Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lefty's Christmas

Yes, I also write children's stories.

This is a fun story to read at your Christmas party, especially if you have a lot of kids there. What you do is form a large circle or a couple smaller ones (depending on how many people you have) and you pass a small prize/gift of some sort around the circle (like some candy or a gift certificate or whatever). One person reads the story and every time you hear a 'right' you pass the prize one person to the right. Every time you hear a 'left' you pass it one person to the left. You also pass the prize when you hear words like "write" and "all right". The reader reads through the whole story and the person who ends up with the prize gets to keep it.

Lefty's Christmas
by Matt Burns

It was the night before Christmas and I was giddy as anything because Santa Claus was coming and I had asked for some really cool presents. I was particularly hoping to find a left-y pair of scissors in my stocking because I was left-handed and all I could find in the stores these days was things for right-handed people. I was convinced that the stores had all decided they didn’t like left-handed people and that made me feel very sad because, hey, I write with my left hand and I’m down-right proud of it, OK?

The clock struck ten and I realized it was probably time for me to get right into bed because it would be really bad if Santa came down the chimney and found me right there on the couch. He might get angry and not give me my left-handed pair of scissors. Maybe he’d be so furious that he’d actually have the nerve to give me a right-handed pair of scissors instead. No, I definitely didn’t want that to happen, so I figured I better get right to bed...and fast. But, first, I figured I better write Santa a quick note, reminding him that I am not a right-handed man, just in case he mistook me with another person somewhere out there who asked for a new pair of right-handed scissors. I also figured I’d tell him to go right ahead and help himself to some cookies in the kitchen that are located in the cabinet to the right of the refrigerator. Oh, and I’d also inform him that the milk was on the right side of the refrigerator, but give it a whiff first, as I may or may not have left it out for a about five hours straight earlier that day and it may have turned sour. Whoops.

So I went to write a quick note on a piece of paper, but I realized I had left the Christmas lights on and it wasn’t right to do that because the tree could catch fire and my Christmas would be ruined. So I went and shut the lights off and then finally went to write the note and then I had a glass of water and then I retired to my bed.

As you might expect, I didn’t fall right asleep because I was just so excited over the thought of waking up in the morning and finally owning my own pair of left-handed scissors. Oh, the thought of finally holding a left-handed pair of scissors in my left hand and cutting through all sorts of paper with my left was a thought that made my heart race with excitement.

After what seemed live ever, I fell into a deep sleep and dreamt about a world where left-handed people outnumbered right-handed people. Finally, the left-handed people could be left alone to appreciate the fact that God had made them left-handed. And the right-handed people could - for once - experience how it felt to be the oddballs of society. My dream then evolved into a scene where I made fun of the right-handed people. I knew this wasn’t right, but it made me feel good - after all these years of being ridiculed - to give these right handed people a taste of their own medicine.

Right before I was about to have another one of these awesome dreams I was suddenly awoken by a loud scream coming from somewhere in the right wing of my house.

“Oh the humanity! He left the fireplace roaring! Aaaaaaahhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhh! Oh!”

I jumped right out of bed, ran right down the hallway and realized the noises were coming from the living room where I turned on the light and couldn’t believe what I saw:
It was Santa Claus, hopping around the living room, nursing his right leg in pain.
“Santa Claus!” I shouted. “Are you all right?”

“Does it look like I’m all right? You left the fireplace roaring and it burned my foot!”

Oh no. He was right. I HAD left the fireplace running. How stupid of me!

“I’m so sorry, Santa!” I shouted. “I completely forgot about the fireplace. I should’ve put the fire out but I was just so excited about you coming, I must have forgot!”

“Just fetch me some water, will you?” shouted Santa.

“Yes, right away, Sir!”

I made a quick right out of the living room and another right into the kitchen, grabbed a mop bucket from the right cabinet beneath the sink and filled it with some water. Then I ran right back into the living room:

“Here’s the water!”

“Ouch!” yelled Santa. Pour it on my right boot!”

I did what he told me to do, and the boot steamed uncontrollably.

“Oh, that’s better. That’s better,” he said as he took a seat on the couch to rest.

“Again, I’m so sorry, Santa.”

“Oh that’s all right.”

“Where does it hurt?”“

“My right foot. It’s probably got third-degree burns.”

“Your right foot?”

“That’s right.”

“I thought your boots were fire-resistant.”

“Oh, they used to be. But the economy’s been hitting us hard in the North Pole. I had to go with a cheaper pair of boots this year. They don’t protect me against fire.”

“That’s terrible. It’s all my fault!”

“Yeah, it probably is. There’s no way I can deliver what’s left of the presents tonight with my right foot in the shape it is.”

“Does this mean I’m not going to get my left-handed pair of scissors?”

“You’ll be lucky if you get a right-handed pair of scissors,” said Santa. “You’ve been a naughty boy, leaving the fireplace roaring like that.”

“Well, how can I make this wrong a right?”

“I’m afraid there’s no way to make the wrong a right. Unless...”

“Please tell me, dearest Santa.”

“Unless you deliver what’s left of the presents...yourself.”

“You Santa Claus...for the night?”

“I’m afraid it’s the only way.”

“Tell me Santa...If I do this for you...will I get my left-handed pair of scissors?”

“Yes, my son....I’ll probably throw in some left-y golf clubs and maybe a left-y hockey stick as well.”

“Really? You’d do that?”

“If you save Christmas for me I will give you all the left-handed products I can possibly think of.”

“All right! Awesome!” I exclaimed.

So I gave Santa a bathrobe that he could change into so I could put on his Santa suit and, within minutes, I found myself on the roof to my house, right in the back of Santa’s sleigh, holding the reins to his reindeer.

“Who are you?" shouted Rudolph from the front of the pack.

“Sorry fellas...Santa hurt his right foot in the fireplace and he left me to finish the job of delivering the presents to all the boys and girls around the world.”

“I don’t like the sound of this,” said Donner. “This doesn’t feel right at all!”

“Listen Donner, don’t give me any sass! I need your full cooperation tonight because I’ll be darned if I’m going to come home tomorrow and not have my own personal pair of left-handed scissors.”

“What do you mean?”

“Santa said the only way he would give me my own personal pair of left-handed scissors was if I made the wrong I did him a right. So I’m going to deliver all the presents tonight. All right? Sound good?”

“Whatever you say...I just want the children to be happy. That’s all.”

“Well, they will be, Donner. Nobody will be left without a present tomorrow morning if you follow my orders and play by my rules. OK?


“All right now. On Donner! On Blitzen! On Rudolph! On whatever your name is up there! Make a quick right off my roof and then go right and then take another right and then take a right out of my street and then take a left at the train bridge and then a right at the Deli and then a right and then another right and I think a quick right will get you to the Atlantic Ocean and what do you say we start our journey in London, shall we?”

Right away, Santa!”

Needless to say, I was rather excited. I had never been to London before and I thought maybe they’d have more left-handed people there than in America. After all, Europeans drive on the left side of the road, so it appears as though the people there generally prefer left to right. Yes, it felt like Europe was the best place to start the night. It just felt right.

Although I was a bit rusty at first, I handled the sleigh rather well and we got to London in no time. I delivered a bunch of presents to all the little girls and boys and everybody was left happy the next morning. All right, I have to admit (and please don’t tell Santa) that I refused to deliver any right-handed pairs of scissors to the children who asked for them. These were naughty little children who more than likely made fun of left-handed children on a regular basis and they didn’t deserve to receive any presents, anyway.

But, yes, to make a long story short, all the presents were delivered on time and the next morning I was delighted to find a pair of left-handed scissors in my stocking. Finally I could start cutting up loads and loads of paper with my left-hand! Thanks, Santa! Right on!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Burns' Statement on Tiger Woods

Since everybody else seems to be talking in statements these days, I guess I will too:

"I guess when a person like Tiger Woods is paid millions of dollars by a company to be a positive role model and sell products he is basically selling away his privacy. Consumers have a right to know that the spokesman for Nike or Gillette is a scumbag in his 'private life' because we buy these products with the thought in mind that Woods is somebody we look up to and whose opinion we trust. If we're denied information about the 'transgressions' in his private life, it's like false advertising."

-- Matt Burns

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Regrettable Night at the Boston View Motel

Over the past few years or so I have shared many fascinating stories via blogging...stories of how I once made out with a woman almost old enough to be my grandmother and stories of how I once urinated dark-red blood and thought I was going to die...and stories of how I once barged in on a grown man dropping heat in a Starbucks bathroom (he failed to say 'I'm in here!' when I knocked)...and stories of how I was once convinced I had gonorrhea for a hellish period of three months but never did. Wait a minute...I never wrote about that latter story. Forget I ever said anything about that. It never happened. Well, yes it did, but I never got an STD test in the ER that involved getting a long Q-tip-type device jammed down my snake eye. All right, that happened as well, but I never got a thorough butt exam immediately after getting the STD exam for a reason I'm still trying to figure out, as it had nothing to do with the symptoms I was experiencing. I'm also trying to figure out why the "doctor" who did it wasn't dressed like a doctor. Come to think of it, he was dressed more like a custodian, and his name tag said "Chester"....

By the way, I'm clean.

Anyway, after the events of this past weekend, I have another story to add to the list: how I got drunk at a dive bar and ended up at the forty-dollar-per-night motel next door with a forty-year-old crippled woman desperate for sex. Yes, this is a good one, so pull up a seat and enjoy.

It was Saturday night and I started the evening off with a forty-ounce bottle of Mickey's, which is a Malt Liquor that has the tendency to mess me up something nasty. I met up with some friends in the "man-den", which is a term for my friend Russ' bachelor-pad basement that has everything from a beer fridge to four different video game consuls (PS2, Xbox, Nintendo 64 and Nintendo Game Cube). We drank, we laughed, I played a little PS2, and - after an hour or so - we headed out to the local dive bar: a place called Clyde's.

Clyde's is a claustrophobic little joint that usually gets uncomfortably crowded, but is a good place to go if you're looking for a mean between the "clubby scene" (i.e. hambone tool-bags and dance floors with dry humping), and the young professional scene (i.e. "classy" girls who you never have a chance with because they're looking for Johnny Professional who makes a secure living in the financial district, those friggin' skanks). Yes, at Clyde's you can get a beer, smoke a cigarette, not be judged, listen to some non-clubby tunes and maybe talk to a cute girl or two who isn't looking for the next Johnny Wall Street, those friggin' skanks.

Anyway, I arrived at Clyde's with two of my friends (Russ and Andy), already with a good, solid buzz in my system due to the Mickey's. I then proceeded to buy a beer. And another beer. And then another beer. Pretty soon, I was feeling mighty fine. And it was at around this point that a lady hobbled into the bar with a cane and - for some reason - immediately gravitated towards me.

"You look like you know how to party."

"You know it," I said, kidding around, and also incredibly stewed.

The lady wore a Patriots shirt and had whitish hair, palish skin, very red lipstick and smelled like a cheap deodorizer - kind of like what you would find in Kitty Litter - and it made my nose itch a bit. To be truthful, there could have been a urine-type scent mixed in there as well (maybe cat pee), but I don't want to elaborate on that too much, because I'm trying to be nice to this poor crippled woman.

"I have three hundred dollars and I'm looking to party," she said.

"What do you mean? You want drugs?"

"Well...drugs...and something else...."

I immediately told her that I couldn't help her out with the drugs, because I thought she may have been a cop or working for the cops or something along those lines (not to mention the fact that I don't do drugs and don't know where to get anything drug-related). She then proceeded to tell me how she used to be a mason and fell three stories off a building and has had several surgeries and is in an incredible amount of pain and needs something strong to take the edge off. I suggested she try extra-strength Tylenol or something like Advil with an anti-inflammatory, but she said she tried all that shit and it doesn't help her in the least.

My memory of our conversation from this point forward is a little hazy, what with the alcohol and everything. I know that more words were exchanged and more beers were sipped and she may have rubbed up against me a few times and then, at some point, she started telling me how her husband had died four years ago and that I reminded her of him and that "it's been so long" [since she's gotten laid].

"I'm staying at the motel next door. I have two condoms," she whispered to me.

Now, of course, if I was sober, my brain would have immediately registered the fact that this was an incredibly bad idea (well, I'm pretty sure it would have). But I wasn't sober. I was rather trashed and pretty much part-retarded. Drinking not only gives me the most amazing pair of beer goggles in the history of beer goggles, but it also makes me incredibly horny. Like, REALLY horny. Unnaturally horny. Probably no less horny than a man on Meth (from what I understand, Meth makes you want to hump anything in your path and take no prisoners).

So, instead of saying "I'm not interested" to this lonely woman whose husband allegedly died four years ago, I said...

"Um...I don't know...."

"Come on, it's been so long," she pleaded with me.

To be truthful, I'm not really sure what kind of thoughts were going through my mind. On one hand, I felt bad for this woman and wanted to do a Good-Samaritan-type-thing, go back to her motel, give her some company and try to make her less lonely. But, to be truthful, I think I was seriously contemplating having sex with her. Again, I was drunk, and when I'm drunk, my brain is located between my legs.

"I'm with my friends," I said.

"Well, bring them over. I have a box of wine and we can all party."

'OK, no harm in that', I figured to myself. 'Sure, we'll go over and party and hopefully give this poor woman a good time. And as far as anything sex-related goes, maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. I'm not gonna say it will. I'm not gonna say it won't.'

So, to make a long story short...I ended up going back to the motel with her, even though my friends advised strongly against me doing so. In fact, they had absolutely no desire to go over there for a drink. They wanted no part of this charade. So I told them to chill at the bar and I'd be back in a couple minutes. And, again, I'm not really sure what was going through my head. Maybe I DID want to have sex with her. Or maybe I simply just felt bad for her and wanted to give her some company...for a short while. Maybe a combination of the two.

Whatever it was, I know I definitely ended up in the "Boston View Motel" a few minutes later, which charges forty dollars a night for a room that smells like about thirty years worth of stale cigarette smoke and rotten sex. The motel derived its name from the fact that - on a clear day - you can see the tips of the Hancock and Prudential building in the far distance, as it is located on somewhat of a high hill. Not really much of a "Boston View", but technically, the name doesn't lie.

The crippled woman's room was accessible from the back of the motel, which was probably a good thing, just in case anybody I knew saw me walk into a place notorious for cheap prostitution and shady drug deals. With my kind of luck, one of my neighbors or aunts or uncles or grandmothers would randomly decide to go for a midnight stroll in their car, pass the Boston View, and catch a glimpse of me escorting a crippled woman into her motel room. That wouldn't have looked good at all. No way.

Before we entered her room, I helped the cripple hold her cane while she put her cigarette out on the pavement, intending to save the rest for later. She then took her keys out of her pocket and unlocked the door, which - she informed me - was directly across the hall from a family (with kids) who were paying $250 a week to live at the motel indefinitely. Maybe their house had been foreclosed and they were homeless. Such a thought depressed me. Crazy economy we're living in. Insane times.

The cripple creaked the door to her room open and the first thing I noticed as I walked into the place was that the television was already on and that there were a shitload of pain-killers everywhere I looked, especially on the night stand beside the bed. There were also cardboard boxes filled with clothes, a Pringles potato chip canister or two, and what looked like a brace for her leg. This poor woman had certainly seen better days.

"Make yourself at home," said the cripple. "I need to go to the bathroom."


I sat at the foot of the bed while the cripple went to the bathroom and I pretended to watch the TV, but I don't remember a damn thing of what I was watching because my mind was racing with all sorts of thoughts. Whether this was all a big set up. Whether there was a boyfriend in the bathroom ready to jack my ass. Or a cop ready to arrest my ass (for no valid reason, but he'd probably come up with one). Whether I should actually have sex with this woman. Whether she was tainted with STDs. Whether I could catch crabs from just being inside the Boston View Motel. Whether I would get the cripple pregnant and have to explain the situation to my parents. Whether I should just run out of there as fast as I could.

But, then, my phone rang.

"Dude, bail!"

It was my friend Russ.

"This is not a good idea at all."

'Maybe he was right,' I thought, and for a quick moment I thought about leaving right then and there while the cripple was in the bathroom.

"I'll leave in a second," I said and then I hung up the phone.

At this point, the cripple came out of the bathroom, sat in a chair across from me and then proceeded to take her pants off.

"Is this OK?" she asked.


She removed her pants, only to reveal a really bruised set of legs and a bunch of scars from where she had her surgeries.

"See...look at this. And then here..."

She showed me each and every one of her scars, maybe to get sympathy, but it really just resulted in turning me off from her completely.

At this point, my phone rang again. I answered it while the cripple hopped out of her chair and scooted back into the bathroom.

"Dude what the HELL are you doing?!"

It was my friend Andy.

"Get the fuck out of there!"

"All right, I'll be out in a second," I assured him, not knowing whether I was actually telling the truth. I'm not sure why I wanted to stay. Maybe because, if I left, I knew the woman would feel like shit. The best thing to do, I figured, was to wait for her to come back out of the bathroom and then I would politely tell her that I had to go. 'Yes, that's the best way to handle this.'

So the cripple came back out of the bathroom and I stood up from the bed, took a deep breath and began to tell her I had to split...but before the words could come out, she handed me a box of (what turned out to be) Durex-brand condoms!

"It's been so long," she reiterated.

I analyzed the box and noticed that the condoms had 'vibrating rings', which is a feature I've never been privileged enough to experience. I also noticed that it was a five-pack with only two left inside. 'Where did the other three go?' I wondered. Either she was lying to me about not having sex for four years or she's had the condoms since her husband died, which - I believe - would mean they had expired long ago. Suddenly, I really wasn't feeling so good about the situation I was in.

The cripple hopped into the bed - still wearing just her underwear with a long, black T-shirt - and slid beneath the sheets. All I can remember doing is standing at the foot of the bed, staring at the box of condoms, feeling part-retarded and not really knowing what to do.

But, then, my phone rang again.

"Dude! What the fuck!"

"Who is it?" asked the cripple, who could hear the shouts coming out of the phone.

"It' friends. They want me to go now."

"Let me talk to him!"

She snatched the phone out of my hand, asked who she was talking to, said she "was the owner of the household!" - whatever that meant, said something else, and maybe another thing...but the next thing I remember happening is hearing a really loud BANG! BANG! BANG! on the door.

"Jesus!" said the cripple and went to answer the door.

She opened the door and there was Andy.

"He's coming with us," he said, pointing at me.

"No, he's staying right here."

"No, he's coming with us."

"Get out of my home!" yelled the cripple and proceeded to slam the door shut, but Andy stuck his foot in the door to prevent her from doing so.

"I'm calling the cops!" she yelled.

"Yeah right you're gonna call the cops. You probably got all sorts of drugs in here."

It was at this point that I knew the situation was going very sideways and that it was only going to get uglier if I stayed. I basically meant well by "hanging out" with the cripple, but now I needed to go.

"All right, I better go," I told the cripple. "I'm very, very sorry about this. It was very nice meeting you."

More words were exchanged between Andy and the cripple, and they weren't friendly ones. All I remember are the last three things that were said:

"Next time I see you I'm going to stab you," said Andy.

"I know people who will have you killed!" yelled the cripple.

"Bring it!!!"

And that was that. We left the motel and went to get late-night bagel sandwiches at Dunkin' Donuts.

But, yes, what a disaster the evening turned out to be, and all because I was drunk and basically part-retarded. I probably never should have gone back to the motel, even to be nice. Everything turned to shit, and that woman's life is probably more miserable now after my attempt to make it less miserable. I don't feel very good about myself.

The bottom line, I think, is that you can't win with booze. You really can't. Alcohol turns me into a person I don't like and feel ashamed about when I wake up the next day. It brings out a Hyde-like personality, not that I get belligerent, but - in many ways - I get very sloppy and make bad decisions that end up doing harm to either myself or others.

In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that a woman said she "heard stories about me" and that "you're a pig, Matt Burns!" I think the "stories" she heard mainly involved an innocent make-out session with some girl in an atypical place, but let me tell you something: I never thought the words 'pig' and 'Matt Burns' would ever be used in the same sentence together. Being called a 'pig' by that woman flabbergasted the hell out of me, because I always saw myself (and was perceived by others as) a 'good' man. I mean, I did well in school and went to a decent college and took CCD classes to learn about Jesus and volunteered at a Mental Hospital and all that shit. Deep down I'm really NOT a pig (I think), but I guess, when I drink, I do display piggish behavior...often. So I can see why I could be labeled as such.

And, on some level, I guess I actually enjoyed being considered a pig...because for most of my life I've been 'good' all the time (i.e. what society considers good), whether it be in school or on a moral level, and I've always been kind of turned off by that. But, at the same time, I think I've gone too far towards the opposite extreme - become too 'bad' - and I have to maybe find some sort of a mean now. Yes, indeed. A mean.

Anyway, as far as the cripple goes...if you're reading this...I'm sorry for giving you a bad night. All I ever wanted to do was give you a good time. I never meant to hurt you in any way. Sorry. Honestly, I am. And I hope things get better for you.

As for me and will most likely continue.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Personality Tests: Survival of the Phoniest

Having recently finished a novel I've been meaning to get written and now finding myself in need of more money to supplement my shoddy income as a videographer, I have been sending applications out to various places in hope of getting some retail work for the holiday season. Make more money. Comfort myself with more financial security. Contract some H1N1.

One thing I noticed during the application process was that several retail places no longer administrated their own hiring process. For efficiency's sake, they have outsourced the tedious task to a third-party "workforce management" company called Kronos (see The Kronos company, according to their website, specializes in giving companies "the tools they need to help them control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity". More importantly, it ensures that organizations "hire the best people and make smarter decisions".

One of the ways Kronos has gone about finding "the best" workers for their client companies is by developing an electronic employee application that includes something called a Unicru personality test (Unicru was the company that initially developed the test, but was bought out by Kronos in 2006). Many of you out there are probably familiar with this test, as it is reportedly used by nearly 16% of all retail organizations in the United States. The test consists of a series of statements and you are supposed to respond to each statement with whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. For example, there will be a vague statement like, "Any trouble you have is your own fault" or "You are careful not to offend people" or "Your moods are steady from day to day" and you're supposed to choose whether you agree with what is said.

Upon completion, the tests are "graded" by Kronos with three colors: green, yellow or red. Green means the applicant passed the test with flying colors. Yellow means they did so-so. And red means they failed. This color-coding system is used with the intention of making the hiring process easier for the employer. Instead of sifting through an enormous pile of applications and looking over each applicant's work experience and education background and references etc., all the employer has to do is look through a Unicru report, see who the "greens" are and then call those people for an interview, for it's the greens that (according to the test) are the best candidates for employment.

Of course, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what is wrong with this kind of shallow, oversimplified means of hiring employees. In the words of one flustered personality test-taker quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal news article, the test is "just a way for companies to hire robots. A lot of people who scored green just figured out a way to cheat the system, or are just the 'yes' people, and I don't believe it makes them more capable than anybody else."

With statements like "You agree with people more often than you argue", "You are careful not offend people", "You avoid arguments as much as possible", "You finish your work no matter what", and "You are somewhat of a thrill-seeker", it's clear that the intention of the Unicru test is to weed out the people who are most likely to be 'insubordinate', get in the way of productivity and, in turn, decrease company profits. In other words, the test ends up favoring those who never argue, upset others, disobey orders, offend people, seek short, those who are the least human. Kronos apparently believes that the most dehumanized individual will make a company run at its most productive level, like an ever-predictable mechanism within a large machine.

But its favoring of dehumanized individuals isn't all that's wrong with the Unicru test. As I personally took the 99-question test - determining whether I agreed with the various statements - I found myself inwardly conflicted when coming up with my responses. On one hand, I knew what my honest responses were to the various statements...but I also knew that my honest responses were not what the Kronos people were looking for.

For example, when I was faced with statements like "Many people cannot be trusted", "People do a lot of annoying things", "People do a lot of things that make you angry", and "There are some people you really can't stand", my first inclination was to "strongly agree" with all of the above. I mean, yes, a lot of people out there really bother me and do a lot of annoying things that make me angry, and I'm sure the majority of people out there share this sentiment. But I knew that "strongly agreeing" with those statements would only make me look like a negative malcontent and wouldn't test well with Kronos. So I essentially found myself forced to choose a phony response that I knew would ensure my chances of passing the test. I knew that the 'right' answer was to "strongly disagree".

In other words, I came to the realization that lying was the only way I was going to get the job. And I'm sure I wasn't alone in feeling this way. I'm sure most people who take these tests find themselves responding dishonestly for the same reasons, especially in the midst of today's horrible economy where people have never been so desperate to get the job. People will do whatever it takes to get an interview, even if it means lying and bullshitting their foot in the door.

So, in effect, what the Unicru personality test really ends up doing (intentionally or not) is it weeds out people who tell the truth and rewards those who lie. Where the test's intention is to act as a kind of Darwinian means of selecting 'the best' to work for a company, what it really does is ensure that the liars and bullshitters and phonies thrive in our society while the honest people get left to rot in the gutter. It's a selection of the phoniest, not the fittest.

Now, it's very possible I'm looking too far into all this...but I don't think I am. Look at the gravity of the situation on a greater scale: I guy gets a job because he is dishonest on his personality test. He leads a dishonest life as a dishonest employee. He is never truthful. He never says what he really means. He never argues. Never offends. He acts the way his employer wants him to act, not the way he wants to act. He makes a dishonest living at this dishonest job and starts a dishonest family, and teaches his children to be dishonest so they, too, can get a dishonest job and make a dishonest living and start another dishonest family. One dishonest generation after another is born. Over time, the world turns into a completely dishonest place where nobody exists as their true self; they exist according to how others (in this case, their employers) want them to exist.

Of course, things haven't gotten this extreme...yet. Only 16% of retail companies have subcontracted their hiring process to Kronos Corp., which is a high percentage, but it could be much worse. And although personality testing is reportedly a $450 million industry (and expanding by 10% every year), not everybody's using the tests; in fact, a lot of companies (Whole Foods, Spencer Gifts, among others) have come to realize how flawed the test really is.

However, with the economy in the condition it is - a condition that will more than likely get worse before it gets better - companies are becoming more and more desperate to find the "best" employees, which means more and more of these companies are going to use personality tests that, they think, will make it easier for them to do this. And, with people becoming more and more desperate to find a job, people will do whatever they need to do to survive, submit to the test, even if it means lying and being a phony.

It hasn't quite happened yet, but our culture is undoubtedly headed in a direction where it will become its phoniest ever. In today's job market, 'truth' has become an inconvenience, something that only gets in the way of our financial survival. But 'truth' is, always has been and always will be the most important thing to preserve, even if it makes life a tad more financially insecure. In the words of Martin Luther, "Peace if possible, truth at all costs."

To see the complete Unicru personality test I took, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reflections on the Meaning of Life

I just finished another interesting book called MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS by a psychiatrist named Brian L. Weiss. Maybe it was serendipity that I discovered this book now (it was written about 25 gears ago), especially at a time when I've been pondering the meaning of my life and the point of humankind on earth in general. This book begins to shed some light on these issues.

In 1982, Weiss took on a client named Catherine who was having all sorts of personal problems. She suffered from extreme phobias (everything from fear of water to closed spaces to swallowing pills) and also experienced anxiety attacks on a daily basis. Something was clearly wrong with her, so she was referred by her physician to Dr. Weiss to see if his psychiatric practices could shed any light on the situation.

Initially, Weiss attempted basic psychoanalysis to try and get at the root of Catherine's problems, hoping to pinpoint childhood traumas that would explain her phobias. But with the exception of a few minor improvements, Catherine's phobias persisted.

Weiss then took things a step further and tried regression therapy, hoping this would tap into Catherine's subconscious and reveal a repressed trauma or other incident that would explain the phobias. But something unexpected occurred when he did this. Instead of accessing Catherine's subconscious, he accessed something else: what he refers to as her "super-conscious".

While under hypnosis, Catherine started experiencing strange memories that didn't pertain to her current life in any way. She remembered being a girl in Ancient Egypt who embalmed the dead, and then being a little boy in the Ukraine whose father was wrongfully executed in prison, and then being a prostitute in Spain, and even being a Nazi German soldier who died in WWII. Weiss eventually concluded that these memories were of past lives - what he eventually determined to be a whopping 86 lives in total!

But what was even more interesting about the regression sessions was that Catherine would remember the time in between her many lives: that is, she would re-experience floating out of her body after a death, going into a bright light, becoming a spirit in the spirit world and evaluating her life from beginning to end - what she learned, what she did right...and where she went wrong.

And that's not it: to make things even more amazing, Catherine found herself able to convey super-intelligent spirit messages to Dr. Weiss during these "in-between-life" experiences - messages dictated to her from highly evolved spirits (what Weiss refers to as being "the masters"). In other words, she acted as a medium, helping Dr. Weiss communicate with the spirit world. The messages to Weiss were spoken poetically, and they described a spirit world comprised of seven levels, where the lowest levels were for poorly evolved spirits and the highest levels were for the highest evolved spirits. Life, the masters explained, is about learning, and each soul comes to earth to learn a particular lesson that can only be learned in human form. We choose when we want to live and what kind of life we are going to live and what we need to learn during that particular life. The overall meaning of our lives on earth is to obtain as much wisdom and knowledge as we can, so as to become as "God-like" as possible. Each soul grows during each life, and - eventually - everybody reaches the highest spirit levels in the spirit world, as long as we learn what we need to during our various human incarnations.

After several of her regressions, Catherine ultimately freed herself from her fears, phobias, and anxieties. Weiss determined that her dramatic improvements were due to a combination of pinpointing certain past-life traumas and also becoming more spiritually aware through the process of her regression. She came to realize that our souls live forever, and that there is nothing to be afraid of in life, because we never die. There is a greater purpose to our existence: to evolve to the highest level possible.

All in all, Many Lives, Many Masters is an incredibly intriguing book, even if you're skeptical of whether it's all true. One particularly interesting discovery Weiss makes during his time with Catherine is that souls "hang out" in groups and manifest themselves as human beings at similar points in time. This means that people we know in our present life most likely played a role in a past life, but not necessarily the same role. In Catherine's case, her lover in her present life (a man named Stuart) was a father in one of her past lives, and in another past life he was actually her murderer. Yes, it seems strange that a murderer in one life would be a father in another life, but Weiss learns from "the masters" that this occurs because a soul becomes indebted to people they are unjust to in another life. Catherine's murderer, in other words, wanted to repay her for his injustice, so he appeared as a more nurturing father in another one of Catherine's lives.

This all seems very far out, but one can't help but wonder if there is any truth to Weiss' discoveries. After all, why is it that we seem to gravitate towards certain people in our lives? What makes us choose our friends? Lovers? Colleagues? Is it because we know them from another life? Or from several other lives? Do we keep on befriending the same people over and over again? Are we all a part of a greater spiritual journey where we're trying to help each other evolve spiritually?

Overall, MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS is an incredibly interesting book. It sheds a brighter light on the human identity and the meaning of life in general. According to Weiss' discoveries, we are placed on earth in several different incarnations to learn several different lessons, and we learn these through trials, tribulations and - most importantly - a lot of pain. In a culture where we are supposed to be happy all the time, where we're conditioned by happy-ending Hollywood movies and books like The Secret that teach us to ignore negativity and "think positive", Weiss' book suggests the complete opposite: that it's our PURPOSE on earth to experience hardship and painful times, as it's through these difficulties that our spirits grow and evolve. Only through pain do we become more highly evolved spirits, and, thus, closer to God. What a radical way to look at life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Debbie Downer: the Power of 'Negative' Thought

I recently read a brand new book called EMPIRE of ILLUSIONS by Pulitzer-Prize-Winner Chris Hedges and it was basically about all of America's problems right now, like economical, health, environmental and yada yada yada, but one thing he focused on (which I found particularly interesting) was the new wave of "positive psychology" that has been pervading our culture lately. This is the power-of-positive-thought-type of philosophy that best-selling books like THE SECRET talk about. This type of psychology has become particularly popular during the current economic crisis when all is going to hell and people find themselves faced with nothing but negativity in all aspects of their life. People turn to the positive psychologists who convince them that they must implement the "power of attraction", think happy thoughts - like Peter Pan would say - and all the negativity will eventually disappear. Life will get much better.

Of course, all this 'power of attraction' rhetoric is all hogwash for the most part (THE SECRET, after all, was written by the same weirdo who invented the now-notorious "sweat lodge"); and such a psychology has several detrimental effects on people as well. Primarily, Hedges argues in his book that the "positivity" these psychologists preach about paradoxically has the negative consequence of deluding people from reality and, yes - despite what our 'Disneyfied' culture would have you believe - retreating into fantasy when the going gets rough is a bad thing. If we blind ourselves from life's problems, the problems only grow worse in the long run.

Hedges also argues that positive psychology has the negative result of making people passively complacent, where they end up becoming (what he calls) a "corporate collective" - that is, a mass of like-minded people who agree with everything and lose the individual capacity to question the mainstream. In other words, positive psychologists label 'dissatisfaction' with the status quo as being 'negativity', the ramifications of which are dire. After all, dissatisfaction is the emotion that influences a person to promote change, either in their personal life or in society. If people are constantly forcing themselves to be satisfied, then they no longer possess the capacity to change, which, in a sense, leads to their (spiritual) deaths.

In his book, Hedges points out that the corporate elite - in particular - are huge advocates of "positive psychology" (several major companies pay good money to have these psychologists come and speak at company conventions). The elite use the "power of positivity" to essentially trick the working class into thinking they are happier with their place within the capitalist system than they really are. Employers like a psychology that labels 'dissatisfaction' as 'negativity', because it fools exploited workers into thinking their disgruntlement with things like low wages and long hours and monotonous work and lack of good benefits and poor retirement pensions is a result of them being pessimistic malcontents. In other words, positive psychology spins employee exploitation in a manner so that it looks like it's the worker's own fault that they are unhappy. They are forced to look at the bright side of their exploitation, even when no bright side exists.

As many of you know, "Saturday Night Live" had a recurring sketch a few years back that featured a nerdy, unattractive-looking woman who turns every conversation with her friends into something negative. She always saw the glass as half empty, so to speak. She was called "Debbie Downer". Although it was rather humorous, the sketch was a reflection of a society already conditioned by positive psychology. As the Debbie Downer caricature insinuates, a person who points out the flaws in society is perceived as nerdy and unattractive - a foolish malcontent...and this is the problem. If everybody is afraid of being a "Debbie Downer" then nobody will ever admit to both themselves and to others that they are dissatisfied in life, which means that everybody will lose the capacity to become proactive, change their life, and make a positive difference.

Yes, as strange an idea as it seems, the world depends on the "Debbie Downer" in order to be saved from its downfall. People must realize that feeling depressed or dissatisfied is - in a lot of cases - actually a good thing. It's a healthy thing. Contrary to popular belief, dissatisfaction doesn't necessarily mean we should go to the doctor and be prescribed Prozac or some other anti-depressant (which is another thing the corporate elite would prefer to see you do). And it certainly doesn't mean we should read THE SECRET and learn how to attract wealth and prosperity with our happy thoughts. simply means CHANGE is needed. And you need to do something in order to trigger that change.

To put it simply, positive psychology is a quack psychology. Without "negativity", there would be no positive change in the world. Without the Debbie Downer, nobody would make a difference.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Strong Advocate of Piracy

As a long-time Itunes user, I've been noticing more and more often now that the price to download a song has been going up to $1.29 (from 99 cents) and it's starting to tickle my mustache a bit. On one hand, I can understand why musical "artists" want to earn the money they deserve for the songs that they create. They spent a lot of time and thought and, hell, it's their creation. Right?

But are most of these artists really "artists"? When I turn on Kiss 108 radio, just about every song I hear is about going to the clubs and checking out the girls with the fur boots and taking them into the bathroom or riding a "disco stick" and "see you at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn" and "you spin me right round" and "going down-down" and "sucking it like a lollipop".

And if it's not sexually explicit lyrics, you get some rapper talking about how 'gangsta' he is and how he's the king of New York and God's gift to the world and Jesus Christ himself, not to mention any names Jay-Z, Kanye and Lil Wayne.

Don't get me wrong: I like most of these songs (so doesn't my money-maker), and I don't consider myself to be a conservative prude who gets all flustered by sexually explicit material. However, I think the hip hop/dance industry (i.e. whatever's played on Kiss) has gone a little overboard with all this sexual stuff. It's almost been done to the point of getting REALLY annoying. You can just see the managers of these musical artists gathering in a conference room and trying to come up with the most sexually provocative dance song they can devise.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my teenage daughters exposed to all those songs...or teenage boys, for that matter. When you have Britney Spears singing about threesomes in her new song "3", I don't find it surprising that parent groups have been giving her a lot of guff. I think they should be. (As an aside, I doubt Britney's even having threesomes. I think she's just singing about them in attempt to be "bad-ass" and because that's the kind of thing everybody else is singing about these days.)

But, more importantly, I think it's a bit stupid that these musicians are considering themselves to be such great artists and that their songs are worth the $1.29 people have to pay for them on Itunes. I think that's ridiculous! I would experience no guilt in ripping these shallow songs off for free. Yes, I would take great pride pirating a song that says nothing but "evacuate the dance floor" over and over again (again, great tune, but stupid as anything).

I recently saw Lil Wayne's "Behind the Music" special on VH1 and he said at the end of the program that - first and foremost - he was an artist and "if you give an artist a canvas, he's going to create art." What a bunch of horseshit. Maybe I'm judging him in an oversimplified manner, but writing a song that's about having your garbage sucked like a lollipop is not art. It's a commodity manufactured with the thought in mind that SEX SELLS.

The next college student who gets fined for downloading free music could probably present a good case to the judges that he didn't feel he should be paying money for music that is about NOTHING. After all, there shouldn't be an issue of protecting "artistic property" when you're not dealing with art to begin with. Maybe once the "artists" actually start making actual works of art (not commodities) the music will be worth a little money. Until then, I'm not paying $1.29 for that crap. No way. No how.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My tribute to Michael Jackson

Natty Ice also seems to give me awesome dancing abilities, as you can see in the video below:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playing with BAM @ the BBC

Sometimes I just take a sip of Natty Ice and see where the buzz takes me. In this case, I found myself onstage with BUILD A MACHINE at the BBC Walpole:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Beginning Filmmaking": a film by Jay Rosenblatt

"Beginning Filmmaking" is a neat little documentary (23min in length) about a dad (Rosenblatt) who buys his five-year-old daughter (Ella) a digital video camera and attempts to teach her filmmaking over the course of a year.

Although Rosenblatt takes a text-book approach to the teaching process, Ella prefers to use the camera in a more original manner. Rosenblatt wants her to come up with a clever idea for her film and then use medium shots, extreme-close-ups and proper composition. But Ella prefers to film herself talking into the camera (like one would do with a web camera), telling stories about fairies and singing songs and doing other silly things that only kids would do.

Over the course of the film Rosenblatt grows frustrated with Ella's incorrigible "disobedience". He inadvertently plays the role of the antagonist, forcefully imposing the limited text-book approaches to filmmaking upon his daughter. He is not unlike the conventional studio-head who represses the unconventional vision of the independent filmmaker, which is an ironic role for him to play, seeing that he has been an extremely unconventional filmmaker his whole life.

In fact, this role reversal (i.e. the repressed becoming the oppressor) can be viewed as a microcosm of the general situation that occurs when a child becomes an adult and inadvertently becomes everything he/she disliked about their parents. Rosenblatt is like the Peter Pan who has grown up and become one of the narrow-minded adults without even knowing it. And, as a filmmaker, he has become everything he was rebelling against when he was a younger filmmaker trying to be original.

But perhaps this is all unavoidable. Maybe this film is a realization that the only way to teach filmmaking (or anything for that matter) is to set certain rules and it's up to the student to break them when he or she is ready. As the saying goes, one must learn the rules before they can be broken. Unprecedented originality can't exist without unoriginal precedences. Somebody NEEDS to set rules in order for an independent to be born.

Email to Vincent Gallo

Dear Vincent:

My name is Matt Burns, a writer/filmmaker from the Boston area.

Just thought I would drop you a line and say how much I like your work, especially THE BROWN BUNNY. I heard that you had an initial cut that was three hours long or something like that. Is there any way one can see that version? I imagine that it may go deeper into the character and maybe even answer some lingering questions about him.

But, yes, awesome film. To me, Bud is a portrait of the typical (Los) Angeleno: a man constantly on the move, unsuccessfully trying to outrun a past that relentlessly haunts him. Or, to speak in more general terms, I guess he is a portrait of the typical American -- a person migrating westward, running away from something...but always unsuccessfully.

The past always catches up, no matter how much we try NOT to face it. And perhaps this is one of the key issues comprising the American tragedy: instead of dealing with our problems, we try to run away from them, either by physically escaping west like Bud, or by mentally escaping to things like spectator sports and Hollywood entertainment and politics and religion etc. If Bud is any indication, the more we try to escape like this, the more we just end up torturing ourselves.

Another thing I like about the film is how there is some question as to whether Bud's perception of reality is totally reliable, as there are too may elements in the film that don't seem to add up. Like when Bud visits Daisy's mom...she's never heard of him, and doesn't even remember him living next door to her. Then there's the brown bunny, which was supposedly Daisy's, but should have probably been dead long ago (we learn from the pet store owner that bunnies only live five or six years).

Maybe the relationship between Bud and Daisy was less serious than we are lead to believe. Maybe she was just a girl he had a crush on (either recently or during his childhood). Or maybe she was just a girl he met at a party, took a liking to, but then got insulted when he found another guy having sex with her. And this makes him feel rejected and insecure. It is a blow to his ego. And such a rejection is impossible for him to shake. It follows him wherever he goes. No matter how fast he goes in that bike of his, he just can't escape these feelings that haunt him.

I guess the fact of the matter is that we can't quite trust Bud as a reliable "narrator", simply because there are too many things that don't seem to make sense in the film. He seems to be delusional and maybe even hallucinatory. He's probably lying to himself and, in turn, lying to us. Maybe he's trying to convince himself that Daisy's death wasn't his fault. Or maybe Daisy is still very much alive somewhere, but he just wants to pretend she's dead because it hurts him too much to think that she's alive and rejected him. Maybe the entire back-story of the film is just a bunch of bullshit born out of a neurotically insecure soul. Who knows???

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Really like the film. And if there's any way I can see the longer version, PLEASE let me know.


Matt Burns

The next day after sending this email I had a response in my inbox. The following is Gallo's (one-word) response:


Yes, he's an asshole, but you gotta love the guy.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MJ's Death: the Religion of Celebrity

Like everyone else, I am saddened by the death of Michael Jackson. I spun my old "Off the Wall" vinyl in my record player just a little while ago. I couldn't help but get a little misty in the eyes knowing that the amazing talent that was Michael Jackson (especially during the "off-the-wall"/"thriller" era) was no more. Jackson was an amazing dancer. An amazing musical artist...

But the attention the story is getting is, I think, a little too over-the-top. I was watching "World News" with Charlie Gibson on Friday and it struck me how weird it was that the death of
Michael Jackson headlined the half-hour time slot. Nothing about Iraq. Nothing about Afghanistan. The most news-worthy story of the world, in the eyes of the ABC network, was the death of Michael Jackson. I mean, out of all the stories that could have headlined the world (yes WORLD) news, the "gatekeepers" chose the Michael Jackson story. Why? Because they knew this was what the public wanted, and I guess the main objective of ABC is not unlike that of any other business where the consumer's wants take precedence over the consumer's needs. (Whether this objective is an ethical objective for a news network is a different subject altogether.)

Anyway, on the front page of The Boston Globe this past Saturday I noticed a photo of a man kneeling beside Michael Jackson's Hollywood Blvd. star and saying a prayer. Surrounding him were candles and bouquets of flowers: a shrine dedicated to the deceased "king of pop". It was this image on the front page of the daily newspaper that made me realize the extent to which our culture values celebrity. I mean, I had obviously always known that our culture was obsessed with celebrity, but this image of the man kneeling in deep prayer at a shrine dedicated to Jackson made me realize that, in America, celebrities...are gods. And I almost mean this literally. It's like the death of Michael Jackson was the death of a messiah [notice the blatant Christ imagery in the above photo, which was also on the front page of the Globe].

America prides itself to be a land where we practice all sorts of religions and show reverence to all sorts of gods, but I think what nobody realizes is that there is a common religion in America that transcends all other religions: that of celebrity. This is a religion where people like Michael Jackson are so important that their deaths headline "World News" with Charlie Gibson and newspapers like The Boston Globe. Never mind the handful of soldiers who died overseas on the same day Jackson died. We don't hear about them. We only hear about Jackson. The religion of celebrity is a religion where those who are rich and famous automatically deserve more attention than those who have fallen in war.

But at least Jackson had talent, which means he is at least somewhat deserving of all this attention (although he most likely molested children and took a lot of drugs). Take somebody like Anna Nicole Smith's death, though: she didn't really have any talent...unless figuring out how to become famous for being famous is a talent. But even her death headlined the news (footage of the teary-eyed judge comes to mind). And another day went by where we overlooked the deaths of soldiers, not to mention other newsworthy stories far more deserving of our attention.

The fact of the matter is that the religion of celebrity is a religion where we show reverence to people who are not necessarily talented, but to those who have somehow figured out how to become rich and famous. I mean, it would be wishful thinking to say that celebrity is ultimately about talent; after all, somebody who is extremely talented isn't usually worshiped until they somehow figure out how to turn that talent into something that yields riches and fame.

Perhaps this is just the American way. Maybe in a land where the ultimate goal is to "make it", it makes sense that we deify those who have, indeed, "made it". And because "making it" is usually measured in terms of financial success, the real value here is on the money, not the talent. And that's the problem.

To put it simply, the celebrity-worship we see in our culture is a reflection of a culture where money is a god. When stories of a celebrity's death headline the world news (again, emphasis on 'world'), our culture is kneeling to the ground and showing reverence to the 'almighty' dollar bill.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spielberg receives honorary degree at BU: 'pop-intellectualism' in our culture

To read the article about this, visit this link:

I'll admit that I always liked Spielberg's films. When I was in the third grade, I purchased a VHS copy of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and obsessively watched it over and over again. In fact, I got so into it that I created my own "grail diary" with an assignment notebook, just like the one Indiana's dad uses in the movie. I tried to make it resemble the one in the movie as closely as possible. This is how I got my kicks.

When I was in the fifth grade, I went to the movies to see Jurassic Park with my Dad and remember being completely blown away. You know that feeling you have when you walk out of the theater and your head is still caught inside a movie reality and reality-reality just doesn't matter anymore? Well, that's what I was feeling after I saw Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park was all that mattered anymore. I couldn't get the John Williams theme out of my head! "How'd you do this?" "Let me show you!" "You have a T-rex?" "We have a T-rex!" "And bingo...Dino DNA!"

After the movie, I went straight to McDonald's to get the Jurassic Park value meal, complete with a big plastic collector's cup that featured scenes from the movie. I think the box of fries had scenes on it as well. It was super-sized. It was delicious.

Anyway, what I'm getting at here is that I really enjoyed Spielberg's movies when I was a kid. Heck, I still like them now. However...

I raised my eyebrows when I heard that Spielberg received an honorary degree from (my Alma Mater) Boston University at last month's commencement ceremony. Basically, I'm not sure a prestigious University like BU (or any University, for that matter) should be giving honorary degrees to members of the entertainment industry. I feel the result of doing something like this blurs the lines between Entertainment and Intellectualism, which - in the long run - dumbs down our culture.

Honorary degrees should be a way to honor deep intellectuals (i.e. revolutionary thinkers), and I don't think many of the recipients at any school nowadays fall into this category. When I graduated in 2004, BU gave an honorary degree to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Certainly Belichick proved himself to be one of the best football coaches of all time, but he hadn't made any significant intellectual contributions to society. So what was BU even honoring him for? Intellectual success, or just success in general???

Maybe BU only honors people like Spielberg and Belichick because they're popular. Maybe the degrees are just a shallow means of making the school look 'cool' because it can get some big names to attend graduation. I mean, no disrespect to Spielberg, but I don't think he falls into the category of intellectual either. I know a lot of people will point out films like Schindler's List and Munich and maybe Amistad and say that those films were products of a "thinker", but I don't really think they were. Sure, a film like Schindler's List has the appearance of being an intellectual film (shot in black and white, contains intense violence/graphic nudity, serious tone elicited via musical score, sophomoric use of symbolism etc.), but I think that when it comes down to brass tacks, nobody who watches that movie really gains any greater understanding of the Holocaust, like how or why it happened. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think a movie like Schindler's List (like many critically acclaimed movies in Hollywood) is a film that has the appearance of being intellectual - maybe a good word is 'pop-intellectual' - but is not really intellectual in terms of its substance.

So, frankly, I lose a lot of respect for BU (again, my Alma Mater) when they're giving honorary degrees to Spielberg - a man, I guess, who sometimes possesses the appearance of being an intellectual, but is not really an intellectual. He's a great entertainer who tells really great stories (many of which have a semi-important lesson or two to extract from them), but they are not products of a deep thinker who should be honored in an intellectual environment like a University.

When people like Spielberg receive honorary degrees, the REAL intellectuals go overlooked by society, and when that happens, true intellectualism gets watered down and eventually dies. The culture becomes dumb. And a dumb culture isn't a healthy culture. A dumb culture can be a dangerous culture.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Welcome to the Natty Ice Diaries

When discussing his film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", Benicio Del Toro said that a junky was a reflection of the state of society around him. The junky abuses himself with drugs or alcohol because society is too messed up to function in soberly. There is too much sadness. Too much pain. Too many problems.

Anyway, this blog is called "The Natty Ice Diaries" and it is product of a time where I find it difficult to function in our society without arming myself with some sort of alcoholic beverage.

Why Natty Ice?

Because Natty Ice (short for 'Natural ice') is the cheapest beer that also has the power to give you a real good buzz. And because I don't have a lot of money but like a really good buzz, Natty Ice is my beer of choice.

Why am I a Natty Ice junky?

Because our society (i.e. America), if you haven't realized yet, is somewhat in trouble. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that people DON'T realize this. There are people out there who truly believe that "God blesses America" and I just don't see how this is at all possible. When all signs point to our country going down the toilet I really don't see how people can think that God fully endorses our nation. If anything, the current financial crisis is a tell-tale indication that God is not necessarily an advocate of the 'American way'...otherwise we wouldn't be faced with such an imminent disaster.

But don't get me wrong here: this blog is not going to be all dark and depressing. And I don't want to be accused of being unpatriotic or whatever, because I really do love the "idea" of America - that is, the concept our forefathers envisioned in 1776. Freedom really is awesome (although I would argue that most people fear and loathe it). However, I think one must admit that our country has some serious issues right now, and if they aren't discussed openly, they are only going to get worse.

So this is is a blog where I will talk about these issues openly...but with the help of Natty Ice, as it is much too painful to come face-to-face with our country's problems without anestheticizing oneself with a decent amount of cheap booze.

I encourage comments and criticisms and insights and all that stuff.