September 29, 2008

Gone Apple

In the cooking world, it’s called “Gone Bamboo.” Amongst musicians, it’s “Gone Acoustic.” But for an even rarer, strange breed, we have a thing called “Gone Apple.
And as I sit at home typing this on a brand new Macbook, I feel it’s safe to say I’m there.

It’s a strange sensation to stare at the pearly white plastics, the high res screen, and the unfamiliar barrage of icons, particularly when you know they now belong to you. Especially when you consider the long standing lineage and reputation that Macs, and the owners of Macs tend to put out. I’m not nor have I never been, aside from one shameful year in Junior high, a turtleneck guy. And though I grandstand.....quite often, I don’t understand the image of owning a Mac as any kind of positive element of my being. I’m just too damn dumb to pull off intelligent and classy. And spending a huge chunk of change on a piece of fancy computering seems to defend my stupidity more than rebuke it. Still, while I may not be the stereotypical “Apple Guy” I cannot deny that I am now a guy who owns an Apple.

I suppose in my history, I have been no stranger to Macs. I’m almost positive that the first bit of computer I ever fondled was an Apple. One of those old green screened Apple II’s I believe. I wasn’t a computer person by any stretch of the word, and my interest in the field was limited to brief runs through “The Oregon Trail.” But, it was the first, so I suppose that’s something. Still, as far as the lineage goes, I’ve been a PC guy. Not a devout one of course, I would never say I’ve been one of the faithful. I’ve never defended the good name of Microsoft, nor have I preached the gospel of Gates. For me, it was always a matter of having what was available, and making it work. It was hard to go anywhere and not find a PC, so that’s what I used. The more I did it, the more comfortable I got with it. Pure and simple.

When the time came for me to seriously shop for a new computer, it was all but a given that it would be a PC. I’m not gonna screw with comfort, and besides I knew I was capable enough to know how to keep the things running. If I had managed to keep a seven year old sub-gigahertz Hewlett Packard trucking along, then it was a pretty safe bet that I could probably manage on something newer. Anything else might take work, I can’t have that.

So it was to be PC, no questions about. That is until, the change. The shift in mentality that spoke as loud and clear and Zeus with a megaphone, that I would be owning a Mac. I fought it as hard as I could, believe me. I’m not one who puts a lot of stock into the appearance of my useful trinkets. And Macs had the aforementioned image with them. Mac owners are supposed to be one of those egg headed hippies with long hair and horn rimmed glasses who preached about baby seals and drank organic apple juice through a bamboo straw. This is clearly not me. I’m more likely to eat these people and wear the fur than discuss something so bonding as a computer. So, I fought the change, tooth and nail. But still, in the end, the change won.

Two things happened to fuel the change. The first, was my beloved Mrs. Boogie getting herself a Mac. She had wanted one for some time, and though I couldn’t understand why, I bought one for her. I mean hey, just because I think she’s making a bad choice doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be a nice guy right? Besides, this was her laptop, not mine. It didn’t have to impact my life at all.

That’s what I said, and admittedly I did try to stick to it. But, when her laptop is the only computer in the house that’s getting an internet connection, well some impact is going to be involved. So I used it, and of course, I hated it. Hated having to learn different ways of doing things is annoying, and I was disgusted with all the little ways I had to adapt my habits to this damned computer. Only one button on the track pad? What kind of crap is this? And what’s with this Command button shit? In a word where Ctrl has been the standard for alternate keypad shortcuts, inventing a button and then having it replace the welcome efficiency of the standard clearly shows the deranged mind of a sick fuck. I was bitter and spiteful at Apple, and my squinted eyes and gritted teeth constantly reflected in the little webcam above the screen.

And then one day, I don’t know when, the bitterness stopped. I didn’t argue with the computer for the length of my session, and I didn’t loathe the pain that would be waiting for me every time I turned it on. Amazingly, through frustration and annoyance, I had learned how to operate a Mac. I now understood the quirks. I didn’t think much about it while I was on the thing. I just knew I could check my emails and watch Strongbad videos with a little less fuss. But, when I returned to my humble PC, then it became clear how much the Mac mentality had affected me. I was dual fingering the track pads of other laptops, feverishly annoyed by the fact that the screen wouldn’t scroll. I tried desperately to clean up my desktop, only to find myself more and more frustrated by how ugly all those damned yellow folders looked. And suddenly the Ctrl button, my home base and comfort zone, seemed harder to reach. It took more effort, more stretching of finger and knuckle, to connect with. And now I could kind of see why the Mac faithful were so devout. There was indeed a simplicity to it. A kind of natural functional balance to the whole thing. I could appreciate it now.

Didn’t mean I’d buy one though. Oh no, those overpriced things were far beyond my mental reaches of practicality. And while I could be a little more understanding of those few rare souls who would own the things, it still wasn’t for me.

That was until the second thing happened. The thing called Vista.

I usually don’t invest a lot of time reading into the early reviews of products that aren’t even available on the open market yet, but there were some key words that were swaying the bridge. There were words like “pretty,” and “clean” and “detailed” which mean absolutely nothing to a guy like me. But there were also words like “cumbersome,” “complicated,” and “memory hog,” which isn’t a word per say, but still managed to fill me with dread. When I actually sat down on a Vista machine and gave it a try, my worst fears were realized: This beautiful piece of technology is a big pain in the ass. It was the equivalent of a beautiful woman who talks through her nose about things like fashion designers and Starbucks. This program made me think people, and you know how I don’t like to think.

Sadder still, was that even though Vista was a fair bit more attractive, I still liked the clean stylings of Mac’s OS. It was simple and efficient, both things that are hard to hate upon. And when you couple that with how Microsoft was treating XP like a knocked up teenager showing up at a tupperware party, trying desperately to get it off the market before the rest of the intelligent world realized what a horrendous piece of crap Vista was, my next step became clear to me. It was time to jump off this train before things inevitably got ugly.

So here I sit, a turncoat, a Benedict Arnold. Like I say, I was never truly loyal to Microsoft, in the way I’ve been loyal to say, bands and artists. But, it definitely feels like I’ve done some abandoning here. Like somehow, I’ve betrayed my past and experience to flirt with the latest thing. It’s an ugly feeling, particularly when you sit staring into a pricey new world. A world that I’m now forced to learn the ways of. Soon, I will speak the language of the Mac. I’ll have to, otherwise I won’t get anything done. But perhaps, in the end, change is good. It shakes the foundations, tests where you’re strong and where you are weak. A little chaos is a good thing I suppose.

So long as I don’t go hippie.

September 17, 2008

Of Wounded Body And Heart

I'm writing this with two missing fingertips.

Now, it's nothing as dramatic as you may think. I'm not pounding on the keys with bloody stumps, pouring blood all over my desk. I'm not in need of stitches or hefty medications (though I will accept donations.) I've got a small bit of scab and some missing skin. Nothing major.

"So Boogie," you may ask, "How'd you lose the fingertips?" Well...

Here's what I'm telling folks:

It was a dark night, I remember the light of the streetlamp reflecting off the glass. I stared for a few moments before returning my attention back to the television. MTV was on, at least I think it was. It may very well have been VH-1. Either way, it was painful. Artist after artist, a constant feed of bland and generic songs being pumped through the speakers. These singers and players of instruments were completely uninspired, playing through the same notes and lyrics that have been done so many times before. It doesn't matter to them that their latest single sounds exactly like the artist played just eight minutes ago. So long as their hair looks good, and the camera man puts just enough leg on camera. Angle is key, if they want to look slutty without looking trashy. Music is secondary in this day and age.

Normally, I can ignore it, but not on a night like tonight. Not after the heaping amounts of failure I've endured. I tried, I really tried to compose tonight. I stared at the computer screen for hours, instrument in hand, trying to write magic. Idea after idea, riff after riff, all of it ended up being deleted. There was just no spark to what I was doing. It sounded decent, I truly believe it did. But it had no fire. It was heartless, as heartless as everything I was watching now. I admit it, I was uninspired. I could go through the motions on any instrument, hell I could even make it sound halfway decent. But it was nothing great, nothing I felt good about attaching my name to.

This is why I started watching television. Not too long ago, I could watch the insipid artists and the lackluster songs, and grow angry from the overdose. The lack of genuine artistry was enough to make me stand up, and say "I am better than this, and I can do better than this!" And I would run towards the studio with fury, committed to making something great. I was counting on that fury tonight, but it never came. No, all I got on this night was the truth. On that night, I realized how futile this all was.

I had invested so much time, space, and energy into this music, that there were days I could think of nothing else. I had given large quantities of the limited amount of time I had in this life to sitting in dark rooms playing music. It was not just a big part of my life, it was my life incarnate. I was a dedicated disciple of music, and had moved forward on the idea that all it took was a few good melodies and a lot of sincerity. This was my code, and I fought with it on my shield for all these years.

And now, here I sit, older and tired. What have I accomplished? Nothing. My hard work was meaningless in the eyes of the world. I was worth nothing more than a few quick glances on Myspace. My color selections were more interesting to the average person than anything I had actually worked on. My music was meaningless. It touched no one. All that heart and soul, time burnt away to nothingness, money and sweat poured into honesty and truth, all for nothing. Music was dead, and I had died along with it.

With this realization came the pain. I screamed long and hard into the night, the reverberation of my own voice bouncing off the cheap walls of the basement. I couldn't do this anymore. I didn't want to lose another night's sleep pondering chord changes or lyrics to songs no one would listen to. It was too heartbreaking, and I didn't need any more heartbreak.

I vowed in that instant, to never play music again. I never wanted to lay my hand on strings or lose myself in a riff again. But I knew the pull would be too great. After years and years of playing and performing, I knew that no matter how hard I tried to walk away, it would eventually pull me back. I needed an act, something so extreme and absolute, that it would keep me from music forever. I needed a sacrifice.

I ran into the toolshed and grabbed the sharpest heaviest thing I could find, a hatchet. With tears in my eyes, I wept as my resolve become absolute. This was the only way to find peace. I placed my hand on the table and raised the hatchet over my head. This would only hurt for an instant, and then I would feel nothing ever again.

The hatchet came down with a resounding thud. I squealed in pain, and then again in delight. The tips of my fingers lay on the other side of the blade, forever removed from me. My hand trembled, and I fell to my knees. I wept for what I had lost, wept for what I would never have again. But I was free, finally free to walk away. To not see the world in shades of sound and rhythm. I picked up my wounded hand and walked into the bathroom, a new man. Reborn into reality, and free of the everlasting dream.

What really happened:

My new kitchen knife came in the mail today. I was overly exicted, and was chopping potatoes a little too fast when WHOOSH, I chopped the fuckers right off. My bad

September 15, 2008

The Acoustic Poet

Ahh, acoustic poets. The laureate of the Berber stage. Moving from coffee shop to coffee shop, seeking souls to nourish with gentle strumming and the truth. These thespians of the shop of coffee, with well worn acoustics and weather beaten flannel are instinctively driven to sing their songs to groups by what is known in the industry as “Amateur Night.

As you may have figured, I’m not a big “Amateur Night” kind of guy. I don’t hit all the coffee houses across my fair city seeking a warm cup of java and some honesty sung by people I don’t know. And poets wearing cargo shorts and army/navy surplus military jackets are not typically my favorite sort of people. I’ve got nothing against the folks who do it, mind you, I acknowledge that people need their answers. And if you can’t get them from your religious leader or even this webpage, well then perhaps a scruffy looking kid with an acoustic guitar is your only hope. More power to you, but I ain’t coming to your house to play.

For me, I like my artists at their finest. Old school stylings delivered clean and played with enough groove to get the chin bobbing. I’m an Elvis guy, through and through, so I have a certain grouping when it comes to my musical tastes. Plus, being the offspring of hippies has kind of ruined the acoustic folk hero for me, so I really have no interest in immersing myself into their world.

But I did immerse myself, this weekend as a matter of fact. Not on purpose of course, it just kind of happened. I was in need of an Italian soda, and a bit of Wifi, and bad folk music was part of the cover charge. “What the hell?” I said to myself, “Perhaps I’m running a little too lean. Maybe some foreign elements are just the thing to clear up the bad mojo.” So I sipped my beverage, surfed my internet, and listened.

And now, with a bit of perspective on the evening, I can honestly say, it’s about as bad as I thought it would be. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a little bit worse.

The artists of the eve seem to have taken the Red Hot Chili Peppers/Nickelback route, and decided to utilize the same chord progressions over and over again. The key differences among them were how poorly the songs were sung, and how many words they could cram into those well worn progressions.

And boy, these lads could pack some words in. Nothing poignant of course, that would be asking too much for a coffee shop on a Saturday. But they were long. Ridiculously long. The days of songwriting have apparently skipped this generation, as the basic verse/chorus/verse song structure is ignored. In it’s place is a long pity session sung over the same four chords. Long garbled melodies, who only climax occasionally when a random word is sung high and loud. The word of course, being a high point in whatever message they’re trying to convey. Things like:

I’m not a happy person, and I hate what’s in the mirror and my feet are always itchy, but every time I see her I know she’s in my HEEEEAAAAARRRRRRRTTTT!


There’s a puppy walking down the street and his tail is always wagging, he looks like he’s homeless his little heart must be sagging, and I feel like that puppy, all lost and alone, no one’s there to hold me and I’m SAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDD!

Naturally, the modern day acoustic poet tends to lean more towards self loathing than anything else. Life’s been hard to these sad sacks, and they are driven to express their woe through song. It’s the Grunge music of our times. Anyone who thinks that Nirvana and Soundgarden were as tortured as it got obviously don’t drink coffee. None of the evening's artists had anything positive to say. The world is a bad place, and they can see it. But they’re bad people too, maybe because they acknowledge it, or maybe because they can’t do anything about it. And they’re miserable because they are so bad in a world that accepts the bad as normal, or something like that. Translated, it says, “I need to get fucked big time. Give me freaky sex, something that makes me weep. And then, I’ll need cuddling, lots and lots of cuddling.

And maybe, just maybe, my standards are a bit high. It’s called “Amateur Night” for a reason after all. Perhaps, I went there expecting a headliner, and was surprised when I got the homeless drunk singing about his winky outside the club. But still, I feel boggled. I remember hearing about the early roots of these coffee shop laureates the men in black who sung about political injustice and the wrongs in the world, all the intense shit. And in a time when the world is hanging on a thread, and this whole landmass has their fingers crossed that the guy we hire in November might actually fix a few problems, it seems strange to hear songs about “My shitty sexless life.

But hey, what does an old jazz and blues guys know about the acoustic folk scene? Perhaps this is striking a chord in the hearts of folks. Maybe people are truly walking away with Mocha lattes feeling a bit stronger and more inspired. Maybe they have the truth that the ignorant like me just can't see. And these singers are putting away their guitars, and shaking the hands of a woman who just popped in for some tea, and ended up finding the answers she seeked. Maybe they're driving home together right now, ready to hold each other in the dark and share their lives, their pain, and their hearts.

Okay, maybe that last bit is stretching it.

September 8, 2008

The Vanity Of The Parent

Here's one of life's funny little ironies: A father not watching his child because he's too busy talking to someone on the phone about how they should be raising a child.

Wait, I take it back. It's not funny at all. It's sad, damned sad.

We're a competitive breed, I'll acknowledge that right off the bat. We've gone from hyping up who can hunt deer or catch fish better, to who has a bigger house. Very little is left out of the game anymore. Even mundane things like shoes and watches make huge public statements about one's standing. And I'm not going to delude anyone into thinking that children have never been a source of competition. I'm sure that between now and the days of cavemen, there have been parents saying, "My son/daughter is so much better than your son/daughter." There are generations of kids who are severely screwed up because of their parents constantly using them as a touchstone to success. Tons of them hate the pressure and end up rebelling. An even scarier lot actually buy into the hype and spend a lifetime expecting great things to fall unto them. The only thing that is guaranteed is that these kids will soon have kids of their own, and those kids will be put on the same playing field as Mercedes cars and well groomed lawns.

But bragging about techniques for raising one's child? Seems like a bit much.

First off, there is no gold standard. I don't think there's been any parent who's reared their kids completely free of baggage. We're humans, and as such we're inherently fucked up. And those fucked up tendencies tend to leech off on the young ones, whether we like it or not. No child ever escapes youth without some drama, it's part of nature.

Secondly, what defines an expert. Humans never have that many kids. Well, maybe they do here in Utah where they're dropped by the dozen but in the rest of the world, not so much. So, how exactly did these people become experts on offspring with only a few offspring to call upon? Let's face it, you're first born is screwed. Doesn't matter how many books you read, or how often you watch the Cosby Show, the kid is screwed. Every mistake and bad decision you hadn't even considered in you child raising techniques get discovered with that kid. And even if you think you got a grasp on things with the second kid, you're still gonna mess up. That kid's gonna do things completely different from the first. If kid 1 was quiet, kid 2 is gonna cry like a banshee. If kid 1 adapted well to potty training, kid 2 is gonna shit in the fridge. Don't believe me? Talk to any parent who's dropped more than one. They'll tell you with a cynical smile on their faces that no rules apply. You're in free-for-all land here buster. So the idea of talking about the proper ways to raise ones child as though you're a cattle breeder or own a bee farm is asinine. Unless you've dropped a ton of children, all of whom have become doctors and lawyers and led baggage-free lives, you're in no business to talk about what's "best for the kids."

Nor should you. Raising a young one is a very individual, highly personal thing. I guarantee that if I ever have children, I'm gonna be pulling some shit that a lot of you so called "child rearers" would never subject their kids to. Weird food, questionable music, madness as only I can deliver. And they'll probably hate me for it too. When those adolescent years hit, and suddenly the drama rears it's head, everything I will have done will have only hindered their development. I will have held them back, my infantile tactics making their lives harder and more damaged than if they had been borne from someone else. And you know what? I don't care. I'll do what feels right and make the best decisions I can for my child. I may not be perfect, but at least I can be honest damnit.

So the next time you parents reach for your cell phone to talk about your time tested methods for keeping the kids in line, don't. Instead, take a deep breath, look at your child, and focus on them. This is their life you're dealing with, not your own. Trust me, they'll be giving you things to brag about soon enough.

September 5, 2008

Sex Talk

Sex enhancement. Penis enlargement. A boost to the ol' scrotum. It's not uncommon to go through your day and not hear about this miracle aids. Let's face it, for as necessary as email has become in the day to day, trying to avoid the constant flow of misspelled ads is damned near pointless anymore. These hooligans peddling their snake oils have tried every trick in the book to lure you to their products. They've tried the blunt approach: "Your dick is small, but it doesn't have to be." Harsh, but it gets the point across. Some try the nice approach. With simple "Hi's" or "Hey, how are you?" in the subject lines, hoping that you might mistake that unknown email address as someone you actually know. Open her up, and you'll find a very polite form letter about your inadequate features. "Look, I know you're pencil thin and impotent, but it's okay. I still respect you for the person you are. So much so, that I'm gonna let you in on a little secret medicine that will help you clear that minuscule disaster right up." My personal favorites are the ones that offer up pointless quirks to genital enhancement. "Cum like a rocket ship!" they will claim. "Make your jizz bomb fly twelve feet upon ejaculation." Don't get me wrong, it sounds impressive, and I'm sure it's quite the spectacle to witness, but of what real benefit is it to the common man? What truly immeasurable element can a man feel like a success with when having long range sperm? "Honey, I drink too much and can't last more than two minutes in the sack, but I ejaculate like a whale, it's glorious!" It seems pointless and unnecessary, and could really only impress your palm and fingers after an intricate session of self love, but it's part of the spin. There's little one can do to avoid it.

Especially now in this day and age. What once was only regulated to emails and spam seems to have gone public. It started innocently enough with "Smilin' Bob." The figurehead for the Enzyte commercials. Yes, Smilin' Bob was a normal mediocre guy, just like all you other sacks of crap out there, until he popped a few pills. And now, he's out there skydiving, running for office, and impressing the hell out of everyone he meets. The man is living life to the fullest and finding great success, all thanks to smiling like an idiot and a supposed freakish member. Back when I first saw these hideous things, I figured there was no way this can last. And here we are years later, Watching Bob become an icon of similar caliber to Tony the Tiger or Aunt Jemima. Not that Bob's wholesome mind you, but if you passed him on the street, you'd know who he was and what he was pitching. Still, it was subtle innuendo, nothing more. It's only a thirty second commercial right? Still easy to look past it and ignore the dark underbelly that was being presented to you.

Not any more. Now they have infomercials. Yes, these crazed drug peddlers have gotten so successful, that they can now buy up a half hour of programming to talk about their wares. I've seen it with my own eyes. A late night program called "Sex Talk" that did nothing but gaily pitch the inadequate dimensions of the average man, and a solution that was guaranteed by no one to work.

It even has all the trappings of infomercialism. The coy program name that makes it sound like a legitimate regular program and not a one time deal. The hosts were mildly attractive and sounded completely unintelligent as they spoke enthusiastically about this magical product off of cue cards. Yes, it could very well be mistaken for hair trimmers or juice makers, if not for the name and the content.

And what happens to hair trimmers and juice makers? All those bad kitchen products that used to eat up an hour of cartoon time on Saturday mornings? Sure it was garbage, but it was at least wholesome garbage. That electric knife may burn out after three uses, but it wouldn't make you inadequate. Gullible maybe, but certainly not inadequate. And now, in between dehydrators and pet clippers, there is just what every man out there needs: girth.

It really doesn't concern me that these people are being successful in selling this kind of stuff. Many males have concerns about this kind of thing and need to believe that there's a cure. Totally understandable. Obviously I don't buy into it, but I'm willing to let self conscious men delude themselves into thinking this could work. What concerns me is the acceptance. That people, men and women alike, are so comfortable with this material that it's considered common place to entertain it anywhere. Ads in magazines, regular reminders on the interweb, and commercials galore. So acceptable has it become, that now a couple can spend a half hour of their lives sitting on the couch and watching plastic people talk about swelling johnsons. And now, man and wife can both seriously consider a man's infinitesimal groin size and the benefits such a product can garner. From this day forth, in every man's heart where they've been beat down with the regular stream of such information, he can always carry a small place in his heart where he can question, "Am I really not big enough?" "Do I need to be enhanced?" No matter how small that doubt may be, it will exist, eating away at the confidence and pushing one closer and closer to breaking out that credit card and hoping for the best. And day after day of hitting that medicine cabinet, concerned decent men will hope that one day they will open their eyes after a long night's sleep, and find a leviathan waiting for them.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably nothing. Especially considering the psychological damage that advertisements have done to woman-kind, we fellas are still sitting pretty good.

September 3, 2008

The Death Of Common Sense

Here's something that troubles me. I was up late, as usual, watching a bit of late night television, getting bombarded by the slew of commercials that are unavoidable in these late hours. These were post midnight commercials, the B grade stuff. The ones that can't quite cut it in prime time. Overly ridiculous insurance ads, beer advertisements that are lacking in the requisite male ego stroking, all surrounded by the budding breasts of dumb drunk women who were paid to disrobe on film. Hideous stuff.

But in and out of my lapses of attention with these dreadful piles of crap, one such commercial did catch my eye. It was an ad for a website called Apparently this bastion of goodness was purposed to inform the mothers of the world about all of the evils that may plague their children. By providing reviews on things like music, television programs, and video game titles, the optimistic parent can finally keep tabs on what dangerous elements exist around their children's lives. It's all noble and good, and certainly has a useful purpose but, I'm still quite troubled.

Where did we misplace so much of our common sense, that we would need a fucking webpage to replenish it? Is our own innate common sense so weak, that this is our only recourse?
Apparently, the modern parent has become so dependent on the editorial musings of others, that we no longer trust ourselves to think concisely over simple matters like what our children watch. A URL like this is all we have.

The commercial plays out like this. Mom buys a videogame for her son, because of the recommendation of her friend. Mom later learns through this invaluable online resource that said video game is actually bad, meaning jam packed with violence, adult situations, and so forth. Thus, she gets rid of the game, becoming a reasonable and responsible mother once more.

I'm willing to acknowledge that there are irresponsible people out there, It's hard to avoid them I know, but surely there can't be a mom who spends money, money that could be used on bills or food, to acquire a videogame for their child, and not know what they're buying. "Oh, a friend said it was okay, but I needed to check the website to be sure." Well, here's an idea; Why didn't you just look at the fucking box? Videogames come in boxes, and those boxes have art on them. Art that usually indicates the content of the game. And if you were to see a chiseled muscular man holding a decapitated human skull while a half naked woman gyrates on his hip with erect nipples, you should have a pretty good idea about what this game should be about. Hell for a couple extra seconds of effort, you could flip the box around. Not only would you see more art, but you'd also see a rating system that the government has mandated to be there. In less time then it takes you to scratch you ass,you'd know what kind of dangerous elements a purchase like that might spell for your children.

The same goes for television. It doesn't matter if you have cable or satellite, both have remotes with an INFO button on it. And you can find out, with a simple press of that button, what exactly your kids are watching. It's painfully simple, and doesn't require running to your computer to read a fucking website every time your kid changes the channel.

Is this really what the new parent is relying on? Flipping on their laptops and reviewing entertainment mediums to see what's good or bad? Is this what is done every time a kid wants to go to the store to pick up a new video game? What if you get there and suddenly they want a different video game? What happens to your research then? Must you run home and web it again until you've got the requisite data?

Seems to me, it would just be easier to talk to your kids. To interact in their lives, watch television with them, to not just watch them disappear into a dark hole with some newly acquired bit of cutting edge graphics and hope for the best. And perhaps you won't be able to stop these dangerous and graphic deviations in their lives. That sort of thing is everywhere, and if they don't entertain it at home, they just might do it somewhere else. So no, full on prevention may not be an option. But at the very least, you might understand why shooting the head off of some green mutant looking thing with a futuristic high powered rifle is so damned important to them. Hell, if you're really lucky, you just might be able to get them to go outside with you. Maybe play a little catch or go hiking, and get the hell away from those godforsaken gadgets that dominate their lives.

But I'm not a parent, what the hell do I know? Just let your children get fed by expensive video games and whatever they can find on TV. I'm sure they'll be fine.

September 1, 2008

The End

It is of surprising universal irony that I sit in this parking lot after my first day at a new job, when "The End" by the Doors starts to play. The Doors had gotten me through many of the hard trials with my last boy job, and so it's only fitting that they open the gate to my next one.

"This is the end........"

Truly, this is the end. The end of what seemed like a lifetime of wandering. It's been more than a year since I felt that sense of security and purpose that only comes with employment. More than a year that I could look at someone I was meeting for the first time, and actually have a decent answer for "So, what do you do?" It's a scary thing when your purpose hangs on a thread. Especially when the things you've dedicated huge chunks of your life to doing, have had no impact on the world at large. You can almost feel your body go into atrophy as you spend your days unshaven, and close to home. No amount of television can ever completely rid your mind of that nagging feeling that you are without purpose in the world. You are nothing, just a tick on the beast, and it may never change until the day your body collapses for the last time and you are no more.

"My only friend, the end........."

It sounds like exaggeration, but after months of watching resumes be rejected, and the phone calls for opportunities never come, you begin to doubt everything you've made of yourself. It doesn't have to be large or life changing, but to know what you are and where you fit in the cogs, sometimes, it's the space between insanity and functional. Today is that day for me. Today I have found some degree of purpose again. I'm half tired from a lack of regular sleeping hours, my nerves are completely shot from trying to adapt to this new situation, and my face is still sore from the first proper shave I've given myself in weeks, coupled with the unusual act of smiling for more than five minutes at a time. But still, it's a good a feeling. I think I can get used to this.

"Can you picture what will be......."

To say I haven't worked at all is a bit unfair. I have done what I could in limited capacities across this place. Nothing serious, although the promise was there. And I ran with that promise, offering up my best in hopes that down the road it would pay off. These jobs came with compromises, big ones. Things that I was feeling pretty unsure about in the long run of things. But, it was security. It meant I wasn't an expendable asset, something I had been for far too long. But, they fell through. Time and time again, the best the world could give me couldn't last for much more than a punchline.

Not here however. Here, there was great promise. Room to grow and expand, Plenty of opportunities to be creative. And what's more, is I have to compromise so little. I get to keep a lot of myself and the things I do while being here. More so than I've ever done before. The people here are decent. Not nearly as twisted as myself, but I can see they've tasted crazy before. I can actually relax in this place. Not completely mind you, me at full relaxation is a level of destruction no soul is ready for, but it's more peace than I've known in a while.

"Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain......"

This is a big place I'm working in. Natural sciences, a first for me. I've tampered with things in biology and science, but never on such an immersive scale. It's a bit intimidating frankly. To go from the grizzled old vet who's seen it all and fought hard, to once again being the new kid who doesn't know anything. Humility has been a constant companion in the past year, and it seems like she's only getting started with me. Still, it means learning. And learning is good. I lifetime spent teaching oneself new stuff can never be wasted. And to get paid for the priviledge? Heaven.

"And all the children are insane......"

Yes, I'm working with kids again. Education field. Funny to walk into this at a time in my life where I felt to weary, and too lost to ever go back. When you experience so much insanity and crooked craziness, you start to wonder if you can ever function in regular society again. Especially when it comes to dealing with rugrats. Can a man who once spent several sleepless days contemplating the darkest things in this world actually provide useful information to a bunch of experience soaking youth? Should he even try?

And yet, as I sit in this room, a group of children all around me transfixed on the presenters in front of us, I can definitely see where this once appealed to me. They're an eager bunch, and a lot easier to get along with than any grownup I know. The drama factor is substantially reduced. Something we grown ups can sure use more of in our lives.

"Ride the snake........"

The presenter brings out a python for the kids to see. It's an amazing beast, slow moving and calculating in the presence of all this stress. I'm nervous. Not by the python, I could stare at misunderstood beings like this all day. No, what scares me is that eventually I'll be expected to handle this creature. What's strange is I'm not even worried for my own safety. I'm more worried that through some act of stupidity, I'll hurt this fine organism. I'm worried that I'll look like an idiot in front of a room full of strangers. I guess old habits die hard.

"Come on baby, take a chance with us......"

I'm jaded, I admit it. My looks and my attitude have never ceased to get me in continual trouble. And it's become very easy for me to say, "You know what? Fuck this, I can do better elsewhere." when things get rough. I'm a man of principle, unfortunately it's my own. And my principles sometimes stray from compromise with the world at large. A dangerous place to be when you need the world to sustain in this day and age.

Like I say old habits die hard. I still find myself walking into new situations like this, waiting to be screwed over. I've played it nice before, and when I finally let my hair down, it's bitten me in the ass. I worry how much of the true Boogie can be shown, and the constant debating has left me feeling older and more detached from society. I figure a wholesome place like this will be no different.

And yet, it is. The people exist on a more mellow wavelength than anything I've known before. That's not to say I haven't known mellow people, but rarely have I seen them congregate in a single place with a single purpose. At least not with narcotics present. What's more is that they're actually encouraging me to stick around. Granted, they don't know me that well, and only time will tell what they think once more of the underbelly is exposed. Still, it's more than I've ever known, and something I need to take seriously.

"But you'll never follow me......."

Ending is a strong word now that the end is over. When the call came that told me I had the job, I fell to my knees and said "It's over." But now that I'm in the thick of things with a new place, and a new set of challenges, it doesn't jive anymore. It's a beginning, all over again. Something new, where I'll have to prove my worth all over again. I just hope this time around, I can be less of an ass while I do it. Maybe look a bit more at the place I'm in and the people around me before I start throwing the weight around. Take a second to acknowledge that overall, this is a cool place with cool stuff happening all around, before I throw the dukes up in defense of self.

Or maybe, just maybe, I won't have to do that at all. I'm happy, genuinely happy. A strange situation to be sure, but one I could see getting used to. Sure, there's a lot that can happen, and optimism is always at it's highest at the beginning of one's journey, but I got a good feeling about this place. Happiness and purpose, never would have thought it possible.

"This is the end."