Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm not paying to learn reverse cowgirl!

At work yesterday, this polygamous family - a guy with two wives - came in. The husband and Big Wife looked like they were in their late 30's or early 40's and they had thick Southern accents; Little Wife looked in her late 20's and she was very meek. They all browsed around a bit, then Little Wife picked out a magazine she wanted. Keep in mind that about three other customers were browsing around the store, too, while this happened.

Big Wife grabbed the magazine out of her hand, looked at it and started waving it around while yelling "A running magazine?! This is so stupid! You would want a running magazine! What articles do they have in this piece of junk...'Running to Happy?' What are you gonna do, run your way to happy?! That's why you want this, isn't it? This is so stupid!" Husband stepped in and quietly added it to his pile of magazines.

Big Wife had not picked out anything yet, so she yelled at them "I'm going to look in the erotica section!" Oh Jesus Christ, really? She looked around in there, then came back to the other two and yelled at them, "I'm not gonna pay to learn reverse cowgirl!" Husband politely asked "really?" And she angrily yelled back at him "I could teach you for free!"

And then they left, leaving the few other customers and I in shock.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Closing Scope of Masculinity

Imagine a man with a sleek mustache, a boater with a ribbon, a pink ascot, and a cream, well-tailored, three piece suit. A hipster seeking a classy sugar daddy, right? Nope! Up until WWII, our dapper friend here was the height of masculinity! You may not believe it but, in the early 1900's, pink was a very masculine color.

Unless you were alive at the time (I tip my boater to you if you were), check up some gif.s and YouTube videos of The Beatles early in their career. Watch A Hard Day's Night. Pretty gay, right? Nope! That was masculine fifty years ago. Granted, this is Europe we're dealing with but I think we can let that slide.

Masculinity has gone through drastic changes in a relatively short amount of time, these examples are only an obvious few. Pat Boone, Mike Douglas, Bill Shirley and other suave singers in the 50's had no cause to doubt their manhood; but a man who sings about dreams and his heart flying with joy today just sounds fruity. Not only have the social standards for masculinity changed, but the scope of it has changed over time as well.

Mark Hamil has noted that, in thirty years' time, his action figures have gained at least fifty pounds in muscle. As the Y chromosome shrinks, so shrinks standards for masculinity. It's become a competition of manhood, with more and more men's archetypes falling into girly territory. When an individual man asserts his machismo to the point of emasculating others, it's pretty obvious that he's insecure in his own manhood. On such a cultural scale, though, could insecurity alone have brought about the closing gates of masculinity?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Actively Ex-Catholic

My upbringing was very Catholic. The clergy, faculty, administration and volunteering parents all regretted Vatican II, they were that conservative. They also tolerated and even encouraged the bullying and abuse that happened to me. I allowed all that to happen for so long because, firstly, I didn't know that anything else existed and, secondly, I thought that that's what God/Jesus/Mary/etc. wanted.

Then I went through a rebellious phase in which I hated all Christianity. This is very common as the atheist population grows (at least amongst the middle-and-higher classes). I never blamed God for everything that happened, to me, though; I just changed my concept of God. There's the argument, commonly used by militant atheists, that God can only be two out of these three qualities: omnipotent, all-good, omniscient. Ignoring the subjective meaning of "good," this argument excludes another quality: active.

My relationship with an inactive God ("God" just being the Western term for an unknowable, ultimate being/force/essence. Tao comes close to my concept) is separate from my relationship with Catholicism. There are still many questions I want answered about the terrors of my childhood. I continue to study Catholicism not only to uncover more answers, but also to find peace with Catholicism. It's highly unlikely that I'll ever "be" Catholic again, but being mad at it is a waste.

Catholicism has been successful for centuries for a very good reason: symbols, rituals and hierarchies are emotionally appealing in a chaotic environment. Many "nonbelievers" (future blog to come on belief) attend mass regularly because it can be a calming weekly ritual and it's pretty. I admit that, when I'm having a crazy week, the idea of attending a peaceful mass with my family sounds like a nice escape where I won't have to think. And it would help heal some old wounds.

It is possible, and maybe even healthy, for an ex-Catholic to find harmony with Catholicism. It's as big a character in my past as my parents; I've made peace in my relationship with the absence of my father, Catholicism is next.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NO RESPECT for watering cans!

This morning, I was at the Belmont red/brown/purple line station, waiting for the bus to work. About five or six people were standing around, waiting for the bus. This guy with a watering can came up and announced "I got dibs on second place in line, ok? This watering can will hold my spot in line, ok?" We all just stared at him as he went into the station to make an angry phone call. Someone said "he must not be from Chicago..." I agree, this guy was definitely a tourist.

About five minutes later, the bus showed up a block down and the watering can guy was still inside the station on his phone. I went in and told him the bus was coming, he nodded but kept yelling into his phone. The bus pulled up and we all got on. He ran out and yelled at us, waving around his watering can, "Hey I got dibs! I'm second in line! DOESN'T ANYBODY HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR ANY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS ANYMORE?!?!?" Rofl wtf?!? I asked him where he's from, Lake Forest? He insisted that this bus-line holding was a Chicago tradition and that he had dibs. We all laughed at him and he didn't get on the bus, still clinging his watering can.




Friday, January 7, 2011

Changing Church

The Cardinals and others who appointed Ratzinger to be Pope did so in hopes that he would return the Catholic Church to a more conservative, insular status. Pope John Paul was, for Catholicism, very liberal and he made the Church more "worldly" as a way of genuinely helping more people of more backgrounds. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, is just the opposite and has a strong background of being a dick. However, though he has made it his mission to de-secularize the Catholic community, he has made some small but rather drastic changes:

1) He forgave the Beatles for saying that they were bigger than Jesus. When John Lennon said that, he was saying that they were more popular than Jesus and, according to the thousands of people who thought that the Beatles could HEAL them, he was right. When Pope Benedict forgave the Beatles, while replacing Pope John Paul's "modern" music (Christian rock) with traditional Gregorian chanting, he took a large step into the mundane and secular world. Ringo Starr aptly pointed out that the Vatican has more important things to worry about.

2) The Church, for the past century, has been adamantly opposed to artificial birth control. Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great; if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. It's a good little Catholic's mission to breed as many Catholics as possible and birth control impedes that. And because the Church is opposed to homosexuality, gay people shouldn't even be doing anything that would require birth control anyway. Pope Benedict, however, recently declared that birth control should be used as a safety measure in certain circumstances as long as it wouldn't prevent pregnancy. A gay prostitute should use a condom to protect himself from AIDS! Whoa!

3) Pope Benedict has now theorized that God was behind the Big Bang. This isn't a new concept, but it's a big deal for a Pope to concede that the science of how the universe came into being could be correct if God is behind it. Catholicism and science have never really gotten along, so this is another issue of Pope Benedict bridging the gap between the Church and the secular world.

The Church has been, for centuries, incredibly slow to change. Vatican II was uncharacteristic, to say the least, and took a monumental effort. In fact, the changes of Vatican II weren't as important as the fact that the Church admitted that it needed to change! That admittance was unprecedented in the oldest social organization existing today. Many people, clergy and lay and non-Catholic, have opined that a Vatican III should take place - especially considering the sex scandals. That's incredibly unlikely, even just considering how slowly the Church processes anything.

Pope Benedict's few changes, however, especially made by someone who was such a stalwart of Catholic elitism for so long, imply that more is going on within the Church than we know. If the hierarchy thought that they were desperate for new members in the 90's (see Sister Act 1 & 2), they must be flogging themselves now just to keep who they have. The sex scandals are turning away everyone except for the people who are too poor to have anything but the Church. The Pope's changes may seem trite to us, but they're drastic cries for help by the Church.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's been a month, I know

I'm at home, sick, and honestly can't shake a good blog out of my brain.

In the past month, though, I've given up on labels. Fuck 'em.