Thursday, November 17, 2005

Words to live by

"Yeah, I need to reassure myself of my qualifications, because right now I am staring at a page, under a fucking deadline, with that dark black combo of writer's block and the endless echo of 'you're a fucking hack' that every screenwriter gets at 3am, whenever 3am decides to fall that day. I am vulnerable, and scared, and lie through my teeth every time I take a job because every job I'm convinced this'll be the one I can't pull off. And when you're a writer, that NEVER. FUCKING. STOPS. UNTIL. YOU'RE DEAD."

-- John Rogers

It takes a very twisted person to find these words inspiring and hopeful. And yet, I really do.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The effects of secondhand porn

From Salon:

"'This is not just a simple, benign form of expression, but rather a potentially addictive substance,' explained one of the subcommittee's panelists, Jill Manning, a sociologist from Brigham Young University. 'People watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, but they masturbate to pornography. In that difference, you have a different stimulation to the brain.'

"She went on to explain that the experience of masturbation activates about 14 neurotransmitters and hormones, causing a quick chain reaction of brain activity. 'There have been some experts who have even argued that, in and of itself, overrides informed consent when encountering this material,' she said, apparently suggesting that an adult's own sexual self-stimulation can lead to a loss of judgment. Pornography, she continued, had been shown to increase the risk of divorce, decrease marital intimacy and cause misunderstandings about the prevalence of less common sex practices like group sex, bestiality and sadomasochistic activity. Men are not the only victims. Women, she said, make up about 30 percent of the audience for online pornography."

You know where this is going to lead, don't you. They'll ban pornography from bars, restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, and all public places. Office productivity will go down -- er, I mean decrease -- as workers are forced to sneak out for porn breaks rather than doing it in their cubicles. Bar and nightclub owners will see a droop, sorry, drop in business as frustrated patrons have to be ejected for trying to look at porn. In any city, you'll be walking down the street and see them huddled together, office workers outside their places of employment, customers crowded outside the entrances to bars and restaurants, looking at porn in the street because they aren't allowed to do it indoors. If you think it's bad now that the sidewalks are littered with crushed cigarette butts, just wait until the pavement is congested with discarded porn.

And just let them TRY to invent a patch for people who want to quit.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Message to the future

My youngest nephew, almost ten, is carrying on a proud family tradition by telling lies in order to get out of school. His latest gambit, I am informed, is to emerge from the boy's bathroom and tell his teacher that he's just thrown up and thinks he's coming down with the flu. Neither of these statements is true -- rest assured, the family doctor has verified this -- but gullible school authorities have been sending him home each time he does it.

It happens that his mother, my little sister, has been around the block a few times and knows a lot about how to deal with deceitful children. Obviously her years of experience growing up with me were not entirely wasted. When he pulls this trick, she takes him with her to the office rather than letting him stay at home, and makes him sit there getting bored. She hopes he'll learn that skipping school will not be rewarded, but is even more boring and tedious than school.

I mention all this because there's something I want to tell my nephew the next time I see him, and I'm writing it here so that I won't forget. And that something is this:

"Nephew, I'm proud of you for not liking school and wanting to get the hell away from there.

"In a way, I'm also proud of you for being a nuisance to my sister, since that was my job for many long and difficult years and it's good to know someone is carrying on that tradition.

"But remember that no matter how intolerably mind-numbing school seems right now, there is hope. I myself am more than thirty-three years older than you...and even now, in the morning, I wake up and realize I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL TODAY OR EVER AGAIN and it makes me happy.

"You have that pleasure to look forward to, and it will last the rest of your life."