So you wanna be an American?
kitten   November 26, 2003

I was born in America, to parents who are American citizens. I have lived in America all my life, attended American schools, and worked in America. I have a social security number. I pay my taxes. (No, I don't help my landlady carry out her garbage.)

To the untrained eye, I would appear to be an American. After all, "American" is simply a descriptor of national origin and citizenship - I'm from America so I'm an American, just like someone from Russia is a Russian. Right?

As I've mentioned before, I listen to conservative talk radio a lot, just to get angry or annoyed, and as a result of listening to Sean Hannity and his ilk, I know that the above postulation is dead wrong.

According to these braintrusts, "American" is not simply someone who hails from the United States. Sure, that's how a lexicon might define it, but real Americans know that it is a title, one bestowed upon those who have earned it. Being from America isn't enough to be an American. To really be an American - to be deserving of the title - you must fall in step with the status quo of right-wing idealogy.

For your benefit, I present to you a brief list of things you must believe in order to be an American. The list is not all-inclusive, but will give you some valuable starting points.

1. We are at war.
Everyone knows that America has declared war on "terror". It is a fact that we will win; that one day, terror will sign a surrender or cease-fire agreement, or we will cripple terror's logistical train to the point where terror cannot continue fighting us.

2. The president requires our support during this war.
As noted above, we are at war and therefore "in a time of crisis". Anyone who disputes President Bush's decisions, or those of his cabinet, is an unpatriotic moron who is one small step away from outright treason. This is because

3. President Bush is our leader.
You may have thought that the president of the United States is essentially an administrator, which is why he is the head of the executive branch. But true Americans know that this is a liberal lie. The role of the president is to be our leader, like the serfs in feudal England pronouncing fealty to the King. His job is to lead, and our job is to follow unquestioningly.

Some liberals will tell you that the role of the president is to conduct the affairs of the country according to the electorate, but this is simply an outrageous falsehood. Bill Clinton, after all, was a "poll follower", which means he discovered what the people wanted and then executed those wishes. No real leader would bow to the whim of others - he must act completely autonomously and without consideration for the petty demands of the nation's people. Speaking of which...

4. Anything wrong with America today is Clinton's fault.
Yes, he's been out of office for over three years now. Yes, he presided over an incredible economic boom, a period of incredibly low unemployment and interest rates, low crime levels, and no conflicts with other governments for the first time in decades, but the fact remains that Clinton lied about his private sexual affairs and that makes him an untrustworthy, unholy demon who nearly brought about the collapse of modern western civilization single-handedly. The attack on the World Trade Center is probably his fault too.

Liberals may try to tell you that Bush lied about more important things, like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, national security documents, and so forth. Just remember rules 2 and 3 and you'll be safe from this kind of slander.

5. Anything right with America today can be attributed to Reagan or Bush.
Forget the horrid economic downturn of Reagan's fiscal policy. Put to rest any concerns of Bush's erosion of civil rights. Reagan, after all, won the Cold War.. er, somehow. He took a hard-line stance against drugs and now there's no drugs anywhere. And Bush, as noted above, is our leader. Interestingly, all the good things mentioned in rule 4, are a direct result of Reagan and Bush Sr. Clinton just happened to be in office by the time the events finally gained enough momentum to be noticable, but his administration certainly was not responsible for any of it.

6. There is no middle ground.
A true American is convervative. By definition, everyone else is a liberal. Absolutely everything must be polarized into one of these two camps. Any person, thought, utterance, or action can easily be classified in this way, and if the classification is "liberal" you can simply dismiss the issue out of hand as being the raging paranoia or falsehoods of lesser life forms. There is no middle ground whatsoever in this classification scheme - it is a black-and-white situation, as well it should be.

7. During this war, civil liberties are a secondary concern. If that.
Now, nobody likes to be detained without charges for an indefinite period of time, and nobody likes the idea of police that can search your possessions or wiretap your phone without a warrant or even a good reason. But these things, and many more, are utterly vital to the War On Terror. The fact is, in order to win this war, you're going to have to say goodbye to your beloved Bill of Rights, and if you have a problem with that, then why don't you move to China, you America-hating Communist?

8. This is a Christian nation.
Teaching kids about evolution is wrong and potentially evil. Always remember that it's "just a theory", and there's no evidence for it. It demeans what we know to be true: God created us in his image. God blesses us daily. God is blessing the United States and with God's help we'll conquer terror once and for all. To suggest that species change over time is an outrage, and to be fair, we need to teach kids about Genesis alongside evolution, or preferably, in place of it.

It's no secret that there wasn't much gun violence in schools until the Supreme Court - then composed of liberal whiners - decided that forcing students to pray was unconstitutional. There were also no nuclear weapons before women were allowed to vote, but that's another issue entirely. The point is that, for the safety and well-being of our children, those treasures of America, students must be instilled with God-fearing Christian values.

People in need of help from drug or alcohol addiction, depression, or any other malady, should seek help in (tax-funded) faith-based programs, which can do a better job than secular professionals, who will fail to tell the sinners about God's divine wrath. Medicine and therapy are not the answer - white-knuckled fear of eternal torment, and being told what a disappointment they are to God, is the only salvation for these lost individuals.

We all know that terrorists and Muslims are the biggest threat to America today, but second only to them are the atheists, who should not even be considered citizens, much less American patriots. Our founding fathers and other famous Americans were Christian and the Constitutional idea of seperating church and state has been grossly exaggerated and is not to be taken seriously.

9. Small government is good. Or large. Whatever.
Every schoolchild knows that the powers of the government were, as outlined by the Constitution in general and amendments 9 and 10 specifically, to be strictly limited in scope. True Americans (conservatives, Republicans) agree - the government is too large, its powers too broad, and it needs to be curtailed. This line of thinking, however, will never deter us from constantly expanding the powers of government and creating endless numbers of bloated and ridiculous new beauracracies, especially during this time of crisis when the government needs to watch every move a citizen makes (even the atheists, who aren't citizens) in order to combat terror.

These tips, adages, and maxims should help get you started on the road to being a true American. The difference lies in the field of civic virtue. A true American accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life and liberty. The mere American does not.

Would you like to know more?

Patrick Moore plays the xylophone.
kitten   November 20, 2003

atrick Moore. The man who is one of the most respected and sought-after sages of the modern world, a globally reknowned scholar with an appreciation of the fine arts.

Yet through the mists of time and the telling of legend, the true story of Patrick Moore has been muddled during the past century. Though the name is familiar to us all, few know the ambition, the drive, the very soul behind the man.

Born in 1897, Patrick Moore was raised in a small village on the eastern outskirts of London. Though some like to think of those days as a more simple era, it was also a more dull one, with little for a child to do, and so young Patrick sought refuge in his famiy's considerable library of scholarly tomes and academic books. At the age of four Patrick taught himself to read; by age five he had surpassed most eighth-grade graduates in his comprehension and writing ability. The knowledge gained from his voracious reading fueled the precocious Patrick's imagination, and with inspiration drawn from sources ranging from H.G. Wells to pulp fiction dime store comics, Patrick honed his own story-telling prowess. Paper was not plentiful in the Moore household, so Patrick contented himself with scrawling on the backs of cardboard, in the margins of other books, on any scrap of paper he could find.

Although many of his peers entered the workforce upon completion of school, Patrick elected to continue his education, gaining admission to Yale where he pursued his studies of literature. However, during the course of his studies, he found numerous other avenues that captured his interest. His love of writing never flagged, and not one to admit defeat, he doubled his workload by declaring a double major in contemporary English literature and forensic sciences. He excelled at both, often being called in by his professors to lecture the class, a task which Patrick undertook graciously.

It was Professor Millstone who introduced Patrick Moore to the xylophone. The rhythm and melody of the instrument intrigued Patrick, who offered the professor a deal - he would lecture classes twice a week in return for xylophone lessons. Millstone accepted the offer, grateful for the opportunity to be relieved of his lectures and dabble in his hobby.

As with all things he attempted, Patrick displayed superior talent with the xylophone, being invited to perform with the New York Symphony Orchestra after only a few short months. It was an opportunity Patrick relished, but knowing that his education was paramount, he deferred the invitation in order to complete his degrees, which he did a semester ahead of schedule and graduating with top honors.

Careers in literature are difficult to obtain unless one wants to teach, and although Patrick did enjoy lecturing at the university, he felt that he could better serve his community working with the police force. He was recruited as a beat officer and within a relatively short time for a constable, was promoted into the investigative division, where he could draw upon his forensic studies. Patrick was assigned to investigate a certain paranormal phenomenon which the authorites were concerned with; everyday objects and sometimes even abstractations were vanishing, usually as a result of spontaneously being camoflagued as other items.

Patrick diligently pursued his assignment, investigating the disappearances of carrots, handbags, cheese, toilets, Russians, planets, hamsters, weddings, poets, Stalin, Kuala Lumpur, pygmies, budgies, and Kuala Lumpur again. Unfortunately, in the course of two years of work, Patrick was never able to uncover the mechanism behind these occurances, nor the entity responsible for them.

It was his first taste of failure.

He went on record as saying, "I've seen things - I've seen them with my eye. I've seen things, they're often in disguise.. like carrots, handbags, cheese." Despite his firsthand witnessing of the events, Patrick could not cope with his inability to determine the cause, and so he quit the police force and went into quiet seclusion.

By this time Patrick was quite wealthy, having published a number of his novels, appearing on the lecture circuit, and pioneering several new discoveries and techniques to the field of forensic investigation. Patrick purchased a modest cabin and returned to his first love - that of writing. During fits of writer's block, or when he felt he needed to unwind, he would grind and polish a parabolic mirror for use in a telescope he was constructing - a telescope that, when completed, would change his life and launch him into the legend he is today.

Patrick labored almost a year on his telescope in between his writings - collecting and polishing the optics, adjusting the focal lenses, fitting the mirror. It was the first clear night of spring when Patrick took his first look through the Newtonian reflector and pointed it at Mars.

It was then that he noticed several dark figures on the surface that seemed to be moving in unison. Patrick increased the magnification of his telescope and strained to zoom in on the silouettes, which gradually resolved themselves into aliens, seemingly in the midst of a dance. Patrick's mind reeled with giddy awe, but ever the pragmatic observer, he noticed no band or any other source of music for these poor beleagured creatures, twirling round in their endless dance in the Martian moonlight.

Patrick Moore knew what he had to do.

Drawing on his vast studies of science and astronomy, he converted his xylophone and fitted it with rocket boosters cobbled together from an old woodpipe stove. With the addition of a crude but effective helmet, Patrick left this spinning blue globe without word to friends or family. Patrick was a man with a new goal in life - to bring the joy of music and the arts to the Martian people.

It was a long and arduous trek between the interplanetary void, punctuated only by a brief stray into the debris remnants of a passing comet, orbiting rocks which Patrick deftly avoided. Despite the tedious sojourn, Patrick had all the solace he would need in the form of his xylophone. He spent the idle time inventing new tunes, soaring harmonies and lilting melodies, until at last his course drew him close to the gravity well of Mars. With a final nudge from his rockets, Patrick Moore descended upon the frozen desert of the Martian landscape and began to play.

The music wafted through the cold Martian night as Patrick crashed through powering crescendos and moving motifs. One by one the Martians approached, enchanted by the foreign sound of Patrick's xylophone, and together, they danced, the way dancing was meant to be done - inspired by the music.

Patrick Moore. Part myth, part legend, he may be one of the greatest heroes of the past century. The man who left everything he ever knew behind him in order to share his passion for the xylophone with an alien culture, who risked his own life to bring them the gift of song.

May we never forget his noble and valiant sacrifice.

This garbage inspired by this cartoon and also this one.

Update 11.23.03

When I wrote this, I was under the impression that the song and video referenced above were just random weirdness and did not actually touch any points of reality; hence my amusement in creating a biography for a ficticious person based on an absurd flash animation.

However, further research reveals that Patrick Moore is in fact a real person and he does, in fact, play the xylophone.

Remember your training and you will make it out alive.
kitten   November 19, 2003

This is what I do when I have no job and I'm bored out of my mind all day. For those that don't know the story of Kevin Mackle you can read all about it here.

Someone please get me a job.

Do you remember how the jingle used to go?
kitten   November 16, 2003

The words won't come because they don't exist, and inspiration has abandoned me. Once in a while a spark strikes, only to be quickly consumed by the dull wet kindling of my terminally languid brain.

It's easier to be sporadic than consistant, and if I'm bad for company or companionship perhaps it is for the same reason I find myself unable to write: I have nothing to say.

Tell me why I don't like Monday.
kitten   November 15, 2003

She sits by the open window, eyes focused on the darkness beyond. The breeze through the screen rustles her hair and makes it shimmer in the streetlight, but she is unaffected, uncaring.

Sometimes I wonder what she sees out there, gazing into the night, at the trees beyond the parking lot and the sounds of traffic dopplering past. Sometimes the wind picks up and the trees sway in unison; sometimes the rain falls and splatters against wood and glass. Still she sits, green eyes wide.

Me, watching her, she, watching the world. Sometimes I wonder what she thinks, or if she merely observes, passive.

Sometimes I ask her, what are you doing? My lips on top of her head and my hands stroking her neck, I ask, What's out there that I don't see?

"Meow," she'll reply, and after a moment's consideration, "purreow?"

Which is about all I suppose I can expect from a cat.

Nor speak to me of entanglements and webs of deceit.
kitten   November 3, 2003

Sometimes I hate you for making me think you care, again, but I still believe in your lies.

And then shortly, I'll ignore you.

I have a headache. A bad one. I've had it most of the day.

My head hurts and I'm tired.

I will wait for you to scream and shout.
kitten   November 2, 2003

Many moons ago, Bryan and I were working on a screenplay of sorts, though calling it a screenplay is really dignifying it far too much. It happened more or less organically - we did not actually decide "Oi, let's write a movie!", but little by little we added to it, discussed ideas, traded notes.

It was, allegedly, about our lives, twisted forty five degrees. Our lives that might have been, if things were just a little different. Not impossible, not some fantasy - just change the situation a bit, drop ourselves in, and see what happens. Geeks on parade, as through a glass, darkly.

This was maybe three years ago - according to file info, the last time any of it was touched was September of 2000, although in reality it was probably even further back than that; the marked date is probably just when I moved it from one machine to another.

I found it today, locked up in a subdirectory on my text folder.

It is truly painful to read. We tried to overdirect everything, like we were writing a novel instead of a script. Descriptions would go on for half a page or more, with emphasis being placed on the most trivial of minutia.

But it isn't just the poor formatting and lack of experience in screenwriting that makes it difficult.

A fundamental problem I recall us running into quite often was figuring out what the hell our characters were supposed to be doing. The truth is, if we could figure out things for them to do, we'd be doing instead of writing shitty scripts for movies that would never get made. The dialogue comes off as trite and forced, with every other line being "Heh," and bizarre settings and situations that were supposed to be some kind of analog to what we do or might have done or plan to do, someday.

Perhaps more than anything, the work was a catharsis of sorts for us, as the main thrust of the work, in the sense that it had any thrust at all, dealt primarily with drama we were going through at the time. But in reading it, three years later, all I want to do is cringe. It's that bad.

The question is whether that's because we're shitty writers or because it was supposed to be about our lives. I don't know, but I suspect the answer is "yes".