Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Hey there - I'm going to be away from my computer for a few days... The year is ending great, and I have high hopes for next year.

Hope everybody has a happy (and safe) New Year's Eve, and I'll talk to you next year!


Thursday, December 29, 2005

The gym, Vox Day, freedom and voting, and women in general.

Joined a gym yesterday. I was feeling pretty out of shape. Dude, I had no idea.

Pre-Katrina, I was running about three miles a day. If I wasn't in the best shape of my life, I wasn't far off. In the month following, I lost a ton of weight. I've slowly started gaining it back, but in my belly, not my chest and arms.

Hence the gym membership. I walked a quarter mile, bumped it up to a full run, made it one mile, and had to go back to walking. Talk about sad. On the other hand, it IS definitely incentive to try very hard to get back in shape.

I emailed Anna saying I was coming into town, and actually got a full-length email from her in response. Good thing I'm getting back into shape - the shock alone had to have put a strain on my heart.

I know, I exaggerate. It's only been a year (okay, 11 months) since I got a email from her that's more than a sentence or two saying she's too busy to write.

I've been reading the online Blog of a guy named Vox Day. He claims to be a Christian Libertarian. He's a very arrogant, self-centered misogynist. And very intelligent and logical, and even persuasive in many of his views. At the very least, it's entertaining to read. He did bring up an interesting point, though. He said any society that truly wants freedom cannot give women the right to vote, because historically speaking, women as a group have ALWAYS voted for security over freedom.

At first, I found this incredibly offensive; how can you obtain freedom by denying half the populace of their freedom? Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that almost all of my female friends would back up his perception. Even the ones that claim to be Libertarian are more Socialist when you get down to specifics.

Then I pursued the thought further, to try to figure out where the contradiction was. And I think I might have found it. The right to vote has nothing to do with personal freedom. In a direct democracy, the vote is used to exert control of the masses over the individual - in other words, it's a way to specify where your freedoms will be limited.

We of course, do not live in a direct democracy; we live in a republic that uses a representational form of democracy. Our vote really means very little; we're given very few real choices in who will represent us, and even those are minimalized by the electoral college. Our only guarantee of freedom is the three-branch system (theoretically based on the Constitution) with its checks and balances that are supposed to limit the power that government has over us.

In my opinion, we're already far down the path from freedom to totalitarianism. Not there, still a ways to go, but a long way back up the path to get back to the republic originally envisioned. Regardless - our vote doesn't give us the ability to achieve our freedoms. It only would if we all agreed on being free. Our vote is in fact used to limit our freedoms.

So in this case, Vox was right. If our only purpose is freedom, we should deny women the right to vote. And Communists. And Socialists. And any Democrats and Republicans who actually believe their official party lines.

Alas, much as I wish American ideals were about freedom, they're not. And it's no more right to force freedom upon those who do not wish it than to deny freedom to those who long for it.

Of course, the other intriguing question is about the differences between men and women. We all know there are many, many differences. And I think we'll all acknowledge that some are genetic. The tough question is - which ones? Many of the things just assumed to be feminine a hundred years ago we'd consider absurd now. The swooning and fainting fits - not about being female after all, but about wearing corsets that mess up your blood circulation. IF you picked up an etiquette guide for women publish a hundred years ago - or even 50 - you'd be astounded and either horrified or amused at what they took for granted was the woman's role. And some things I was raised to believe were innate (maternal instinct, reliance on emotion rather than logic, female subservience) seem to be more a common guideline than a rule.

I read an article about women converting to Islam in mass numbers. Here's a quote:
"A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society," says Dr. Jawad. "They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers."
(;_ylt=AmN42mkO.pzh3kmMkHp0zX9n.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NTMzazIyBHNlYwMxNjk2 )

Of course, now there's the huge backlash, as women in some respects want to be treated exactly like men, and in others, not at all. And many men are sick and tired of the tap-dance that they have to do. And women are tired of men complaining about it. And men are tired of women bitching about their complaining.

My personal belief is that we're going to have to wait at least another five or ten generations to figure out what differences are truly innate, and which were cultural.

But in the meantime, there's a real simple solution to it all. It's one that seems obvious to me, but I seem to be alone in this thought process. Don't assume. Don't stereotype. Take each person, and judge them by what they do, not what kind of genitalia they have. If she's an emotional girl, don't expect her to be logical, and don't get mad when she's not. And if you're her boss, don't put her in a position where she'd have to be something she's not, no more than you would if she were a guy that relies on emotion rather than logic. If she's logical and analytical, don't condescend to her about her emotions.

If she's traditional, be chivalrous. If she's not, then don't be. If she wants to be a homemaker, judge her as a homemaker, not as a future CEO. And if she wants to be a CEO someday, judge her on her abilities, not on whether you think a woman should be in that position. In other words, figure out who she is before you try put her in a category.

I often hear girls talk about how much better the world would be if women ran it. Bullshit. The drive, ambition, and ruthlessness necessary to get to the top are the same regardless of gender. We will have a woman president someday. And she'll be just as terrible as the males ones we've had.

My first job, I worked for a lady named June Talley. She didn't run the business like a woman. She didn't run it like a man. She ran it like June Talley. She partnered up with a man named Bob Hurley. The aspects of it he ran weren't manly or girly - they were Bobly (sorry for doing that to your name, Bob!).

We used to have books and books published about the differences between black men and white men. Turns out almost all our conceptions were bunk. Black men can be quarterbacks. They're not more primitive in their thought processes. They're not inclined to servitude. They're not larger in their genitalia (look it up - the only studies that say they are say it's by one tenth of an inch). About the main differences I can see are that they clap on the backbeat (beats 2 and 4) where white guys clap on the downbeat (beats 1 and 3), they're better dancers than white guys (that's not saying much), and have slight advantages in boxing (thicker skin splits less, bleeds less).

But it took a long time to get there, and even after a hundred years, not everybody's convinced. And I've met black guys with no sense of rhythm. And interesting article I read quoted Morgan Freeman as saying "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man."

( )

Black, white, male, female... Labels, categories.

So are women from Venus and men from Mars? Who the hell cares? We're all here on Earth right now. And I don't want girls assuming that I'm going to think something just 'cause I'm a guy. I fit into many of the male stereotypes - but not all. I guarantee if you read a self-help book about how to relate to men, you're going to be confused as hell by me. So I'm going to repay the favor, and not try to fit any girls into stereotypes until I know for sure which ones are a good fit for her.

So that's my thoughts for this morning. What do you think? You can always email me, of course, but I also enabled the "comments section" on my blog, so feel free to blast me if you think I'm wrong.

Talk to you all later,

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, from the Grinch!

Well, it’s Christmas time, and that means many, many things.

First of all, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, one of the most pivotal religious moments in human history (the Creation, the Exodus of the Jews, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ also being on the list. Possibly the 95 Theses of Martin Luther should rate a mention. Try as I might, though, the release of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on DVD doesn’t quite rank up there). I’m not sure why nobody thinks it odd we celebrate what was almost certainly a springtime or summertime event at the winter solstice, but once a tradition starts, changing it is nigh on to impossible.

Most of the Christmas traditions are very meaningless to me. But the Christmas Hymns are very precious to me (most of them. The one about seeing three ships doesn’t do much for me. Nor the one about playing the oboe and bagpipes merrily. And the one about the little drummer boy – where exactly in the Bible does that come from, again?). I love “O Holy Night,” and “Good Christian Men Rejoice.” There are very few Christmas hymns that I haven’t arranged for choir at some point in my musical career. I’m not saying I arranged them well, or that I don’t have a special level in hell reserved waiting for me for what I did to those holy songs… But it was very enjoyable.

This is the second year I haven’t been involved with a church choir. I began singing Christmas music in the Youth Choir of the First Baptist Church of Pleasanton in my teenage years. Then I was church pianist at various churches, and then for a few years I was Choir Director of the First United Methodist Church of Pleasanton. During that time, I wrote my own cantatas. I still miss that. Months of preparation, writing, rehearsing… By December, it would always seem hopeless, but somehow, it always worked on the day of the cantata. And no nervous breakdown was ever necessary. Though it got close.

Christmas lights never really excited me. My mom would go nuts for them – she loved to go to places with a lot of them, and just drive up and down the streets. I know a lot of people like that, but again – nothing for me. They’re just lights. I’m thinking “You want lights? I live in Vegas, baby! I’ll show you lights!” Not that anyone ever asks me whether I want lights. But if they did, I’ve got an answer! I do like candlelight, but for some reason, people don’t put candles all over their houses and trees.

I’m not much for the gift giving. I think there are two reasons for this. First of all, I think I’m a hard person to shop for. Most of the time, I either get gift certificates, or a present that I smile, nod, thank them for, and think “What in the hell am I going to do with this?” Also, I’m not good at shopping for other people. Most of the stuff that I know people want, I know they want it because either they bought it already, or because they’ve told me they want it but can’t afford it. And if they can’t afford it, I probably can’t, either. (Yeah, the truth comes out – I’m a cheap bastard! What do you mean, “tell me something I don’t already know…”?) This year, I was going to buy everybody box sets of “Firefly” and “Serenity.” Not because they wanted it, just because I think everybody should see it. But then, being rather broke precludes that. Much to the delight of the people I was going to foist said DVDs upon, I imagine.

I hate most of the secular holiday music. It’s not that they’re bad songs (though most of them are), it’s that they’re played over and over and over and over again for a solid month. Even beautiful ones like “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas” lose their sentimental meaning after the millionth time hearing the Muzak rendition.

I hate the crowds. Shopping for food (which is the only type of shopping I can stand to do during this month) is a pain. Everybody is in a bad mood, people are inexcusably rude (and then they’ll mutter “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” like it’s a curse), the lines are terrible, there’s no parking… Not fun at all. If they were all naked, it might be more interesting. Not necessarily more appealing, considering who does most of the shopping. But I imagine it’d be a lot less rude. And I’d take a lot more girls Christmas shopping, too.

I did love the family getting together (different topic – nothing to do with nudity – not an Arkansas family). I loved the meals. To me, there’s something very social about eating together. If I ever have a family, we’re going to eat supper together (prepared by my master Chef, Andre. Hey, when I dream, I dream big!). It’s a very bonding experience, and I think the few people who grew up with that tradition will agree. And having the extended family over at my Grandma’s, all eating, joking, laughing, snarking… I’d play on her piano, the kids would play video games. It made the Holidays a very warm and fuzzy time.

Perhaps the warmth and fuzziness is why I hate this season so much. The original meaning, the celebration of the birth of Christ… A very dim thing, lost in the madness. Instead, it’s about a frenzied mass of buying. It’s about strange traditions, songs and tales, involving fat men in chimneys and reindeer with phosphorescent noses. And most of all, it’s a time to repeat over and over again how great it is to be with your family, and with your loved ones, and to be with the one you love… Everywhere, over and over, that’s the message.

I don’t get to be with my family this Christmas. I didn’t get to be with them last one, either. I don’t know if I’ll get to be with them next one. Even if I wasn’t living in another state, we don’t have a big get-together since my Grandma passed away. I could go visit my mom in Texas, my dad in Missouri, my brother in Colorado… That’s if I could get off of work, which isn’t always possible.

And I’m okay with this. What sucks is the non-stop barrage of people asking “well, you’ll be with your family at Christmas, right?” or “You DO have somebody special to spend Christmas with, right?” And these questions are always accompanied with pitying looks when I respond in the negative. Why am I supposed to miss them more now than the rest of the year? What makes this a more special time to feel warm and fuzzy? I don’t get it.

I wouldn’t mind having someone to go the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. I’d love to go caroling with family. But other than that, it just feels like any other time of the year, except that I’m surrounded by grouchy and rapidly-going-into-debt people who look upon me with pity because I’m doing what they do.

So, I guess…

Merry Christmas, from the Grinch!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Well, it's a marvelous night for a Moondance...

Well, my friend Mark is here in Vegas. It's been cool hanging out, working on music and such. And as usual when two guys get together, we talk about chicks.

Now, in New Orleans, I had a reputation as a ladies man. Somewhat deserved, though I don't think as much so as everybody else seemed to believe. But I wasn't about to complain when people assume I'm more suave and attractive to the opposite sex than I actually am.

Here in Vegas, it's been the opposite extreme. I have hardly dated at all since I've been here. (Though somehow, they all still think I'm a ladies man, despite the total lack of dating) It's just the wrong environment for casual dating, and I'm not into relationships. At least, that's my surface excuse. And the nice thing about being shallow is that usually, the surface is all you need.

But in talking to Mark, I realized that I'm just as much into trying a relationship as I ever was, maybe even more so as I'm getting (sadly) older.

The only problem is that I meet fewer and fewer girls that I really want to spend all my time with. When I was a teenager, I had a new crush on a different girl every month, it seemed. When I was in college, I fell for a soprano, who promptly fell in love with somebody who wasn't me. I dated after that, but didn't really fall for anybody else. After graduation, there were a string of interesting dating opportunities, but the key word there is interesting. And the several years of living in Pleasanton, TX, population 47.4 (and I'm related to 42.1 of those), well, it didn't improve things much. The most enticing and alluring girl I ever dated in Pleasanton was a former student of mine. Gorgeous, smart, funny, musical... And thoroughly in love with someone else. Yeah, it happened again (but this one was an alto, not a soprano! See, I learn from my mistakes). Then there was a girl that was actually single, and brilliant (debating politics and philosophy with her was awesome; I lost a lot!), and beautiful. But alas, the roving life of a musician was not that sexy to her. And I'm not about to work a 9-to-5.

And then I moved to New Orleans. And there was the whole Anna fiasco (I got a one-sentence IM from her online a week ago! Yay! What? What do you mean, I'm pathetic???). And after Anna, it was just meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home, meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home, meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home.... I know, a tough, tough life. If you only knew how I suffered... (What? What do you mean, I'm still pathetic???)

I did meet a cool girl online, but as such things go, I've only met her in real life once, and it was when she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Not the best time to start something.

It's a lot less lonely when you can have female company anytime you want. But that's not quite the case in Vegas (unless you count hookers, which I try not to). And it kind of drives things home to you. My sister once told me it must be easier for me, because I've never needed to be in a relationship. And I've wondered whether that's true. I've never wanted to be in a relationship built on false premises. Which means that I've never really been in a relationship. I'd say all relationships are built on bullshit, but there are a couple that seem to be healthy (almost Rockwellian - it kinda makes me want to watch them on webcam, just to see if any couple can actually be THAT good for each other!). My brother's. My cousin's. Wesley Wyndham Price and Winifred Burkle (what? What do you mean, I'm really, really pathetic???).

One of the greatest dangers facing the world is overpopulation. When I take over, I'm installing a "bullshit detector" into the reproductive system of every man, woman, and child. Any time a guy tells a lie or manipulates a girl's feelings just to get laid, he'll go limp. And every time a girl tells a lie or tries to manipulate a guy, she'll get an electric shock that makes all her parts go numb (limp doesn't quite work, or dry, or anything else I could think of).

And on top of that, anytime one person in a relationship puts the other through stupid, juvenile, unnecessary bullshit, than they'll lose the capacity to reproduce for one month.

Now, I realize, the economies of the world would collapse, as in one generation we'd be down to about 50 people or so having kids (I know, I'm an optimist).

But it would be good for the planet!

I would love to find a girl that puts me through no B.S. That would call me down whenever I tried to put her through some. Who would be interested in life, and learning, and experiencing, and growing. Who would want to go on a cruise and go scuba diving. And go to the Rockies and go skiing. And go to Australia for a WalkAbout. And go on a bicycle trip through Europe with me. And when we're not doing that, watch a movie on the couch with me. Or go to the art galleries and museums and historical sites with me. A girl who loves romance, but sees reality, too. Who loves to read, and not just frickin' "Harry Potter." Who would dance with me as I take lessons. Who would prefer roses and music to getting presents. Who would give me backrubs as often as I give them. Who would cook dinner with me sometimes.

And a nice ass is a plus, too.

Damn. I hope my sister's right. I think I'm going to be alone a long, long time.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Smallville, oh Smallville...

I got my DVD player on my computer working (I don't currently have a TV), so I've been watching the last season of "Alias" and "Smallville."

In many ways, "Alias" feels like it jumped the shark a while back. Vaughn and Sid are the exact same people they were in the first season, facing pretty much the exact same problems in the same ways... The more things change, the less they (the characters) do. Very boring, really. Of a moderate interest are the father figures, who become more and more ambiguous as the seasons go by. Personally, though, I'd watch it just for the characters of Weiss and Flinkman. I think they should get their own spin-off.

Hey, it'd be better than "Joey"!

Then I caught up on "Smallville." Sadly, they didn't kill off Lana Lang. They brought in Lois Lane, who was an incredibly annoying character. But then, I found her equally annoying in the comics and in the movies, so I can't really blame the actress or writers. The only problem with the casting was that she was a really hot looking girl who appears to be in her mid to late 20s, playing an 18 year old. Then again, none of the "high school" characters on "Smallville" look like they could still be in high school without having flunked many, many grades.

However, they are in Kansas, so... Maybe they told their teacher they believed in Evolution, so they got held back.

I'm still waiting for Lex and Clark to come out of the closet. They spend more time gazing into each other's eyes than they do looking at girls. And Clark has so many chicks throwing themselves at him in the fourth season, but doesn't "give in" to any of them. Even after he gets married.

Yeah, he's a fudge-packer.

He does datea hottie who's not annoying. So they kill her off immediately, just like they did that indian (sorry - Native American) chick awhile back. Yet Lana Lang stays alive, damnit!

They need Joss Whedon to write for awhile. Yeah, he'd still kill off any happy couples, but it'd be more interesting watching them before they die.

I wish they'd use the soundtrack or themes from the original movie more. Man, that was a great movie score.

I'm curious about the upcoming Superman movie. I hope it doesn't suck. I thought "Batman Begins" was pretty good, but nowhere near as good as the 1989 Tim Burton "Batman." I think I'm the only person in North America who has that opinion, though.

And I hate "Harry Potter," and thought "Titanic" sucked! So, hah!

Anyway, I just thought I'd post, 'cause it's been awhile.

Talk to you later,


P.S. Here are some various articles I found of interest in the last couple of weeks.;_ylt=AhVmuUWQPvI1U_hT6F0bHIhbbBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NTMzazIyBHNlYwMxNjk2,3605,1651335,00.html