Burning Prose

Words that are not quite as fiery as the title would suggest. Does suggest. Do/does/will do.

The Platform

The massive platform sits high above a cerulean sea; a base for space-faring vehicles to land, supply, and unload. The sea is calm here, there are few storms on this orb, and those that do occur are relegated to the other side of the planet. There is no satellite to drive the seas, and few currents in this hemisphere. The platform, a full square kilometer in area, sits hundreds of meters above the water, with structures, storage and habitable rooms below, which reach almost to the level of the water. Three figures stand along the edge, looking into the sky. Two are tall, and one small, like a child.

“They are coming,” she told them. “They are coming,” she whispered, almost wistfully. She was tiny, appearing as a mere child, yet somehow wise beyond human reckoning. “They will scan for life and end it all.” She was one of them. She was taken. She was brought here, and now the doom of all follows on her heels. The outer rim alarms had begun to wail. Her words were true, they were coming.

A high land mass is visible, hazy with distance. Small craft are thick in the air like insects, fleeing the platform and flying to land.

There isn’t much land, and all of it is densely-populated. ‘Where are they going to go?’ Harden muses as he looks away from the cloud of fleeing vehicles and turns to Tara and the tiny alien girl. “Let’s go to the hangar. We can secure it, and there are ample supplies.” There are a few men left on the platform, but Harden does not know their names. Transients. Harden and Tara work the platform; they know each nook and cranny. They move woodenly, merely acting as they ought, despite their shared belief that death is nigh.

And what of the girl? What of this tiny innocent who is bringing this upon their heads? It is not her fault, she was taken against her will, and brought here for sale. Harden stopped that, and took her from the slavers. They were hard men, evil men, and they were killed as was their just dessert. Harden’s word was law here. She spoke then, the little angel-faced doll, her stark words belying her childlike exterior. “You are all going to die.”

* * * *

They watch the monitors from within the now sealed hangar; supplies, weapons, and water-generators having all been moved inside. One man sits alone on the platform, in the open, not believing that the aliens will punish all for the deeds of so few. Harden, Tara, and the little girl, for Harden can think of her in no other way, all watch, silently, breathlessly. The girl does not want to wait outside, she has chosen to come in with Harden and Tara; in fact, she clings to Tara like a child of her apparent age would, fearfully. Tara returns her embrace maternally. Harden himself feels an emotional bond that he does not quite understand. He freed this poor creature not seven hours ago.

Deep, sonic rumbles disturb the peace of an otherwise beautiful day. High in the sky streaks are visible; the arcs of plasma weapons, presumably, systematically cutting out the planet’s defenses and destroying those who attempted to flee. They are coming. The hangar has monitors from the orbiting space dock as well as within the atmosphere. They watch as massive insectoid structures move towards the planet from every direction within view. Lances of impossibly bright coherent light silently tear from these things, and small and brief explosions are visible, like fireflies loosed in the void. A few near the space dock, becoming so huge that they are everything, then all is briefly light, and then darkness. Tara gasps, and Harden squeezes her hand. They are coming.

They now watch the exterior of the platform, as all other views have been stilled. The land feed was long gone, presumably destroyed in the chaos of fear and exodus. There sits one lone man, watching the skies. He looks as if he is in the throes of rapture as a swarm fills the stratosphere. How do they know? They seem to have concentrated on the land mass to the East, a swarm descending like ashes from an eruption, or like a funnel cloud reaching towards the firmament. As the mass descends, some of it detaches and moves towards the platform. Outside, the man stands. Harden’s insides moil; his nerves on edge. He glances at their small charge, her eyes on the monitor in fear. “I’ve projected to the land,” she says, quietly, confusingly, “I’ve masked us.” Harden absently brushes her hair with his hand and turns back to the monitor.

There are swarms of small probes flying over the platform, each the size of a small shipping crate, somewhat oblong with rounded edges, scanning with lights of some kind, and Harden is sure that they are using other methods, invisible to him, as well. One of them flies to the unnamed man on the platform, who stands still, facing it. It hovers in front of his face, and the man begins to speak, his arms splayed to the sides, supplicant. Harden fervently wishes that he knew the man’s name. After a few minutes, the probe flies away and scans with the rest, and the man, looking relieved, sits. An eternity passes as the probes conclude their passes, paying no more attention to the hangar than any other inanimate object on the wide platform. On the land-facing monitor Harden catches objects moving towards them, even as the mass of probes depart. As the departing probes pass the approaching mass, he can see that these objects are larger. They are coming.

There are only five small crafts. Each large enough to carry no more than two adult humans. Looking at the little alien, so human-like except for small furrows down the bridge of her nose, Harden wonders how an adult might appear. He glances at Tara, who looks at him. He realizes that they had all been silent except for the one uttered sentence by the alien girl, which neither understood. He forces a small smile and looks back at the monitor. The craft, after flying above and below the platform’s surface, now land on its edge, away from the hangar, close to where the lone anonymous man sits. He stands again as five doors open at once, and figures emerge. They are tall, Harden is slightly surprised to notice, and each clad in what appeared to be a loose-fitting colorless suits, with masks. The figures disperse, some holding devices of some kind, and two approach the human nonchalantly. He stands, speaks, and smiles at them. They stand silently, holding their devices. One approaches and holds his device, which looks like a small box, close to the human’s head, who appears curious but not afraid. Harden experiences a small glimmer of hope, then the girl, “don’t watch.” She turns her head down as Harden watches the man’s head explode. He turns off the monitors.

Harden holds Tara, each of them staring at the floor, breathing heavily. “What are we to do?” she asks. Harden is silent. He looks at the little girl, sees her eyes full of tears and draws her close. “I projected to the land. I masked us. They may leave.” Again, Harden does not know what she means, but begins to have an inkling. They sit in this manner for hours, as small explosions rock the afternoon, and long into the night. Finally, they sleep, fitfully, right on the bare floor of the hangar, lights and noise disturbing them at various times. Harden expects the door to be tried, the floor to be cut, something, but nothing happens. Are they coming? He fears to turn on the monitors, afraid of what he might see. He sleeps, the little girl between he and Tara, clinging to them both. Are they coming?

Waking. The brilliant light of the sun streams into the hangar from one of the high windows. All is silent. Harden checks his chronometer. It is near high-day, midway through the sun’s rotation. They slept long after the chaos of the night. Tara and the girl stir slightly, and he carefully moves away from them and stands. He still fears the monitors, but is thoroughly confused to be alive. He walks to the portal entrance, and places his hand on the heavy, thick arbranium door that could withstand the pressure of the deep ocean if the platform sank. Carefully, very slowly, he releases the pressure seal, and manually opens the door. There is another door leading to the exterior of the platform, this one also very strong, but with a small window. Harden wants to look out with his own eyes this morning. He creeps up to the exterior door, his nerves jangling with fear, terrified that he will be seen, and glances carefully through the thick glass of the window.

Nothing. The platform is empty except for the twisted remains of the craft that had littered its surface, intact, before they came. Their remnants bearing testament to the explosions through the long day and night. The skies are silent. There is no corpse where they had killed the poor, unknown man, only a large brownish stain. Harden takes a breath, not realizing that he had been holding it for more than a minute. He watches for an eternity. A Flaron lands on the platform, stretches its wings, and appears to scan the area. Its body near the height of an adult man, they are extremely shy creatures, spending most of their time high in the thermals, soaking up the solar energy that seemed to be their only source of sustenance. Harden feels emboldened by its presence, and walks back to Tara and the little girl, who is now awake.

“They are gone,” she says, with a slight smile. “I projected to the land, and masked our presence here to protect you.” Her smile falters, and she adds, “The planet is clear, except for us, and any others hiding deep in the sea.” Harden is struck dumb by the words emitting from the mouth of a babe. “What is your name?” he asks. She smiles, and says “we do not speak our names. Your species doesn’t have the knowledge of the inner-voice. You may call me what you will.” Tara, awakened by the conversation, and silently listening, asks “What did you mean by project, and inner-voice? Can you communicate with your people?” “Yes,” comes the answer. “Even now I can feel their chatter and their sadness. ”

They are gone.

Free Press?

I shall herewith prefix the forthcoming rambling mess with following quote, which was made in 1853, by John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff at the New York Times, after being asked to deliver a toast to the “free press” at the prestigious New York Press Club.

” There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. “

As I got in my car a while ago I heard a reporter assure the kind audience that John Ashcroft had no idea of the scope of George W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping program, and signed warrants without knowing why. It was just laid out there, just like that. No criticism, no gasps of incredulity, no opening for further discussion or examination. Just yet another in a long line of absurdity nuggets. It’s like a bad science-fiction show where potatoes become self-aware … and vicious. Worse yet, we (humans) wind up buried under a torrent of rebellious spuds. And you thought potato eyes were innocuous. Pshaw. Only, this is real life, and this shit actually happens.

Immediately after that little nugget followed a commercial that began by extolling the virtues of bio-technical research. Great. Wonderful. Sign me up. Oh, at the end we are informed that it was paid for by some pharmaceutical and bio-tech research organization or summat. So, in case you were wondering if A) they knew what the hell they were talking about or B) if they were sincere, well, there you go. These are, after all, the people that brought us everything from Agent Orange to Aspartame. MORE RESEARCH!

I guess as I age I get less tolerant of automatons who walk around bleating crap like “the US is the best country on Earth!’ when contrary quantifiable and statistically-significant information is hiding in plain sight … and like Mt. Everest in size. These are the same people who believe the ridiculous and transparent crap shoveled at them by the corporate media, but reports of wrongdoing which include actual citation and evidence are summarily rejected. Go cognitive dissonance!

At the same time of the previous observation there was an interesting exercise in headline whitewashing. It started with a headline about Obama (the current corporate stooge in DC) declaring to Africa: Clean up Tyranny and Corruption! Excuse me while I laugh up a lung. Has the weight of the irony in the preceding absurdity not yet caused Earth to implode? Good. The president of the US chiding some other nation … or continent (which is even funnier, really) about the two things they do SO WELL: tyranny and corruption. Beautiful. Maybe I’ll write more specifically at some later date with citations (Pinochet, Noriega, the Shah, and the list goes on)

For now, however, let’s take a look at the way that headline has morphed throughout the day. It started with something like this:

Obama to Africa: Clean up Tyranny, Corruption!

Then, it became this:

Africa Aid Must Be Matched By Good Governance

But that wasn’t quite right, so then we had the final washed and filtered headline:

In Personal Terms, Obama Hails Africa’s Promise

For real, you cannot pay for this kind of comedy. I imagine a team of hair helmets pouring over various headlines and reactions, grabbing ad hoc focus groups, and throwing potential new leads at them ” … but how does it make you feel?” and “would you be more inclined to vote for this one, or this one?” That is likely not far from the truth.

The point of all of this rambling? It is all engineered. All of it. Not just the content, but the context as well. Why else is the death of a singing and dancing pedophile front page news for days? Welcome to America! Now go buy some shoes.

A few weeks ago I was listening to NPR, and some prat was being interviewed about the government’s plan to bailout the automakers. You know the automakers? The same ones who instituted NO safety features in their cars until they were forced to (by Ralph Nader’s activism), the same automakers who have successfully lobbied to keep mileage requirements in the US significantly lower than almost everywhere else, the same automakers who kill any vehicle technology which threatens the sanctity of oil dependency, the same automakers who move their manufacturing to Mexico so that they can A) pay much lower wages, B) don’t have to worry about those silly OSHA requirements (safety in the workplace, also via Nader), and C) pollute without punishment. Yeah, those altruistic institutions.

So this dozy prat was being interviewed, and I could hardly believe my ears. Apparently, according to her, Americans need to have a viable domestic auto industry for their minds. Our minds. This was the crux of her argument. No, really. Stop laughing. Apparently, we need to know that there is an industry that is ready to lead the way towards energy independence. She said this, I presume, with a straight face. You know how you can hear it if people are laughing, even if you can’t see them? Yeah? Well, it didn’t sound like she was laughing. Oh, I almost forgot, her statement was in answer to the following hard-hitting question: “They got themselves into this mess, why not let them fail?” The staggering aspect of this, for me, was not that her answer was complete and utter transparent bullshit, and contrary to all known history, and the likely future outcome, but that she did not ONCE cite all of the people who would LOSE THEIR JOBS! Well, I, for one, will sleep well tonight knowing that we have a viable auto industry leading the way towards energy independence.

The reporter had no further questions.

Of Innocence And Wrath

The core;
Blackness, desolation,
insensitivity and despair.
The Crucifixion bears resemblance
to the lemmings’ foolish fall.
Ghostly hands reach for the seeming,
the teeming, the bleeding Souls of Lamentation,
rooted in the fiber of our being,
entwined with, and by seeing
the elusive baited snare.
So torn!
Souls shriek for a respite
Exploding in fire
of guilt and redemption,
of innocence and wrath,
of slain heroes
who by their own hands fall.
and the blood reflects in the eyes
of junkie-borne infants,
who know only pain,
the product of malicious intervention,
just shy of immaculate conception,
born of deception.
And the mutation of the systems,
in myriad display
is fed, all too poignantly
to our souls.
And we weep, yet like children we stand
hand in mouth.
Heedless and indecisive
whilst the terrible slow death
of this world, our world
unfolds before our eyes;
and thus it bleeds from within
and the life once held within the eyes
slowly dies.
with no room to spare
for the pain of others
only black emptiness of spirit,
the innocence of ignorance,
and the wrath of desperation.

Caverns Of The Mind

Echoing portents of divinity
raze a blackened soul
Flying forth
on wings of absurdity
cascading overtly
drowning the slighted purity
in crystal pools of deception
Such tainted perceptions
are colored
in the morbid domain
of the caverns of the mind
where spirit reigns
with an acute fascism
over a blackened kingdom
of nightmare conjuration
as nascent subjects
worm their subtle way
through the fabric of firmament,
blithely.
And to seed the light-less way
with monumental icons
to insignificance
and the pervading blindness
lies the great affliction of Pride
the foolishness of being
inhabiting the largest chamber
a prolific titan
screaming to be heard
echoing entirely
and carrying throughout
the entire cavernous being
bleeding over;
spilling into underground lakes
of compassion
poisoning rivers of sensitivity
muting the crystal veins
of creativity
with its boorish, shallow cry
lighting fires of derision
inciting riots of insecurity
lashing out in supreme rage
an earthquake of violence
that threatens destruction…
until the voice of humility
sings a quiet song
of tranquility
and the boiling springs cool
the quaking slowly subsides
the rivers run their musical course
and the raging giant sleeps
albeit an uneasy slumber
and all is at peace
in the domain of the spirit
who once again brought freedom
to the caverns of the mind

Jingo All The Way

The standard unfurls in blood, white, and blue
the chanting begins anew
“Hail to the Chief!”
questions fall into the abyss
of disapproval
issuing from the cajolers
who wrap themselves
in the waving colors,
those who are ‘of the colors,’
dancing to their tune of superiority,
jingo all the way.

And the mouths cry “Patriotism!”
They march towards the right
always to the right,
foaming maws and wild eyes,
they scream of hatred and bile,
with hatred and bile,
Dead men are raised,
and called to attest.
They validate, they vindicate,
their mouths strung with the colors,
the hands of those of the colors,
holding the controls,
unwitting marionettes,
as they are made to dance the tune,
jingo all the way.

Their corpses tell another tale,
silently, falling deaf against the riot
of insidious bluster.
Flawless hair and shiny skin,
flab spilling out of trousers,
they scream of bravery and war,
of killing even as they huddle,
terrified by the warm fire of
their collective cowardice.
Largesse flows out from these maws
to the voices for hire,
to the men in the right places,
that may speak only chosen words,
the people, the populists, left
each alone, solitary,
in the cold light of isolation
and disillusionment.
Millions, each unaware of the other,
standing silent and stilted,
are portrayed singing joyfully, happily
jingo all the way.

The mouths carry sticks,
upon which rest men
made of straw,
upon their own lies they alight
ever defaming mendacity,
upon their own greed they are borne,
ever denigrating rapacity,
upon the backs of their supporters do they tread,
the siphons fast secured,
to the feckless, doltish sea of bodies,
whistling as they die,
jingo all the way.

My Path to Untold Riches; Or, How I Plan To Capture Bigfoot

Bigfoot, as we all know, lives in each of the forty-eight contiguous United States (except Rhode Island, because that dinky little state can’t possibly support a viable breeding population of large bi-pedal, heretofore unknown hominids) and Alaska, not to mention most of those provinces up there in Canada. This being the case, coupled with my fervent desire for untold riches (I’ve always wanted untold riches because I don’t even know how to tell anyone about them … that’s why they’re untold), has given rise to the following idea:

I’m going to capture a bigfoot.

Here’s the plan (and I bind you all to secrecy in this matter): I have already checked all sighting reports for the areas to which I can easily drive. I have little confidence in being able to spot and have someone else net a specimen in the densely-populated states within a short drive. Plus, I don’t want to. I want to go to Maine. So, in my objective and exhaustive search for Bigfoot sightings in a place that seems probably to support a sizable population of the unwary hirsute beasts (which I constrained to Maine), I have discovered an area in Maine, of all places, that seems promising. Seems that I must go to Maine, after all.

“Someone else.” Yes, someone else shall net the creature, after which they shall be dispatched, and buried in a shallow grave in the Maine wilderness whereupon they may be discovered years later, enabling the fine Maine police to call in the FBI to do hair and fiber analysis, run DNA, and try to track me down. Fat chance of that! By that time I will have spent a small portion of my untold riches buying a ranch on the Galapagos Islands, and bribing the Ecuadorian officials to allow me to live there full time (90 days a year my ASS). There will be an investigation, hindered by it taking place partially in protected Sasquatch habitat, doubly-hindered by the Sasquatch themselves, who, as we all know, detest backhoes as much as the rest of us, and triply-hindered by my untold wealth and power. But I digress …

The genesis of this plan was much cleaner than the Psalms of it. The more I think about the “someone else” idea, the muddier it becomes. Plus, Sasquatch are like … really big. Really really big. And strong. So the net idea doesn’t seem so good anymore. Therefore, I shall draft my sharpshooter brother-in-law to shoot one, with me first annoying it sufficiently for it to attack us. There will be no talk of dispatching after that, since there are enough riches in untold to go around, plus he’s kinda cool. Oh yeah, and he has guns. Lots of them. So, you know, self-preservation kicks in. Moving on … sasquatch shot (preferably in the head) we need to transport the corpse. That’s where the zombies come in.

Broadly, that’s the plan. Here is how I envision it taking place: We drive ten hours to (redacted) Maine. North and East of (redacted) is a large, undeveloped and wooded tract of land on several hundred square miles where lots of incidents have been reported. We take the first unmarked road we find, carrying our load of bigfoot attracting and killing paraphenalia:

  • One large bag of apples
  • Three really big rifles(names to be added later by B-I-L)
  • One stick (to bang on other stick)
  • Other stick (see previous stick)
  • Two Desert Eagle .50 revolvers
  • One large ham sandwich
  • One large net (backup)
  • One can of Mace
  • One bullhorn
  • Two high-definition camcorders (in case we chicken out)
  • One Elmo doll (use redacted)
  • Five pine cones (as bait … and potentially, as ammunition)
  • Ammunition (not to be confused with pine cones)

Upon reaching our destination, we will see a bigfoot walking away from us across a large meadow. It will be a large, humanoid creature with long brown hair with gray tips. It will sway its arms and walk away nonchalantly. Here is where I trigger the plan. First, annoyance, which I accomplish via a cunning combination of hurled apples, profanity, stick-beating, and arm-waving. Second, sasquatch shooting, which occurs when the thing, annoyed beyond belief, charges me in an attempt to literally rip me to pieces. I hope BIL is a crack shot, otherwise all ends here. Third, zombie summoning, which I accomplish via (redacted). Fourth, zombie control, which is a mite like the proverbial herding of cats, except much harder, and with things that aren’t alive, are as dumb as rocks, and are engaged in an inexorable shuffle towards my brain. Fifth: UNTOLD RICHES! Finally, I shall get to live out my life long dream of driving a Lamborghini along the unspoiled and endangered tidal flats of Madagascar, all the while eating fast food and throwing the wrappers from the window (as if zombie summoning wasn’t the be-all end-all of life long dreams already)!

See you in Puerto Ayora (or not)!

Obama Or Churchill?

Obama, speaking on August 5th, 2009:

“Even in the hardest times, against the toughest odds, we have never surrendered,” Obama told a crowd on the steamy factory floor of Monaco RV, whose previous owner went bankrupt. “We don’t give up. We don’t surrender our fates to chance. We have always endured.”

Winston Churchill, in 1940 to the House of Commons:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

The fact that all speeches are tailored, and all draw on the past, in some cases lifting the very ethos of a specific instance, jumped at me as soon as I saw that block of text. I see it as a negative, personally, as so many believe that the words issuing from politicians mouths are meaningful … and they are, of course, but rarely do they actually mean what is being said. They are engineered, carefully, to engender very specific emotional responses; to create connections that serve the ends of those in power, and usually belie the actual content of the speech.

Merely a momentary observation.

It’s Uncanny

I have decided that it is time to learn how to can stuff. Perhaps even food. I’d like to can everything, especially beets. If there is one thing I know about canning, it’s … well, nothing. I may even can cans. I am not sure about that last idea. It’s up in the air. To discuss …

After successfully planning my canning architecture, I shall test it. Post-testing comes implementation, after which I shall buy land in West Virginia, and build a bunker. Into said bunker shall go the cans. At that time, if I feel adventurous, I shall also include jars. Jars are good because 1) you can see into them, and 2) they can be hurled through the air against a solid surface resulting in shrapnel. Think of them as food grenades, if you will. Or don’t, I really don’t care. Some, upon reading the previous few sentences, might wonder why jars make better weapons than cans. I don’t know. But I refuse to eat canned beets. Ever.

I would also like to store dry goods and foodstuffs. I am not sure what those are, but they sound like the types of things that will last through a holocaust of apocalyptic proportions… provided they start in a bunker. I think oatmeal may be a foodstuff. Maybe only the whole oat, or the steel cut variety. I may have to can some cows. And bees. We cannot have oatmeal without milk, butter, and honey, at the very least. Can bees be freeze-dried?

I think freeze-drying is also a useful skill to have. In a bunker. In West Virginia. If there is anything that was ever placed upon this mortal coil that needs to be freeze-dried, it’s meatloaf. So a good meatloaf recipe would be very helpful. I aver and state herewith that I shall forfeit any and all application fees for one member with a good meatloaf recipe, preferably one that lends itself to freeze drying. Membership, you ask? Aye. Which brings me to my militia:

I am going to start a militia. What we will have:

  • one bunker
  • cans
  • jars
  • land in West Virginia
  • a neat emblem featuring some form of fowl
  • flannel
  • a pickup truck
  • foodstuffs

We will also have some weapons, but in an attempt to avoid an FBI/NSA/CIA raid, I shall not include them in the preceding bulleted list. Verily, we will have weapons (what good is a militia without them?), but they will not be guns. I am thinking about rubber bands and mallets. The mallets come in handy for close quarters.

As omissions are often as important as inclusions, what we won’t have:

  • an overabundance of teeth
  • a willingness to listen to reason
  • good personal hygiene
  • Cher records
  • freeze-dried donuts

Why all of this? Simple: we need to make preparations for the fall of civilization. Once the people wake from their slumber and realize that they are merely Eloi to the elite Morlocks, hellfire and damnation shall rain down upon us all, and there will be no donuts. (Except for the ones I have canned. Or jarred. I am not sure about the proper storage media for donuts as of yet.) So, if you are with me, brothers and sisters, join my militia, start hoarding rubber bands (and maybe some mineral oils), go buy a mallet (one per member shall be fine), and look for me in some godforsaken wild part of West Virgina.

Let’s VENT!

Among the dross that passes for television marketing, beer commercials are among the most pathetic and offensive. Since I happen to like watching professional sports and The Deadliest Catch (which must attract a similar demographic) I am exposed to the very worst that commercials have to offer. At their best, they suck. I hate commercials. That aside, beer commercials are beyond inane. The traits of beer commercials tend to be pretty similar: misogyny, dishonesty, and stupidity. Alcohol is glorified, whatever, I like beer, but worship seems severe. And by “severe” I mean pathetic.

To venting: A certain beer commercial from Coors is shown, touting some new, quicker (revolutionary, of course) way to drink beer. Great for the alcoholics. The term used is “vent.” The premise behind the commercial: married guy, sitting next to his very attractive wife, fields a call from his male friend, who apparently needs to “vent.” I assume that the humor derives from the silly little woman not understanding that ‘venting’ is now a drinking term, not a heartfelt sharing of feelings, concerns, etc. I suppose the underlying implication is that women, so sensitive and emotional, would happily send their insensitive partners off to learn how to be available. (How about emotional availability to their significant other?) So, married guy lies to his wife, goes to friend’s house, with beer, of course, where much hilarity and venting ensues, sans women. Let me think about this … I have a smoking hot wife, and I am sitting next to her on the couch, and the only thing I can think to do is escape to my male friend’s house (and lie in order to do so) to sit around with other dudes and watch television and drink beer. Who are they targeting with these commercials? I can think of literally dozens of things to do, immediately, without even leaving the couch. But no, instead of doing any of those, or the many, many more that could occur all over that room, let alone the house (all of which are far more enticing than sitting around drinking with a room full of morons) you’re going to lie to your wife, go and buy shitty beer, and run to drink with your similarly-minded moron friends … and do whatever else it is they do, which also might involve venting of some type. Gay much?

This, of course, doesn’t even begin to address the actual relational dynamic between a man and a woman who choose to marry. You would think that there would be some much deeper connection, some commonality, and, oh, I don’t know, maybe even enjoyment in simply being together? Any time I see commercials that espouse these views (and I struggle not to use emotionally-laden words to describe said views), no matter how subtly, I get very angry and frustrated. These messages are seen and felt by generations of kids, and shape their behavior and perception of the world.

Nightline Reflections

Caught a bit on Nightline a while back, which is a rarity. I am well-acquainted with the FAIR report on Nightline regarding the demographics of guests, and the narrowness of messages disseminated, and it is interesting to see what they’re selling. I had little patience beyond watching the first vignette: A story on the economic downturn and its effect on Las Vegas, told from the perspective of the Casino owners, real estate agents, and the Mayor. Not a single reference to gambling as an addiction. No stories about the families losing their homes to foreclosure. Not much mention of the enormous profits garnered by gambling operations. The owners of the casinos, one of whom also just built a tower of condominiums, are presented as victims. An owner of a smaller casino actually stated (paraphrased) “the people who used to come in here with 50 dollars maybe come in with 25 now.” What was left unsaid: We get 25 bucks out of the poor schmucks from whom we used to get 50. Ridiculous. Nightline: hard-hitting journalism, done the American Way.

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