me.  For someone we care about. 

As much as I hate to quote yet another American Idol star, there’s truth in Kris Allen’s one and only hit single.  “We only got 86,400 seconds in a day to turn it all around or throw it all away….gotta live like we’re dying.”

Let’s also not forget to live like we’re Mayan.  In other words, relax.  The world is not ending next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Yesterday sucked.

Six words for you: Jury duty on absolutely no sleep.

I got home around eleven the night before last, and promptly took a sleeping pill and four melatonin pills. And then lay awake in bed for the next seven and a half hours. Diphenhydramine didn't cut it. I should've tried some of diphenhydrayours.

There's a tight-knit community of insomniacs who post to Facebook in the middle of the night. It felt good to be a part of something bigger than myself.

I hate sunrises. Actually, there's nothing wrong with them per se, and I enjoy looking at sunrise pictures in coffee table books and the like just as much as the next guy. Yesterday morning's was actually particularly beautiful. But, it served as a visual aid to reinforce the point that my day was going to be a suckhole. Anytime I see a sunrise, I've either been up way too long or have had to get up way too early. In this morning's case, it was both.

I should be barred from recording songs that are named after natural phenomena that I have almost no firsthand experience with.  "Sunrise" is obviously out, and I should probably also hold off on finishing my next hit single, "The Honduran Rain Of Fish."

I showed up to the jury room a fairly fashionable fifteen minutes late. Of course, I got the one remaining empty seat next to the guy with whooping cough. Or consumption; not sure.  I don't have much firsthand experience with chronic wasting diseases, either.  

There was a painting of a clown riding a carnival horse on the wall, and I wanted to rip it down and set it on fire, and then bawl my eyes out, just to make sure that everyone in the room knew how crappy I felt.

Leave No Childish Happiness Behind.

The State Of Oregon Judicial Department's introductory video, complete with poor acting and the requisite female African-American judge, was first on the agenda.  Actually, it was the only thing on the agenda. Then the waiting began. We were informed that we should prepare to be there for the next 9 and a half hours.   
If picked for a trial, I would have literally gone to any length to make sure I didn't get selected for a jury. 

"Yes, I'm wanted for six felonies in Mozambique. Yes, every single member of my family serves in law enforcement, even my cousin's unborn child. Yes, I have had a baby with every single defendant in the state of Oregon. Yes, I hate white people. Yes, I have IBS. Yes, I dine and dash, and then drink and drive."

If one of those six didn't work, I contemplated faking a seizure.  Or feigning Tourette's.  Or chanting "Tebow" until they made me leave.

I pay taxes. I vote, even for county commissioners and pointless measures. I've never been on welfare. I even use the self-pay drop boxes when I visit state parks. Most of the time. What do you want from me, Oregon?  (Cue Adam Lambert hit single here.)

Yes, I realize that without jurors the justice system wouldn't work fairly. But, there were at least 400 other able people in the waiting room, and it's safe to say that most, if not all, had gotten at least some sleep, and were therefore of more sound mind. Sounder mind? More soundlier mind? 

My neighbor's whooping cough took a turn for the worse.

I've wished many times for a rewind button. Something I could press to give me a mulligan, to turn back time. But, a fast-forward button? I would have been sorely tempted to use one.

I must be getting old. I used to pull all-nighters almost every week in college. Not to study, of course, but to have a ten-hour Lord Of The Rings marathon.  Or a ten-hour Connect Four marathon (we actually did this).  Or, to TP, egg, pee on, or otherwise ‘beautify’ various statues and security vehicles on campus (yup, we actually did this, too).  

The aftermath of this all-nighter was different.  I was a wreck, probably because I hadn't committed any misdemeanors or other mischievous acts during the night.  My left eye was twitching.  My head throbbed. My vision was blurred. Would I even have been able to tell if I were having a stroke?

I accidentally broke my juror badge.  I think that’s grounds for dismissal from jury duty.  If I can’t even be trusted with cheap plastic, how can I be trusted with a verdict?

I also attempted to slip a clerk $20 to let me go early.  She wasn’t impressed, and pointed out that she’d be happy to assign me to another room of the courthouse to stand trial for attempting to bribe a government employee.

Six hours later…

My name was finally called, and I was released, my ‘jury duty’ complete.  I, like hundreds of other people, had sat in a waiting room and done absolutely nothing, only to be sent home.  Even if we only each get a check for $10 plus mileage, this scenario is played out daily in thousands of courtrooms across the nation.  I think I’m beginning to see why our government has a budget deficit of $15 trillion.

What is the government doing to combat that deficit?  Well, upon stumbling to my car, I found that, in addition to the $17 I’d already paid for parking, I had incurred a $40 parking ticket.  My curbside receipt had fallen to the floor of my car.  

Back to the courthouse tomorrow.

God bless America.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fruitcake Merrily On High.

When did Christmas get all prima donna and demand its own month?

Every other holiday gets merely a single day.  In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but he doesn't even get more than 24 hours and a lame excuse for financial institutions to take the day off?  Do you know how hard it was to sail around the earth back when it was flat?  This is how we say thanks?

Sure, some of the more prestigious holidays might command a weekend.  Halloween stores do open up a couple weeks before Oct. 31, and Irish people find reasons to get drunk year-round, not just on March 17.  But, Christmas is still in a class all its own.

Sadly, Yuletide's length enshrouds some other meaningful December holidays in its bloated wreath-shaped shadow.  Holidays like Forefathers' Day, December 21, which shouldn't be confused with Four Fathers Day, a celebration of homosexual plural marriage.  Holidays like Pepper Pot Day, December 29. And, of course, my personal favorite, December 8...

Take It In The Ear Day.  Look it up.

Despite my unabashed affinity for it, I have questions about this holiday.  How do I celebrate?  What exactly am I supposed to be taking in my ear?  And, most importantly, which ear should I take it in?

Perhaps the Christmas season is so long simply because of the lack of ample competition from any other December holiday.  Perhaps Christmas helps us forget that Pearl Harbor Day and National Cotton Candy Day fall on the same date, and helps us avoid the inherent bipolar mood swings that this juxtaposition would provoke.

Sure, Christmas is a great holiday, one that billions, young and old, look forward to annually.  However, plenty of other holidays encourage family togetherness.  Plenty of other holidays encourage wanton spending and lavish consumerism. Furthermore, those individuals, myself included, who point to the birth of Jesus as being a seminal event worthy of extended celebration should be reminded that most scholars agree that Jesus was actually most likely born around September.

This leaves us with two theories as to why we celebrate Christmas in December:

1.  The celebration of the birth of Jesus was moved in order to better coincide with the celebration of the Roman winter solstice.

2.  Chuck Norris once accidentally sent Jesus a birthday card in December.  Jesus was too embarrassed to inform Chuck of his mistake.  Thus, we've celebrated Christmas in December ever since.

For the record, I'm not opposed to Christmas claiming the entire month of December.  It's kind of a worthless month with nothing else going on.  It's the Edsel of months, at least at higher latitudes here in the Northern Hemisphere.  And if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, what happens to your Christmas carols this time of year?  Do Australian families gather around their air conditioning units and sing "Let It Sun"?  Or "Frosty the Foster's"?  "Go Tell It In The Outback"?  "I Heard The Didgeridoo On Christmas Day"?  "Bring A 3-Foot Hunting Knife, Jeanette Isabella"?  "Summer Wonderland"?

I could go on.

But, if Yuletide is going to last as long as it does, some changes need to take place, especially when it comes to Christmas music.  My first suggestion for improvement?  Pass laws that prevent this poor excuse for music, at least the really cheesy kind, from being played until, say, around December 23.  Anywhere.  Everywhere.  I mean, "Santa Baby"?  Really?  How many rich old sugar daddies did the singer confess her love to in exchange for gifts before she settled for one that doesn't actually exist?

And "Come On A My House"?  Really, Rosemary Clooney?  In the good ol' days, they used to lock people away for confessing to pedophilia, like you do numerous times in this song.  Fortunately, you failed to provide your address, so hopefully not too many children were able to take you up on your creepy offer.

My second suggestion would be to update the woefully antiquated ditty "Twelve Days Of Christmas".  If my true love gave me ten lords a-leaping, I would be taken aback, to say the least, although I'm curious to see how long said lords could maintain their jumping routine.  The song implicitly promises me that these lords simply don't quit.  If I caught a lord taking a break, could I borrow a drumstick from one of the twelve drummers and beat him with it?

Furthermore, since I don't own cattle, what exactly would those eight maids be milking?  Does anyone even know what a colly bird is?  (Yes, that's the original lyric.)  It's time to bring this song back to cultural relevance by replacing these hopelessly superannuated gifts with things that members of today's society would actually be happy to receive:  divorce papers, welfare checks, and a 40 of Old E.

The last item actually fits neatly into the song, right where the partridge line used to be.  Plus, Old E is conveniently sold everywhere.  Who knows where you can purchase a pear tree these days, much less a partridge who would be content remaining in one for an extended period of time.

Come to think of it, we might as well overhaul America's entire repertoire of Christmas carols.

"Winter Wonderland" sucks.  It must go.

"What Child Is This"?  Duh, it's Jesus.  Stupid question.  Next.

"I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In"?  Good for you, dollard.  You're at a port.  Lots of ships sail in daily.

"Carol Of The Bells", "Jingle Bells", "Silver Bells" and "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" need an instrument change.  Bells are annoying at best.  I was forced to play in a bell choir with a bunch of nerdy girls for a few months growing up.  This was arguably the worst parenting decision my parents ever made.

And, finally, "Ding Dong Merrily On High"?  Stupid.  But, if we're going to keep it, let's at least give a nod to other dessert snack makers.  Hostess has had the corner on this song, and therefore this market, for far too long.  I would vote for either "Oatmeal Cream Pie Merrily On High" or "Zebra Cakes Merrily On High", but I'm open to suggestions.

In reality, we should probably vote in the most austere and revered dessert snack of all, that holiday institution, the gift that keeps on giving.  Let's go with "Fruitcake Merrily On High".  Cut. Print.  That's a wrap.