Thursday, December 11, 2014

You're the Actual Pussy

If you’ve never heard of A Voice for Men or Return of Kings, count yourself fortunate. Sadly as a man in his 30s, I’ve run across far too many douchebags who subscribe to this misogynistic bullshit. It’s been awhile since my last essay but I feel it’s good to come back with two full barrels of caustic verbal ammo aimed at some dysfunctional ducks.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Walking Dead "Coda" Recap

The concluding passage of a piece or movement.
That’s the definition of the word coda, the title of last night’s episode of The Walking Dead. A fitting name for the midseason finale of a show. The format of having 16 episodes split over two halves has really become useful for storytelling to Scott Gimble and his writing staff. They’ve been able to focus stories much more closely, trimming most of (but not all of) the fat from the stories.
“Coda” starts off immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the last episode. Lamson from the hospital crew had just laid out Sasha and made a break for it. To be honest, not the smartest plan.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Walking Dead "Crossed" Recap

The opening segment of this week’s episode is most telling. Preparations are underway to fortify the church. Whether this is to protect against the walkers or against other humans is a moot point. As this journey has shown, the humans are by far more dangerous than the dead. At least the dead have the excuse of being driven purely by instinct.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Walking Dead "Consumed" recap

This city belongs to the dead.
Perhaps the most harrowing aspect of “Consumed”, the sixth episode of this 5th season for The Walking Dead is the vision of night time Atlanta. The snapshot from the 1st season, when Rick rode in on his horse and the seemingly endless sea of cars trying to escape the city stood in stark contrast is replayed here. In the dark of evening, the thoroughly dilapidated landscape is even more ominous than it was the first time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Walking Dead "Self Help" Recap

So that was a nifty cold open. And by nifty I mean, in the immortal words of Wash from Serenity, “Oh god, oh god, we’re all gonna die”.
Eugene is a man not fit for this world. Fear drives him. The furtive glances and monotone voice in the opening minutes reveal a great deal about him. Something is eating away at him. Unlike the stammering Father Gabriel from the church, Eugene is simply sullen, almost resigned. This flies in the face of the more driven (almost pathologically so) Abraham, for whom the mission has become everything. For him, and potentially the rest of humanity, it is everything. The world of The Walking Dead is a nightmare one cannot escape by simply waking up. In fact, it’s a given that you wouldn’t want to sleep.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Walking Dead "Slabtown" Recap

I should start this review off by writing that I’ve never been terribly fond of Beth as a character. Like most of the female characters not named Sasha, Carol, or Maggie, the writers have never really given her much to do or be other than the doe-eyed innocent. What little characterization she has been given happened last year during her sojourn in the wilderness with Daryl, an odd pairing that I did enjoy watching.
But I could not come to care about her predicament in this episode.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Walking Dead "Four Walls and a Roof" recap

“Stupidity is also a gift from God but one should not misuse it.”
That simple statement reveals so much of this episode and the conclusion to Hunters storyline. I was not expected such a sudden end to this particular story. My guess would be that Scott Gimble learned from the previous seasons that dragging a storyline out too long can lead to viewer exacerbation. The first prison arc and the second season are prime examples of stretching a storyline far beyond its natural limits. But what a way to end the story of Gareth and the Terminus cannibals.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Freedom to Think

A post I came across recently got me thinking. One of the many monikers for atheists is freethinker. Many atheists (myself among them) consider the lack of religious restrictions to be freedom to pursue the evidence of a particular line of thought. It has been my experience that every idea comes with a set of preconceived notions we default to. For some Christians, evolution comes with a host of religious implications. For some atheists, religion comes with all the negative aspects right up front.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Walking Dead "Strangers" Review

Fear the Hunters has begun.
For those unfamiliar with the comic storyline, tonight’s episode touches on the arc called “Fear the Hunters”. It introduces a new player to the mix in the form of Father Gabriel, a priest driven by guilt. A new lead on Beth’s fate is introduced, which is wholly created for the show. And we see the group cohesion at its brightest. For long time viewers of this show, we know what that means: All hell is about to break loose.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recap of "No Sanctuary", The Walking Dead

Another October has come and with returns The Walking Dead.
I’ve enjoyed this immensely, despite the fact that it can be uneven as all hell sometimes. By that I mean I did sit through the meandering 2nd season of the show, which was probably the low point of the series so far (aside from the bait-and-switch ending for Season 3). Scott Gimble has done a good job so far as the showrunner and I was excited to see where the first episode, “No Sanctuary”, would take the series as it headed into its 5th season.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Islamophobia: It's not a Phobia

There’s been some recent buzz in the media about fear of Muslims and fear of Islam being intolerant or racist. Personally, I think part of this is conflated by the news media to increase revenue but I’m cynical like that sometimes. I also think fear of militant Muslims being called racism is complete horseshit.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First book now available!

My first book of poetry, Words on a Page and other poems, is now available for purchase through Amazon Kindle Publishing. Take a look and be sure to leave a review. For independent authors like me, reviews are what make the difference. 

My first publication!

     I've submitted my first collection of poetry Words on a Page and other poems to Kindle Direct Publishing. It should be available in the next few days. As soon as the link is up on Amazon, I'll be posting it here and on my book review blog, The King's Crier: Book Reviews. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ray Rice: Game Over

          So it only took a video of a beatdown for the right thing to be done. That’s all. Never mind the fact that he was allowed to keep playing the game with only a 2 game suspension. Never mind the fact that the team owner, the general manager, and the Commissioner of the NFL decided to give him a slap on the wrist.
They’re not sorry it happened.
They’re sorry they got caught in a cover-up.
Keith Olbermann puts it far better than I can.
Sometimes I hate being part of the same species as people like these fucks. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Write About Christianity So Much

There’s a conversation I had recently with a family member that inspired an essay awhile back. I used a great deal of harsh language in the essay and more than a few creative curse words.
Be prepared for a few more this post.
Watch this video after the jump. It’s only five minutes out of your day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Response to "Wrong Side of History"

This essay is a response to an essay written by Roger E. Olson.
Mr. Olson’s essay deals with the question of whether Christians should be afraid of being on the wrong side of history. Specifically this is dealing with support for same-sex marriage. It’s a topic I’ve discussed many times in the past and have used the phrase “wrong side of history” when discussing those Christians who vehemently and hatefully resist measures proposed for marriage equality.
Mr. Olson feels that the phrase “wrong side of history” is a polite way of saying people who oppose marriage equality will be viewed “like our ancestors who defended slavery, oppression of women, and resisted the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s”. It’s a valid concern on the part of Mr. Olson and others who share his views on marriage.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Giant Leaves Us

My first memory of Robin Williams is listening to his Live at the Met performance on tape. I was 8 or 9 at the time. My mother instructed my younger brother and I to not repeat his language. As readers of this blog are aware, that lesson didn’t fucking take. She encouraged us to laugh, though. Like millions of other people, we did. We laughed, we cried from laughing so much, we caught our breath, and we laughed some more.
Robin Williams, the man of a thousand voices, passed away on August 11, 2014 of an apparent suicide. He will be missed, by me and millions of other people.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sunset Stripped

What does she see
     looking over that scarred chain link
fence? Does she see an embittered
     landscape, the prize for an ideological
war? Does she see children
     like herself, afraid of all the horrors
the adults try to hide from them?
     Does she know about the world
beyond the fence, the world beyond the Strip,
     where death comes from old age
rather than missle barrages from attack helicopters
     or bomb vests and holy epithets?
She looks off, at the sunset,
     the far off horizon as foreign to her
as a life without war or poverty.
     She should see that horizon

someday, from the other side of the fence. 

Fires of the Year

Joyous bombs burst in the air,
making the ocean—lapping
at our feet
like constant, tiny, wet kisses—
turn green, blue red, even orange.

Cascading explosions
light the way.
Acrid smoke fills my nostrils,
even here on the far shore.

The other couples play on the beach.
Children and adults watching
with equal fervor. The awe on their faces
usually reserved for concerts,
or Mass,
or football games.
They stand, and dance, in the green water.

We all hope the new year
will be better.
Our hope is immediate, like the sunbursts
in the midnight sky. The past year lingers
like the smoke from each firework.
It quickly dissipates in the warm winds.

We end a year with explosions,
which means
we begin a year with explosions.
The old memories purged

in the first of the year/end/start.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Caveat about Christians

Recently my mother and I had a conversation regarding my essays speaking out against Christian bigotry and hypocrisy. As I’ve mentioned in previous essays, my mother is a Born Again Christian, a firm believer in the Bible, and while no longer vehemently anti-gay marriage, she is still one of those Christians that believe being gay is a choice rather than a biological drive. She pointed out to me that in my essays I don’t make enough of a caveat for Christians who don’t act like the Mark Driscoll's, Tony Perkins’, or any of the other religious blowhards who have made it their mission to make life miserable for LGBTQ people.
And she’s right.
I don’t make the caveat explicit in my essays. I could do it more often but I don’t. And there’s a damn good reason why I don’t.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Game of Thrones "The Children" Recap

And so my watch ends.
To say the 4th season of Game of Thrones has been tumultuous would be an understatement. We’ve seen the introduction of a new favorite, Pedro Pascal’s Oberyn Martell, only to watch him die in screaming agony at the hands of Gregor Clegane, the Mountain Who Rides. We’ve seen Joffrey Baratheon, the First of his name, die horribly (and deservedly) at his own wedding feast. We’ve seen Dany take a kingdom to rule and a sellsword to her bed while casting away one of the pillars she always had supporting her. And we’ve watched Tyrion endure countless more abuses than all the previous seasons combined.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Who's Afraid of a Little Kink?

Everyone’s kinky in their own way. At least that’s been my experience.
The kink community has a word for people not involved in the kink lifestyle: Vanilla. It’s often used as a derogatory statement rather than to explain any sharp difference between the two groups. Vanilla sex is any sexual activity that doesn’t involve some level of kink to it. The problem is that kinky is a relative term, one that makes me smile when I hear people use it as an objective noun or adjective. It’s a term open to a certain amount of interpretation. Every person I’ve met or been intimate with had some form of aberration in their sexual make-up. What I’ve seen and experienced, plus has been revealed through conversations with others and their experiences, is that kinky is simply a matter of degrees.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Game of Thrones: The Watchers on the Wall Recap

     When it comes to keeping an oath in the face of almost certain death, a person's character is revealed. For the Night's Watch, the battle that has been brewing since the beginning of the series has finally come to pass. When people fight, people die. That has always been the case with war. One of the merits of Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire series it's based on is that the human cost of war is never forgotten. As one of the mantras of this show states with cold precision, "All men must die". 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper Recap

Death continues to march through Westeros, dancing its infamous jig. The Wildings march on the Wall, a trial ends in King’s Landing, Moat Caitlin falls, and the dance of death continues along with the tune of sorrow and grief. In medieval society this was referred to as The Danse Macabre, the dance all will participate in if they walk this earth. In Game of Thrones, this dance has been ongoing and its fourth year is about to draw to a close. Before it does though, the tune will play a few more notes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Busy Couple of Weeks

       Due to some activities I'll be engaging in, I won't be posting any new blog posts or podcasts until the first week of June.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Game of Thrones: Mockingbird Recap

A pawn goes tumbling down off the chessboard while a rook moves to protect a vulnerable piece.
“Mockingbird” is the 7th episode of this season and it brings many of the themes of this season to bear during its run. The moments of interaction are charged with revelations, with gains and losses that will shake Westeros but more importantly shape who characters will turn out to be in the future. Rather than an action-packed episode (that’ll be the one coming up after the Memorial Day weekend), this was an episode with fulfilling emotional moments.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why I Love a Giant Dinosaur

One of my joys as a kid as Godzilla movies. The first Godzilla movie I ever saw was Godzilla 1985. It was a more serious film than the others I would later see, which had elements of slapstick in it. But the horror and wonder of such a magnificent beast never left me. Godzilla remains one of my favorite movie monsters. The joy I find is from what the giant beastie can and often does represent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Game of Thrones: The Laws of Gods and Men Recap

And the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Before I get to the rest of the scenes from this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, I want to address the final segment, Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey. This is a scene I’ve been waiting all season for. And it delivered everything I wanted to see. Peter Dinklage used this episode to remind the audience and the Emmy Awards voters why he is the heavyweight of this show. That’s not to say that everyone else phoned it in. All of the actors brought their very best, even much-maligned talents like Sibel Kekilli.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Reading the Bible More Frequently Made Me an Atheist

Working overnights means that my nights off usually involve a great deal of web surfing and reading, with time for gaming. It’s part of being awake when most people in your social circle (and the U.S. for that matter) are asleep. I make it a habit of visiting frequently due to the variety of religiously-themed blogs the site provides. One I visit frequently is The Friendly Atheist, written by Hemant Mahta. Another I’ve found is Formerly Fundie, written by Benjamin Corey. Corey is part of the Progressive Christian group of blogs the site provides, serving as a foil for the more-conservative Evangelical group of blogs on Patheos.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Game of Thrones "First of His Name" Recap

We’re already halfway through the 4th season of Game of Thrones and the pieces are falling into the place. This episode could best be described as a placeholder episode, much like last week’s. It’s setting up the pins for the game to be played over the second half, which promises more death, mayhem, and carnage for the audience. It was also a character-driven episode, with several groups given their chance to shine (and some that barely managed to sparkle).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Game of Thrones "Oathkeeper" Recap

In case it’s not readily apparent, spoilers are ahead.
I’ve always wondered how new White Walkers are born. It seemed out of sorts to think of them as producing in any fashion human. That was a damn good ending and the first time I’ve seen the Land of Always Winter, the frosty home of the White Walkers. Craster’s policy of providing infant boys to the White Walkers served to protect him from the ravages of those unearthly monsters. But it served another more sinister purpose of swelling their ranks. How many infant boys do you think Craster gave them over the years?

Friday, April 25, 2014

King's Crier Podcast 4/25/14

And I Feel Fine

It’s the end of the world. No really. The fundamentalists really, really mean it this time. The blood moons we’ll be seeing over the next 18 months are an indicator of Jesus’ imminent return. Seriously, everyone from John Hagee (who’s a special kind of Texas batshit) to Ray Comfort (the world-famous Banana Man) is claiming the blood moons herald the end of days.
Not excited about it?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 3 Recap

The King is dead. Long live the King.
That single line can be heard countless times in ancient history and the stories we’ve developed regarding that history. The old king dies and the new king takes his place. It’s a moment that can be met with anticipation or dread. In the case of Westeros, anticipation and relief would seem to be the emotions of the day, at least for some. Joffrey Baratheon, the first of his name, lies in state, Widow’s Wail clutched to his prostrate frame. The only one mourning his death is Cersei, who despite her numerous flaws, did love her son.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2 Recap

Ding dong, the bastard’s dead!
There has not been as highly anticipated a moment as Joffrey’s death for fans of this show. Since episode 2 of the first season (“The Kingsroad”), we’ve seen how sadistic and cruel Joffrey can be. Each season has seen the bastard grow more and more despicable. His pettiness and cowardice have been shown countless times. The Purple Wedding is the culmination of all those hideous moments.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

F is for Fantasy

Of the many genres I’ve encountered over the years, Fantasy remains my favorite. It was the first one I was introduced to as a child. When I was very young, my mother would read the Chronicles of Narnia books to me and my brother before bed. Some of my favorite characters call this genre home. In fantasy there are stories capable of evoking powerful emotions and breathtaking worlds begging to be explored. If one were to examine the fantasy genre closely one would find classical archetypes, philosophical debates, and themes that connect to an audience on a deep, emotional level.
The roots of fantasy stories are the mythologies of human history. Bygone cultures are rife with stories of supernatural deeds, monsters prowling the dark corners of the world, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. These stories (mostly conveyed through oral traditions) were meant to highlight societal norms while simultaneously showing actions a given culture felt were abhorrent. The tales of the Greek gods, the Egyptian pantheon, and the poetry of the Bhagavad Gita are just a few examples of Old World stories containing the elements of fantasy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Game of Thrones "Two Swords" Recap

Trying something a little different for the next few weeks. I'll be posting a recap of Game of Thrones episodes after they've aired. Since I work Sunday nights, the recaps won't go up until Monday morning. 

April has arrived and with it comes a new season of Game of Thrones. It’s been just under a year since the last episode aired. The images from the Red Wedding are still haunting some fans of the show. The landscape of Westeros has changed and it will not be the same story it once was. This, as the old adage goes, is where the plot thickens.
“Two Swords”, the premiere episode of season 4 starts off with a wordless scene. A greatsword is unsheathed from a wolf scabbard. Keen-eyed fans recognize it from season 1 as Ice, the ancestral Valyrian Steel blade of House Stark. Tywin Lannister, everyone’s favorite abusive father, oversees a pair of smiths as they melt down the steel and begin crafting two new blades. The final moment is Tywin tossing the wolf scabbard into the forge to burn.

Friday, April 4, 2014

City of the Victorious- A Poem

Lost in a fight, a struggle
as pointless as Jacob’s; the infirmity
has been given like a pestilence
that surrounds, envelops,
encroaching upon

the very last safe haven.

Mud-brick walls, metal chain link
fences buckle but don’t break
against a storm of writhing, maggot-infested bodies.

We fight the Long Defeat, a winnowing
of numbers down to the last.
The living dead have brought a
reckoning, a judgment from which
the living are as doomed as
the Hindenberg’s boarding party.

Tolkien and Martin: Fantasy Reinvented

It’s become almost cliché how fantasy stories are presented. Dark Lords of evil, armies of races that are always evil, farm boys who are secretly heirs to the king, and all of that are so commonplace now as to make most fantasy series completely interchangeable. J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin reinvented the fantasy genre in their own ways. Both took what came before and created an environment where fantasy could present rich storytelling possibilities.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Proust Questions

I’ve decided to do something a little more personal for this essay and podcast. The Proust Questionnaire has made the rounds on the internet for quite some time and has gone through many permutations over the years. I’m going to take some of the questions and post them here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Franklin Graham: Bad Samaritan

When someone prominent in the American religious community speaks out on gay rights, I cringe. I know that whoever is speaking is about to make a complete ass of themselves. Recently I read about Franklin Graham praising Putin’s anti-gay resolutions. To use some of Franklin’s words, he praised Putin’s legislation because “[Putin] has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
I’m grateful Franklin Graham opened his mouth and said those words.

Friday, February 28, 2014

King's Crier Podcast 2/28/14

Black Night
Standing on the safe side

of the guard rail, 

the teeming masses soon to become more rabid

than starved rats, mill about

temporarily still, like extras on a zombie movie.

Pressed against the gate, but open doors ahead

and prizes for the first. Even employees hide

until the initial run is over, afraid of frothing

madness, of errant elbows,

of hidden blades, like prison shanks,

punches muffled by heavy winter gloves,

and no holiday pay or hazard pay. 

The gate opens, first a trickle, the very front

relieved as steel is removed for their faces,

then more, and more, and more,

an avalanche of screaming flesh,

as if escaping some biblical disaster. 

I watch a woman, bundled against the cold,

fall underfoot, cradling her head; None stop.

When the stampede passes, she gets up, fresh

bruises forming around her face, and hobbles--almost

hops-- to enter, joining the others.

I pull my radio up, call the other cops.

They saw her too. We laugh. The melee

continues unabated. My friend brings me

hot cocoa. Would've preferred coffee. 

We check the slip ties and extra cuffs,

freezing our asses off. How's that for holiday cheer?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Last Temptation of Christ: Humanity on Film

Growing up, my mother was rather restrictive of what films we were exposed to. This isn’t to say we were sheltered. Being a kid in the 80s and early 90s meant seeing the hyper-masculine films of Sly, Arnold, and their ilk. Action movies with big body counts were okay because the violence was fake. Films that dealt with sexuality and religion (and those with more visceral violence) were forbidden. One such film was Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Due to its stark, humanistic take on Christ, it remains one of the most controversial depictions of Christ, and one of my favorite films, even after my switch to atheism.
Scorsese’s films have always held a deep, emotional core in them. From Mean Streets to Raging Bull, the lead character is usually guilt-ridden and seeking some form of personal redemption. The guilt is tied into Scorsese’s staunch Catholic upbringing. The director openly stated he’d wanted to make a film about Christ’s life since childhood. It’s entirely possible that a filmmaker with Scorsese’s immense talent could have made a vivid, conventional Christ film. Instead he chose to approach the subject matter from a human (rather than divine) perspective.
The Christ character presented in Last Temptation is stripped of all grandeur and piety. Replacing those traits we are given a figure wallowing in self-doubt and visions he cannot control. He rejects these visions and his calling by collaborating with the Romans. His collaboration, as a carpenter, is make crosses for the crucifixion of condemned Jewish revolutionaries. This action ostracizes Jesus from his community and draws the condemnation of childhood friends Mary Magdalene and Judas Iscariot. Willem Dafoe’s Jesus is frail, a human being truly suffering under the weight of a destiny he neither desires nor fully understands.
The doubt of one’s purpose in life is one of the profound aspects of the human experience. It’s often associated with the guilt one can experience for not living up to their potential. The Jesus character of this film suffers from crippling doubt throughout the film. The character becomes far more relatable to the audience because he experiences the same fears we face on a daily basis. Both Scorsese and Niko Kazantzakis (the author of the novel Scorsese adapted for the film) struggled with the conflicting images of Christ as presented in the Gospels. The common portrayal is of someone divine and human simultaneously. That combination could not be reconciled easily. On the one hand there is the supposedly divine mission; on the other hand, the normal human desire to love and be loved, to enjoy life’s bounty, and to have a family.
Much has been said and written about the ending sequence. Dafoe’s Christ is nailed to the cross, suffering greatly, and it is nearly his time to die. This moment is a human at his most desperate: the desire, born of our primordial past, to avoid suffering and prolong life. Then a beatific, golden-haired angel appears and tells him what he most wants to hear at that moment: you don’t have to die. It is the relief on Dafoe’s face that sells this moment, harkening back to his earlier protestations in Gethsemane.
The sequence that follows can be viewed as a dream, a supernatural reality, or the vivid hallucinations of a dying man. Christ marries Mary Magdalene, whom is implied to be something close to a childhood sweetheart. After her sudden death, he marries both Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) and raises a family with them. This is the titular last temptation: to not bear the weight of the world and live a simple life. It is an inversion of the Hero’s Journey.
Two events stick out from this sequence: the meeting with Paul and the deathbed confrontation with Judas. Christ meets Paul preaching in town while running errands with his family. Paul preaches his story of blindness and redemption, of the savior Jesus, who died and rose again. Naturally upset at being the focus of this man’s ravings, Christ upbraids the apostle. Paul’s response is one of the most direct and honest descriptions of religion I’ve ever encountered on film. He outright states that the truth about Jesus is not as important as the feeling the message creates in the audience. A better argument for the inherently dissonant nature of faith and religion could not be made.
The deathbed confrontation is a marvelous ending, which brings the relationship of these two characters to a head. Two different men speak openly with each other: Jesus, the unsure prophet; and Judas, the devoted revolutionary. The film (and the novel, although I haven’t read it completely) treat Judas Iscariot in a far better fashion that the canonical gospels do. Bear in mind that the novel and the film were produced long before the Gnostic Gospel of Judas became public knowledge. Rather than the reviled traitor of biblical lore, Last Temptation treats Judas as a firebrand, a warrior trying to free Israel from Roman occupation. The relationship between Judas and Jesus is shown to have gone back to childhood and the events of the film show a close bond grow between them, one based on genuine love and trust. Judas is shown as a reticent traitor, not wanting to betray his beloved friend and rabbi but understanding the necessity of the action.
It’s the devotion Judas shows throughout the film that makes his admonitions at the final confrontation so much more heartfelt and caustic. After listening to Jesus plead with him to commit betrayal, Judas is justifiably outraged to find his friend reneged on his obligation. It is Judas who reminds Christ of the necessity of the sacrifice, who reveals the golden-haired angel as Satan, and the Christ has led since the crucifixion removes all hope from the world. The penultimate scene where Dafoe crawls outside, in the midst of the Roman sacking of Jerusalem, and prays to return to the cross, shows us the regret and joy Christ is feeling in that moment. He makes allusions to himself being the prodigal son in his prayer, begging his father to return him to the cross.

I’m not a believer anymore. The concept of vicarious redemption is morally repugnant to me. But I enjoy a good story. The Last Temptation of Christ is a good story because it shows a human striving to meet the standards of the divine. Stories like this are ubiquitous in human culture. Scorsese and Kazantzakis managed to distill the mythic elements of the Christ narrative into someone more relatable, more human, and ultimately more praiseworthy. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bible-based Arguments: Morality Gone Wrong

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy the Patheos website. Few sites on the web give space to so many disparate points of view under one roof, so to speak. They have blogs for Atheists, Catholics, Progressive Christians, even Pagans. And they have a group of blogs devoted to the viewpoints of Evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christianity has, by and large for the last 30+ years, been closely associated with conservative values and the Republican Party. I don’t demonize Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives. As far as I’m concerned, some conservative ideas (such as limited government) appeal to me. But the Evangelical Christians I’ve encountered on the web have a tendency to write things that border on the absurd, if not running full-tilt into absurdity with all the volatility of a braying jackass.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Hard 9 -A Poem

I once asked a lover:
On a scale
of 1
to 10,
1 being Breyer’s Vanilla
and 10 being a Cenobite,
where did I fall?

Her answer:
On nights I release control,
like taking my hands off the steering wheel,
and let her top, I’m a 4.

On nights I take control,
when I cruise through my passion,
I’m a 7.

On nights I disconnect,
when I drive idly but my foot pressed
to the accelerator,
I’m a 9.

Tonight feels like a 9 kind of night.

Robocop: Resurrection in a Fallen World

I’m an unabashed geek. If you go to the essay D is for The Doctor, that should be plainly obvious. As the title of this essay suggest, I’m looking at Robocop, one of the gems of 1980s science fiction. A film that epitomizes the phrase “dark satire”, Robocop (and I’m referring to the first film only) has lost none of its excellent story beats in the intervening 20+ years since its release.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

And the Demon Comes Around

I wasn’t going to write about this but given recent events, it seems like a good time.
I’m an addict.
I’ve been clean for going on 8 years now. That’s 2959 days since the last time I used any kind of illicit substance. 2959 days and counting. When addicts talk about their demons, they use the word “demon” because it’s the only word in English that conveys how insidious addiction is. We all have our little voices, the things our conscious minds tell us during our day. Sometimes, it’s innocuous things like “stand up straight”, “suck in your gut”, and “you should call that person”. For an addict like me, it’s like constantly standing at the top of a skyscraper looking over the edge. The voice says “Jump because you can fly”. For 2959 days, another voice chimes in immediately, “No, you can’t”. So far, the second voice has won out.
My greatest fear as an addict is that one day the voice encouraging me to fly will win out. Imagine standing at attention every day for a week straight. No sleep, no rest, just on your feet and fully aware every single day. That’s what life is like every day for an addict. Add in a depressive disorder that rears its ugly head up at least 3 or 4 times a year and you’ve got a recipe for interesting times. Some days are easier to handle than others. And there are some days, like the entire month of September of 2013, which test my resolve to stay clean.
Occasionally, I’ll drink, just to take the edge off. By occasionally I mean once every three or four months and even then it’s maybe three drinks over the course of seven or eight hours. Alcohol was once my drug of choice when it became the cheaper demon to purchase. Now, I can have alcohol in my home and not feel the immediate need to get hammered. Having a drink is a luxury I afford myself in order to give my demon a little taste, a little something to shut the fucker up long enough to get through the next few weeks. For some, total abstinence is needed to survive. I find those people to be among the most courageous. Russell Brand is someone I admire for his recovery and his campaigning for abstinence drug treatment plans.

There’s no cure for my demon. The only methods I know of to deal with it are to placate it or to lock it away. The only other option is to listen to it, take the jump, and let it convince you that when you hit the pavement below, you’ll bounce right off like Looney Tunes. But I won’t bounce. I’ll break and it won’t be me picking up the pieces. It’ll be my friends, my family by choice and my family by blood, which will have to pick up the pieces. That’s the reality my everyday life.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Grammy Backlash: Time to Face the Music

I did not watch the Grammys live. I work overnights and I don’t have cable TV. I did watch the highlights the next morning, including the marriage ceremony administered by Queen Latifah (who I’ve been a fan of since I heard “U.N.I.T.Y.” as a teenager). And then I saw the punditry trolls come out in force to piss on the happy moment. All this vitriol being vomited out into the interwebs is because the Grammy marriage ceremony had heterosexual and homosexual couples.
Perhaps anti-gay conservatives saw this moment and thought of Colonel Kurtz’s horror in Apocalypse Now.
The pundit outrage seems to think that this was an event worse than any other televised event. I disagree. Watching these classless morons stumble through half-baked commentaries on the dangers of the “homosexual agenda” is worse. 33 couples got a wedding they will remember for the rest of their lives, even if the marriages themselves don’t survive.
But marriage equality is a cause of mine and, me being me, gives me reason to tear some people a new ass.
Starting with Todd Starnes, who I’d never heard of up this point. Apparently this fucker is one of the lesser pundits on Bullshit Mountain (and I will love Jon Stewart forever for coining that phrase). Starnes had some harsh tweets concerning the Grammy event, particularly when he wrote “Here it comes- the Grammys are mocking marriage” or “This was not about marriage. This was about bashing God and the church. #grammys”.
To Mr. Starnes, I say this: you are an asshole, sir, a gaping asshole. You claim to back traditional biblical marriage but neglect to remember or acknowledge that biblical marriages run the gamut from monogamy to polygamy, not mention incest if you take the creation account to be literal. If your bible is the inerrant word of an all-powerful deity and you’re not pursuing multiple wives, you’re standing in defiance of your god’s holy words. You, Mr. Starnes, and Christians like you are the reason many of your fellow Christians refuse to identify themselves as Christians, preferring instead to standing among the Non-affiliated with atheists like me. They don’t want to be associated publicly with a religion that they share with spiteful, hate-filled assholes like you.
And before it’s mentioned by anyone, No True Scotsman.
To borrow a line from Penn Jillette, and then there’s this asshole, Jim Hoft. A writer for had this little quip, “[The Grammys] were all about true love- as long as you agree with them. If you don’t agree, you get ridiculed and attacked”.
The LGBTQ community is attacked and mocked. Christians like Hoft are just butt-hurt that their religious preferences aren’t treated like gospel by the majority of Americans anymore. Every time a parent casts out their teenage son or daughter for being gay should be considered an attack. A mass wedding with straight and queer couples is a joyous event. Hoft would recognize this if he had chosen to not yolk his humanity and morality under the burden of a narrow-minded, hateful version of religion.
Then there’s Bryan Fischer, mouthpiece for the American Family Association. Fischer and I have traded words on Twitter more than a few times. If there was a Batshit Christian Bigotry Award, this asshole would be in a neck-and-neck race with Kirk Cameron and Ken Ham (the dark horse of the race would be Tony Perkins). Fischer went to Twitter to inform his legion of homophobic Neanderthal followers that the Grammys will “feature sodomy-based wedding ceremonies”.
He’s such a charming bigot, isn’t he?
Let me ask a few questions. The ceremony had a mixture of straight and queer couples. Is it wrong if the straight couples engage in some wedding night sodomy? (If they do, more’s the better for them!) Or is it only evil when a man fucks another man in the ass? What about the lesbians, who have to buy extra equipment for a proper night of buggery (unless fisting is on the menu)?
Fischer is a troll of the highest order. Part of me is cynical enough to think Fischer doesn’t believe the bullshit he spews out and is in this strictly for the money. Unfortunately, I think that’s wishful thinking on my part. Escaped abortions like Fischer are Christians that make Christianity as undesirable as a case of herpes. Why anyone would associate with a faith teeming with clowns from the recessive end of the gene pool stretches my imagination at times.
(On a side note: if you’re Christian, don’t message me that you’re not all like these assholes. I know that. Tell them.)
And finally there is Kirk Cameron, that strange, strange little man. I saw his Facebook post about the Grammys. Obviously being a Christian doesn’t stop someone from shamelessly shilling their products like a used-car salesperson.
I take that back. Used-car salespeople are more honest.
The last time I saw this much blatant product placement, I was watching a young George Clooney in Return of the Killer Tomatoes. Obviously Cameron forgot the part of the bible that commands Christians to not judge lest they be judged along the same measure. Perhaps he skipped the part of the bible that say only their god gets to decide who is and is not part of his family. Most importantly, Cameron and Christians like him have forgotten one simple truth: LGBTQ people are human beings who deserve the same rights and privileges they take for granted.
To Kirk, I say this: you are an oxygen-thief and you need to stop stealing the air of the collective human race. Take your pre-millennial dispensationalism, your crocoduck bullshit, and your shitty films and go away. Your backwards superstitions and blatant bigotry have no place in the 21st century. Some of us actually want peaceful relations with other human beings. Some of us don’t care what you believe in as long as you don’t try to force the rest of us to live according to your colossal blunder of a religion.

To the people I’ve mentioned above and the millions of people who share their batshit bigotry, you’re on the wrong side of history. Be prepared to be lumped in with the KKK, skinheads, and myriad racist groups in a few decades as examples of despicable and small-minded we humans can be. Enjoy the derision of history, assholes. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Real Men, Political Nuts, and Poetry

Here's a link to the politician referred to in the essay:

And here's the poem I read "10 Things My 30's Taught Me"

Real Men: You Mean Misogynists, Right?

There’s a trend I’ve seen in the last year or so with websites directed at “real men”. I’ve touched on this before in a previous essay (found here) but it bears a re-examination. Sites like Return of Kings and people like Mark Driscoll are rampant on the internet now. The democratization of the internet has allowed the trolls free rein to put out vile garbage. It also allows men like me to chew them up and spit them out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Literary Vs. Genre: Snobbery for All

All literature is genre literature.
I wish that sentence was enough to settle the argument but it isn't and it won’t. The separation of genres is the result of the writers, the critics, academics, and universities. Essentially it breaks down like this: literary writing is art and is the only form of writing worthy of praise. Genre writing is meant as simple escapism and worthy of derision by serious writers and critics. Literary writing is all that is good, right, and noble about the written word. Genre writing is the dregs thrown out for the unwashed masses to consume. The divide between literary writing and genre writing is artificial, like most ideological divides.
Elevating one genre of writing (and literary writing is a genre) over all the others is complete bullshit.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Free Floating Rant- Essay and Podcast

As should be apparent by now, I take frequent issues with the numerous religious numbskulls and idiots out there. This may sound like harsh language but it’s better than calling them fuckwits and assholes. The common refrain I’ve heard is that I should be tolerant of others’ religious convictions. For the most part I am. When there are important issues at stake or demeaning language is hurled with impunity, I do what I do best: take up my keyboard and GoMic and speak.
This essay and podcast are in response to some bullshit I’ve recently come across on the web. There are multiple targets and plenty of ire on my part.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Writing Reviews: Negativity

The tag line for The King’s Crier: Book Reviews is “Book Reviews without Snark”. I’ve never been clear on what that means, though. Since the site started in the summer of 2012, I have not written an incendiary, negative review of a book. There have been parts of books I haven’t enjoyed and those are reflected in the reviews. Writing scathing reviews serves no purpose other than to satisfy the reviewer’s superiority complex.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

E is for Eros

When I originally conceived of this essay, I was just going to discuss my love life and romantic experiences. I still plan to do just that but from a different direction. Eros love or passionate love is all about romance, at least to the ancient Greeks. Romantic love takes many forms and evolves with the culture one lives in. There are always traditional approaches and fringe ideas. One fringe idea I hold dear is simple and complex in the same breath: Love is not a finite resource. Personally, I see humans as being socially monogamous but biologically randy.
I’m the product of late 20th-century America. Born during the Reagan years but raised during Clinton’s, I’ve seen my country shift from conservative to liberal to conservative again. I’ve also seen an explosion (no pun intended) of sexual expression in that time. The fight of the LGBT community to gain recognition and full citizen rights grew during my teen years. I wasn’t comfortable with alternative sexualities for two reasons. One, I was a fundamentalist Christian and while my pastor never openly spoke out against homosexuality (that I can remember, at least), I saw how known homosexuals were treated by the parishioners. Disdain would be the polite word. Revulsion would be more appropriate. The second reason was that I had a difficult time dealing with my own sexuality.
Bisexuality isn’t easy to live with. More than a few straight people say you’re not straight enough. Some in the gay community will say you’re not gay enough. My older brother, upon discovering my bisexual pronouncement, told me to pick a hole and stick with it. Sexual orientation is not a choice. There are several dozen different animals that exhibit homosexual behavior. As Gaga wrote it, I was born this way. For anyone who claims it is a choice, I issue this question as a challenge: When did you choose to be straight? It’s either a choice for all sexuality or it’s innate. The only choice involved with sexual orientation is which person is going to end up in the bed, not their gender. It wasn’t an easy transition to accept what I know my sexuality is.
My mother did not make the adjustment well. I’ve wondered which was more difficult for her: accepting that her son has sex with both men and women or accepting her son doesn’t believe in god. What was a liberating moment for me seemed to me to feel like a slap in the face to her. It didn’t help that we had a shitty relationship at that time. For years, our conversations were tinged with amounts of unspoken shame, both shared because we felt we had fallen below her expectations. Part of me feels that she saw my sexuality as simply acting out, one more rebellion from a constantly defiant child. Being honest with myself, that was a factor initially. As I said, a shitty relationship. Now, we’re able to talk about it somewhat. She’s accepted me for who I am and loves me as her son.
As I met more people who were open and honest about sexuality, I came to accept my desires as well. Sometimes boys want to fuck both girls and boys. Accepting alternative sexual behavior (the legal kind) becomes easier over time. Having a plethora of romantic options helps as well. Dan Savage made an observation at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013 that discussing and confronting “kinky” behavior is easier for LGBT people. To paraphrase Savage, it’s easier to discuss kinky or “aberrant” sexual ideas after revealing same sex attraction to a parent.
Currently, I lean more hetero than homo. You could call me heteroflexible. Or to use the Kinsey Scale, I’d say I’m a solid 4 when it comes to sexual attraction and orientation. My preferences also shifted with regards to romantic love. A close friend suggested I read The Ethical Slut. It changed how I viewed sexual openness. I’ve never been a jealous person. My time spent around swingers and open relationships helped change that view. The Ethical Slut codified my views on polyamory and non-monogamy.
I’m not against monogamous love. Monogamy is, however, a social construct rather than a biological one. The logic behind my stance is simple: you don’t have to threaten harm for someone to follow their innate nature. The social and law-based admonitions against multi-partner relationships are there because it is not in our nature. I would suggest taking a look at The Ethical Slut as well as the work of Jesse Bering (Perv and Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That) if you’re interested in the basis for my views. I don’t advocate cheating. In point of fact, when I’ve been monogamous I’ve not wandered once. I’ve also not cheated with another person who was in a monogamous relationship with another person. Open doesn’t mean cheating. It means discussing the need to have new sexual experiences between people in a relationship.
Being in romantic love does not preclude the desire to fuck other people. Some would say that you can only love one person. This only applies to eros love, though. The other forms of love are not considered finite. We love multiple family members. We love multiple friends. Yet when it comes to the most potent form of love, it is finite and reserved for only one person. I’ve been in romantic love with multiple people and studies like the ones Bering does shows that I’m not the only one. I identify more with polyamory and non-monogamy when it comes to romantic relationships. Being open and honest about needs and desires is the only way to have a successful relationship, based on my experiences. If monogamy is your bag, commit to it and realize it will be the most difficult thing you do (even more so than parenting. A lifetime with another person, the life and home built, the family grown around that union, should be more important than a sexual fling on the side.
Romantic love is arguably the most powerful emotion our minds create. Society deemed the most restrictive form of that love as the norm, despite being not based on biology. The same goes for heterosexuality as the social norm. Romantic love is far more complicated than that. Embrace and explore that complexity. If you are someone who doesn’t feel right with straight love or monogamous love, you’re not alone. You’re a perv, just like the rest of us. Even the monogamous people.