Thursday, May 26, 2005

It continues... ... ... ... ...

1) I'm now into sit-com territory. I received the first batch of photos, via email, of a long-lost friend's baby pictures. Firstly, I was shocked that he even knew my email address. Secondly, I didn't know his wife was pregnant, but I am not surprised considering that they married only 7 months after meeting each other for the first time. Thirdly, I was creeped out because last night I made a joke to the Resident Female about baby pictures (you see, because this place had a sign up that said "Single Beers are finally here", and I said, "I bet they made the switch to single beers because the married beers only wanted to show the customers their baby pictures". The Resident Female responded by pretending not to hear me).

Anyway, I have spent most of the day emailing old friends from Big Watts concerning the old friend's new spawn, and wondering what he has been like in the past year and a half since he met the woman. Much to my lack of astonishment, they really didn't know. To quote a response, "That man has been seen in public less than Salmon Rushdee." Now, except for his terrible spelling, I was not shocked by this in the slightest. As we used to joke in high school whenever the new father had a girlfriend, my boy was a leading candidate to found Women's Husbands' International Program for Preparing Entraping Domiciles. However, what did surprise me was that he stopped being a fisherman (too dangerous, too much time away from home) to work at a gas station. This saddens me, because all this kid ever wanted to do was be on the ocean. He started fixing boat engines when he was 14, every summer he was either loberstering, chartering, scuba diving, or sailing, and he even spent his senior year (in HS) Christmas Break in northern Canada ice sailing. I mean, if he wasn't out on the water, he wasn't happy. I guess I just don't understand how he could give it all up for a minimum wage job. I'm not trying to sound judgmental, but either I don't know him nearly as well as I thought, or he just doesn't have the ingenuity to come up with a way to make money doing things tactily close to what he loves. Either way, it makes me a little bit sad. I hope my boys are wrong that he "just took the job because he's given up", and that he is just happier to stay on dry land with his new family.

2) I watched a Penn & Teller Bullshit! episode last night about the myth of the nuclear family. While the Resident Female had trouble looking beyond the disturbing scenes from the home life of a few swingers, I found the show to be really one of their strongest. While I take just about everything they say with a grain of salt (the show's purpose is not so much to disprove common myths, but to rehash the manipulation of facts that one-side uses by using the same tactics to support the counter-argument), I felt that the show was spot on with its message. From the biology and psychology classes I have taken, plus my knowledge of the history of pop culture (too many damn English classes), that the nuclear family is not the norm was not shock to me. I just thought their arguments were particularly good in this show, even if they didn't go in depth into the more biological and hardwired evidence to refute "straight marriages for love"'s validity as the norm. However, it did reinforce my feelings about those always proclaiming "Family Values" in the political arena. Morons the lot of them, and in a lot of cases hypocrite (see: Gengrich, Newt. See also: Hatch, Orrin).

Personally, I think it is just another case of "the way I was taught as a child is the only acceptable way; we are only a free country when it jives with my figures, homie!" For more examples of this, see also: Sex Education, Creationism, gun control, etc. Forget the fact that a most of the states where "family values" politicians come from lead the country in divorce rates, unwed children, abortions, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, crime, and lower education levels, but I always find that those politicians that stress agenda as just allowing freedom of choice are actually enforcing these things on others while limiting the alternatives they are battling against.

3) I forgot to do a book review on the last book I finished, which was Steve Martin's Pure Drivel. It was a collection of essays, some of which were very funny, others of which missed their mark. Rather than try to go back and remember more about it, I thought I would go with some recommendations, as I am currently reading one of the best written books in history. When I was looking for something to read before my commute on the Metro, I grabbed one of my old standbys in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. This has to be one of the best books I have ever read when it comes to writing style. So I thought I would put out a series of reviews for the novels that I think are the best written (note: not the best novels, just best written), starting with number five:

5. Choke by Chuck Pahlaniuk. This is the book that Pahlaniuk wrote after Fight Club. This book is about a middle-aged med student who had to drop out of school to take care of and pay for his dying mother in nursing care. He is a sex addict barely trying to recover, and he is flirting with rock bottom in just about every part of his life. Like most of Pahlaniuk's work, the story's details themselves are a bit ridiculous; however, his writing style is at it's finest in this one. With quick and repetitive comments dotting the work and the organized chaos that is the narrator's stream of consciousness, each paragraph skips along to the next seamlessly. Much in the way that Hemingway seemed to perfect the art of the sentence, Pahlaniuk has made a similar claim to the paragraph. The provocative and often embarrassing nature of the discourse only strengthen it's appeal, with his characteristic dark humor adding to his ridiculous satirization of society. While the narrator's rejection and abuse of certain social norms are a profound indictment of our culture's random collection of routines, it is really the ones that he still embraces which truly shows their absurdity. Fabulous, extremely well-written book.


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