When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!

Billy Jack 3:16

I remember seeing a commerical on TV for Billy Jack when I was bout eight years old. Even at that early age, the ad seemed a little bizarre. In it, the voicever gushed “Billy Jack has something special. Something that has to be seen to be understood.” It was an odd choice of words to accompany scenes of a guy in a funny hat kicking rednecks in the face.

Needless to say, the movie was a big hit among the kids in my elementary school, even with the ones whose parents wouldn’t let go see it (including mine). Like most chilren, we weren’t terribly interested in the film’s message of tolerance but for half a year the instances of playground face kicking went straight through the roof.

Years later, I got to understand that “something special” when I saw Billy Jack on cable. I can’t say that it is a great movie (nor good, nor even mediocre for that matter) but it did have an unmistakable appeal. The movie is a guilty pleasure much like Road House but without any 80s stench about it. Billy Jack may not have any fancy philosophy degree like Patrick Swayze’s character but he has both Native American ancestry and a Vietnam tour of duty under his belt. These qualities apparently gave him both great wisdom and excellent face-kicking ability.

As you’ve probably figured out, the face-kicking theme is one that has resonated with me. Perhaps this is because the movie speaks to the Billy Jack within all of us and what it says is this: We all need to kick a lot of faces because hippies can’t do it for themselves.

No Bad Blood Between Us

Last week, Betty and I met at the Mission Neighborhood Health center so we could each be tested for HIV. She had been tested in March so I doubt she was all that worried. It had been a bit longer for me, 1987 if memory serves.

She had gotten there a little before me and was already getting tested by the time I got arrived. Forutnately, there wasn’t too much of a line so I only had to wait about 15 minutes before going in. The woman who greeted me and led me back to a room to test me was nice and friendly, earnest enough to make me feel comfortable that she took her job seriously but not so much as to make me want to strangle her.

She asked me a few questions about my sexual history (which I answered with a minimum of winking and giggling) and also let me know that if the test came up positive, the clinic is required to inform the CDC. She told me this just before asking me for my name in case I might want to get creative about my identity. I suppose it might have been fun have me on file as “Otto Braunschauer” or some other silliness but since I was feeling like such a solid citizen for even getting tested, I decided to stick with my own name.

A week later we showed up again to get our results, this time from a man who was deadly serious in his demeanor. I could see why. A big part of his job description is telling people things that no one wants to hear. Still, it might have been nice to get some inkling that I tested negative before leading me down the corridor into one of the examination rooms. On the other hand, he has probably had to deal with jackasses cutting and running as soon as they got the good news before he could ask the requisite last few questions.

I’m glad I don’t have his job. I’m even gladder I don’t have HIV. Neither does Betty so it’s happy times all around.

Mars Needs Women

I should be spending my time re-reading the next pulp slated for review, thinking up clever things to say. Instead, I spent way too much time installing and monitoring SETI@home on my new laptop. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, SETI@home is this deal where people volunteer to have their computers number crunch radiation-level data from the cosmos to see if they can find extraterrestrial communications.

Granted, this is a long shot but the odds are better than driving down to Roswell, assuming the position, and waiting for the aliens to land so they can give you an anal probe.

OK, so installing and running the program has nerd appeal but why I spent any time monitoring it is beyond me. When I turn on the neato graphics display, the numbers whiz by way to fast for me to read any of it. And of course, there’s the small problem of my not having any clue what it all means even if I could.