The Beholder & His Eye

Staring at me is a busty, full-figured (whatever that means) redhead (most likely dyed, but who cares as red is red to me even if it’s deception) girl holding a camera while she smiles somewhat lustful at me. She’s in pale pink and white underwear—her bra doing its best not to let her voluptuous breasts spill over while her boy shorts (that’s the term, right?) keep her lower region in check. And—oh my!—is that a navel piercing I spy? My eye scans down, following the trail of this busty beauty to see the words Ugly Girls Need Love.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A

I’m pistol whipped into reality, an Eminem song gone awry. I scroll passed the image—one of those spam-ads that promise you hook-ups for a one-night stand with a local girl—I have other nefarious things to do than seek a booty call. Besides, those websites always relocate me to a city in another county. But it nags at me like an ex-girlfriend wondering why I didn’t try harder.

It’s the caption that holds my attention, not the busy vixen that would’ve slithered into one of my wet-dreams as an adolescent—not that had any. “Ugly Girls Need Love” reverberated in my vision. So I screen captured the page and cropped it down to just the ad, tucking it away for this sort of thing.

I hate myself for connecting the dots, but somewhere along the lines we made ugly synonymous with “fat,” and “fat” synonymous to something higher than a size zero. I’m a thirty-year-old man with a Tumblr account and not a day goes by that I don’t come across an image of barely legal, scantily clad teenage girls obsessing about “thigh gaps.” “Dat gap, tho,” captions read in bastardized English. We’re creating standards impossible to live up to, confusing healthy with eating disorders. (Note: This is not an attack on those with a naturally fast metabolism, or those who have a daily regimen of exercise that doesn’t border on weight obsessive. That remark was solely for people who induce vomiting, starvation, and have an unhealthy outlook on exercise. In no way am I “glorifying” an unhealthy lifestyle or saying that skinny/thin girls should eat a cheeseburger every now and again.)

We’ve lost the empathy in our society. Irony aside, technology has created monsters out of us. A woman isn’t sexy unless her stomach is flat, her tits are above average, her pussy is shaved, is willing to call herself a “piece of fuck meat” in the bedroom, is willing to alter her features to better suit our image of modern-day beauty. And if she isn’t any of those, she isn’t allowed to feel proud of herself. She shouldn’t get her naval pierced (this is an real complaint by skinny women). And if she has an ounce of positive self-esteem, it’s our job by snuffing it out by calling her fat. Rip her a new one until she has the razor and a warm bath ready. And when she’s crushed, we can move on to the next one. We’ll pity her later.

We haven’t hit rock bottom, we slammed into it like anything in a Michael Bay film. We’ve erupted and the collateral damage isn’t the shell of an expensive foreign automobile, but our daughters, sisters, cousins, and nieces.

There’s more that needs saying on the subject. At a later date, perhaps.


So, I’m an Atheist Now. How Are You Doing?

I swapped my Agnostic religious status to Atheist last night on Facebook—because, as you know, nothing is official until it’s Facebook official. It’s something that I should’ve done months, if not years, ago. I began to find it impossible that something can exist outside of the physical. That there’s some designer in the sky who expects our obedience. I don’t believe in a god. And I haven’t for a very long time, before I even heard the name Richard Dawkins. And I want to make this clear, my disbelief isn’t based on The God Delusion (which I just decided to read) or The Blind Watchmaker (which I’ve never read) as my former creative writing professor turned friend seems to believe (I’ve decided to call him the Lizard King, though I caution  him about calling himself such as the conspiracy nuts will have a field day believing that he’s the head of their shadow government). My Agnosticism/Atheism/Doubtism sprouted before I ever picked up a philosophy book, before I fell in love with Christopher Hitchens’ essays, back when “God is dead” was a song lyric to a Nine Inch Nails song and not a Friedrich Nietzsche line, and even before I heard that song.

Atheist symbol
Atheist symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My seed of doubt—the seed of reason and desire to further my knowledge in truth and not fantasy—was planted by a CCD (bible school) teacher who gave me the bad news that I’d be burning in hell for killing insects that did me wrong—apparently, Catholic Sunday school teachers are practicing Buddhists with a great sense of guilt. Because it was at that moment when I realized that if Hell were real and I was surely going there, it’d be by my hand, my choice, not hers.

I was a blasphemous youth who grew into a blasphemous adult who learned that blasphemy is a victimless crime. However, for the longest time, I held on to the belief—because the half-doubt I carried was a belief—that humans couldn’t know for a fact if there was or wasn’t a higher power as there wasn’t enough evidence on either side. But that was my arrogance getting the better of me. I mistook my inability to learn, in my short life (as I do not believe in an afterlife), the truth as the great human flaw.

So here I am. An Atheist.

Before signing off and spell checking, I want to mention that the original post that was “slated” to go here was a well-thought out piece about beauty. I hope to get it out to you tomorrow.



This One Goes Out to the One I Left Behind

I grabbed a copy of The Juliette Society at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. As of last week, I stopped reading it. An entire chapter dedicated to semen? That’s what probably did me in. I can’t explain why I bought the book. Maybe because it’s written by former pornographic actress Sasha Grey. That’s actually the only reason why I bought the book.

Exhibit A

There are several books that line my shelves that have gone half-read or completely unread. Duma Key by Stephen King; Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust; The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle; On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Just to name a few. Still, I continue skipping to the bookstore and picking up a few more. Today’s trip sent me home with The God Delusion and What’s Left of Me. It’s no secret that I’m a hoarder. Acknowledging the problem is half the battle, right? However, I have no illusions that I’ll beat this demon. You’ll probably read about me in the paper some day. The modern-day Collyer brother. My head resting beside the E.L. Doctorow book fictionalizing their lives.

Exhibit B

The God Delusion was intended. I thought of picking up a Christopher Hitchens’ tome, as well, but something deterred me. Impulsive, I remembered a book suggested by Grace and searched fro that instead. I was greeted by a familiar face when I went to pay. The same cute girl (though I feel inclined to say lady) that handled my Solanin return. I fought the urge to relay my successful quest of finding a non-tainted copy of the manga because I’m sure she didn’t recognize me from Adam and the smile perched on her face was merely good costumer service. I also failed to mention that the copy I returned earlier this week found its way back to the self. Instead, I made a joke about hoping that I’m still a member. I fail at being flirtatious.

I think I’m getting the hang of talking to people again. It’s only a matter of time before I stop filling the void with books.


On “Mild Paedophilia”

The subject of pedophilia (paedophilia) is nothing to take lightly. This post isn’t defending Richard Dawkins, nor stating that I agree with him on the subject of “mild paedophilia.” Also, after much debate with myself, I have chosen to not include the name of my former professor/mentor to protect his identity (he knows who he is). The last thing I need is some bozo Googling his name and finding this post and stirring any trouble for him. Despite that we are constantly at odds, I never wish him any wrong and we always come out as friends in the end. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as he continues to teach me after all these years since the last time I sat in his class or paid him a visit to his office.

I’d also like to apologize if there are any grammatical errors or if, at times, the argument feels disjointed. I’m still recovering from a cold that has me congested and sometimes my thoughts are still cloudy. I promise to correct any error or rewrite anything that might confuse the reader.

Now we may begin.

Richard Dawkins in this episode.

I spent a good amount of time reading the Richard Dawkins article at work, after work, at home, before bed. I read the articles attacking his “mild paedophilia”statment and I read those defending him and stating they were just a poor choice of words. I wouldn’t have put myself through any of this if not for my friend and former mentor/professor.

Like most people—and let it be known I am one of these people as he and like-minded individuals always believe I exclude myself from the fallible—my friend pounced on the poorly selected words of a scholar he disagrees with. He took “mild paedophilia” [British for mild pedophilia] and ran with it like a happy dog that’s found a dirty diaper. He then turned around and used a heinous example to further his misguided argument. “Richard Dawkins would say what about this case?” he asked, linking to an Examiner article on Pedro Vicente Aguirre, who won’t be standing trial for the 14-year-old rape of a 3-year-old girl in Modesto. “Only a mild case of rape,” he adds, “and that 3 year old girl will be fine? She won’t remember a thing anyhow? You like this guy, Dawkins? Really?”

It’s the Republican habit of belittling an atrocious crime to prove their point. He pulled a similar stunt (as did all my conservative friends) with the Zimmerman case, comparing the victim to street thugs. Their logic? If a group of black, teenage kids commit crimes then it’s safe to say that Trayvon Martin was committing a crime just walking after dark. So, of course, he’d make also make the connection between Aguirre’s case and Dawkins’ “mild paedophilia.”

So is he right? Of course not. Dawkins follows the statement with, “[T]he other point is that because the most notorious cases of paedophilia involve rape or even murder, and because we attach the label ‘paedophilia’ to the same things when they’re just mild touching up, we must beware of lumping all paedphiles into the same bracket” (emphasis mine). This should lead any reader that what Dawkins is trying to say (however mistaken) that there are two types of pedophiles in the world: Those who commit violent crimes like rape and murder, and those that don’t.

Dawkins goes as far as describing what “mild paedophilia” is in his memoir, An Appetite for Wonder, as he writes about one of the masters at his public school, Oundle, who “was prone to fall in love with the prettier boys. He never, as far as we knew, went any further than to put an arm around them in class and make suggestive remarks…” Meanwhile, according to ModBee staff writer, Rosalio Ahumada, “Aguirre is charged with two counts of attempted murder, forcible aggravated sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping to commit rape, committing a forcible lewd act on a child younger than 14, burglary and child endangerment.” As you can see, in Dawkins’ eyes, Aguirre’s case falls under “the most notorious cases of paedophilia” and not “mild paedophilia,” as the master from Oundle falls under.

This all leaves a terrible taste in my mouth, and this is where my argument takes a turn. While I agree with Dawkins on some points, my friend has it in his mind that I worship the man. That I based my entire disbelief just his shoulders, where my disbelief stems from the desire to seek the truth. Do I agree with Dawkins’ idea of “mild paedophilia?” No. Do I think the master from Oundle is an okay guy just because he didn’t touch the boys in sexually aggressive way? No. But what really bothers me about the Dawkins article is that he takes upon himself to speak for others when it comes to the past “mild paedophilia” that occurred when he was in school. Just because he wasn’t affected by the teacher who shoved his hand down his pants, doesn’t mean the other victim (if there was another victim) wasn’t affected. Just because something isn’t rape, does not mean it’s not scarring. He doesn’t get to decide this, and people don’t have to believe that he does.

He instructs us to not hold the crimes of the past against those who committed them. The Spanish Inquisition? Shrug it off! It wasn’t that bad. Slavery? It was just the times, bro. In other words, we shouldn’t condemn them with our present day prejudices. I don’t agree, but condemning the crimes of the 18th and 19th century isn’t going to erase them. If anything, we can learn from them. But a 14-year-old rape is still as heinous as one that happened 14 days ago.

Dawkins cannot speak for others anymore than a converted pro-lifer whose abortion changed her stance can speak for every woman who’s had an abortion. But my friend makes a mistake, one his party tends to make often. He calls the rape of a 3-year-old a mild case of rape. Not a mild case of pedophilia. Irony or not, there is no such thing as a mild case of rape anymore than there is such a thing as “mild paedophilia.” Yet, the Republican party has defended the right to redefine rape in the eyes of the law. Some even going as far as wanting to give parental rights to rapists when the victim opts to abort. What about the judge who gave Stacey Rambold 30 days for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide? Wasn’t he asking her to shoulder some of the blame because she was years ahead of her chronological age? While all these backward conservative dickheads are forcing victims to have their rapists children and blaming children for getting raped in the first place, you’d think my friend would pay more attention to his own party. Instead, he decides to attack me for liking some of things written by Richard Dawkins.

Does Richard Dawkins’ “mild paedophilia” change the fact that I like his works? No. Not anymore than I like Lethal Weapon any less after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants, or liking Dirty Harry less after Clint Eastwood’s descent into dementia at the GOP convention. Richard Dawkins is a evolutionary biologist, not a psychologist. Because what you constantly fail to understand about science is that it is not an infallible god. Science is the quest for truth built up by theories. Theories that are fallible and can be proven wrong. It can, therefore, be assumed that scientists—no matter their greatness of their falling—are also fallible. But I’ll leave the theology and philosophy speak for a greater mind than my own.


Solanin by Inio Asano

I spent all day trying to figure out how to review this book. Two volumes published in one, Inio Asano not only tells a tale of a group of twentysomethings living through their final months of Peter Panism, he also does an excellent job of drawing it. As any author who’s master the skill, the pages of Solanin will have you laughing and crying as you grow to love the characters—you may even recognize a little bit of yourself in them.

Solanin by Inio AsanoThe only thing that kept me from enjoying the book on my first run was the publication error. The first copy I purchased at Barnes & Noble (in store), repeated the ending of chapter 12 and the entire chapters of 13 and 14, skipping chapter 15 and dropping me off at the end of chapter 16. I returned the book to the store (tweeted Viz Media who never got back to me, those assholes) and hunted down the last copy at another Barnes & Noble location which—huzzah!—wasn’t a bad copy. I also met a cute cashier(?) who handled my return at the first Barnes & Noble who detailed a tragic manga tale much like my own.

About the book (from the back cover): Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Naruo is permanently crashing at her apartment because his job as a freelance illustrator doesn’t pay enough for rent. And her parents in the country keep sending her boxes of veggies that just rot in her fridge. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she’s just not cut out to be a part of the real world.

by Inio Asano
Publisher: Viz Media, LLC (21 October 2008)
ISBN: 978-1421523217

Buy your copy of Solanin at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. An ebook edition is available for Nook.


“I’ll be somebody…if you need somebody”

The date didn’t happen. My cold hit fever Saturday morning, and she couldn’t find a babysitter anyway.

Saturday morning, I received a text message from her. She uncovered something about her ex. He’s doing the things she always wanted to with someone else. It broke her heart. I responded to her that I didn’t do half the things with Jessica as I did with Jeanna. And I’d probably didn’t do half the things for Jeanna that I’ll do with the next unfortunate. For me, old relationships are a learning experience for what lies ahead. Maybe I’m wrong in this philosophy. If you love someone, you should be willing to travel to hell and back and still remain prepared for another go. Maybe Jeanna didn’t love me enough. Or maybe I didn’t love her enough. Or maybe neither of us really loved each other as much as we said or thought we did. Maybe we’re just fucking around until we die. I see the text message from Jeanna and I think, “Why do you care why I want extra money for?”

Valerie JuneLife is a Valerie June song on the record player.

I’m a battalion of self-sabotage. The queen who sacrifices herself to save the pawn. The house dealt me a seventeen. Hit me. Nineteen. Hit me.

I spin the quarter on the bar. I’m the folded page in a worn book. I talk to her about dates that may never come to fruition. I’m moving on and I’m getting out there and I’m going to push through this rut because, you know, I deserve to be loved and to love and I deserve better and to be happy and a family to come home to without realizing how much of a failure I’ve become and… and… fuck.


Hit me, dealer. I feel my luck’s about to change.