Star Wars: The Blog Awakens

It lay dormant for years. Unreadable post after unreadable post gentled the beast and sent it into a deep hibernation. But now something stirs it from its slumber. A topic that has reignited the inspiration to write more unfunny, uninteresting posts on a pointless blog. The movie that has restored excitement and a new hope to the world wide geekery. And now I must write about it…

It has been a long absence for me from this blog, but I’ve been itching to write again, and what better topic to kick off my blog rebirth than with one I’ve already spoken so much about in the past. Star Wars. I feel like I can officially talk about the movie now that my dad and brother have finally watched it. There are multiple spoilers, so if you intend to watch the movie and don’t want spoilers, please stop reading… you already did, didn’t you? Oh well, I’m gonna talk about it anyway.

Let me start by mentioning that I liked the movie. I liked it much more the second time, though, because the first time I saw it my brain spent too much time critiquing the film. Also, I was sick and spending too much energy and concentration stifling coughs so the people around me wouldn’t be grossed out by my sick nastiness (it was a reserved seat and I didn’t know I’d be sick… I wasn’t gonna NOT go!). But why was I critiquing the film? It’s Star-frickin-Wars! Why couldn’t I just enjoy it and shut up the annoying voices in my head?! The answer is because I am too much like Spock. My human side was just giddily grinning ear to ear and taking in all the fantastic sights and sounds and characters that I love so much. But my Vulcan side found so many things about the movie highly illogical….. wait, was that a Star Trek reference?! Hmm. J.J. Abrams’ sic-fi infidelity has me all screwed up.

spock

“Live long and prosper… in a galaxy far, far away.”

In sharing my criticisms, I’ll start with my general thoughts and then hit some specific silly things that probably never should have crossed my weird mind.

Like many fans, I was thrilled to see familiar elements, themes, characters, and settings from the original trilogy. It quickly erased the dirty taste that the prequel trilogy left in my mouth. In saying that, it really started to feel like it was dipping into that nostalgia well way too much. It started with a large Imperial.. er, First Order Star Destroyer launching ships for an attack on rebels.. er, resistance fighters. Realizing capture was imminent, important plans were loaded into a droid and the droid was sent away to safety. A sky-gazing youth on a desert planet gets swept up into the Resistance fight and discovers she has strength in the Force. Familiar lines were uttered. Familiar chase scenes occurred. A bar with shady aliens peering at our heroes was there. A bigger Death Star. A bigger Death Star gun/threat. A bigger plan to destroy it. A bigger explosion when the heroes succeeded. All good, but very, very familiar.

George Lucas

“Wait, didn’t I already make this movie?”

Now I’ll get into more specific quibbles. And since I was talking nostalgia, I’ll continue with some of the older elements infused into this movie that bothered my stupid brain.

 

The Millennium Falcon and Its Crew

I know, how could I? Perhaps the most beloved make believe spacecraft in history. And my human side loved seeing it. But then my Vulcan side asked questions. For one, how does a ship that is so regularly considered a “piece of junk” take such a massive beating and keep on flying? Honestly, that ship has been hit with so much laser fire; smashed into so many constructs and land masses; and suffered so many mechanical failings, that it makes no sense that it hasn’t fallen to pieces, or at least stopped working. Also, it makes no sense whatsoever that the cockpit of the ship is located clear on one side of the ship, leaving the entirety of the width of the ship to manage. Every obstacle you must negotiate has to be approached with the idea in mind that 95% of your ship is to your left. No wonder everybody smashes into everything!

As for the crew, it was a delight to see Han and Chewie board the Falcon, but even they did not escape my critical mind. I thought Harrison Ford brought Han back to life wonderfully (….. unintended play on words). But when he grabbed Chewbacca’s crossbow laser and was blasting baddies away, he was impressed by the gun. Chewie has been his shipmate for decades and he’s never fired the crossbow gun before?! Come on.

 

Finn

The stormtrooper known as FN-2187 was experiencing his first ever action on Jakku. Storming the Resistance settlement, this particular trooper found himself questioning their aggression. When a fellow trooper left the red hand of Saruman upon his helmet, FN-2187, now clearly identified, realized he was not built for this. And when the stormtroopers were ordered to kill everyone, he stood there without firing his weapon. This was all very good. But how did this one stormtrooper end up being the only one to question the ethics of… stormtroopering? Did he not know that the First Order was malevolent? Did he not hear the music that accompanied them?! Do none of them?! Also, I thought his character was awfully inconsistent in that he would go from being a cowardly buffoon to a courageous badass at different swings throughout the movie. Poorly trained, this FN-2187. Or poorly “conditioned”, as they say in the movie.

bloody stormtrooper

Identified by the brand of Saruman’s red hand, the dreaded Uruk-hai in stormtrooper armor is Mordor’s most formidable beast.

 

BB-8

This is an adorable ball of droid that is apparently the only one of its kind in the galaxy. Weird. Apparently Abrams felt the need for new blood.. er, new metal in the droid department. It is cute, but this one really gets my Vulcan mind in a tizzy. I can tell you why this droid is one of a kind. Because it doesn’t make any design sense! A round, metal ball rolling over all manner of terrain. There are a couple things wrong with this. One is that if you attempted to accelerate a metal ball on many surfaces in the movie (sand of Jakku, metal of the Falcon interior, mud of Takodana), the ball would slip, and in some cases, just kick up sand or mud. At the very least, it would use excessive energy just to get started and to stop. I haven’t looked up the exact coefficients of friction for all of these surfaces to determine exactly how inefficient this mode of propulsion would be, but it just seems to make sense that it wouldn’t work great.

bb8

Engineered for cuteness. Not for practical functionality.

Also (and this is even more crazy to me), how in the world does a rolling ball packed with gadgets efficiently access those gadgets when it needs to? It just rolled all over the place and then it pops out what it needs in that slot in the front? What if that item is now oriented at its bottom or in the back now because it just rolled it around?! Is there another ball inside that holds the gadgets and just suspends inside while the exterior rolls?…. Actually that might make sense. But no, because the slots that open for gadget access would need to be all over the place. It doesn’t make sense!.. but it is cute.

 

Kylo Ren and Rey

I’m combining these two because my gripes mostly concern their interplay, but I’ll start with a couple of Kylo Ren-exclusive gripes. Now, I suspect that sometime in the next movie we’ll get a glimpse into how Ben Solo was corrupted and turned to the dark side and reborn as Kylo Ren. But the motivation that was partially revealed to us was the desire to be as evil as his grandfather, Darth Vader. This was revealed when Ren was speaking to the burned helmet of Vader and seeking inspiration to ward off the light; and it was revealed when Rey read his mind and discovered that he feared being less badass than Vader. I couldn’t help but wonder two things when I considered this. One, does Kylo Ren not know that Darth Vader was redeemed? He found the light and the good in him rescued his son from the evil Emperor Palpatine. He joined the spectres of Yoda and Obi Wan at the celebration on Endor when the rebels destroyed the Empire. Yes, he did commit many heinous atrocities, including Sand People genocide, youth Jedi-in-training murders, attempted murder of his mentor and best friend, abandonment of his pregnant wife who died of a broken heart, persistent harassment and ordered murder of his own daughter, murdering of his former mentor and best friend, carbon-freezing his daughter’s boyfriend, multiple choke-kills of high-ranking Imperial officers, dismembering his son’s hand, and trying to kill his son to impress the Emperor. Oh yeah, and the obliteration of his daughter’s ENTIRE PLANET AND EVERYONE ON IT!! But, hey… he saved his son and it was all good again. He found the light and Kylo Ren seems to be

burned vader mask

Or maybe it was a hood ornament on the Millennium Falcon?

forgetting that. Vader should not be his inspiration to ward off the call to the light, as Vader ultimately lost that battle. The second question I had about this was.. where did he get the Vader mask?! Did he have to go to Endor and search old campfire sites? Did he steal it from a museum? Did Han and Leia keep it in a trophy cabinet? Did Luke keep it so he could put it on once in awhile to see how it would have felt to turn bad? Will I never find out this unimportant detail?!

Now as far as the Ren and Rey interplay, I have one major gripe. I really like both characters, but I can’t help but wonder how it was that someone who had apparently been training with the force for years basically got his ass handed to him by someone who just discovered the force. I mean, one second she’s getting frozen and knocked out by the wave of Kylo Ren’s hand and then having her thoughts sucked out of her brain while restrained; the next second she’s sucking Ren’s thoughts, mind-controlling stormtroopers, and wielding a lightsaber as if she’s been training with it for years. And she didn’t even have Obi Wan guiding her with his creepy ethereal voice! I know Ren was injured when he fought Rey, so he has that excuse going for him, but she straight up paddled his ass with the lightsaber! I’m all for girl power, but it seemed a little silly… until I thought about her possible origins.

Kylo Ren, we discover, was a child born to Han and Leia. Leia, as we know, was one of two twins conceived by the powerful Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). Leia’s mother, Padme, was seemingly not especially strong with the force, Anakin was legendarily powerful. Ben Solo clearly inherited that power. But where does Rey come from? That’s one of the movie’s fun mysteries, and it becomes all the more juicy when you consider her apparently raw, amazing power with the force. We have established that Kylo Ren= Han + Leia= powerful with the force. And we know that Rey= ? + ?= MORE powerful with the force. This leads me to believe that Luke Skywalker may be Rey’s father. He’s super powerful. But even he needed time to train with Yoda to learn how to hone this power and become a Jedi. Rey looks well on her way to being a Jedi now. So who might Rey’s mother be in order to make her so powerful with the force? I’ll just leave you this picture to explain my theory:

luke and leia

Leia and Luke lovin’ like Lannisters? Might’ve made for powerful baby Rey.

I know, gross. But how else will they top “[Luke].. I am your father”?… How about with “Rey… we are your mother and father… and aunt and uncle!”

 

Cowardly Jedi Masters

If you are like me, your might have thought Yoda was a complete badass in the prequel movies. One of the few highlights. And if you are like me, you might have wondered why he tucked his tail and ran after his fight with Palpatine. By my eye, it was a close draw. And even if Yoda felt he was defeated in that battle, why would he exile himself to Dagobah forever and allow Palpatine and the evil Empire to flourish?

The plot of this new movie revolved around the search for Luke Skywalker. Not because he was captured by bad guys. Not because he accidentally piloted into a mysterious wormhole. Nope. He’s missing because he exiled himself to some remote planet because he felt bad that one of his students turned to the dark side. Ok, yes, it was his sister’s and best friend’s son, which might have added to the shame and guilt. But he ran away and allowed the Supreme Leader Snoke and The First Order to flourish. How can we respect

yoda and luke

“Yes.. feel the force flow through you. And get used to running. That’s what we do.”

these Jedi masters when they run away forever every time things go wrong? Did Palpatine and Vader whine and run away when the rebels blew up their Death Star in Episode IV? No. They bucked up and got right back to work building a new Death Star. Now that’s a lesson I can get on board with. Plus I would look awesome in a dented helmet and a cape. Sign me up for the Dark Side!

 

Sun-sucking Death Star

The new massive weapon in this movie is basically a planetary Death Star. The First Order was wise to spare the time and expense of building a massive steel construct that would eventually just get blown to smithereens by the good guys. This time they just decided to retrofit an actual planet and build a big gun into it. This is cool. My issue with it is that the big gun is charged by a star. It sucks a sun’s nuclear energy dry in order to dispel a massive sun beam that is able to level multiple planets in one gigantic shot. The base is actually called Star Killer. But if you suck the solar system’s source of solarness dry, then do you really need to blow those planets up? I mean, it might actually be way crueler to watch the planets all freeze and starve. Less dramatic, yes. But way darker.

 

Anyway, I did love the movie. It was really fun and I really like the new characters. It was kind of obvious that they were going to have Han killed by his son, but I liked the way they did it. It didn’t escape me that Abrams smartly set up characters that can carry on Solo’s presence. It was sorely missing in the prequels. You have Han’s cocky, great piloting and smartass comments in Poe Dameron. You have Han’s capable heir to the Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca’s companionship in Rey. And you have Han’s propensity for occasional humorous incompetence in Finn. His spirit will live on.

HanSoloCantina

You’ll still miss me.

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Six years after the Bears got Jay Cutler I am… sad.

We’re stuck with Jay Cutler rap

I was driving home from work one day when I heard the crazy news.
At first I was confused,
Thinking it was just some sort of ruse.
When the truth became apparent, I became increasingly enthused.
Hearing the Super Bowl Shuffle, I put on my dancing shoes.

It was six years ago, and I was feeling so excited.
Passion reignited.
After an endless number of bum QBs, the offense had been righted.

The Bears got Jay Cutler in a trade.
An instant upgrade.
Living in Colorado, I had seen how he had played.

Throwing hard for lots of yards, his Bronco talent was immense.
But that team had no defense.
Losing high-scoring events.
Now he was on a team who could stop others from scoring.
There was nothing that could stop them, we fans would all be roaring……

…….

At least that’s what we believed.

We were deceived.

Let’s review his body of work and see what he’s achieved:

Forty-nine wins and forty-seven losses.
Ninety-three times “to the other team” tosses.
Only two playoff games and several fired bosses…

And of those playoff games.
One was such a shame.
Against the hated Packers, he went limping off all lame.
Most players to exit such a game would have to be near maimed.
A chance to beat your rival and go to “The Bowl” and achieve eternal fame.

I believe that’s when most of us started having doubts.
When we saw the way he pouts.
Now when I see it I wanna gouge his eyes right out.

The guy just doesn’t look like he’s playing with any heart.
Yeah, he suffered Martz,
But I think that Urlacher had the right of it when he called him ‘girl parts’.

He was partial to Brandon Marshal,
So the Bears went out and got ‘im.
Cutler often didn’t spot ‘im.
Throwing to the other colored jersey,
You’d think the other team had bought ‘im.

He’s a scourge, like Jeff George,
Costing so many people their jobs.
Quarterback coaches, head coaches, stage coaches, life coaches,
General managers, offensive coordinators, offensive linemen, all taking blame.
Piling up in a bonfire
Of those that have been fired
So Cutler’s ego could remain unscathed.

Now John Fox, Adam Gase and Ryan Pace
Are next in line to get pie in their face.
And what does the Fox say?
“Ring-a-ding-ding-ding-ding-a-ding trade ‘im!
He gives the ball away and all the fans hate ‘im!
I am not the one who went ahead and paid ‘im!
I’m not gonna be the next to bend over and serenade ‘im!”

Foxy doesn’t care how good a guy can throw.
We’re talking about a guy who won in spite of Delhomme and Tebow.
That’s it! Like Timmy, we need a prayer!
That Cutler will not be a Bear!
Maybe then I will stop losing all my hair!

They did make an effort… more like a plea.
A crazy trade offer that looked like RG3’s.
With the Tennessee Titans to try and get young Mariota.
Was there interest?.. Not one iota.
Cutler was a part of the deal and they wouldn’t take him for a can o’ soda.

When he first became a Bear I was manic
And now I’m panicked.
Knowing that we’re stuck with him and all his bad mechanics.

So sick of his post game conferences,
Listening to him always say, “I gotta learn from this.”
“I gotta learn from this.”
“I gotta learn from this.”
“I gotta-gotta-gotta-gotta-gotta learn from this.”
How many times did we all get burned by this?

The only thing he learned is how to cash checks.
Showing no respect.
Making all his millions from the organization that he wrecks.

He finally had one decent year and altered his appraisal.
Got a big fat pay raisel.
Then he reverted back to making all of us go crazel.
Go ahead and ask me if the McKaskeys
Knew what they were gettin’.
Paying this chump their millions, you know they’re prob’ly spittin’.

That was then and this is now.
When I look back, I can’t help but wonder how
The Bears would allow
Themselves to become Cutler’s personal cash cow.

For six long years now we’ve been trying to “Bear Down”-
More like bear it and grin.
We never win.
Paying this fool millions of dollars truly was a sin.
We got him in a trade.
We were handed a grenade.
The Broncos pulled the pin
And watched the carnage with a grin.

His millions got him married to Cavallari,
See him smirk, like a jerk?
I wonder if his pouty, blonde-haired children will one day fail when they’re at work?

Now here we are with another sub-par
Quarterback who can throw really far.
Another dose of Grossman,
But with a much worse contract.
Sometimes I wish he’d get sacked
Really, really hard.

But let’s end things on an optimistic note.
With a little hope.
Fox is excited to be reunited with Clausen.
Likes the way he’s tossin’.

No, it wasn’t fine-a when they were first in Carolina,
But maybe some of those problems have since been cured.
Clausen’s more matured.
We fans are willing to give him a shot after what we have endured.

So look over your shoulder, Jay.
It will soon be a new day.
As far as I’m concerned you can ride the bench, enjoying all your pay.
At the end of the year, I’ll crack a beer,
And all us Bears everywhere will share a raucous cheer.
Waving goodbye to your pouty face when you finally go away.

Go Bears.

jay pouty

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When the Bears first got Jay Cutler I was…. happy.

The following is something I wrote shortly after the Bears acquired Jay Cutler in a trade. I am posting this, because my perspective on this matter has changed dramatically in the years since, so I am currently writing an updated opinion on this trade. This is how I felt back then….

On April 2, 2009, the Chicago Bears completed a trade with the Denver Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler.
Having had a day now to reflect on this, I give my opinion now. In song.

‘The Bears Got Jay Cutler’ rap

How did we get here? Let us fly a mile high to find out why
A new young coach got pie in his eye.

Coach Josh McDaniels- creatin’ scandals.
Given a job he immediately mishandles.
Stepped into the shadow of a coaching legend,
And in a blink of an eye, he left the team in shambles.

He tried to fix what wasn’t broke- to be the king of the Cassel.
But Cassel is a Chief- Good grief! Cutler was left hurtin’, stunned, in disbelief.

And where’s Pat Bowlen?- prob’ly holdin’ his head.
He had The Man in Shanahan, but went with the newbie instead.
Had something to prove- made a bad move, and his probowl quarterback upped and fled.

What of this QB who couldn’t swallow his pride? In the end he decides-
That the chemistry died- a betrayal he felt he just couldn’t let slide.
Homes now for sale where his family did reside.

Now he’s trading a mile-high city, for one that’s windy- blue and orange for orange and blue.
A place that he cheered for while his arm and his ego grew- as a child. Bears fans are goin’ wild.

Who cares if he whines “I wanna” like a prima donna? We Bears fans have suffered, now we’ve found nirvana.
It’s not like we built statues of Shane Mathews-
Or Grossman- or Orton- yeah, his time was shortened. But I don’t think he’s complainin’ with the new offense he’s sportin’.

For years, the Bears QBs couldn’t be lamer- while the Rams made a Hall-of-Famer-
Out of a grocery bagger with some swagger. Made me wanna pierce my heart with a dagger.

Brothers named Manning had their cities chanting- their names. Winning games.
Putting rings on their fingers- we just counted the names while the pain lingered.

Seventeen years of watching Favre, while we starved.
Racking up numbers for the hated Packers- while our slackers racked up the laughs. With their gaffes. We found ‘em in free agency, other leagues, and drafts.

Now we took a chance on a romance with the Ego from the West. But he’s the best-
Thing we’ve had since Jim McMahon.
Remember him? Some called him a “punk”. Some said he had “spunk”.
Sound familiar? Let ‘em call you what they wanna- just get us outta this funk!

Thank you Pat Bowlen- we stole ‘im.
Yeah, we gave up some number ones. And the last time we did that, we had egg on our face-
A total disgrace. I still remember the time and the place.

February eighteenth, nineteen-ninety seven. It wasn’t heaven.
We gave our number one to the ‘Hawks for Mirer. Desperation so dire. Of course, Wanstedt was put in the fryer. And I became a man-cryer.

But here we are now. It’s a new day. I see a parting in the clouds of gray.
Scoring more points than any Bear, he wore six- his name was Butler- enter Cutler- to rewrite the book. I think we stole this guy like a dirty crook.

I’m not worried about his diabetes. He eats his Wheaties.
I’d take him if he had AIDS, we’re so quarterback-needy.
I’ll take the insolence and the insulin- to be able to claim that we finally can win-
With a quarterback’s arm. I can just see my grin.

And what do you think, John Madden?
“He’s got a cannon!
He’s the best Bears QB since they had Sid Luckman!
The Bears will be good, while the Broncos will be suckin.
Now leave me alone boy, and pass the turducken!”

Maybe time will find- that I was blind.
And Jay will become that for which the Bears are defined.
Just another corpse in a quarterback wasteland.

But I don’t think so.

I’ve got my shufflin’ shoes on.

And Cutler is my new guy!

Go Bears!!!

Good Jay
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Boobs of Terror

** Warning: There are pictures of boobs below.  They are not meant to be gratuitous; they are presented to make a point.  If you are offended by images of boobs, then please do not look at the pictures below.  If you are offended by images of boobs, then I would like you to continue reading, however, because you are the person I do not understand.  If you are a man, then you are not reading any of this now, because you have already quickly scrolled down to look at boobs.  You others have been politely warned.**

In movies, our future is often depicted as bleak.  There is a popular movie out right now based on a book called The Hunger Games in which teenagers set in a dystopian future are forced to battle each other to the death on television.  In a similar plot, The Running Man, based on a Stephen King short story, showed a future in which convicts could gain freedom, if they can survive being hunted on television.  In the movie Jason X, the future has a large, hockey-masked, slow-walking, indestructible person stalking through a spaceship in the 25thcentury and killing people in unlikely ways…. I’m ashamed to admit that I actually watched that one.  As bleak as these futures are, however, none of them are what we

"Hey, Number One... why does the new engineer have a machete?"

should fear.  Clearly, the biggest threat to our future as a civilized society is boobs.

I am basing this assumption on the reactions I often read about or have seen on TV whenever a boob-related catastrophe occurs.  There have been many examples.  The one that initially inspired me to want to write about this was when I read about a year ago that a lady in a museum started pounding on a 80-million dollar Gauguin painting and trying to remove it from the wall because it was ‘evil’.  It was a painting called Two Tahitian Women in which their breasts are exposed.  After her arrest, the lady said, “I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned”.  She also went on to say, “I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you”…. I bring this example up because I think that it strangely echoes the sentiments of many people in this country.  The, um.. the part about nudity

An oil painting from 1899... OF EVIL!!

being evil.  Less so, the part about radios in heads.  For whatever reason, of all the things we can tolerate and subject ourselves to viewing, naked breasts are ridiculously taboo.  The lady in the above example was clearly loon balls, but she isn’t the only one who thinks that boobs are evil.  And why go all the way to the museum to see filthy smut, when you need to go no further than your TV?

Powerful forces are at work to ensure that evil images of boobs are not defiling our children on the silver screen.  Entertainer Nicki Minaj has discovered this, as she has been the subject of complaints on multiple occasions for her show of breasts.  During a recent performance on American Idol, she realized that one of her boobs was bouncing out of her low top and quickly turned away to tuck it back in.  She was quick to apologize afterward, as she probably wanted to avoid the backlash that she received last summer when one of her nipples was briefly exposed during a morning show performance.  Because if a boob is evil, then a nipple is the Eye of Malevolence, apparently.  Nothing draws the ire of terrified, conservative, “family values” people like an errant nipple.  We know this because Nick Minaj is but the student of “wardrobe malfunctions”.  The master did her show in 2004.

Janet Jackson, of course, is the one who brought “nip slips” into the mainstream during her Super Bowl halftime show.  Although, it wasn’t so much a nip slip as it was a strangely-accessorized breast thrown in our faces.  This seminal event inspired a firestorm of complaints led by the PTC (Parents Television Council)… the aforementioned “family values” watchdogs.  Hundreds of thousands of calls were placed, leading to stricter censorship standards on TV and years of old classic rockers performing Super Bowl

"Maybe this was a bad idea"

halftime shows.  Without exposing their breasts.  The strange thing about this moment igniting the “decency” flame, is that it occurred during an entertainment break of an event that glorifies large, helmeted men trying to violently maim each other.  Parents and their children can watch this and be perfectly content, but then a boob pops out and it’s, “OH MY GOD!!  JOHNNY, CLOSE YOUR EYES!  LOOK AWAY FROM THE SCREEN!!  I can’t believe they let that filth on my TV!  Poor Johnny’s sweet innocence…. sigh… now, Johnny, go run along and play your video games.  You know, the one where you shoot people in the face.  Good boy.”

After her wardrobe malfunction, Janet Jackson's PR team had its hands full.

That halftime show was the notorious moment in our country’s timeline of boob exposure that began the age of hypersensitivity to… boob… exposure.  Since then, there has been a shameful and tyrannical witch hunt for all things boob, with angry mobs throwing boobs in water to see if they float, for if they do, then surely they must be burned for the witches they are!  But why?!  As I alluded to above, we seem perfectly okay with allowing violent entertainment to pervade our culture.  Sure, some people fight against violence, but that fight has been much less audible or successful than the fight against boobs.  There is research to support wanting to shield our society from violent entertainment.  Some studies suggest that exposure to violent entertainment increases aggression in children.

I bet Clinton would have brokered more successful peace talks at a nudey bar.

There are no studies that I’m aware of that indicate that exposure to a boob adversely affects children.  And I’m fairly certain that it would not increase aggression.  If anything, exposure to a boob would probably pacify a person!

. . . . .

Now… allow me to come clean about something.  For I am only a man.  I once had a dream, true story, in which I was lying on a beach and saw a 50-foot nude woman running my way, when she tripped and fell, breasts-first onto me, crushing me dead.  I remember opening my eyes instantly from the dream when I died and trying to figure out if it was a bad dream or a good dream…  I admit that it may be difficult for me to be objective about what is and isn’t considered decent when it comes to boobs, as I am susceptible to their charms.  I have spent some time trying to analyze what

Attack me.

it is about boobs that makes them so interesting, and I just can’t figure it out.  Superficially, they are simply concentrated flesh-bags of fat located in the pectoral region of a woman’s body.  That sure doesn’t sound sexy.  Concentrated fat in other regions doesn’t seem to be considered so tantalizing.  Is it the nipple that makes it appealing?  I wonder, because exposed nipples really increase the terror level of the conservative folks.  But men have nipples.  And it seems perfectly fine for men to expose their nipples.  But mens’ nipples don’t make me lose my concentration.  When I consider why boobs are so appealing, I like to think that I’m more than a simple bag of hormones bird-dancing at the whim of Darwinian sexual selection…. but then my penis usually tells me to shut up and quit killing the mood.

Even seductively working a sub sandwich, I am not attracted to his boobs.

Another thing I should explain is that I’m not advocating for public pornography.  I have three children, including two daughters, and I do have a standard of decency that I expect my children to adhere to.  I’m just saying that if I happen to be watching TV with my children and Justin Timberlake happens to rip Janet Jackson’s boob leather off, my reaction would probably be, “Whoa, that’s a boob.  Girls, don’t show your boobs to everybody like that, ok?”… I wouldn’t call for the destruction of the TV network, the NFL, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, and worldwide boobs.  Simple perspective is all I’m asking for.  Seeing a boob won’t destroy my children.  And it won’t destroy yours either.

And it didn’t destroy me.  I remember my first experience being attacked by unexpected, explicit rogue media boobage.  I think I was about ten years old, and I was watching the movie Sixteen Candles with my mom on HBO.  The movie was rated PG. There was a scene in which the female protagonist, Samantha Baker, was scoping out her competition for the affections of her high school crush, Jake Ryan.  The movie cut to a sudden view of his current girlfriend’s naked body in the girls’ locker room shower.  My mom flipped out.  While I was trying to hear Sam’s expressions of angst at the perfection that was Caroline Mulford, my mom was ranting about how a PG-rated movie could contain such filthy smut.

According to Wikipedia, PG movies suggest the following guidelines: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children. These films are generally

This topless scene made my mom blow her top.

appropriate for children age 9 and older and may contain milder swear words, brief smoking, crude or suggestive humor, short and infrequent horror moments and/or mild violence. Usually no drug use is acceptable in this category. Topless men may be present but topless women are not usually acceptable unless in an educational or scientific context or if the nudity is only shown briefly. A few racial insults may also be heard.

Now, let’s quickly review these criteria and see where this scene might fall.  I don’t think it’s a short horror moment.  Unless you count my mom’s reaction.  I don’t think it’s mild violence.  Unless you think that water is too hot or is hitting her naked body too hard.  I’m pretty sure that is not a topless man, so that’s ruled out.  So, either this scene was considered educational/scientific, or brief enough not to elicit some sort of harm to the viewer.  It wasn’t brief, as I seem to recall them showing a close up of the boobs, initially, then lingering on the shower scene while Sam and her friend talked about the girl’s body and Sam’s unlikely odds to steal Jake Ryan’s notice… I’ve watched this movie a couple times.  So clearly, this scene qualified as educational/scientific.  Indeed, the scene is a practice in researchers scientifically studying a remarkable specimen.  And I was educated in how angry movie boobs make my mother.  And it’s nice to know that since I was older than 9, it was finally okay for me to hear racial insults.

So, what made my mom so angry?  I have mentioned in a previous post that my mother is a bit of a feminist, and therefore resents and deplores the objectification of women.  That’s cool.  But this was an educational scene.  It only served to show that this more physically attractive, yet vapid character was not interesting enough for the brooding, vapid Jake Ryan.  My mother should have seen the important message I was learning, instead of reacting to a superficial shower scene.  I mean, the hot, naked girl lost, right?!  She got stuck with the geek!…. hmm.  Perhaps I didn’t learn anything, afterall.  And perhaps I just figured out why I have an unrealistic sense of worth.

Anyway, now that I’ve cleared those things up, let’s get back to modern boobs.  I want to talk about a couple of other recent examples brought to light by famous breasts.  Jessica Simpson recently posed nude on the cover of Elle magazine, ticking off people and prompting store owners to place tacky cardboard signs over the majority of the cover.  I thought this was a

A clearly tacky magazine display.

silly reaction because Jessica Simpson is covering up her privates with her hands more than many bathing suits I’ve seen out there manage to do… and because Jessica Simpson is very pregnant in the picture.  I can’t fathom what could possibly be considered threatening about a pregnant naked lady covering up her parts.  A part of me has wondered if the general outrage against boobs was being spearheaded by insecure women who simply felt threatened by perceived sexual aggressiveness on the part of women who expose their boobs.  But if so, a married, pregnant woman should not qualify.  Even if it is Jessica Simpson and her large, baby-ready mammaries.

Thank you. Much less tacky.

“Baby-ready mammaries” brings me to the most infuriating point about our nation’s irrational breast terror.  And that’s the issue of public breast-feeding.  Beyonce became somewhat of a hero of mine recently when she made a point of performing this very natural act in a restaurant when her baby was wanting.  This, of course, rankled the feathers of some people; but also, thankfully, inspired many others.  I can’t express how absolutely crazy it makes me to read about some poor mother being harassed, or fired, or discriminated against for simply wanting to nourish her child in the most natural and healthy way, without having to first seek cover somewhere isolated from the eyes of people who may be uncomfortable with it.  Again, these are people who probably have no problem watching violence, but can’t handle breast feeding.  And I could be taking a leap in the wrong direction here, but it seems that many of the people who are so protective against boobs are religious folks who trumpet modesty.  I would be willing to bet that a mother feeding her baby in the manner that He intended exceeds modesty on God’s list of importance.  I don’t remember reading “Thou shalt not exposeth thine breast”….

…. In fact, I think that breast-feeding should not only be spared the indignity of societal shunning, I think it should be celebrated as a nationally televised spectacle!  I dream of a future in which world-renowned mother-contestants face off in packed stadiums, much like the ones that currently display Super Bowls and controversial halftime shows.  The contestants might have clever nicknames like Fran the Feeder, or Nancy the Nourisher, or Milk Maid Mary.  These women would battle to see who could produce the most nourishment for their babies.  The one with the fattest baby wins, but instead of a jeweled championship belt, perhaps she would win a jeweled championship bra.  With an easy-open flap.  And maybe we could call this celebrated spectacle… The Hunger Games.  I have cool ideas.

Contestant "Vitamin D-Licious" was famously disqualified from The Hunger Games when her cleavage ironically swallowed a baby.

 

 

People, I’m just saying please stop thinking boobs are harmful or evil.  Let’s embrace boobs.  Especially me.  Let me embrace boobs.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

And now a series of silly Janet Jackson boob picture captions!

Oops.. looks like somebody pulled Janet's boob lever!

After tearing her boob flap off, Justin promptly began serenading the boob.

Many were surprised to see Janet Jackson's boob adorned with a cartoon pink star.

"Captain, we're detecting a strange anomaly ahead. It appears to be.... a Star Nipple!!"

Soon after a wardrobe malfunction in a galaxy far, far away... "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and anger. I fear something terrible has happened."

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One of the few.. The proud.. The Ophiuchi.

This is that topic I wrote back in March but never posted.  It’s silly, but what the hell…

I saw the sign.  And it opened up my eyes…

I’ve never really been one to put much stock into hokey beliefs.  Especially ones that use the stars to predict the future.  That’s why I’ve only ever had a vague awareness of astrology- just enough to know what my sign is so that I may answer appropriately, should an attractive potential mate, who actually does put stock into hokey beliefs, ever might ask me.  I have only read my horoscope a few times, usually only when there was absolutely nothing else better to do.  For instance, once when I was seventeen, I was waiting at a gate in the airport for a plane to New York to see some old friends of mine I hadn’t seen in years.  Having read much of the rest of the paper, I looked at the horoscope just for kicks, and it said “A nostalgic journey will bring you in touch with old friends.”  See?  Totally stupid….. actually, that one was eerily dead on… Be that as it may, I have never been swayed to believe in astrology.  But a brilliant new astrological marketing campaign has me thinking differently these days.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the zodiac signs were misaligned and that they have been rearranged.  Not only that, but they’re adding a 13th sign!  As I said, this was announced in January, so it’s old news for some of you- and it turns out it’s very old news for you astrologists in the know, as the celestial alignment that is responsible for this shift apparently happened hundreds of years ago.  Apparently astrology is similar to Catholicism… takes a little while to catch up.  (Sorry, Catholics- I love many of you).. Anyway, as should be expected, this realignment has caused a controversy in Astrologyland, with some disputing it and some supporting it.  Normally, I would have all the interest in this debate as I have when Lucky Charms changes a marshmallow, but it turns out that I receive a major boost in zodiac status with the realignment, and so I side with changing it up.

Pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, AND blue diamonds... oh, and purple horseshoes, and red balloons, and shooting stars, and leprechaun hats, and rainbows, and hourglasses.... screw it, just throw everything in there!

Until now, I have been a Sagittarius.  Sagittarius is “The Archer” with the torso of a man and the legs of a horse.  And he’s drawing a bow.  Being a centaur has been pretty cool.  Having the lower anatomy of a horse has its advantages…. because walking on hooves is better than walking on feet.  The shoes last longer.  And are luckier.  Like purple horseshoes in Lucky Charms.  Not sure why Lucky Charms keeps popping into this thing.  Anyway, as a Sagittarius I have been “Optimistic and freedom-loving.  Jovial and good-humored.  Honest and straightforward.  Intellectual and philosophical.  Blindly optimistic and careless.  Irresponsible and superficial.  Tactless and restless.”  I know I have been these things because this site said so.  But now, I am none of these things.  Because, thanks to the realignment, I am no longer a Sagittarius.

It turns out that I am now the brand new 13th sign, Ophiuchus!  And it turns out that Ophiuchus is not pronounced o-FYUK-us, as I have been imagining it, but a much less humorous OFF-ee-YOO-kuss… actually that’s pretty humorous too.  Now, I suppose you’re wondering why I would be embracing this sudden and complete change in my identity.  You’re probably wondering how a man could take every trait that has ever defined him and abruptly trade them in for something new and unknown.  Perhaps you’re wondering if you’ve already wasted too much time reading this and if there’s anything good in your pantry to snack on.  Like some Lucky Charms cereal.  Well, loyal reader, (dad), it turns out that my new sign is much cooler.

Oh it has nothing to do with my new traits.  In fact, my new traits are a total downgrade.  Now I am “A seeker of wisdom and knowledge.  A flamboyant dresser who favors bright colors.  Someone who will have a large family and abandon it.  And my lucky number is 12.” per this site.  Certainly nothing to write home about… or a blog post about.  But too late for that!

No, there are three reasons why I like my new sign better.  One is that it’s “The 13th Sign”.  That just sounds cool.  If you’re a dude who struts around proudly with an unlucky #13 branded to your soul, it hyper-elevates your street cred.  Girls like a bad boy, and if you’re number 13, you’re just bad.  People who fear the number 13 have triskaidekaphobia… or Bradaphobia, for short… are you getting how much tougher I am now as an Ophiuchus?….  I know that the #13 isn’t actually all bad.  It’s a baker’s dozen.  It’s Dan Marino.  The 13thSign is a bad horror movie.  Heck, 13 is just one number higher than my new lucky number!  But nobody has to know any of this.  If someone is superstitious enough to ask me what my sign is, then they’re probably superstitious enough to think that 13 is a bad number.  Cool.

Counterclockwise, it's a sleepy face with drool in the corner of its mouth. Clockwise, it's a collar bone with nice cleavage. What's so unlucky about 13?

The second reason I feel upgraded is that Ophiuchus is an especially exclusive sign.  While some astrologers felt the apparent need to add a 13th sign of the zodiac, they did not add a 13th month to the calendar.  At least as far as I know.  Because of this, the signs had to shift to make room for my new sign.  Some of you are no longer the signs that you used to be.  The interesting thing about this realignment is that each sign is not given equal days.  Ophiuchus only has an 18-day window (Nov 30 – Dec 17).  It’s not the most exclusive sign- that distinction belongs to Scorpio now.  They only have 7 days (Nov 23 – Nov 29).  This information really upset my wife, as she has always been a Scorpio (her birthday is Oct 27th), but is now a Virgo.  See the new alignments here.  She thinks my support of the realignment is ridiculous.  I think she’s just mad that I’m gonna leave her and all the kids.  It’s one of my new traits, after all.  Anyway, Ophiuchus is the second most exclusive sign, and I can dig that.

But the main reason I like my new sign is because it’s way more badass looking than my old sign.  This is was my old sign:

The Centaur's graceful bow form has been known to attract nearby frizzy-haired damsels.

This is my new sign:

The Serpent Holder's graceful form has been known to attract all women near and far.

I was The Archer.  Now I am The Serpent Holder.  Wielding a bow and arrow is cool.. but wielding a massive serpent from betwixt my legs do be much cooler.  Yes, yes, I know…   Saying that I prefer a sign in which I am holding a massive serpent between my legs does seem a bit sophomoric.  And writing several paragraphs on the topic seems even more so.  But then the whole concept of astrology seems silly to me too, so I may as well have some fun with it, right?  I like to imagine that a classy, pretty lady may come up to me some day, soft-spoken and demure, and ask me what is my sign; to which I will abruptly reply by suddenly stripping off all my clothes, pulling a giant serpent out of my bag, pulling it up between my legs, and saying, “THIS!”… That is something I simply can’t do as a Sagittarius.

"You see, Lucy. Those two stars make the arm, and then you go down and.. oh dear. Look away, Lucy."

So, if you happen to see me strutting around with a new air of confidence, it’s because I have become a believer in astrology and I’m now a badass Ophiuchus.  I would like to thank my mother for the excellent timing of my conception.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go read some tea leaves and play with a ouiga board… hang on.  I just read that this realignment will only be applied to those born in or after 2009.  But I thought this all happened hundreds of years ago?… So I’m still just a Sagittarius?  I’m back to being optimistic and freedom-loving?..  Jovial and good-humored?..  I’m no longer a flamboyant dresser who favors bright colors?.. My lucky number is not 12?..

Yeah, this astrology stuff is all crap again.

By the way, my “research” on this topic was very breezy and superficial.  If you do care about this topic, do not take anything you just read as factual.  And if I have to tell you that about any of my blog topics, then you probably shouldn’t read.  Anything.

Jake the Snake Roberts. The original Ophiuchus.

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For Those About to Pass a Rock, I Salute You

Before I get into the excruciating topic of my first (and hopefully last) kidney stone, I’d like to quickly explain my lengthy absence from this blog.  Many months ago, I began writing a post about astrology.  Conceptually, in my mind, it seemed pretty funny; but after writing most of it, and reading it, I found it to be very not funny.  Even by my standards.  After that, it kind of took the wind out of my sails, and I just didn’t feel like writing again.  But I recently experienced something that has inspired me again.  It’s probably not funny either.

Now.  About that stone.  They say that passing a kidney stone is the male pain equivalent of a woman giving birth.  While some may suspect that I indeed have a uterus, I can honestly say that I have never experienced uterine contractions nor birthing a child through my vagina… er, A vagina.  But now I can say I’ve passed a stone.  The entire ordeal lasted a week, ending with a bang at the urologist’s clinic.  Allow me to share my story.

The type of stone I had. 4mm of this being forced through 2mm of Brad tubing. No fun.

I first felt the pain while bending over sanding a picnic table in my backyard.  Initially, I thought I may have strained a muscle because it occurred just as I bent over to reach a far corner, and I felt a sudden pain in left mid back region.  At about that same time, my wife and the kids came home from shopping and I went inside to greet them.  They quickly dispersed when I entered, and I sat down trying to find a comfortable position.  At this point, the pain was beginning to increase pretty rapidly, and I couldn’t find a position or pressure to the area that alleviated it in the slightest.  I knew it wasn’t muscular pain then, and I began to worry.  Within a span of about ten minutes, I was down on the floor with my eyes closed tight and my jaw clenched, trying not to sound too wimpy while I called for my wife.  She and I knew it was probably my kidney from the symptoms I was having, and she called the ambulance.

Now, I have heard other people tell stories about their kidney stones and offered cursory sympathetic remarks, not ever really giving it much thought.  That is because, unless you go though it, you really don’t know what they’re talking about, and therefore can’t empathize appropriately.  So I have tried to think of a way to best describe this pain in a way that everyone can relate to.  And I think I have it.  Okay… you know how when you’re role-playing with your spouse in the bedroom, and she wants to play the part of the plumber and you’re playing the part of the clogged pipe, and she decides that she needs to unclog you with a steel-bristled snake pipe cleaner, and she jams it into your weiner hole, and it hurts quite a lot, but you’re trying not to break character, so you just grin it and bear it, and then she tries to show off her skills so she puts some hard English on her steel-bristled snake and angles it up through your bladder and into your ureter and drives it all the way up to your friggin’ kidney?…. You know what I’m talking about?  Well, it’s a lot like that.  Except the pain is unrelenting and you don’t have a safe word to stop the pain.  Trust me, I tried screaming Dorito a thousand times and the pain never stopped.  And I’m sure the paramedics weren’t sure what to think of the strange man writhing on the floor screaming “Dorito, Dorito, oh god, Dorito!!!”

A Dorito. Cheezy, crunchy, and gets the party started... and stops the party if things get a little out of hand.

Hmm… I’m not sure why my wife likes that particular role so much.

So then the ambulance came and they filled me with pain drugs and I went to the hospital and laid around in half a stupor for hours.  I ended up staying the night and the pain was gone in the morning.  They X-rayed me and said I could go home.  About 2-3 hours after I got home, it all happened again.  Seriously.  I had assumed that the stone had passed to the bladder, and that’s why they let me leave, but it hadn’t and I was in agony again.  And I had to have my wife call the ambulance again.  I was trying to be tough, but it was the vomiting that prompted her to call.  I forgot to mention that there was a lot of vomiting over those two days, due to extreme pain.  Anyways, I remember my wife and I had a pretty comical conversation as we were waiting for the ambulance to come get me again.  While doubled over, I walked over to the book shelf and grabbed the book I’ve been working on and went over near the front door.  My wife asked me what I was doing.  I explained that I found myself incredibly bored the previous day in the hospital waiting hours at a time for a doctor to poke in intermittently and ask me how I was feeling, so I wanted to take a book this time.  She told me to give her the book because I would look ridiculous taking a book on the ambulance.  I argued about my impending boredom.  She asked me how bad my pain was.  I said it was about a 5 out of 10.  She said “About a 5 out of 10?!”  I explained that the extreme pain came in waves and that currently it was a “AAAAHHH!!!”…. the pain got bad again.  So my wife took my book away, worried that I would lessen my pain credibility by casually taking reading material into the ambulance with me.  Whatever.

So that night they surgically removed the stone.  Well.. they called it a “procedure”, so I guess it wasn’t technically surgery.  All the same, they took me into the operating room and brought the mask down over my face.  A scary thing, that.  Even totally doped up on drugs, I remember the anxiety of that mask coming down and the lights going dim.

Recovery wasn’t too bad.  I was groggy from all the stuff and peeing was no fun, but I was glad to know that it was out.  They had to shove a stent in me to help drain stuff, and it would have to be removed in a week.  I watched a lot of TV (since I didn’t have a book to read!) and found some movies to watch.  I will now give my super-quick review of the two and a half movies I saw while recovering in the hospital under the influence of strong pain medications:  True Grit (the new one)– this movie might have been great if I was watching it under different circumstances; but I found it pretty emasculating watching a movie about a 14-year old girl braving the wild west to avenge her father’s death and losing her arm in the process, while I was lying in a hospital bed because a pebble was in me.  TRON

"Seriously? A pebble, man?!"

Legacy– I also found this movie hard to fully enjoy because I was drowsy and I kept thinking that there was a bunch of hidden meaning everywhere but I wasn’t clear enough to figure it out and then I wound up just asking myself why I was watching nothing but Jeff Bridges movies.  Green Hornet– Let’s just say I was glad I got discharged before I had time to finish this one.

The week following was pretty uncomfortable.  There was a constant urge to urinate, and when I did, it hurt and was bloody.  I had a constant aching pain where the stent was in my left ureter.  But the worst thing during those few days after leaving the hospital was the constipation from all the pain drugs.  It was awful.  It got so bad after a few days, I considered asking my wife to role-play the part of a construction worker so she could jam a jackhammer up my ass and break that brick up… for some reason, I have a feeling she would have liked that role too.  I remember sitting on the toilet for thirty minutes at a time, with my legs falling asleep and me drifting into delirium.  You know that scene in the movie 127 Hours where the dude has been stuck for a long time and he’s thirsty and delirious and he starts fantasizing about a torrential downpour that hydrates and frees him?.. Well, I was having dreams of torrential flows… Did I just compare my constipation to being stuck in a rock and having to amputate your own arm to survive?.. Yes.  Yes I did.  I was taking stool softeners and laxatives and developing new toileting techniques..

"Man, I just wanna poop so bad!"

anything to help loosen it up!  FYI, it does help a little to lean laterally and pull your cheek to the side and then rock over to the other side and do the same.  Fired a few bullets that way.  You’re welcome.  Anyway, when all the laxatives and stuff finally took affect, I swear I heard angels sing on that toilet.  Fantastic relief.

The stent removal was a whole ordeal on its own.  I made the mistake of googling “ureter stent removal” the day before I was to go in and came across a bunch of horror stories, and a picture of the stent that was in me.  It’s a fairly long plastic tube with sizable coils on each end.  I remember looking at the picture of the coils and then looking down and imagining the size of my penis hole and trying to do the math on how that was gonna come out.  I scheduled my appointment for lunch time during a work day.  You know.. a routine removal of a long coiled tube from out of my wiener while downing a sandwich, and then

I see two places where that's gonna hurt coming out

back to work!  After producing a urine sample, I was led to a room where a lady prepped me for the “procedure”.  I found it really funny, as she directed me to sit on the patient chair, pull down my pants and underwear to my knees, and drape myself with this flimsy paper drape.  Then she moved the drape and put a paper drape over me that had a circular cutout where my penis is.  I oddly remember wondering what the purpose of the drape was at that point.  It’s not like I’m overly modest about my thighs.  My privates are hanging through a hole, lady, your drape is a waste of paper!  So then she has me lay back and she blasts some numbing gel into my urethra.  That was uncomfortable, but just a primer.  After a few minutes of her prepping, and me looking up to the ceiling trying to not notice that I’m being fondled by some strange lady, she says that I’m ready and goes to call the doctor.  I glance down at my prepped region and notice that, for some reason, my penis is clamped down to my abdomen with some metal straps.  I remember looking at my little Brad, with him staring back at me with its creepy little one eyebrow furrowed in consternation, silently wimpering, “Why?”…  I silently replied, “I don’t know.  I guess my diet is unsatisfactory.”  He answered back, “After all the abuse you’ve put me through over the years… do you even realize that we don’t have actual sex?!  Your wife just finds new ways to abuse us and you think it’s okay because she calls it ‘sex games’…”  I lamely attempt to mollify, “I trimmed you up for the occasion.  You look so pretty.”  Angrily, with a tear in its eye, “I’m not talking to you!”… and I let him be with his pain.

The doctor came in and we exchanged stupid jokes while my penis lay clamped in a paper hole on my lap.  I spent most of my time staring up at the ceiling, but occasionally chanced a look at what he was doing to prepare.  I saw him grabbing a long metal wire and I knew I was in deep shit.  As he approached me and instructed me to “take deep slow breaths”, I desperately fought the urge to start blurting “Dorito, Dorito!!” as he went about his cruel work.  It was quite uncomfortable.  And the two coils I pointed out earlier?  Holy damn.  I was pretty sure my penis was tearing off when those parts came out.  And then when they were done, they pleasantly told me I could get dressed and they left.  I was laying there with my pants down to my knees with my own urine all over me (apparently a natural reaction to something being pulled from the depths of your kidneys), and my poor, beat up penis sobbing in a fetal position.  I went back to work after that, but had to leave early when I started experiencing some pretty bad delayed pain that, thankfully went away later and hasn’t returned.

It’s been a few days since the stent was removed, and the only residual effects from the whole deal is that I feel an increase in urinary urgency.  The doc said everything should normalize in a month, but I don’t think it will take that long.  My penis still isn’t talking to me, but time will mend our relationship, I’m sure.  I recently was telling my folks about the entire experience and my mom confessed that she has had a kidney stone before.  I asked, “Really?  What did you do?”  She said, “I crawled up in a tub, gritted my teeth, and got through the night.”  Finally being able to empathize with this story, I said, “Ugh, that’s awful.  What happened after that?”  My mom then leaned in slowly, looked intensely into my eyes, and said, “I got up the next morning and went about my day.”…. My mom has a way of turning my penis into a vagina with mere words.

So that was my kidney stone experience.  I am sorry for any of you who have gone through this or may yet go through this.  I, for one, plan to drink lots more water.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, my wife is calling me in to the bedroom.  She’s wearing overalls and she’s holding a hoe, so I think I know what she has in mind.  Sigh.. come on, little buddy.  It’s time to be the garden again.

By the way, Mother, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I don’t actually engage in weird sex games with my wife in which I allow her to take various tools from various trades and stick them into my various orifices.  I have way too much respect for tools to do that.  Love you, Mom!

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Geriatric Gen-Xers?!

I think a lot about aging.  This is largely due to the fact that I work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  It’s pretty difficult to spend your days working with 80-100 year-old folks and not have your mind drift toward the inevitableness of your own life path there.  Should I be so lucky…  Or unlucky.

Until recently, I have not really been one to dwell on my own aging too much.  But the effects are starting rear their ugly head.  Literally, as one of the effects is that my head is getting uglier.  I’m seeing a lot more gray in my hair, which, I understand, would be a “distinguishing” feature, if not for the accompanying hair line recession- (I plan to do a whole separate post about my baldness-battling adventures).  I no longer have the energy to hop right out of bed in the mornings like I used to.  The lingering pain from attempted athletic endeavors takes a bit longer to go away.  There is an increased frequency with which I must pluck sudden, large renegade hairs from obscure, random locations on my body.  I’m becoming more aware of “heart health”.  And I’m realizing that I’m just a hop, a skip, and an invasive prod away from having to keep tabs on my prostate size.

Okay, ladies.. I won't complain about the prostate checks too much.

When I think of very old people, I think of people who grew up on farms.. people who went to major wars.. people who suffered through the Great Depression.. people who weathered significant hardships.  They are the “Greatest Generation”.  It is a generation of men and women who are so easy to respect and feel compassion for because of all they’ve been through and how hard they had to work just to survive.  I think of people huddled around radios listening to their favorite music and shows, as well as presidential addresses.  I think of people who, having worked a hard week on the farm, got excited to go out dancing on a Saturday night to some fine swing or big band music; the fellas, perhaps emulating Fred Astaire, while the ladies donned the shoes of Ginger Rogers.

My generation's grandparents used to be able to do this.

I think of a generation of people in which everybody knew somebody who was killed in a war.

Some of the places I work in have small theatres with old movie posters.  Gone with the Wind and Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn adorns one.  I can often get a toe tapping by putting on some Duke Ellington or Dean Martin.  I have spent a great deal of time smiling over incredible pictures from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.  It’s a bitter-sweet sharing by them… these pictures with me.  Sweet for the memories that sustain these wonderful people; bitter for the distance that separates them from it.  I have welled up many times over these pictures.  A 101-year old woman showed me pictures from her teen years.  She was the captain of her basketball team.  I had no idea there were female basketball teams in the 20’s.  A man in his 90’s showed me pictures of him during his army days.  He had served in three wars and was wounded four times (once severely).  He liked to tell me that he was “170 pounds of pure muscle back then”.  Many people show me pictures of their spouse that has passed away.  Those always choke me up.  Many of them have pictures that show when they were first together, and then a picture of a 50th

Ruturning home from war with a classic kiss.. a prelude to a baby boom.

anniversary in the same frame.  And there are lots of pictures of their children growing up into adulthood, which are tough to see because I recognize them as the same as my parent’s pictures of youth.  Often times, I will visit with these children and am stricken to see that they are in their 60’s and 70’s, and realize that my children will be 60 some day, perhaps visiting me.  Which makes me realize that the chain of time is ever being pulled.  Link by link.

Earlier, I described some of the more superficial aspects of aging that have gained my attention in recent months.  But that’s not the part that really trips me out.  It’s the idea that my generation is someday going to be in nursing homes.  This absolutely boggles my mind when I think about it.  I come from Generation X.  I’m not even sure what in the world that means- “Gen-X”… There was the “Greatest Generation”, which created the “Baby Boomers”, which created “Generation X”…?  I don’t know.

X = 3... give or take 10. That makes us generation -7 to 13! I do not miss algebra.

Perhaps X is simply a variable, by which X = BB + 20 (give or take 10), in which BB = Baby Boomers…. my algebra teachers always hated it when I wrote (give or take 10) on the tests.

Anyway, someday the chain link that holds Generation X will be pulled into the geriatric phase of life, and that is just near-incomprehensible to me.  I simply can’t wrap my mind around the idea that the Betty’s and Esther’s of the current geriatric generation are going to be replaced by the Sarah’s and Jennifer’s of mine some day.  The contrast between that generation and mine could not be more…. contrasty.  I have described their generation- at any given time, they didn’t know if they were going to die from starvation, disease, or Axis firearms.  My generation, on the other hand, probably experienced the least amount of stress of any in American history.  Ours was one born after the tumult of Vietnam and enjoyed most of our prime years before the tumult of 9-11.  The last great threat of my youth essentially fell with the Berlin Wall- an event that I didn’t fully appreciate during my blissfully ignorant youth.  I was probably more excited to get a piece of the wall (as I was in Germany at the time), than I was for what it actually meant.  The only real horrific event that comes to my mind during my young adulthood was the genocide in Rwanda.  What was my generation doing during that time?… the Macarena.  My generation saw the rise of hip-hop music and the internet.  Phones became

Rwanda?.. I don't know what that is, but check THIS out!

more portable and smaller.  Years of political correctness left us desensitized to such… sensitivities, as our taste in TV and movie humor reflected our apathy and our crudeness.

…. When I read what I just wrote above, it sounds like a verbal sneer directed at my own generation.  I don’t entirely intend it that way.  Part of it is based on fear.  As I said before, it is very easy to respect the current geriatric generation.  That respect is evident in the care I provide and witness by other caregivers for these wonderful people.  When there is a “Wall of Honor” that shows pictures of these folks during WWII, you can feel nothing but respect.  My concern is that when I am one day in a nursing home, that natural respect will be harder to muster by the caregivers of that time.  Is being very old enough to garner that respect?

What will our nursing homes look like?  What movie posters will be on our theater walls?  When I think of the music from our generation playing in nursing homes, I can’t help but crack up.  For some reason, I usually get a ridiculous image of C&C Music Factory blaring

"Gonna make you sweat til you bleed... umm, but first check your list of prescriptions and make sure you're not on Coumadin, or something like that. Thank you."

and a bunch of us breaking our hips trying to dance to it.  I have known some people who watch the same shows continuously.  I Love Lucy is popular with one of the ladies I have known.  Which of us will still be watching Seinfeld episodes everyday?

… Or, maybe I’m not thinking futuristically enough.  Perhaps there will be so many of us living so long that they will need to just keep us in large rooms with rows of beds plugged into a neural network that allows us to experience a happy non-reality, a-la the Matrix.  I think I would choose sensations that

Marky Mark will still never wear a shirt.

aren’t real over the vague awareness of applesauce dripping down my chin from my spoon-feeding.

Nah.. that’s silly.  Right?…  When a nursing aid comes in some day to change my diaper, how will that go?  I may have dementia, be hard of hearing, and be yelling at him/her.  Perhaps it will sound like this:

Aid (yelling): “Mr. Golden, I need to change you!”

Me: “What?!  Go away!”

Aid: “Mr. Golden, please put down the Nintendo controller!” (The aid pries the controller

Damnable arthritis better not ruin my gaming love.

from my gnarled hands)

Me: “Hey!  Damn you!  That was my last life!”

Aid: “The TV isn’t even on, Mr. Golden!  Can I please turn down your music?!” (he or she turns it down)

Me: “Hey!  What the hell’s going on here?!”

Aid: “What was that music?!”

This will be old people music?! So hard for me to imagine.

Me: “Guns ‘n Roses!” (my cracked, old voice screeches “Welcome to the Jungle!” while I feebly attempt to bang my head)

Aid (smiling): “That’s great, Mr. Golden!  Who is that on the movie poster there on the wall?!”

Me: “That?!  Why, that’s Jim Carrey!  He was a funny sumbitch!”

We will have to turn up our hearing aids to hear "the most annoying sound in the world"

Aid: “Never heard of him!”

Me (mumbling under my breath): “Yeah.. you probably haven’t.  Hey, is Friends on TV Land?!”

Aid: “It’s not time for TV, Mr. Golden.  It’s your turn at the Holodeck!”

Me: “The what?!”

Aid: “The place where you go to see your family!”

Me: “Oh!..  Yes!”

And then the aid wheels me away to a place where I see a program of my young family and confusedly play out my role as a husband and father during the early decades of this century, smiling ignorantly the whole time….  A thought that is entirely bitter-sweet.

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