Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dear Santa O'Reilly

What the hell is wrong with you? Have you lost your mind? Wait a minute, that sounds like I’m dropping to your level and that is not who I am or want to be. What I am pissed off about tonight is this so called war against Christmas that you’ve been ranting about on your half-assed talk show for the past month.

Can you be honest for just once in your pathetic life? You are nothing more than a twisted demagogue who is more concerned with his own ratings than actually telling the truth. A war on Christmas? Get serious. I would think that a capitalist like you would see that’s it’s just a way to bring more people into the store. In a miracle of marketing, saying “Happy Holidays” means that every Christian, Jew, Muslim, or African can feel welcome. And the reality is that there are three holidays this time of year and we are celebrating them all. Right?

But I guess for you there is really only one religion and one holiday: Christianity and Christmas. Of course, I forgot, this country was built by strong willed Christian soldiers yearning to build a strong Christ loving nation built on nothing but Christian values. I mean they are the best and the righest. Or is that righteous, as in “self”.?

Mr. O’Reilly, this country was built on the embracing of all religions and their beliefs, traditions, and holidays. I know that it doesn’t serve your needs right now but it’s really true. Not singling out one of them for special consideration isn’t un-American or anti-Christian, it’s just good old American business sense.

But this ultimately goes to a so called “War on Christianity” that you and all the other demagogues (aka: pundits) on the right love to spew forth like so much vomit. Let me see, war on Christianity… hmmm.

Well, all of our presidents have been Christian. Four out every five of our elected representatives is Christian. There’s a church on just about every corner of every town in this country. There are even a dozen Christian broadcasting networks on the air as we speak. Does this seem like a war that you guys are losing?

The bottom line is that there is no war on your religion or any religion in this country. The founders of this country created a secular state, one that isn’t based on any one faith. Whether there are more Christians or Jews or Muslims is not relevant to the governing of our land.

The founders saw what happens when you establish a state religion. They weren’t too far removed from religious persecution, pogroms, inquisitions, and forced conversions. They saw what happened when you mixed the church and the state. They saw how much power the church took and they saw that it didn’t work so they built a wall between the two. Bring your values they said, but leave your religion behind.

But I guess we are too far removed to have any reference to that time in history. But the facts of the past seem to mean nothing to you and your kind. You are an evil opportunist with only one thing on your mind: promoting your brand and making more money. And if that means pandering to the deepest fears of people, then that’s just what you’ll do.

There are always people like you in any society. Nazi Germany had Joseph Goebbels, and we have Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. You are the worst kind of free-speech advocate, one who makes things up and uses brute force and a loud voice to shove it down people’s throats. You use the freedoms that we have here to further the causes of anger and hatred. You will pick up any prejudice and use it as fact. The reality is that there is no truth in your zone, Mr. O’Reilly, and that’s a fact..

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I'm not one to blow up a major motion picture event, but my friends and I went to see Kong last night and it was, well, amazing. That was one of the best high concept, special effects movies since the last LOTR. Seriously, it kicked ass.

First of all, Jack Black rules. Second the ape was spectacular. It looked so real. The artists who made that animal did a meticulous job, even down to the nose hair. Obviously they studied footage of real apes in the wild and gave this one intimately real charcteristics. Even the way it ate and slept was very authentic. Amazing.

Finally, the scene where Kong battles the T. Rex(s) is worth the price of admission itself. I looked around the theatre and eveyrone was wide-eyed and cheering the extreme action. We definitely got our money's worth.

I'm not a huge Adrien Brody as action hero fan. Though we did get a chuckle out of new "six pack abs" as seen on the cover of "Men's Health" magazine. And Naomi Watts was a little too weepy. The story did require a few moments of faith, but once they hit Skull Island it was on! And the natives were really awesome. I just loved the damn movie and hope that someone reads this blog and goes to see it, 'cause it's worth it.

I really love the way Peter Jackson puts together the effects. He is incredibly talented. Now I just have to talk my wife into seeing it so I can go again.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bye, Bye, Tookie

Tookie Williams died this morning and I say God bless and good riddance. He died an unrepentant murderer who refused to let go of that arrogant street criminal attitude of denial that all inmates possess as they watch their lives disappear in prison. Denial is a way to live with their crimes and it keeps them a victim of the system, the man, and the world. It allows them to leave prison and feel justified to commit more crimes.

For someone supposedly “reformed” he clung doggedly to the notion that he was innocent, framed, a victim of the white man’s persecution. Anyone who has ever done something wrong knows that the first step of making an amends is to admit that you made a mistake. Repentance means saying that you were wrong, and asking for forgiveness. Those are all things Tookie has refused to do even to the bitter end.

Tookie, and all murderers like him, deserve their punishment. I believe that there is one act that a person can commit that deserves the ultimate price and that is premeditated murder. We live in a society that has rules and covenants, those in writing and those that we keep with each other. They all are meant to keep us safe and to keep our society from falling into anarchy. To me the most sacred of them is the one that forbids the taking of another human life.

One person does not have the right to end the life of someone else, period. No one, outisde of a courtroom, has the right to decide when someone else’s life should end. Tookie not only took that right for himself four times but he did it in the most humiliating way he could. We will never know how many times Tookie Williams took his shotgun and robbed a business. But we do know that four times he took that shotgun and put it against someone and shot them dead.

He shot Albert Owens as he lay on the ground in the back of 7-Eleven. Albert died for about 100 bucks. Yen-I-Yang and his family died for a bit more. All snuffed out by a man with no respect for human life; a man, Tookie Williams, who consciously broke the covenant that we share with each other; an agreement more important than any other.

I know all about the circular logic that says if you condone the death penalty you condone state supported murder, which is no different than what Tookie Williams did. But I disagree with that thinking. We all bind together and create a society that is given the job of making laws and enforcing them. The understood caveat is that we will all abide by those laws and we will all do what’s best for our society.

When someone breaks those laws they are punished. We all know when we are breaking the law. Many people make a conscious decision to break the law, to disregard the agreement that we all live under. In the case of first-degree murder they break the most sacred covenant that we have. In my mind when you do that, you forfeit all rights that are afforded a person in our society. Tookie took another person’s life and because of it, he forfeited his own. It’s not like no one told him what was coming if he took that shotgun and with a complete disregard pulled the trigger.

If Tookie had dropped to his knees and asked for forgiveness then maybe I could have believed that he had been reformed. But he was an opportunist, a street-wise gangster who knew what it takes to save his ass. He did all that and more. He wrote his books and gave his speeches. Don’t end up like me he said; don’t make the mistakes that I made. He asked for the one thing he refused to give, mercy.

His work was good but it didn’t make up for the four lives he shot out. He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to make him deserving of clemency but instead became a showman, dancing for the bright lights. Only with honest repentence can he ever be truly rehabilitated. In the end, to me, by refusing to admit his mistake and asking for forgiveness he didn’t distance himself from the same attitudes and anger that helped to create his world in the first place. By claiming his innocence he kept himself chained to it and it dragged him to his death.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gambling with your life

Here’s something to chew on this fine Sunday. When did gaming become the national panacea for financial problems? It seems like anytime a city or region has to come to grips with an economic shortfall they immediately turn to slots and poker to solve their lack of tax revenue.

I was reading my hometown paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and there was an article about the beloved Penguins deciding that without the revenue generated by eight dollar hotdogs and ten dollar beers served in luxury suites in a state-of-the-art new stadium they own and operate the team would have to relocate to say Kansas City or Houston it was brought up that the solution to keeping the team was the new slots casino being planned in downtown.

Now I’ve been to Detroit and let me tell you, Greektown Casino has not made one bit of difference in what has to be the poster child city for urban blight and Coney Island hot dogs. It seems like everywhere we turn these days another municipal official is pushing for a massive gaming casino to revitalize the downtown area and generate tax revenues.

Anyone who has spent time in a casino would probably recognize that the majority of gamblers aren’t the cream of our society. And that gambling by nature attracts the part of us that is loud, obnoxious and addictive. There are few things more attractive than a hall filled with gambling addicts all trying to change their fortunes with some random act of providence that is completely outside of their control.

Which takes us back to these cities that somehow think that building one casino will generate millions in revenue and save them from having to do the unspeakable, raise taxes. Sounds like addictive thinking to me.

Ultimately the thing about this that kills me the most is that you are asking the residents of a depressed area, an area with no jobs and less hope, to spend their money at a casino so that they can pay for a stadium for millionaires to play hockey? To fund a stadium that most of them will never be able to afford to get into? Are these people supposed to get that much poorer to keep a hockey team?

I love the Pens. I love the Pirates and respect the Steelers (I’m a Cowboy fan), but is it worth it to ask a community down on its luck to pour money into a stadium for a sports team? What about the hospital? The schools? What about job creation and worker retraining and public works? They are asking to use all the revenue from said casino to fund a new stadium for the Penguins.

Are the Penguins worth saving? Is it worth saving any sports team? I mean is there more civic pride from a winning sports team or from low unemployment? I can’t help but think this is just one more way of the financial ogres of this world to help keep the average guy and gal down on their luck, living day to day, buying their goods, and dying without ever having had a chance to really taste the good life.

You can’t get blood from a stone. You can’t get extra money from people that don’t have it. Politicians think people don’t listen and don’t care so that they don’t have to do the hard work of creating opportunity for the regular Joe. All they have to do is make the rich people happy, build a casino, keep the sports team and everyone will be just fine.

I say let the Pens go, we’ll miss them, but if you must build a casino, use the money to revamp the city, find a way to bring in new business and find people jobs! It’s the human thing to do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I'm so tired

I’m so tired of drama in my life. Why is it that I am surrounded by people who just can’t seem to take it easy, work the problem, collaborate, and just not freak the fuck out? I really am oh so very tired of it.

The worst part of being in that time of environment is that inevitably I get pulled into the middle and then I feel like I have to fix shit and that is just not going to happen. As my friend Bruce is apt to tell me, just shut the fuck up. When people try and drag me into the drama I just politely smile and turn the other way. You going that way? I think I’ll go on over here.

I just want to beat the shit out of the assholes that keep making life so damn difficult. I really do. I am really feeling better right now. And tired. So this should do it for tonight.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fair and Balanced

I was just reading an article in the latest time about Milt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts and his plan for mandatory health care for everyone in his state. While that seems like a good idea, one worthy of being a topic of this fine blog, something snatched that honor away quicker than Star Jones at a KFC.

In the article a word comes up that I’ve heard so many times in my life, coming from me or someone else. It’s the one word that supposedly sums up our justice system, our government, the way we treat each other. It’s a word that means something to me, another to you, but very rarely the same to everyone. That little word is: fair.

What’s so damn funny about the word fair? Either it is or it isn’t. It works in baseball like a charm, in politics not so well. Fox News uses it as if they know what it means, but then so do just about every five year old in the world. Do kids in Thailand stamp their feet and scream things aren’t fair like I did?

But it really is the most important word out there. To me more so as we continue to populate the planet and deplete it’s resources. It’s going to become increasingly more important that we are fair about how we split up what’s left of the oil, the land, the food and the sunshine. We are our brother’s keepers.

For me what’s missing is the sense of fair play. No body wants to take responsibility for themselves. No one wants to do that extra little thing that makes it better for everyone. What ever happened to working together? Now we pretend that Jesus would have wanted us to be mean, hateful and greedy. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Go get yours before he gets his”?

The sense of doing your share, of pulling your weight, of being fair, has slowly been disappearing from our culture. More of us are out to take what we want, help our family and friends, screw the other guy. Let him and his posse get there’n. It’s what the Lord would want. For those who don’t believer in evolution they sure subscribe to survival of the fittest.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where everyone took a second to think “Is that fair to everyone?” Asking themselves, is that really the right thing to do?

Monday, December 05, 2005

My Triumphant Return

What happens when you don’t make a serious commitment to one’s blog is just this: no posts in a month. That is unacceptable.
So as I get up the courage to sit down and write what’s important to me, I realize that there is so much to say, so many things that are important, and I just don’t know where to begin.
My life has taken so many twists and turns in the past couple of years that today I find myself really unsure of who or what I am all about. I know what I thought I would be when I was ten and twelve and twenty; but today? I just don’t know. What I want has changed. What I need has changed. How to get there has changed.
There are so many things I want to do and it feels like the time is tick-tock-ticking away. So many days watching television, drinking and smoking, doing nothing; all gone and unable to be retrieved. How does one start all over again? How does one get another chance?
This probably makes me sound like some teenager that just discovered the idea of metaphysics and is tripping out on the idea we could be living in the fingernail of a giant. I guess I am becoming the old man in so many songs, looking back on life and love and wondering what might have been.
The best I can do is try and leave a bit of a legacy to my children and the world. There will be no report on the nightly news when I die. But people will cry because they care and that is all a man can really ask for out of a life.
So this is how I came back to you? All maudlin and melancholy. Yea, this is me tonight: reflective and tired. I get this way when I’m tired. But I am committed to this blog as a metaphor for a life lived half-assed. No more nights of “Ah, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Why would I do that? I mean, this program even capitalizes letters for me. I have no excuse.
See ya tomorrow.