Archive for July, 2011

27
Jul
11

Conversations with the Kiddo

Little Girl Blue, soon to be clocking her sixth year outside the womb, is an amazing little girl. She’s a charming human being, full of love and curious about the world. Her verbal skills and eloquence are amazing—easily a year or two ahead of most of her peers. She can memorize and perform entire scenes from Scooby-Doo movies and Eloise episodes. She’s a talented little artist at times, too (although she really needs to work on her gluing skills and effective use of mixed media).

But sometimes, she just makes me say to myself, silently but firmly: What the fuck?

Today has been one of the more interesting days of bewilderment on my part, as exemplified by three conversations that each represent a hellish archetype to which I and Mrs. Blue are regularly subjected.

The I Can’t Effectively Manage Time Conversation

Not that I expect Little Girl Blue to be an effective time-manager, but this kind of conversation is one she has been routinely coached against pursuing, yet she refuses to heed me. I estimate I have lost at least four years of productive time due to these kinds of conversations with her, and she’s only turning six this month.

Daughter: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honeybunch?”

Daughter: “Can I ask you a question?”

Me: “OK”

Daughter: (long pause)

Me: “Ask the question, Sweetie. Please.”

Daughter: “Well, I was thinking…you see…[insert out of context transitional clause here]…what I was thinking was…you know how [insert situation with possibly relevant role in conversation but probably not]…So what I wanted to know was…[insert actual question here].”

Me: “Whoa. You’ve completely lost me. Try that again.”

Daughter: (raises voice to a near shout) “WHAT I’M ASKING IS…DO…YOU…KNOW…[insert actual question here, more clearly and succinctly stated than before, but presented in loud one-word increments separated by one full second between each word, thus causing me to quickly lose comprehension.]”

Me: “I could hear you before. Could you try just speaking normal speed and normal volume and just ask the question without giving me all the backstory?”

Daughter: [insert totally intelligible and articulate question here]

Me: [insert appropriate answer here.]

Daughter: “Thanks, Daddy.”

Me: “You’re welcome, Honey. You know, we could save a lot of time if you at least didn’t keep saying ‘Daddy’ and then waiting for me to respond and then saying you have a question and waiting for me to respond to that. You could just come right out and ask the question right off the bat. It would be way more efficient.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Daughter: (somewhere between one and ten minutes later) “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honey?”

Daughter: “I have a question…”

P.S. The above kind of conversation most often occurs, and with more intensity, when I am driving and trying to concentrate on us not dying in an impact with one of the many clueless local drivers or, worse yet, the even more clueless out-of-town tourists.

The Please Drop the Subject Already Conversation

This conversation is about as close to verbatim as I can manage from today’s actual experiences. Refusing to drop a topic that is annoying to me is a common feature of life with Little Girl Blue, and many of them follow the same pattern as the one below.

Daughter: “Daddy, did you and Mommy say you liked that restaurant we just passed?”

Me: “No. In fact, about every second or third time we pass it and you ask that question, we’ve told you we couldn’t stand the place.”

Daughter: “Oh, I thought you liked it.”

Me: “You always say that. But we’ve never said one good thing about it, and you ask about that restaurant more and more often when we drive down this road. We don’t like it. At all. Not one bit.”

Daughter: “What don’t you like about it?”

Me: “The food is garbage and the service stinks and it’s not even all that inexpensive so it’s not remotely worth visiting.”

Daughter: “So you and Mommy don’t like eating there?”

Me: “No. I’m sure someone must like it, because they’re still in business after all these years, but we’re probably never going to go there again. So, there’s no reason to talk about it.”

Daughter: “What if someone forced you to go eat there?”

Me: “What?”

Daughter: “What if someone made you guys go eat there?”

Me: “Why would someone do that?”

Daughter: “Because…I don’t know. They need to pass a test? Or they’re really mean?”

Me: “Well, the chances of someone doing that…look, why do you always imagine these crazy scenarios? I mean, I like imagination and all, but why every time I give you a simple answer you have to counter it with some really off-the-wall scenario that doesn’t even make sense or just tell me the opposite of what I said is true even though it’s clear that I know what I’m talking about?”

Daughter: “I just do.”

Me: “Well, even if someone did try to force me to eat there, what makes you think I’d let them? Do you think I do things every time someone tries to force me?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “OK. Good. Look, we don’t like the food there, we’re probably never going to eat there again, and no one’s going to force us to. End of story. Cool?”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.” (a few seconds pass) “Daddy, do you think the cooks there are bad cooks?”

Me: “No. They might be good cooks. But they have to cook the way the restaurant owners say to cook. And the owners probably buy crappy ingredients and don’t have good recipes and make the cooks rush to get stuff out instead of doing it right. I mean, if I buy a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s and cook it according to the directions and it ends up sucking, that’s not the fault of me. I know how to follow the directions and I know how to cook well from scratch. It was the meal in the box that stunk. The restaurant could have people who know how to cook when they’re allowed to use good stuff. But I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. I want to stop talking about that restaurant now. In fact, I don’t ever want to talk about it again.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Cool.”

Daughter: (one minute later). “Daddy, what do you think I would think of the food at that restaurant?”

Me: [insert possibly inappropriate frustration-induced language followed by a fervent plea to just drop the subject already.]

The Zero Information Conversation

In this kind of conversation, absolutely no useful information whatsoever is conveyed to me, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how Little Girl Blue even imagined for a moment I would have any need to hear about the non-topic of conversation. In fact, some of these conversations impart so little information that I think it’s a “negative information” conversation and that information is being sucked out of my brain instead of inserted into it, increasing my chances of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The conversation below occurred as I was trying to wash Little Girl’s Blue hair before bedtime tonight.

Daughter: “So, you said that someone you trust said ‘Zookeeper’ was a bad movie?”

Me: “Uh, yeah. I mean, I saw some reviews and some people I know online have said it was a totally worthless movie.”

Daughter: “Oh. You know someone I trust said there was some new superhero movie out and that no one should waste their money on it. Captain American something.”

Me: “There’s a Captain America movie that just came out. A lot of people say they don’t like it and a lot of people say they do like it. So it’s not a movie like ‘Zookeeper’ where most folks say it stinks.”

Daughter: “So some people like it and some people don’t. Well, there was a real person on TV who said we shouldn’t waste our money on it.”

Me: “TV? The ‘person you trust’ is a movie reviewer or something on the television? (long pause) Wait, wait…where would you have seen a movie review on TV? None of the channels you watch have movie reviews.”

Daughter: “I don’t know. I just did.”

Me: “When? And what channel were you on?”

Daughter: “At the beginning of July.”

Me: “Honey, the beginning of July was like three weeks ago, and the movie wasn’t even out yet at that time. So that couldn’t be true. Are you just making this up?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “So when did this happen and what were you watching on TV?”

Daughter: “The middle of July.”

Me: “Honey, the middle of July was a week or so ago, and the movie still wasn’t out then, so no one could have known whether it was a good movie or a bad one. The month is almost over. So could you please tell me once and for all when this happened and where you saw it and what it was about?”

Daughter: “I don’t know.”

Me: “So, you’re telling me that at some point in time you can’t remember when, you were watching some channel you never watch but can’t remember what it is now, where you saw someone say ‘don’t waste your money’ seeing a movie that you don’t know what it was. You basically started a conversation based on absolutely no information I could possibly make use of or make sense of. Are you trying to drive me insane?”

Daughter: (shrugs)

So, if you wonder why I might seem snarky or even slightly insane at times, now you know why. But if you have a kid (or kids) yourself, you probably understood that already. Guess I’ll keep Little Girl Blue, though. She’s personable and has lots of potential, she makes pretty pictures for me, she’s really nice to her teachers and friends and she gives great hugs and kisses.

Besides, the hospital doesn’t seem to have a return policy and I doubt Mrs. Blue has the original receipt anymore for the darling (and maddening) little girl.

26
Jul
11

God Is Good. Well, Not *THAT* God…

In the aftermath of the terrible killings in Oslo, Norway, there is a clear take-away message that I’m getting, and I’m so glad that right-wing pundits, conservative nutjobs and Tea Party members, among others, are brave enough to share this insight:

If a Muslim kills folks, it’s clearly terrorism, and also proof that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is obsessed with taking over the world and crushing the United States to dust.

If a Christian kills a bunch of folks, it’s simply a sign he was slightly too aggressive in expressing his understandable bigotry and/or he isn’t practicing his religion properly.

Thanks for clearing that up, folks. I feel so much better now.

25
Jul
11

Ken & Ted, Sittin’ in a Tree…

Over dinner tonight, Mrs. Blue announced that as of earlier in the evening, when she was playing with the Barbie-type dolls with Little Girl Blue, Ken left Barbie and entered into a relationship with Ted (Ted being a large Indiana Jones action figure missing one boot, and the booted foot half-gnawed off by who-knows-what animal of who-knows-what former owner of the doll).

This probably didn’t shock me as much as it might have on any other night.  Both dolls were buck-naked the previous day when Little Girl Blue was playing with them, while the 8 or 10 dolls that were women remained stylishly attired.

In any case, I have no problem that my wife helped maneuver Ken and Ted into a same-sex relationship (for now…you know how transitory these celebrity doll relationships are…). Two of our best friends are gay and raising a daughter together (who happens to be one of my daughter’s best friends). The doll relationships should mirror some semblance of reality, even if their wardrobes, homes and cars are too fabulous for imaginary individuals of questionable employment status.

Nope, I have no problem with Ken and Ted being gay, bisexual, bi-curious, heteroflexible and/or homoflexible.

What I have a problem with is the blithe manner in which my wife disregards that Barbie is now forlorn and abandoned. She’s emotionally bereft.

And yet with all those fabulous female dolls (Ken and Ted are the only guys among that style of doll; the action figure guys are just too small in stature to be trying to get with Barbie), including several Disney princesses (and one Spice Girls doll who no longer has any identifiable neck and thus slightly resembles an emaciated linebacker), did my wife hook Barbie up with anyone?

No.

This is heinous and unjust.

Now, as to whether I feel this way because (a) I want to support the “L” in the suddenly LGBT environment among some of the dolls, (b) I’m concerned about Barbie’s well-being and feelings, or (c) because I have the same desire as most guys to imagine woman-on-woman action at least a few times a day…well, I’ll leave that to your own guesses, judgment and imagination.

24
Jul
11

Advantage Atheists?

As my post a few days ago makes clear, I see parallels often between fundamentalist Christians (or any religion’s fundies, really, I guess) and hardcore atheists.

Let’s face it: Both groups have their aggressive and argumentative evangelists, and are every bit as annoying as their mirror-image dogma-pushers.

Looking more broadly, rank-and-file Christians and rank-and-file atheists (that is, the ones who just aren’t that into converting folks or really fretting about differences in thinking) generally don’t care about their “opposite number.” Really, the average atheist can get along fine with the average Christian and vice-versa.

Yet, I have to admit that the advantage may go to atheists in one respect. Specifically, in that group of people who are serious about their beliefs (religious or non-religious) and like to espouse their opinions but aren’t trying to convert anyone. They’re the people who are just trying to prove to everyone else they’re right and looking for as much validation as they can from like-minded folks and don’t care whether you convert to their side. In fact, many of them would prefer that you didn’t because they want to continue to dislike you.

Because in that subset of Christians and atheists, they are often trying to explain things and defend positions about things like morality, environmental issues and the like. And frankly, the people who take the Bible too seriously are way more annoying and off-the-rails wrong about issues like those than are atheists using science and logic as their foundation.

Not that this realization makes atheism in any way enticing to me. Why would it? I already have made peace between faith and reason in my life. Between spirituality and logic. Between the ethereal and the carnal. But it does make me wish I could do more to shut up the embarrassing folks who keep trying to justify so many wrong attitudes in life with the Bible, citing damn near every part of it except for Jesus’ teachings.

20
Jul
11

Common Ground

I welcome spirited debate at times (and like to passively watch it occur at times) with conservative Christians and with atheists.

Lord knows, I’ve pissed off both groups, which in my mind tells me I’m doing something right.

But it occurs to me lately that both groups share some similar problems in their approach (which often makes it impossible for me to talk intelligently with some of them): Problems of context and translation.

That is, when they either go on about the inerrant nature of the Bible or the ridiculousness of its teachings, they often pay no mind to that fact that the words that they either uplift or denigrate are not always what they think they are.

Translations are sometimes not accurate, owing to a lack of precise words to capture the original meaning in English or other languages…as well as to the fact that English itself has changed since the days of the first King James Bible. Also, context is key. Teachings in the Bible were often designed for the society of the times, and it does no one any good to either shoehorn them into doing something they aren’t meant to do or can no longer achieve…nor is it good to act like they were never meant to adapt to realities of a changing world.

But hey, on the bright side, at least the most obnoxious fundies and the most aggressive atheists are working from some common falacies.

😉

14
Jul
11

Your F*#k!ng Field Guide to Humanity

I’ve made it pretty clear that I can deal quite well in a world where faith and science mix, match and occasionally create volatile reactions. Matters of the soul and matters of physics are both things that I embrace, and I don’t find them contradictory to each other.

So, I fully accept that evolution exists and that humanity…that is, Homo sapiens…continues to evolve, change, adapt to the environment and all that jazz.

In fact, we’ve already evolved quite a bit…well, evolved sort of implies improvement to many people, so maybe that’s the wrong word. We’ve mutated and branched off into some unique species of humanity and most people simply haven’t taken the damned time to notice and actually explain what has happened.

Because, while we haven’t gone and done the X-Men thing where humanity suddenly starts random jumps forward with super-powered people belonging to the group Homo superior, I think we need to stand up and take notice of some of the important new groups of humanity.

You can fucking thank me later.

Posteriorus orificia

Sure, many people in the previous baseline category of humanity known as Homo sapien have been and continue to be capable of periodic asshole behavior—all of them, in fact…even Jesus, Gandhi and Mother Theresa—but this category of humanity lives and breathes asshole behavior. It is not only in their genetic makeup to be dickish to most people they meet, but also to encourage asshole behavior in others as a form of sustenance. As asshole-ishness exudes from the very pores of those they incite, they absorb the emissions and become capable of even greater assholery for a time.

Defecatorum cranius

Members of Posteriorus orificia, for all their faults, can still manage charm at times—sometimes quite a lot of the time, and the most entertaining and personable ones are sometimes called “snarks” to differentiate them from the “jerkweeds,” “asshats” and “douchebags” within Posteriorus orificia. However, there are some who exceed even the faults of those worst of Posteriorus orificia and therefore must be deemed members of Defecatorum cranius instead. The primary differentiation is that those in Defecatorum cranius almost never exhibit redeeming features of any sort, owing in part to some biological mechanism that causes a portion of their feces to be processed in the brain instead of all being excreted anally.

Fornicatus visage

A distinct offshoot of Defecatorum cranius, members of this branch of humanity not only act like complete shitheads but also look annoying to the point that you want to punch or kick them repeatedly about the face until it’s an unrecognizable mush. Donald Trump is believed to be the peak of evolution within Fornicatus visage: the ultimate fuckface.

Sanctimonia evangelica

It would be easy to simply classify religious extremists, aggressive Christian evangelicals and others in this category, but it encompasses a broad range of humanity in addition to such groups, including everything from annoyingly smug vegans to judgmental mommy bloggers, insanely extreme animal rights activists to Tea Party members, and social media branding gurus to people who try to claim the Holocaust never occurred.

Regularia josephica

An increasingly shrinking branch of humanity that actually consists of average people who aren’t especially annoying and while aren’t always interesting, have their moments and at least are reliable when you need to drop off your kids, ask for a pickup when your car dies or you need to borrow a ladder or some tools. Although many Regularia josephicae still exist, and they make up the largest single group of humanity, their numbers seem to be trending downward at an alarming rate, this trend having begun with the increasing popularity of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, suggesting that electronic/in silico aspects of life may directly impact our genetic and evolutionary tracks.

Projectila caca

This is a distressingly small group, consisting of cool, accessible humans with whom you can easily and readily “shoot the shit.”

Conclusion

All of my above assertions are unassailable, and if you say otherwise, I’ll tell everyone you’re a Defecatorum cranius. Or maybe I won’t, since I like to think of myself as a Projectila caca.

And yes, you can argue against the science of all of my above classifications by pointing out to me that these are all still humans, and cannot be separated into entirely new Genus/species categories like this because they are capable of interbreeding and shit.

To that, I say shut up and go bother Stephen Hawking or something. I’m more a geek than a nerd anyway (but never a dork).




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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