My Closely-Held Corporate Religious Beliefs

gavel-and-rosaryFor the record, and should this ever need clarification in the future: Geoffrey Cubbage is a closely-held business legal entity (sole proprietorship), with a Constitutional right to religious expression that cannot be restricted by law, save where the state has a compelling interest and no less-restrictive means of achieving that interest exists.

Taxes, of course, have been firmly established as a “compelling interest,” so the owners of Geoffrey Cubbage will go on reluctantly funding wars, corporate welfare, and other things I find immoral. However, there are a number of other laws that, if enforced, would seem to clearly infringe on my business’s exercise of secular humanism, including but in no way limited to the following examples:

  • 1. Disorderly Conduct of Any Kind. As this is the only life I have, celebrating it in my limited time on Earth is a deeply important religious sacrament for me. The Constitution does not protect your right to sleep peacefully through the night, but it does protect my religious observances, even at 3 AM under your bedroom window. Sorry about that. (This is also crucial to my business practice, as my advertising strategy has for years been based around being an unserious, drunken buffoon, and my clients trust me to uphold those values in my daily life. See the entire rest of this blog for evidence.)
  • 2. Sexual Restrictions of Any Kind. As someone with a deeply-held lack of belief in any fictional deity telling me that my bits are naughty, legislation based on that non-factual and highly offensive belief is a clear imposition on my religious freedom. Therefore, I trust my business will never be required to in any way censor its publications, public activities, or graphic media, including but not limited to hot shirtless guy pics, smutty stories, or just bangin’ a ladyfriend out in public one day because fuck it, it’s a nice day, and wherever I happen to be is my place of business. (Also bizzzzz-nass.) It should go without saying that I expect boy-whorin’ when times get tough to be similarly protected.
  • 3. Punching Supreme Court Justices Right Up In Their Stupid Faces. This is currently a high sacrament of my faith. And don’t think hiding behind that 100-foot buffer zone will save your wrinkled old asses — I know my rights.

Mercury in Retrograde

mercury-retrograde-inverted-symbolA good catchphrase is soothing when life goes to shit.

Now that I look back at it, that might actually be the most succinct summary of organized religion since “opiate of the masses.” Write that one down. But anyway: life, shit; catchphrase.

So you’ll be happy to know (if your life is going to shit) that Mercury is retrograde right now, which is one of those few astrological concepts that people who don’t give a shit about astrology (see also: me) recognize. You can even recognize it visually if you look up and happen to see the planet Mercury “moving” the wrong direction (it’s not actually; we’re just moving a lot faster relative to its current position, so it’s going backwards the same way that a slow-moving truck is going backwards when you pass it on the highway, which is to say not at all unless you’re on a steep uphill and its transmission just threw out).

Supposedly this is a time when, to put it simply, shit doesn’t work. This has something to do with Mercury being the messenger planet: communications get tangled when the messenger is out of whack, and since basically everything today depends on communications (e-mail, cell phones, the internet, etc.) that means everything stops working.

I’ll buy it. I’m not sure all of this week’s pet disasters (cat barf on the bed while I was in it, cat pee in the suitcase; hedgehog pooping blood in her bath) quite fit under the “Mercury in retrograde” header, but the incredible shitshow of basically every landlord who showed me an apartment this week could definitely count as a communications breakdown.

Maybe it’s for the best; the astrologers say you’re not supposed to be signing contracts (re: leases) during retrograde Mercury anyway.

But regardless, it’s been a real comfort to be able to roll my eyes and say “Mercury in retrograde” every time something new goes to hell, and that pretty much tells you right there why some people go crazy over this astrology crap. Cheaper than therapy, right?

(Well, okay, depending on your astrologer. Some people make bank on this shit. For the rest of us, there’s Googling “Mercury in retrograde” and calling it a day.)

RNC Wants to Turn Voters Off Of Hillary…And There’s No Turn-Off Like a Used Fursuit

So that was a thing that happened over the weekend:

rnc-squirrel-hilary-clinton

The Republican National Committee — which, let’s be clear, is the party’s official leadership organization, not an unaffiliated group of fringe supporters — broke out an orange squirrel fursuit to demonstrate against Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

(There is no Hillary Clinton presidential campaign yet, of course, but there’s no such thing as six foot tall orange squirrels, either, and you don’t see that stopping the RNC.)

There is no Clinton-squirrel connection that we know of, other than the “nuts” joke, which seems more like a Bill Clinton joke from the Monica era because balls, he liked putting his dick in stuff, hur hur hur etc.

But hey! The goal is to make voters feel uncomfortable about a Hillary presidency, and nothing makes people feel uncomfortable like a fursuit on a hot, sunny day.

Oh, wait. Make that a used fursuit on a hot, sunny day. Apparently that thing’s been gathering sweat at the RNC headquarters since appearing in anti-ACORN spots in 2008. (Remember ACORN? The squirrel connection slowly becomes clearer.)

Its whereabouts between 2008 and 2014 are unknown, but I think we can all guess.

Did you guess “wrapped around Reince Priebus’s flop-sweating body in a back alley behind FurCon?” Of course you did.

And now you feel disgusted, which is just what the RNC wanted! Maybe they’re smarter than the giant orange fursuit campaign strategy makes them look.

Then again, that wouldn’t be hard.

The YA Readers Doth Protest Too Much

slate-ya-articleLet me start with a bit of irony for you all: almost every time an article about reading and literature goes viral on the internet, the lede references a book that’s been recently made into a movie.

Roll that one around in your heads for a minute before we dive into Slate’s recent critique of YA literature and the adults who read it, and the furor it sparked.

We can make a compelling case for America’s staggering illiteracy without ever touching on the nebulous concept of “young adult,” is all I’m sayin’ here. But touch on it Slate did, and was there ever a backlash! If you want to read essays vehemently defending not only the right of adults to read whatever they want (which no one ever disputed) but also the inherent nobility of adults who read YA literature, help yourself: JezebelThe Atlantic, Bustle; pick your poison.

This strikes me as overreaction.

The arguments boil down into one of two camps:

1. Reading is fun, and people should read whatever they think is fun to read.

2. YA books can be challenging, significant works of literature.

If you believe #1, you’re done here. Given the premise that reading is fundamentally a leisure activity, and that the pleasure it brings is the best measure of a book’s value, then of course YA literature is just as valuable as anything else, so long as the reader enjoys it. Slate‘s concerns about the superficiality of the themes and attitudes in YA books don’t matter, because you’re not reading to think about themes. You’re reading to have fun.

The problem is with #2. Once you feel the need to defend YA literature as not just entertainment but as a tool for intellectual challenge, you’re inherently accepting the premise that literature derives value from more than just the entertainment it provides. And that’s a test most YA books — and most books in general, for that matter — fail.

The vast majority of YA books are crap for making you think about the world in deep or significant ways. They just are.

Sure, there are exceptions. But we’re talking about books for teens, here. If serious emotional or intellectual complexity makes it in there, it’s because an editor wasn’t paying attention, not because that’s what publishers think teens want.

That one really moving YA book by an up-and-coming author that made you think in ways you never thought before (and that you’re going to mention in the comments) isn’t what pieces like Slate‘s are talking about, and you know it. They’re talking about the hundreds of other books on the YA shelf that are treacly, simplistic crap, and you can’t pretend those books aren’t there, in vast quantities.

It's not a f*ing cause.

It’s not a cause, and you don’t need a button.

Now, if we’re being fair, we shouldn’t give adult fiction a pass here, either. There’s no real superiority of a Tom Clancy thriller to Twilight in terms of emotional complexity or intellectual challenge, beyond requiring a little more familiarity with the structures of adult life. And mindless entertainment makes up the bulk of adult book sales, too.

The difference is mostly that publishers can and do publish challenging fiction for adults, while they actively shy away from doing so under the YA label. So if you’re one of the few people who really is looking for something intellectually stimulating in your reading, you’re much more likely to have success outside the YA shelves.

And if you’re not looking for intellectual stimulation, why do you care if someone else thinks your summer reading isn’t intellectual enough? That’s not what you’re reading for! Their arguments do not apply to you! Go about your life in peace!

Life’s too short to worry that someone else thinks you’re not getting enough out of your reading. But if you’re worried that you might not be getting enough out of your reading…then yeah, it’s time to move beyond the YA shelves, and don’t shoot the messengers for saying it.

Gun Crimes Have One Common Factor, and It’s In the Name

Here are some things that other developed nations have:

    • people with untreated mental illnesses
    • social stigmas against seeking help for depression, alienation, etc.
    • violent video games
    • violent movies
    • public spaces where people, by law, may not carry guns

Here are some things that no other developed nations have:

    • virtually unrestricted access to all kinds of firearms
    • our insanely high rates of gun killings (by an order of magnitude or two)

It’s not actually that complex.

Freedom-Loving Comic Artists Sure Do Miss That CCA

Even for The Wall Street Journal, this was a weird op-ed: two comic book artists complaining about how moral relativism and political correctness have ruined the comics industry, and lamenting the loss of the industry’s long-standing, draconian, and much-reviled self-censorship guidelines.

In “How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman” (yes, really), Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche bemoan the sad state of affairs brought about by shocking comic book storylines like Superman renouncing his American citizenship. As they put it,

…today’s young comic-book readers are being ill-served by a medium that often presents heroes as morally compromised or no different from the criminals they battle. With the rise of moral relativism, ‘truth, justice, and the American way’ have lost their meaning.

comics-code-authority-cca-sealThey then promptly go on to bemoan the weakening and eventual abandonment of the Comics Code Authority, the infamous self-censorship guidelines that kept American comic books from depicting anything but simplistic, black-and-white, good-versus-evil storylines for the latter half of the 20th century.

Among other things, the CCA banned presenting “policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions … in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority,” required that “crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal,” and outlawed any mention of “sex perversions” or “illicit sex relations,” which yes of course included homosexuality and did you even have to ask?

Basically everyone who works in comics today recognizes that this was a terrible idea, except apparently for Messrs. Dixon and Rivoche, who seem entirely sincere in complaining that

The 1990s brought a change. The industry weakened and eventually threw out the CCA, and editors began to resist hiring conservative artists. One of us, Chuck, expressed the opinion that a frank story line about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children. His editors rejected the idea and asked him to apologize to colleagues for even expressing it.

This seems like as good a moment as any to pause and point out that Chuck Dixon’s big claims to fame are helping to create Bane, the psychotic supervillain who cripples Batman by snapping his spine over one knee, and a lengthy stretch of work on The Punisher, a comic about a brutal, gun-toting vigilante who uses torture, kidnapping, and murder a-plenty in his one-man war on crime.

But those guys never talk about AIDS, so, you know. All cool.

It’s the impassioned cri de couer at the end of the op-ed that really makes you ears ring with cognitive dissonance, though:

We hope conservatives, free-marketeers and, yes, free-speech liberals will join us. It’s time to take back comics.

Yes. Because nothing says “free speech” and “free markets” like a return to industry-imposed censorship of creative content. Those were the good old days, when men were men, women were cheesecake, and enough critical thinking skills to maintain basic ideological consistency throughout a half-page op-ed were apparently not needed to get a job in the comics industry.

Oversharing/Undersharing

I overshare my happiness. I undershare my sadness.

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I overshare my rage with structural and systemic injustices, and undershare my anger at wrongs done to my person specifically.

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I overshare my food and my drink and my hospitality. I will overshare yours, too.

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I overshare the fact that I think you are pretty, and that I would be delighted to make out and/or go to bed with you (although usually not until I have had some beer for courage), and I wish that you would do the same. I undershare the amazing extent to which said making out and going to bed is smiled upon by all current participants in my romantic and sexual life, but only because it seems rude to talk about them when I am with you.

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I will probably overshare “the deets” with said participants, but purely from a mental and physical health standpoint.

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I overshare on digital spaces that feel like they are mine: my blog, my own Facebook feed; my writing. I undershare on all other social media.

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I think you should do the same. Especially re: Facebook.

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I overshare about anything pretty willingly, but only if you ask me directly. I undershare when I’m making my half of the conversation up as I go along.

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I overshare about things I have read recently that I thought were interesting. This is not to show off; it is because I cannot carry all the interesting things I have read recently around with me all the time to give to you when it seems relevant. I would be happy to clip an article or e-mail you a link if you would rather read the full text and form your own opinions.

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I overshare clippings and links, too. This seems to be embedded on the paternal gene.

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I undershare the degree to which I worry that you have not contacted me recently because you are angry with me, or have decided you do not like me for some reason, rather than because there has been no real reason to contact me and you have other things to do with your time. Or I did until now.

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I overshare my business cards. Why not? FedEx sells them in lots of like 250, and I don’t meet that many new people.

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I overshare love.

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I undershare love.

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But I am, on the whole and when you come down to it, generally in favor of more sharing rather than less.

What about you?

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