Gray Doubt

The specter of old age is beginning to show up on my mental radar, which is strange for me. I’ve always been less ant than grasshopper (or perhaps locust) in the way I’ve led my life and my net worth shows it. So far, I’ve avoided having to worry about how to finance my retirement years by indulging in unhealthy vices. My logic was that people tend not to care about what Medicare will or won’t cover if they’ve been dead for twenty years.

As luck would have it, I’m descended from hardy peasant stock and at 44, am far healthier than I deserve to be. Unless I do something proactive like a swan dive off the Golden Gate bridge, I run a better than average chance of achieving geezerdom.

My pal Betty, being a financial journalist and therefore more adept at seeing the writing on the wall, has her bases covered. Her retirement plan will ensure that she can enjoy her dotage with all the pleasures the future will bring, including jet-powered walkers, organ replacements on demand (thanks, China!), virtual-reality pool boys, and the latest in deodorant technology to stave off that old-people smell.

And let’s not forget the medical bills. Living longer does have its drawbacks: broken hips, incontinence, cancer of the everything. Betty told me that no more than a few percent will be financially able to handle the expense on their own.

So what’s going to happen to the rest of us in my age bracket thirty years down the road? Or more to the point, what’s going to happen to me? God knows. At least I don’t have to worry about a revival of the old Eskimo tradition of setting wrinkly folk adrift on ice floes. Global warming will have melted them all by then.

Nowhere Near Godliness

I finally broke down and spent my hard-earned money to have someone do what I am apparently incapable of doing myself: cleaning my apartment. I love how my place looks. Betty loves how my place looks. My cat is less enthusiastic. She hasn’t seen the place in its current condition for quite some time and it must seem barren to her.

I’m not quite crazy enough to ask my cat’s permission to hire a cleaner but it would be nice if she had some opportunity to speak her mind after the fact. Unfortunately, my cat (like most) is incapable of uttering anything more intelligible than a plaintive meow, which could mean anything from “I have fleas” to “I have cancer.”

Because of this, I have decided to channel Dr. Seuss on her behalf.

I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

I like the stains from vomit spewed
I like the fridge with year-old food
I like the dishes in the sink
I like that lovely bathroom stink
I like the bread crust hard as rock
I like that crumpled spooged-in sock
I like the drain that’s clogged with hair
I like the trash strewn everywhere

But I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

Dreaming Is Free

Often though, you get what you pay for. Last night, I dreamt about and old punk-rock singer friend, whom I’ll call “Ray.” I haven’t seen him in over fifteen years and I hope he’s doing well. Other than his affinity for binge drinking, drug abuse, and domestic violence, he was a nice enough sort.

In the dream, he wasn’t so nice. He shot a good friend of mine in the head while in a chemically induced psychosis. The victim wasn’t anyone in particular, more a composite of people I’ve known over the years. Anyway, Dream Dave got a little peeved at Dream Ray over this and called 911 to rat him out to the cops.

By the time the police arrived, he had sobered up and all he said to me was, “Hi Dave, it’s been a while. You’ve put on weight.”

He apparently saved the last bullet for my ego.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

First off, I believe apologies are in order. I haven’t blogged in nearly two months and it’s been even longer since I’ve written a review. Friends have griped at me about this via email. They were snide. They were sarcastic. They were right.

I suppose I could defend my sloth by stating that my time has been filled with changing jobs, taking the first steps toward buying a home, and exploring new depths of depravity with Betty. For the most part, that would be pretty accurate. But like a serial killer’s history of child abuse, such data points explain a lot but excuse nothing.

To make matters worse, there is a new time sink that has me in its grip, World of Warcraft. I’ve always been a junkie for escapist fantasy, going back to my teenage years when I used to play D&D with kindred spirits (“kindred spirits” in this case means other pimple-faced youths with unwashed hair who weren’t getting any). As years passed, I have explored many escapist pursuits but Warcraft has turned out to be much cheaper and won’t show up in my urine.

Part of the game’s appeal is that you get to kill. Of course, this applies to most games. The one exception I can think of is “The Sims” but even then, I managed to turn my virtual home into a house of murder by removing the doors from a corridor and waiting for the guests trapped inside to starve to death. “Look,” I would say to my then wife. “She cries and wets herself just like a real abducted child.”

She was as little impressed with my comment as when I showed her the house’s trophy room filled with the urns of the departed, but I digress.

With Warcraft, the first step is to create a character. You get a number of menu options for the person’s appearance and if you’re creating one who is both male and human, chances are good you’ll end up with someone who resembles Ted Nugent.

This works well for getting you in the proper mindset for game play. The game starts you off in a place of great natural beauty, not unlike the Yosemite Valley. The difference is that in Warcraft, people are running around slaughtering the wildlife wholesale.

Young wolves (i.e. puppies) are the standard first targets for your fledgling sociopath. There are also Kobold Vermin who lumber around like special-needs children and only put up a feeble resistance as you cut them down and loot their bodies for one or two pieces of copper. If you don’t care about earning experience points and are a purist when it comes to defenseless prey, there are plenty of rabbits to kill. If your character is a paladin, you get to smash them with a hammer.

As the game progresses, the beasties get tougher and will attack unprovoked. I suppose that’s all for the best. For most of us, training a magnifying glass on an anthill is only fun for so long.

WWBJD

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.

No, I’m Not Dead

I was supposed to have another review written by now and for that, I apologize. My only excuse is that I’ve been setting up my new MacBook so I can update this site someplace other than work or at home. If any SF locals can suggest any bars or cafes in or around the Mission that have free Wi-Fi, please chime in.

Thanks.

It’s Their Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To

“Some are into leather
And some write poetry
They make love together
Just to fuel my fantasy “

Sloppy Seconds, “Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?”

Indeed.

There’s a big kickoff party at Dolores Park tomorrow at three. I won’t be there. There’s a lot of identity politics in the air these days, due in no small part by the current administration and their followers who believe that Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered folks needed to be herded back into the closet and perhaps quietly exterminated. Except, of course, for lesbians who can be forcably converted and sold as chattel. In light of the current mood, the likes of me wandering about the park leering would elicit sneering disdain if not open hostility.

It hardly matters that I’m not the enemy. Sure I’m a pig and all but an open-minded one. Unfortunately, I share the oppressor’s demographic.

My friend Betty will be there and hunting for young lovelies, no doubt with all the subtlety of a rutting boar. At one point, she suggested I could tag along if I could pass myself off as gay. All I need to do this is to have shorter hair, a gym-toned body, and at least a minimum sense of style. She and I quickly came to the conclusion that I’d be doomed from the get go.

I do however have an alternate plan. I’ve been invited to a BBQ where I can compensate for my lack of gawking privileges by filling my gut with red meat and beer.

I may check out the actual march later on, standing politely curbside and trying to forget that I have been and will be missing out on the real fun. Still, this isn’t about me. It’s about women being proud of who they are and their love for one another. I think that’s beautiful, especially if I can get Betty to show me some pics.