Saturday, May 7, 2011

"The Gospel According to Gort..."

With age, it has been suggested, comes wisdom.

I can't testify to that.

Judging oneself to be wise is tantamount to judging oneself buff.

And a suitably over-sized, untucked floral print shirt can go a long way toward creating that illusion.

Much the same as can a suitably over-sized, untucked opinion of one's own wisdom.

What does, it turns out, come with age, though, is awareness.

Assuming, of course, that one has eyes to see and ears to hear.

I do and I do.

And just recently I became aware of something pretty profound.

After almost sixty years of life, I am now aware of why so many things have made so little sense to me.

I am not from this planet.

I have no admittable evidence, no empirical proof, there has been, at this writing, no deathbed confession from any family member who might be privy to any interplanetary information, my "Earth birth" is pretty well documented (and available in several formats and/or sizes should The Donald come gunning for me)and my "back story" on this third rock is so diverse and comprehensive as to be the envy of anyone who appreciates an airtight undercover identity.

But I know what I know.

I am not from this planet.

And that awareness has come to me in the form of realizing that the only possible explanation for my inability to comprehend so much of what goes on here on your admittedly intriguing, even intoxicating little sun orbiting mass is that I am a stranger in a strange land.

I've suspected something was astronomically afoot for a while, but the real extraterrestrial epiphany occurred in just the past few days as I observed, with an almost detached fascination, the saga of Osama and the cacophony of conflicts this overtly covert action conjured up.

The apex of my epiphanous episode, by the way, was the moment I came across filmmaker and patriot to some/poop stirrer to others Michael Moore being interviewed by Piers Morgan and commenting, as if it were supposed to come as some kind of shock or surprise to anyone over the age of ten, that "the United States assassinated Osama Bin Laden".

Over the next few hours/days, I watched as the issues of morality and legality and accountability and responsibility began to splash over the seawall of sensibility, the noise level of the debate rising, the questions, at first whispered, now being spoken clearly, even shouted out...was the killing justice...was it execution...was it legal or illegal...was it moral or immoral...was it a necessary use of deadly force in the heat of a moment...was it the cold and calculating carrying out of a coldly and calculated plan to exterminate...

And somewhere in the midst of all the chat and chatter, I had a revelation of cosmic proportion.

I realized that I had an infinite universe's more commonality with Michael Rennie than with Michael Moore.

The former, of course, the distinguished British born actor who's major claim to fame was, arguably, his role as Klatuu in the original, and seminal, version of the sci-fi classic film, "The Day The Earth Stood Still".

And my relating to Mr Rennie as opposed to Mr Moore connected the last of the dots in my medulla, both completing the picture and solving the puzzle of my own origins.

Michael Moore was, if not advocating, implying that there was some doubt as to the justification for eliminating Bin Laden.

Michael Rennie, on the other hand, visited Earth with a much advanced understanding of the way mortal creatures conduct themselves and the inevitable need to acknowledge those behaviors and "cut to the chase", as it were, to deal with them.

On Earth, there exists a confusing and conflicted variety of rules and regs, of nuances and degrees and, in the midst of all of that confusion and conflict, a well intended, if ultimately futile, belief that evil can be overcome without good having to act without mercy.

As if, to put it in a Rachael Ray context, an omelet could, in fact, be made without breaking eggs.

Only a still primitive, still maturing, still evolving human race could cling to the belief that pure evil can be prevented, let alone controlled, with equal doses of conquest and compassion, toughness and tenderness, savagery and sympathy.

A more evolved race, on the other hand, understands that human failings are an inevitability and that pure evil, by its nature, can only be defeated by pure retaliation, free of the dilution caused by the bleeding of hearts.

The 18th century Earth author Edmund Burke is credited with having first said, " All that is necessary for evil to flourish if for good men to do nothing."

The quote does not go on to mention any need to wring hands or regret extreme action used to exterminate extreme evil.

On Klatuu's planet, they long ago recognized that the potential for evil was inevitable and, as the story plays out, created the robots to whom they gave complete control.

The result, of course, being that evil knew from the outset that the end game was extermination.

Without mercy. Without prejudice.

Without regret or remorse.

A planet not free of evil, but a planet not living in fear of it.

As opposed to a planet that still bears the burdens of wringing hands and bleeding hearts after even the most clearly defined evil has been exterminated.

I realized recently that I simply don't understand that way of thinking.

And while I can get misty with the best of them at the sound of the phrase "E Pluribus Unum", I now realize why I also totally connect to another phrase.

"Barada nikto".

"A Solid Hockey Stick Could Probably Take Out A Good Size Boom Box..."

It's no secret that I'm a longtime fan of irony.

In fact, if irony were a tangible commodity, I'd very likely have reached a point, at this point in the life, where my private collection of said commodity would be so mountainous that I'd qualify for a segment on that reality show that portrays the bizarre life of hoarders.

Because, Lord knows, we zany humans might have to suffer the occasional shortage of petroleum products or lawn nourishing water, but there will be irony to spare for every girl and boy until, and most likely well past, the end of time.

Meanwhile, along with my admittedly sardonic infatuation with the "I" word, I find myself ever enjoying one of irony's first cousins, that ironic assemblage of words Webster defined as an "oxymoron".

Jumbo shrimp.

Military intelligence.

Free plus shipping and handling.

Annoying hip hop.

Wait. Sorry, that one's redundant.

And what I have begun to believe might be the granddaddy, or mother given the proper seasonal slant, of all oxymorons.

Common courtesy.

I came across this little human interest morsel while web snacking this morning and realized it pretty much met all the criteria I've established for inclusion in my stellar stash of the ironic/oxymoronic.

Give it a quick read, if you will, and I'll wait here, cataloging my collection.

Now, while, on the surface, it might appear that this guy's efforts to "show them" a little of that indomitable American spirit of "never say die" is as charming, even patriotic, as all get out, there looms for those of us with the aforementioned inclination to see the irony of things, a subtext that hits on both the ironic and oxymoronic cylinders.

First, the ironic.

This example of a cry for freedom to be who we want to be, where we want to be, when we want to be without giving a hoot in hell about what others want to be, where they want to be, when they want to be.

In this instance, of course, the conflict between neighbors who share literal, if, obviously, not philosophical, common ground.

Put less verbosely and more "common manly"..."It's a free country and if I want to stick a hockey team sign in my yard or hang a hockey team banner on my garage, it's my American right to do just that....whether it pisses you off or not."

Conveniently sidestepping any responsibility for simply being a good neighbor, abiding by the wishes of the majority and, in short, playing well with others.

And let's not overlook the additional, bonus, irony here, by the way.

Expressing one's "right as a free American" to plant a sign or hang a banner whether or not it totally ignores the American bedrock principle of abiding by the wishes of the majority.

The writer of the news story seems to want to portray this guy as some kind of role model of revolutionary spirit, with the heart of a maverick, the cunning of a master tactician and the courage of his deeply rooted convictions.

William Wallace with his face painted the Tampa Bay colors.



Then again, maybe this guy is just an asshat with a team jersey, a fridge full of twenty four packs and a "fuck you" attitude when it comes to having any consideration for anybody living within a hockey puck's throw of his castle.

My guess is the latter.

Of course, it's possible that my perspective is poisoned by the current distraction of the asshat living next door who is perpetually expressing his own rights as an American by flooding the neighborhood with the obviously overloud, rectum rattling lowest of the low end frequencies of the latest three note, one trick pony sound of his personal favorite hip hop performers.

Common courtesy.

A quality that may, in fact, have shot to number one on the oxymoron chart.

Being, as it is, a quality that both Mister Hockey Puck and Mister Hip Hoppin The Hood have so courageously demonstrated is no longer courteous.

Or common.

How's that for irony?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

" I Will Faithfully Execute...The Orifice of...."

Litmus test.

The oft blathered euphemism for a measure by which a political candidate is judged to be, or not to be, considered acceptable for a run at whatever office they seek.

Lack of official "political commentator" credentials notwithstanding (I don't know the secret handshake or have the decoder ring, either) I have, through the years, developed my own yardstick (or dipstick, more appropriately much of the time) to assist in making up my own mind about a given office seeker.

Their ability, or lack of, to graciously and gracefully self deprecate.

Not to be confused with self appreciate, self appropriate, self obfuscate, self promote, self serve or self center which seems to be free with purchase when it comes to the vast majority of Washington wannabes.

Watching the White House Correspondents Dinner last night (and yes, I watched it on MSNBC as opposed to Fox, but only because for whatever reason the picture on the flat screen was clearer on the former), I was left with some very clear impressions.

(POOH POOH-ER DISCLAIMER...For this piece, the writer concedes that all the following individuals possess both the desire and ability to take the key issues of the day seriously)

Seth Myers doesn't take himself too seriously.

Bill O'Reilly takes himself much too seriously.

Barack Obama doesn't take himself too seriously.

Donald Trump takes himself very seriously.

Which means, I think, that we shouldn't.

Not presuming to speak for you, my preference is to support a leader who adheres to the tradition of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

Said stick, though, needs to be in hand and not up the butt.

Litmus test concluded.