I Don't Judge; I Only Ridicule

What the hell is WRONG with you people?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weekend at The Stanley Hotel

Christa and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this weekend. I decided to book a room at the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s The Shining. Some say the hotel is haunted.

I didn’t see any ghosts. I don’t believe in ghosts, so I’m not sure I’d be able to see one if one existed. Ghost stories never frightened me because I don’t believe people have souls. I enjoy the idea of ghosts and souls and heaven and hell; I think they’re fun concepts. In reality, I believe the truth is less interesting. When we die, our brains stop working and our hearts stop. That’s it.

We’re at the Stanley Hotel and I’m not seeing any ghosts. Christa goes to the gift store and buys me a copy of The Shining so I can understand why she’s creeped out by the hotel. As I said, I’m not scared by ghost stories, but this book fucking terrified me.

If you’ve only seen the movie, it’s a story about a haunted hotel. However, the book is much more complex. The book is about a father dealing with alcoholism, and the father’s efforts to fit into society, save his marriage and be a good father. His five-year-old son has the gift of reading thoughts and seeing the future, yet the boy is too young to understand much of what he sees. But the boy senses emotion.

Early in the book, we learn that the father occasionally loses his temper, once accidentally breaking the boy’s arm by grabbing him. We learn that the mother often thinks about “divorce,” a term that means nothing to the boy but invokes a feeling of unhappiness and deep despair. Occasionally, the boy senses his father thinking “suicide,” a new term with the darkest emotion the boy has ever sensed.

The son loves his mother and worships his father. He prays his mother won’t leave his father, which she often thinks about. He prays his father will stop drinking, which is a destructive activity the boy can’t understand, but he sees it destroying his father in the future. As the father slowly loses personal battles that will destroy his family, the boy sees his family’s terrifying future.

I relate to the boy because I loved my father, yet I feared his anger. I relate to the father because I love my son and my biggest fear is screwing up. The characters are complex and the battles are frighteningly real. I’m an emotional wreck.

Maybe I’ll try to relax tonight by watching a feel-good movie like “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “The Exorcist.” Maybe I’ll watch a comedy like “The Omen” or “Salem’s Lot.” If you want to scare me, screw the ghosts and devils. My personal demons are much more terrifying.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I’m Disappointed by My Son

My cats have let me down. I was convinced I could train them to jump through hoops of fire and catch Frisbees, but alas, they weren’t smart enough. I taught one of them to sit and shake hands, but my hopes were dashed when I saw her trying to eat a rock. I thought she might have actually caught an animal trespasser, but it was just a rock. My cats are useless.

While we can openly complain about our pets, we cannot openly complain about our children. I’m going to break that rule. I have a problem with my son.

My son is uncoordinated. He can’t catch a football, even with clear instruction. “Catch the ball with your hands, not your chest,” I explain. “Spread your index finger and thumb on each hand like an L, and put your hands together to form a triangle. It’s a window. Look through the window and keep your eyes on the ball, and catch it with your hands.” He listens, but when the ball comes at him, he’s overwhelmed. It always slips past his hands and hits him in the face. This upsets him.

Before you accuse me of being too demanding, I’m using a Nerf football. It’s like a sponge. It bounces harmlessly off of his head, but he cries like a girl when it hits him. Sometimes he throws a tantrum.

As I said, it’s a Nerf, a sponge. Perhaps he’s bipolar, or has A.D.D. He doesn’t have the patience to learn. I vow to keep an open mind.

I’ve discovered that my son has a speech impediment. I’m starting to think that he’s bad at sports and lazy with his speech because he’s lazy in general. He doesn’t have the wherewithal to pronounce words properly, and despite my daily efforts, he has no interest in learning to shoot from the baseline or to sink a three-pointer when he’s faced with a full-court press.

I’ve noticed that his choice of TV shows has gone downhill. I put on his previously favorite channel, the Discovery Channel, and an interesting documentary about the United States Military’s cover up in Roswell is suddenly interrupted by a crying spree that demands to see Bugs Bunny. Clearly, he’s regressing.

I have given up football and basketball for baseball in hopes his hand-eye coordination will make up for his lack of agility and toughness. I hit the baseball to him, and he tries to catch it with the wrong hand, the one that’s not wearing a glove. I explain that the glove is meant to catch the ball, and he smiles and agrees.

Once again I hit the ball to him, and he has the glove not on his hand, but in his mouth. The ball falls harmlessly on the turf. I’m bereft of options.

“He seems book-smart,” my family offers. I know they’re being overly optimistic. He yawns when I mention the Grapes of Wrath. He refuses to discuss the parallels between the McCarthy hearings and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” I no longer bother with any Shakespeare written in verse because iambic pentameter merely lulls him to sleep.

I’m disappointed by my son. He tries, and he fails. Those are the breaks. We can’t all succeed, and my son is living proof. Sometimes you fail as a parent and your son turns out to be a loser.

I help him out of his baseball uniform and I put his books back on the shelf. I change his diaper and he cries like a girl, so I sing to him as he sucks on his binky and drifts off asleep in his crib. Maybe he’ll kick it up a notch when he learns to walk.

Of course, I’ve got to keep in mind that at two years old, children become very competitive. He needs to learn to be a man before then. Perhaps, when my wife’s away tomorrow, I’ll start to be harder on the boy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Found the Bible in Front of Me...

I’ve been going to a lot of weddings lately, and I’ve been picking up the bible due to lack of entertainment. I’m an agnostic, but I’m fascinated by the Old Testament. I’ve been reading Exodus and it’s a hoot.

I’m currently working on a summary of Exodus, from my agnostic point of view. Exodus is a laugh riot, so please stay tuned.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wait, so I’M the idiot?!?

NBC Nightly News devoted 20 minutes the other night on how scientists have found a link between sleep and a human’s ability to remember things. They attempted to prove the link by testing their theory on rats.

They deprived rats of sleep and watched to see if sleep depravation affected their memory. This is what’s known as an easy gig. How the hell do you know if a rat can’t remember something? Does he misplace his keys? Does he forget to file his taxes? Does he call his rat buddies by the wrong name? You’d never get fired from this job because it’s impossible to judge your progress when no one knows what the rats are actually thinking.

These scientists make a lot of money. Their salaries are paid from grants donated by people afflicted with the malady the scientists research. Finding a vaccine for polio cost millions, but it was worth it. People are donating millions to fight AIDS, and it will be worth it when we find a cure. In the meantime, scientists are fucking with rats in hopes of linking sleep depravation to memory loss.

My son is a month old. My wife and I suffer from sleep depravation. The little bastard screams every two to four hours, demanding to be fed. Christa and I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since he was born.

I’m waiting tables to earn additional income. I’ve waited tables on occasion for the last 15 years, but lately I’m really bad at it because I’m unable to form complete sentences. The response, “Yes, ma’am, coffee… will bring” doesn’t bestow confidence in your waiter. My tips have suffered.

I was making an omelet before I went to work. I have impaired motor skills due to lack of sleep and as I cut an onion, I cut off the end of my thumb. Christa took me to the emergency room and we tried to fill out a form, but neither of us knew the date. We asked the clerk what the date was. She told us, and we looked at each other with blank stares. We then asked her for the month.

We weren’t always stupid. We both held good jobs and could engage in lucid conversation. We haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a month, and we’ve suddenly become unable to function in our community.

This leads me to one of two conclusions: either having a child biologically affects both parents and makes them stupid, or sleep depravation adversely affects memory and motor skills. Rather than spending millions watching rats for months, I suggest the scientists come to our house and watch us for an afternoon. We can prove their theory.

Caring for an infant has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I don’t do well without sleep, so I can tell you with absolute certainty that sleep depravation affects my memory, my mood, and my motor skills.

If we decide to have another child, I’m going to find a job where I can turn off my brain. If Christa wants another kid, I’m going to prepare by getting a graduate degree in science. That way, I can turn off my brain and get paid to fuck with rats.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

There’s a Good Chance I’m Becoming an Idiot

Christa and I went to bar that features karaoke. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, karaoke is an interactive event involving bad music without lyrics. The lyrics are removed so drunks can parrot the words to see if any are in key. They rarely get any in key, but they praise each other’s performances. It’s like the singing Special Olympics.

People have a desire to express themselves. Lloyd misses his sweet home Alabama. Maureen is not a holler back girl. Danny has friends in low places. Milton can’t drive 55. They all have a story to tell.

For some reason, we encourage people to convey messages in public places, rather than in front of the bathroom mirror where they belong. If an amateur has a desire to perform, he or she should stick to one of the two things that work: pornography or network reality TV. People bereft of talent and personality can orally pleasure a horse and people will watch. Failing that, they can do porn.

We all long for our own network special. “An Evening with Dave.” “Daniel’s Baby’s Hilarious Comedy Hour.” “Charlene and Her Cats Sing the Classics.” These shows are fun to perform, but painful to watch.

Karaoke and reality TV are rotting my brain. I was fascinated to learn how Ozzie handles his kids. I watched every episode of Joe Millionaire. Now I’m hooked on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Top Chef is a reality series where contestants compete to prepare food for complete strangers. Which is the top chef? The hot head? The slut? If I opened a restaurant, who would I hire? Dave is obviously creative, and he’s great at the front of house. Tiffany is a bitch, but she can run the back of house. My brain is rotting.

What’s my problem? If I ordered a meal in a restaurant and asked to watch the cook prepare it, I’d be a lunatic. If someone puts the cook on TV, I’m a discerning viewer.

I was sitting in my study and I had the occasion to do long division. I vaguely remembered to cancel the six and carry the three. Suddenly, I wondered why Jerry Rice is dancing with the stars. Does he need the money?

I cleared my head and attempted simple subtraction. It occurred to me that he’s also on that Average Joe program. What does Jerry have left to prove? The man is a legitimate Hall of Fame receiver and often appeared on major networks when he played football. Why is he suddenly content with Spike TV and Fox? It’s a question I’ll never answer.

Another question I’ll never answer is where Survivor came from. I remember hearing that it was originally a Danish program and the challenges were so tough that some of the contestants died. I never confirmed this, but I doubt it’s true. A tough Danish TV show?

The Germans have had balls, but not the Danes. I can’t remember which side Denmark was on during World War II. I know it wasn’t the Axis. An axis is three; it was Germany, Japan and Italy. The Danes were neutral or they were one of countries the Germans conquered in the first week of the war. I have no idea.

The Danes are jealous of the Swedes. I understand nationalistic jealously because, as Americans, we often look to the English for guidance. To be jealous of the Swedes is like being jealous of the Canadians. Canada, in case you’re unfamiliar, is the big state above Montana. Canada used to be part of Minnesota until the Alaskans flexed their muscles and separated it to make Alaska the biggest state in the union. The Canadians were out-muscled by the Alaskans. Canadians are an odd breed: none of them know the words to “Oh Canada;” they think their official sport is hockey, yet it’s really lacrosse; they regard “Zed” as a number and a letter; they really like their Molson. What was I talking about?

Right, reality TV is rotting my brain. I go to the store and buy 25 limes at 25 cents a piece. As I attempt to do the math, I wonder if the fruit stand owner’s kid is his own. Maybe he could get a paternity test on Jerry Springer. When I smell our neighbor’s kid smoking pot, I wonder if Montel would send him to boot camp. The newlywed neighbors seem happy, but I wonder how they’d fare on Temptation Island. I’m not afraid people think this is how I want to be entertained. I’m afraid this is how I’ll eventually want to be entertained if I continue to be immersed in this crap.

If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, he’ll adjust to the environment and lose his color. If you keep him in a small bowl, he’ll adjust and stay small. If we continue to be entertained by nonsense and random idiots… well, you do the math.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Enough is enough. I want some answers.

I write about personal experiences. This year, I became fed up with the Bush administration. I’m a moderate who prides himself on listening to both sides, and I’ve had enough.

I am not anti-military. I’m proud of the men and women who volunteer to be in harm’s way to protect us. In return, I believe we have an obligation to ask why they’re risking their lives. We deserve explanations from the people who send them into battle, and if we don’t get honest answers, we have a duty to do what our soldiers cannot- question authority and become outraged when we’re not told the truth.

We invaded Iraq. Three years later, we wonder what we accomplished. The Bush administration has sacrificed thousands of American lives, spent billions in Iraq and incurred huge debts. Iraq is worse off because there is no stability in the country and a civil war is brewing. In the process, we insulted members of the United Nations, an organization we created, and we galvanized the Muslim world against us.

Whether we are Republicans or Democrats, most of us have something in common; we’re not stupid. We invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. We were madder than hell, and invading a country made us feel better. Let’s not fool ourselves about why we invaded Iraq; it has oil, and it was run by someone who refused to play nice with the U.S. We all agree that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator that killed innocent people. We all agree that he had to go. However, we need to ask our leaders whether ousting him from power in Iraq (i) was our job, (ii) was our place, and (iii) was worth the oil. If we can’t justify one of the three, we need to learn from our mistakes.

I don’t blame the Republicans. Most Republicans don’t lie and they don’t steal. They don’t justify breaking the law by citing their religious faith. Most Republicans are honest, good people. The problem is, they’re not the Republicans currently in power in Washington. The honest Republicans want answers as well.

I want the individuals representing me, whether Democrat or Republican, to think through each issue they face. If they decide to invade Iraq, and their decision costs thousands of American lives and billions of dollars, we have a duty to ask questions. We must question them daily and ask what they intend to accomplish. We’re entitled to honest answers, and we’re entitled to assess the results.

As citizens of a democratic country, we must remind ourselves that demanding honest answers from our elected officials is never too much to ask. When we don’t get the answers we demand, we have a duty to become outraged.

When our elected officials don’t accomplish our goals, we need to make a change. If we disagree on moral grounds, we have a right to fire them. If we’re being lied to at the expense of any of our citizens, we have an obligation to stop the deception. We don’t need more rhetoric; we need answers.

The duty to effect change is ours.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Celebrity Watch List

By Christa

As Doug’s wife, and a very bitter pregnant woman, I’ve decided to channel my rage by instituting a “Slap a Celebrity” short list. I don’t know whether I’ll have the rage to keep it up long term, but right now I’ve got the hormones, and the evidence to make it happen.

1. Sharon Stone: Seriously, how much does this woman need to be slapped? It’s a chronic condition with her. I saw “Basic Instinct”. I saw “Sliver”. I can even remember, back quite a while, when she showed a promising start in a little known, but very amusing film called “Irreconcilable Differences”. But jeez! If I have to hear her wax intellectual about her incredible IQ or how she proves herself to be more of a woman than the rest of us by incessantly showing off her hooch, I think I will puke. Seriously, put that thing up and get yourself a hobby. We all get that you have a vagina. So you like to show it off—that does not make you a revolutionary, it makes you a porn actress.

2. Tom Cruise: Do I really need to go into detail here? I hear he’s congratulating himself on freeing several people from a drug-addicted life. I find it more likely that he’ll send Katie Holmes into a crystal meth death spiral. She doesn’t look 100% sober these days, which would explain her ability to tolerate him. Also, he claims psychiatrists tried to medicate his supposed dyslexia. Now, I know a little bit about dyslexia, and there has never been a chemical treatment for dyslexia. It’s not considered a psychiatric disorder. No one medicates it. Ever. ADD is often chemically treated. So is depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and many other conditions. But not dyslexia.

3. Chloe Sevigny: I will refer you to gofugyourself.typepad.com. Seriously – who dresses like this?

4. Susan Sarandon: She’s been setting herself up as some kind of political expert. Based on what qualifications? Starring in “Rocky Horror Picture Show”? She’s a great actress, but I don’t think celebrities are really qualified to analyze our complex political structure.

5. Brad Pitt: I always thought Jennifer Aniston married down. And let me tell you, I’d far rather spend time with Vince Vaughn than Brad Pitt. First of all, I have a theory that any man who is rated as “The Sexiest Man Alive” is bound to get an ego complex. Secondly, he once stated that he doesn’t shower because he thinks au naturale is more attractive to women. Maybe he was kidding. I hope so. Third, he and Angelina as a couple just give me the creeps. His constant yammering about his desire to parent bores me. It just seems like another way for him to feed his own ego.

And just to prove that I am not completely bitter (although I admit I’m close), I would like to identify a few celebrities that I think are utterly underrated:

1. Jeanne Tripplehorn: Her roles (especially in Big Love) really make me feel better about getting older. How hot is she? I never understood why the guy in Basic Instinct dumped her for Sharon Snore.

2. Mandy Moore: This chick is funny. First of all, she’s with Zack Braff, who is a riot. Secondly, she played the role of the fundamentalist princess in “Saved.” She was a great guest star on “Entourage” (I think she made the second season). And, she’s starring in a parody of American Idol. I’m sold.

3. Kelly Carkson: I like her more all the time, and I have no idea why. She’s got a great voice and she’s not a paparazzi hound.

4. The writers at Gawker: They’re not traditional celebrities, but they have a great sarcastic voice that actually makes me care about stuff in New York that I don’t understand. And they constantly rip on Sharon Stone. I fantasize about having friends like them so we could trade snarky emails.

5. The writers at Go Fug Yourself: See above except change Sharon Stone for Chloe Sevigny.
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