The common sense truth is that there should be enough laws and restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, but the laws should allow for enough freedom so that guns are accessible to normal, well-adjusted citizens. I suppose the blurry distinction between the two is the central debate over gun control.
If Bob Costas' diatribe about gun control on Sunday Night Football pissed you off, then you're a sorry person. Gun control isn't a political, religious, or racial issue. It's a public safety issue. The fact that Mr. Costas used a public forum to talk about public safety shouldn't make anyone upset. Nothing he said was offensive. Gun ownership isn't a religion, so stop acting like he took a shit in your church. If Bob Costas made you unhappy, you deserve your unhappiness.
Finally, the spirit of the Second Amendment was to give citizens the right to defend themselves, either from other citizens, foreigners, wombats, or the federal government. The Second Amendment is outdated. The feds now have drones, tanks, and nuclear weapons. If they're coming after you, your machine gun isn't going to stop them.
One-third of the population of the state of Maine lives inthe greater Portland area. The city of Portland, Maine itself has a population of just over 65,000 (which is approximately the population of Cerritos, California, the dinky suburb of LosAngeles where I grew up). Outside of the Portland metropolitan area, the rest of the state of Maine is mostly wilderness. I learned these bits of random trivia from an insanely-educated tour guide on a recent trip to the coastal city. If you’ve ever been to this town, then the first thing that probably struck you about it was that there’s a lot of bricks and bird shit. The second thing that you probably noticed was that the locals like to consume mass quantities of lobster and beer, which was precisely what brought me to visit. My prime directive for the trip was to seek out the best lobster in the United States, and I fulfilled this (via a lobster roll) approximately thirty-seven minutes after landing at Portland International Jetport. The subsequent four days were filled with lobster lunches, dinners, breath, and gas.
When not ingesting lobster, I usually found myself at one of the local bars. The Old Port of Portland is dotted with a plethora of microbreweries and pubs, frequented by college students (I still have no idea what colleges are nearby) and tourists sick of eating lobster. On my first night there I casually strolled into a pub called Gritty McDuff’s, casually sat down at the bar, casually ordered a stout, casually watched the Olympics on NBC, and casually acted like I wasn’t the only non-white person there. Somewhere in the middle of my third pint, Michael Phelps had won his 127th gold medal and I non-casually high-fived everyone within striking distance. I was more excited about this than logic would dictate. Phelps had simply just swam from one end of the pool to the other faster than seven other men, but the Olympics make us excited about things we don’t care about. (I mean, I could still walk along the side of the pool faster than he could swim.) Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Anyway, during my high-fiving spree I noticed that someone had sat down next to me. He must have been there for a while because he was already chowing down on a basket of chicken tenders. Not only was he the second non-white person in the bar, he also looked like he could have been the genetic bridge between P. Diddy and Steve Urkel. He introduced himself as Dave and we made small talk as two lonely tourists are wont to do. Our conversation was mostly boring until he got really animated about Star Trek (I believe a commercial with William Shatner came on the TV and lit a fire under him). He said he was in Portland to meet with some other Star Trek fans and they were going to Augusta for a gathering of Maine Trekkies. I know nothing about Star Trek so I didn’t know what to say, but I didn’t want the conversation to die (simply because he looked like he was having a sci-fi-gasm) so I remarked that I was more of a StarWars kind-of-guy. This prompted him to shout in my face, “Star Wars is full of shit!”within earshot of the bartender in front of us and the bachelorette party behind us.
For the next two minutes I received a tongue-lashing of how Star Trek was better than Star Wars, most notably how Klingon philosophy was greater than Jedi philosophy. The bartender was indifferent but the group of single girls seemed amused. I completely had no idea what Dave was talking about. I suppose he sensed this, so he ended his tirade by saying, “Well, you either get it or you don’t, I guess.” Now, I’m not one who has supposedly epiphanous moments, but this seemingly plain and simple statement struck me as profound. It was probably my fourth pint simply taking its toll on my brain synapses, but that non-important remark felt bigger than it was. I suspect that this pseudo-elation is similar to how Gotye must feel whenever he thinks he just wrote a hit song.
People say that you shouldn’t think in terms of “absolutes”. People who believe this unnecessarily live complicated lives. Life can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is that everything in the present is an absolute. You either get it or you don’t. You either like Star Trek or you don’t. You either like someone or you don’t. You either hate “Call Me Maybe” or you don’t. You either think Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite, or you don't. You’re either a socialist or you’re not. You’re either happy or you’re not. You’re either a good person or you’re not. Everything is one thing, or it’s not. If you think you’re in the middle on any issue, you’re just lying to yourself, because everyone is someone, or you’re not. Maybe Dave was right about Jedi philosophy being inferior to Klingon philosophy. Obi-Wan Kenobi once said that only the Sith think in “absolutes”. Obi-Wan Kenobi was full of shit.
You can either simplify your life or not. Everything else is either bricks or bird shit.
I’m not the first one and I won’t be the last to state the obvious fact that MTV hardly plays music videos. As of January 2011, the only time of the day that MTV plays music videos is for three hours very early in the morning when mostly everyone on the west coast is still sleeping. The rest of the day MTV airs reality and game shows aimed at pregnant teenagers, New Jersey people, and homosexual college students. This hardly constitutes “music television.” The last music video I can recall seeing in its entirety on MTV was Bye Bye Bye by ‘N Sync, and that was way back when Carson Daly still gave a damn about children’s after-school programming. In this age and time where it’s cool to be ironic, MTV programming is equivalent to why hipsters think Pabst Blue Ribbon is good beer: it is what it is not.
The same can be said about MTV’s sister channel VH-1. What started out as an adult-contemporary music video channel, it is now a bastion of pop-culture that plays on the nostalgia that old people (read: born before 1980) have for things not current. Over the holidays I was surfing DirecTV and ended up watching an old Saturday Night Live episode on VH-1. I was watching a Weekend Update segment from, I would guess, around 2001 with Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon. As they were wont to do, these faux news-anchors were acting like sarcastic baboons. My wife, who was watching with me, laughed a lot and said, “Wow, this is actually funny.”
I should point out that my wife hates Saturday Night Live. She doesn’t think it’s remotely funny; in fact she thinks that it’s insulting to anything with a functioning brain. She’s not the only person who shares this sentiment. Many people say that the golden age of SNL was in the 1970s with iconic comedians like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Dan Aykroyd. Current episodes of SNL are widely panned for being unfunny and overly contrived, and I suspect the only reason people tune in is because of its musical guests (being a musical guest on SNL is still a big deal).
I agree with most people on this issue. I started watching SNL in the early 1990s with Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and David Spade. Those guys made me laugh. Nowadays I feel that SNL isn’t really all that funny, and I’ve felt this way ever since the late 1990s. However, when I was watching that old episode of Weekend Update last month, I was genuinely laughing, even though I suspected that I wasn’t laughing when I saw that segment when it first aired roughly nine years ago. I clearly remember hating Jimmy Fallon. What has changed? Was Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon’s comedy ahead of its time? Am I losing my mind?
A while back I read an article in which Lorne Michaels (the creator and executive producer of SNL) responded to criticism about SNL. He said that SNL is not as bad as people say it is, nor was it as good as people remember it was. This struck me as being surprisingly prophetic about everything.
As a whole, we seem to be surprisingly cynical about the present. We stress out about our jobs, we worry about feeding our kids, and we fear nuclear war. Every decision we make is approached with skepticism. Is this show funny? Who should I vote for? Will this affect who I am?When will I die? Instant information via smartphones and the internet has made the present a hyper-reality. As such, we’ve become over-nostalgic for the past. This is why 30-year-olds like watching VH-1 and why extreme Republicans like dressing up as 18th century New Englanders. Like Saturday Night Live, we’re under the illusion that the past was always better, even though it was probably the same as it is today.
Something about this makes me feel sad for the present, but then I remember that it is what it is not.
Early spring has historically been a boring time of the year for me. For someone whose disposition is largely dictated by sports seasons, late February and early March is typically bland. Football season is over and baseball season is only in preseason. This leaves only hockey and basketball. While I love hockey, I really don't get into it until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, and while basketball is exciting to watch, it's also boringly simple. Everything about the NBA can be summed up in three sentences. A complete basketball neophyte (like my wife) can sound like ABC's basketball genius Jon Barry by just reciting the following:
The Lakers are too long for any team to match up with.
The Thunder are explosive, but probably can't survive a seven-game series.
It might take the Heat another year to gel together.
Nevertheless, the lull during this time of the year is further amplified by Lent, the forty-day season in which guilt-stricken Catholics sacrifice a part of their lives. Many times this includes fasting, particularly on Fridays, but it also includes "giving up" a luxury or vise. Normally, this does not affect me. My Catholic friends' personal sacrifices over the years have never had a significant impact on my life and it has never been something that I particularly cared about. However, this has changed in the past three years. Every year since I became hyperactive in Facebook in 2008, I've noticed that people have given up Facebook for Lent. This has always bothered me because all of a sudden the Lenten sacrifice wasn't something personal; it became something that was publicized and something I had to know about. When someone gives up something like Facebook, people will notice it. People won't see their status updates anymore or see their comments on pictures and notes. You kind of get the feeling that these peoples' intent is to tell everyone that they are being pious. This is not the same as giving up, say, eating candy, which is something that you can do privately and can be more of a personal covenant between the person and God, but giving up a social networking site that you are actively a part of is inherently a public affair. I'm not a practicing Catholic, but as someone who grew up as a Catholic I think I still have some perspective. I just don't see how giving up a social networking website can make you a better person, unless you're using Facebook to cheat on your wife or sell drugs.
Ironically, the people who need to read this probably gave up the internet for Lent. In forty days, the world will go back to normal and there will be basketball and hockey playoffs to watch.