Sunday, September 4, 2022

Colorado Recap and Bellyaches

Outside the original location of Breckenridge Brewery.

While I was driving around in Colorado with my buddy, and wookie life-partner, Jared "Desmond" White, I saw a few strange things. 

While we drove through Aurora I saw two churches, one on each side of the street, and it preoccupied my thoughts for the rest of our trip out to Fairplay. (Originally the one-and-only South Park, Colorado!) This is problematic: the strange prevalence of churches. In my own time spent in purple and red states over the years, churches become something like Starbucks locations: places to consume palatable, current-culture approved Christianity. (Our consumerist and capitalist context we live in perpetuates this.) Ideally, Churches are meant to bless the community, and serve as conduits for the Kingdom work of God, but the presence of literally dozens of churches in a 5 mile radius makes me suspicious.  

(I later found out that one of these churches was a Baptist and the other was a Lutheran, so I was probably just being a prick.) 

The next day, we went to a brewery, which was hosting an event for the local chapter of the Log Cabin Republican party. (I had heard about the Log Cabin Republicans from various media sources, but seeing them in the wild was strange.) This genus of Republican is LGBTQ friendly. But, noting the pride flags everywhere across their booth, I also saw a handful of "Lets Go Brandon" stickers and other by-the-numbers propaganda sharing the space. (Jared insisted, gleefully, on vandalizing my Magic the Gathering cards with them while I wasn't looking. ) Two seemingly disparate ideologies hand in hand: a movement that very literally prides itself on open-mindedness, and inclusivity, and the other playing to the fears and ignorance of another reigning political ideology.  

Culture shock aside, Colorado wasn't all bad. It's the kind of Americana that I wouldn't mind transplanting to, given the right conditions. I very much enjoy the scenery and the general community vibe that comes across in each mountain town and municipality. The people there seem to know each other well enough. (I'm more suspicious of peoples' intentions than not, so you would have to go there and see it for yourself.) 

Also, it was fun to see Jared in his element, in a beautiful home to call his own. My god, they have a basement and a crawlspace? Imagine a bespoke, suburbia 3 bed, 2.5 bath home, but underneath it a dungeon full of nerd shit. "Someday," I tell myself.

We got in a good game of Warhammer 40K while we were there!

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Why Does Homer go to Church?

Homer discovers the meaning of life.

 Why indeed?

I remember growing up with my dad dragging me to catholic mass, which in retrospect seemed like a weird exercise. (I don't say that to be mean, or disparaging to Catholics, who are ingrained to go to church quite a bit throughout the week.) I mean, why go when the heart isn't there? It's not like it changed his life, or sanctified him. 

But this idea, going to church for the sake of going to church is endemic in culture, so much so that even Homer Simpson goes to church. 

Who is Homer Simpson? I'm sure everyone at least kind of knows who he is. He's the distillation of the archetypal American man. He's a high-functioning alcoholic, who's bad at managing money, a single household income provider, and a negligent parent.


Lovejoy with his model trains. 

As far as I can tell, Homer is a protestant, possibly a Presbyterian, given the more traditional scaffolding at work in the ecclesiastical architecture of his church. His pastor, the Reverend Lovejoy, is a sardonic and depressed man (who's collar suggests that he could be a member of either the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Anglican traditions). And, as far as I can tell, all the advice he gives Homer and Marge, is tainted with by his own apathy and depression. The indications that he is just as lost as his flock, at least suggests that he is, in many ways, just like us.

But why does Homer go to church? 

God is invoked a lot in The Simpsons, mostly as an antagonist that enjoys the torture of his servants. When Homer encounters the Theophany of God, he is usually an old man, the upper half of his body out of frame and never revealed. Like many Americans, Homer is exposed to an idea of God that is distant, abstracted, and unfamiliar. Homer, on occasion pleads with God for favor, but only when he is in need of something material, like most Americans, to be honest. 

But why does Homer go to church? 

My best guess at why Homer goes to church is that he assumes that going to church serves as a sacrament. (Even if he lacks the spiritual vocabulary to describe it as a "sacrament.") But going to church, I would say, is less about experiencing something that benefits "you" the attendee, but something that strengthens those around you. It's counter intuitive, to go to church to help someone else, but that is what is effectively happening. When Homer goes to church, he is not there to encourage Lenny, or empathize with Chief Wiggam, or unconditionally love Moe, but to punch a card for himself. "At least in "Homer the Heretic" (Season 4, Episode 3), Homer is saved by the very people he spurns, much to his chagrin, thus emphasizing the importance of church fellowship and community (at least implicitly).

The idea, though, that someone would go to Church "just because" eludes me. 

 It sounds like a colossal waste of time. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Remembering Norm Macdonald

Al Levine/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images


My introduction to Norm Macdonald was split between old SNL reruns on Comedy Central and his movie “Dirty Work.” His delivery, which was so deadpan and blunt, evoked a personal courage that was so foreign to me. (And still is.) 

When I found out that he died I felt crushed, like a piece of me was lost. Because so many talented people pass away into the oblivion of death and, despite every effort of their fans, eventually fade from memory. 

Often when someone dies, I say to myself, “I hope you were saved,” because I honestly wanted to see them again someday. It’s a selfish desire, but I know that that person was created for God’s glory, and that they were blessed with talents that, like an artist’s signature, illustrate an aspect (or characteristic) of God. And when someone is facing death, their egos weaken and they re-evaluate the nature of the universe before they leave it. I hope that, someday, my own heroes will realize this, so that they can be in on the joke: that their magnitude was not for them, but for God. 

I did find out though, after the fact, that Norm was a Christian. Or at least, that there was evidence that he was. (Because no one knows for sure, do they?) It brought me comfort knowing that after a lifetime of beholding the injustice of the world and speaking truth to that as a comedian, that Norm was finally with God and telling his jokes in his presence. That reality brings me hope, because we are not here to be great in our own right. We are here to be great and know that it is because of God that we are great.  

I’ll catch you again, someday, Norm. Until then…

Monday, August 8, 2022

Quick Update - AKA. Workin for a Living

 What have I been doing lately? 

The better question is what haven’t I been doing?

I’ve been working on a couple projects, which sounds exciting but one can only make so many announcements about that before it becomes just an excuse to be anti-social. 

The anthology expansion of Dynamic Synapse Protocol I am aiming to finish by the end of this year (famous last words, I know). It’s currently on hold for a paid gig that I am doing for my designer (and founder of ELECTI STUDIO), which has been super fun. It’s been a wonderful exercise in pulling my head out of my ass and dedicating time to something that isn’t so horribly ME. 

My daughter is starting kindergarten in a week, which seems a tad surreal. I’ll let you know how I feel about that once I’ve figured that out for myself. 

Lots of overtime, so much overtime. This will be my third week on oncall in a row. It’s set up so that we have to work one week once a quarter. I typically work about 8 weeks of the 14 week quarter to cover expenses. (Inflation is a bitch-and-a-half.)

That’s all I have right now. Pray for my sanity. 


Monday, December 20, 2021

An Object of Scorn

Affixed to the altar before the apse was the cross. It’s edges were frayed, roughly hewn from quarter sawn timber long ago. The reclaimed piece was swollen and pocked with burls. Striations of discoloration, wrapping around the trunk, intimated the shape of a hobbled man, or a rot in the wood. Well-lit by the clerestory above the chancel, the cross was positioned prominently, as if basking. The carpenter had placed the cross there, shunting it into a notch in the ground, embroidered with mosaic tile. He cursed the splinters collected by his hands. 

Over time, the basilica changed many hands, each flock with their own vice and preference. For a century or so, the cross absorbed bitterness and contention. In-fighting broke out across the aisles, until a meeting was convened to determine the spirit of their creed and what they said about their Lord. Most were satisfied by the outcome. At the end of it, the rich young ruler who ordered the meeting stepped forward and placed a thoughtful hand upon the hardened exterior, sensing great things ahead. 

Not soon after, it was stained with blood. Buckets of coagulated sanguine absorbed into the sword-gouged trunk, bright red, before fading to purple and blue. Suffering abounded in the lands choked with smoke and ash, until a pragmatic flock emerged, resourceful enough to stifle the sickness of violence that seemed to infect the sullen, stagnant air. The cross was crowned with temporal power by the rich young ruler, but the gilded crown bore the likeness of a bad forgery.  

New edicts were established regarding what the cross could and could not be. It took the aspect of many things. The cross was showered with wealth and abundance. Even the soft gold coins withered the cross’ face, bruising and softening the wood. Two attendants fought over the cross, for a time, until they conceded, finally, to a stalemate. Each mutually regarded one another with hate, their flocks diverging. They sat apart from one another, on either end of the cross. It stood between the camps, buffeted by anger and distain. After a time, the flocks relented, weary of the conflict, abandoning the refuse of entrails and sinew they had draped over the arms of the cross. The dawning light, emerging through the open portal in the narthex, exposed the rot. And members of both flocks returned to clean it as best they could.  

The cross still stands there now, black as charcoal and steeped with dried blood. Some still approach, as if recognizing an old friend. Those that stay, marvel for a time and consider the carpenter that left it so many years ago. Those that depart, do so quickly, though not before dressing it in fashionable clothing, berating it, and covering it with semen and feces. The weight of shackles, handcuffs, bandoliers, braids of Ethernet cable, fascist flags dipped in gasoline, drape around its neck like a noose. There, on the altar, it stands: objectified by filth, defeated. 

Yet, despite all this, the flock heaps their burdens upon it willingly.  And they depart, each one, with a spring in their step.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

On Toxic Fans: A Correspondence with my Dad

The below is a response to my Dad about the above video he sent me. Incidentally it ended up being pretty good writing, so see below:

 This is fairly good from a writer’s point of view?  He seems to indicate that WOKE and PC may tend to diminish the worth of a worthy villain.

Yeah, I definitely get the impression that he is a toxic fan. 

I mean with both characters he cites, Captain Marvel and Kylo Ren, both have been universally hated, but only by the people that grew up with Star Wars. They will cite that the prequels were better, remembering when they were 10 years old watching them. Likewise the older fans will say that the prequels sucked, again, remembering when they were 10 years old watching them. This is why I like Star Trek, because Star Wars is ultimately a franchise for children. Which isn't bad by any means, not at all. That's a good thing, because children need good fantasy and rudimentary moral models to go off of. (And the same goes for marvel movies.) But most of the best villains aren't really villains of all. You ought to read my book (if you haven't already) because I tried to draw up multiple villains while not really having them truly be villains. 

The Captain Marvel critique though gets old, if only because people are complaining exclusively because they have to root for a girl. As a father of a girl, I think that it's awesome that my daughter is getting likable heroes that have popular appeal. They did the same thing with "The Mighty Thor" who is Jane Foster (Natalie Portman's character from the first Thor movie), and people bitched about it in the comics, as they will likely do so when Thor 4 comes out. 

At the end of the day, no one seems to have any sense of awareness when it comes to these characters. The fans behave like children, because their peak enjoyment of the characters took place when they were children. Again, this is why I like Star Trek, because you don't truly appreciate it's message and substance until after you get pubes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Adulting in Peace

 My life is slowly becoming that Dr. Manhattan meme, where the omnipresent, and nigh omniscient, super hero sits on the surface of Mars, contemplating his life with jagged simplicity. 

Behold, pretension!

We've been in the throes of our first escrow, an entirely new process that I'm only beginning to understand. The byzantine disclaimers and addendums, compounded with legal aphorisms, wash over me like a salty wave that someone died in. Of course, I should be thankful. Owning property is a gift. And every gift is an opportunity for understanding and growth.

In all seriousness though, I had this strange moment of clarity, maybe 5 minutes ago. I was in the kitchen, hovering over a dissected crown of broccoli, realizing that my mind was characteristically "adult" in the moment. (Obviously, I've been an adult since I was 18, though even that status is symbolic in our highly specialized society.) I was watching myself move, as if in 3rd person, a weight resting on my shoulders that was altering the way I moved and behaved in that space. A similar moment happened in my 20s, when I signed my first lease to rent a town house (for the low, LOW price of $1000 per month). I was so scared and immobilized by the weight of rejection and the potential for failure. What if I couldn't handle it? What if I lost my job and, therefore, couldn't make the payments? I felt, in a way, hobbled by the immensity of the commitment, despite the fact that it was so mundane in hindsight.

Now I was standing over the cutting board, feeling secure and in control of my life. I was doing an "adult" thing and feeling characteristically "adult" about it. 

I've said it before: the progression from a childlike mind to an adult one is less about the traversal of legal status and more of an epiphany that, you—yes, you—are in complete control of your decisions. (That is, as far as "mortal" control goes in the infinite and all powerful presence of God). When I was buying 3 six-packs of beer a week to self medicate my stress, I was a child, abdicating my right of control over my body and mind. Now, I'm making the conscious decision to be an adult and take the helm of my life, inasmuch as I can in light of God's will. 

The apostle Paul kind of addresses this in 1 Corinthians: 11-12. And, in the context of the larger dialogue at work in the passage, as God renews our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit, this peace that I feel will only grow, ultimately to resolve in my death and resurrection. And that, that is dope, my friends. 

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."