Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homeschooling with Uncle Mikey

I performed this last night as part of my sketch group Tired Heroes, on the Not Too Late Show. Extra writing credit goes to members Kyle Mann and Weseley Hanna.

Welcome to Homeschooling with Uncle Mikey.
Today’s lesson is a primary on Evolution and Creationism. It is my view that both sides of every subject should be taught, which is why later we’ll be covering  Flat Earth theory, astrology, and the fact that diseases are caused by the voodoo priestess who lives down the street .
Evolution is taught by scientists and universities while creationism is mostly taught by the same people who think that there is a pitchfork wielding demon who has nothing better to do than to trick you into eating all of the cake.
Scientists mostly believe that everything spontaneously came from nothing, while creationists add an invisible someone who does it for unknown reasons. This someone is typically accepted to be God who used magic words to make reality appear. According to creationists God knows all and made everything, so back hair, polio and midgets are all just part of his master plan.
Evolution on the other hand works differently. Evolution is merely the belief that every living thing does the best it can to adjust to the world it lives in, those that do well have more children just like them, which doesn’t explain why there’s so many poor people, be they Irish or Mexicans.
Both theories are given equal play by the media, despite the fact that there is a greater percentage of historians who deny the holocaust than people with doctorates in the life sciences who don’t treat evolution as pretty much fact, easily helping to explain why our students test below average internationally in science. At this rate the media might soon start asking the fire its point of view after it burns down your house. The Media: helping to confuse the issues since 1846.
That being said, both sides do have their evidence. Scientists point to the fossil record as proof of the increasing diversification of similar yet complex organisms gradually changing over a great deal of time. And, while some creationists state the fossil record, like masturbation, only exists to test our faith, others find it easier to believe that God merely fucked up the first time, so he decided to drown the entire world and had a 600 year old man gather two of every animal so they could roomie in a giant, wooden boat for a couple of months, only to be let out to incestuously fornicate for a few thousand years until we get Fox news. It was this flood, apparently, that left all the bones; which makes perfect sense, considering all the fossils left by hurricane Katrina.
Instead of gathering data, Creationists spend most of their time trying to disprove evolution, magic being especially hard to prove since it happened 6000 years ago, about four thousand years after Stonehenge was built.
Some Creationists say that humans couldn’t possibly have evolved from monkeys, as you never see monkeys evolving today, adding ‘when was the last time you saw a monkey smoking a cigar, learning to speak sign language, or running for President?’  Creationists also doubt the age of the Universe necessary for science to explain it, about 14 billion years, sarcastically wondering how scientists can split the atom, clone sheep, and create the IPad, yet can be so wrong about how old everything is. 14 Billion years seems more reasonable to me, seeing as it’s going to take more than 6000 years to finish the Boise Hole.
Many Scientists point to bacteria evolving in response to antibiotics as proof of evolution, but some Creationists would argue that’s really just people getting what they deserve after ignoring God’s will and fighting the disease.
Evolutionists would also remind us that Chickens have genes in their DNA for making teeth, Whales have ones for legs, and Humans have genes for tails including the vertebrae. While Creationists would remind us that this is the way God wanted it. You see, God must have had extra genes lying around and didn’t want to waste any.
Finally, Creationists would ask us, ‘Who are you going to believe? Our almighty Father, who created heaven and earth in his infinite wisdom or scientists who think that aids is caused by “sex” and not by sins against God. Scientists, who believe that global warming is made worse by man and cow farts, or an omnipotent deity who finds it acceptable for Father Riley to keep touching your children?
The debate rages on, in the mind of Creationists, meanwhile the rest of us should continue to use the new antibiotics developed by real scientists and we should all remember that, unlike men, not all arguments are created equal.
I am Uncle Mikey, and class is dismissed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How To Get Bad Service In A Restaurant

We've all been there before. You're just sitting there with some useless money in your bank account so you decide to take out your mate/buddies/family to some glorified feeding trough, but when you get there you decide to minimize your experience as much as possible to justify the foul personality that everyone already knows you for. Well how do you do that? With this nifty guide, that's how!

1.) The Arrival
First, make sure to show up as the same time as everyone else. Restaurants are predictably busy at specific times, so make sure to get there exactly 15 minutes after the rush starts so you have to wait the maximum time possible. Throw the poor teenage hostess some flack for not having an infinite number of tables to seat everyone at just to make sure there's a small chance she'll forget your name on the list all together. This is your first chance to act self-important and to pretend you're the only person there and should be sat immediately. If you arrive during an event, say at a big football game at a sports bar, it's advisable to get visibly upset when you're informed that there's a three hour wait. Feel free to walk through the bar in an attempt to find that one place for two people that the other 30 people waiting along the wall somehow missed. After all, you're smarter than those idiots, right? If you like, force yourself on someone else too polite to stop you and just sit with them, or just steal one of their chairs. You are so cash.

2.) Getting a Table

Let's say you do happen to get there at a decent hour or happen to luck into a table because of your obvious importance, make sure to complain about where the table is located or, alternatively, just sit yourself. It's especially useful if you find the one seat in the entire restaurant hidden behind a bush or something so that there's only a 5% chance someone will notice you. Completely ignore the fact that you ignored the sign saying 'please wait to be seated' and blame them for not seeing you there. If it does take longer than 5 seconds for your server to greet you, tell them you've been waiting fifteen minutes. They won't care, but it establishes dominance right out of the gate, and this is very important. The second thing out of your mouth should be some complaint about the temperature or the music. Despite the fact that it's intentionally loud or chilly most of the time so you WON'T be too comfortable, there's probably a good chance that every employee you meet has access to the thermostat and can turn it up the one degree that you need it to be.

3.) Ordering Drinks

First make sure to interrupt the server right away so they don't get to finish their required speech about today's specials. If you're ordering a beer make sure to have everyone at your table individually ask what beers they have. Reading a beer list takes less time, sure, but reading is hard and you have more important things to do. If the restaurant has coke, want pepsi, and complain about it. If they really wanted to make you happy, they'd have anticipated your desires and had both put it. Expect all drinks, especially blended ones to be back at the table in less than 90 seconds. Despite the fact that there is only one blender in the entire building, and maybe even only one bartender making all the drinks, there is no reason why it should take longer than pouring a coke. Also make sure to complain about the strength of the drink. This is especially important in chain restaurants where the staff has absolutely no control over how much alcohol went into your appletini. It's called a recipe, but they should ignore it for you.

4.) Ordering Food.

Don't read your menu, don't even open it. Just interrupt the person ordering that's sitting next to you to and force the server tell you what they have. Ask for something rare and get miffed at them for not making it available immediately, and every place on earth offers free bread sticks now, so just expect those to be available too. Always ask your server if something tastes good. Taste might be entirely subjective, but your palate is the standard and they should already know what you like. If the server lists off the available sides to every person before he/she gets to you, make sure they have to do it again because you were to busy thinking about how awesome you are to pay any attention to it. If your server happens to be well trained and is repeating orders back to people, ignore whatever comes out of their mouth. It's their fault if they didn't hear the words you half mumbled while avoiding eye contact and, despite the fact that what they repeat to you is exactly what you'll be getting, it's their responsibility to know it's wrong, communicating is for schmucks.

5.) Before The Meal.

Most burgers take 8 minutes to make, steaks and ribs usually a lot longer, so there's no reason to wait longer than five minutes during your lunch break for the steak and rib combo (well done of course!). The busier the restaurant is, the faster the kitchen should be, that's just science. Also expect the kitchen to stop everything they are doing to make your food immediately. You are the only important person in here for very obvious reasons. If you have a soda, try to drink them faster than they can be refilled. Your server has nothing better to do than to pour Mr Pibb down your gullet like they're filling up an oil tanker. Make sure to interrupt your server at least once while they are talking to another table, do it by touching them and speaking VERY LOUDLY to make sure they hear you. It's not rude if it's about you.

6.) Getting Your Food

Odds are in the modern restaurant that it won't be your server bringing you your food. It's about business efficiency, but that's less important than you being treated like royalty, so blame them for that too. When your food does finally make it to your table, do not under any circumstances pay any attention to the person handing out the food, just keep talking. If it's the type of place that has many similar items, say a burger joint or a wing place, just accept the first thing that would resemble what you ordered in the dark and complain later that you didn't get the right thing. Also make sure to east a substantial portion of your buddies food before you notice that you ordered a salad instead of a fajita so they have to make a new one from scratch. If you needed anything special for your meal, say an extra plate or lots of extra sauce, NOW is the time to mention this instead of when you ordered everything else. The more you make the staff work, the better they'll feel about earning their poverty level wages.

7.) Eating

Pigs are majestic animals who wallow in their own filth and have 30 minute orgasms, try to channel this while you eat. If you have children they should have been able to cover everything within seven feet of your table in a nice film of crayon shavings and fries by time you leave, this is a good chance for them to express their creativity by seeing how many different things they can spill during their meal. They don't need to use the children's lids every place provides these days, your kids are special. Continue huffing soda like it'll heal the whole daddy left in your heart and expect every drink to be bottomless just because it's free.

8.) Afterward And Extra Credit

If you haven't snapped at your server to get their attention, or waved them over when they were obviously heading directly at you, you aren't trying very hard. If there are people waiting to eat after you, make sure to double the time you use this table to have the same conversation you could have had back home. Remember, you are the only important person here and should get to use all the resources you want for as long as you want because this is America damn it! Your daddy didn't avoid the draft so other people could use the same things you just used. Make sure to touch your server whenever possible, condescendingly or flirtatiously is best, and be offended if they step away from you every time you blast your highly flavorful breath right into their face.

9.)The Check

When the check does arrive, make it as uncomfortable for everyone as possible. Get into an argument with each other like schoolchildren and then demand that the server listen to only one of you when it comes to who gets to pay. Everybody likes to be involved in family arguments, especially if they don't know you very well, get extra offended if he lets your better dressed brother pick up the check. If you need the check split, when it is dropped off should be the first time you mention it. Don't do it easily either, make sure that it is in the most convoluted, backwards way possible with people buying each meals for each other. Always contest at least one thing on your bill. If you ordered 12 beers, say you only drank 8. Despite the fact that this person has done this literally thousands of times more often than you have, and you are kinda drunk, your logic is always superior. If you don't remember drinking it, than you didn't drink it. Also, expect things to be the same price they were 20 or 50 years ago. Once something used to cost 3 bucks, it always stays that price.

10.) The Tip

For extra points make sure to mention the tip at the beginning of your meal. Nothing motivates somebody more than knowing that you are the sole arbiter of their financial security. No matter what you leave, you are a generous soul and they should be happy with it. If you spend five hours watching a game and spent only twenty bucks on soda and appetizers, 4 bucks is plenty to compensate them for the 273 soda refills you drank and for taking up their time. Despite the fact that reciprocation is the foundation of every functioning society, the amount of work that they put in should have no bearing on the amount you leave. If the kitchen screws something up, make sure to pay the server less. If it's too cold, leave less money. If your children are cranky, leave less money and a bigger mess for them to clean. Everything beyond the control of your server should impact their income. If you don't bring enough money, a handshake and a compliment will pay the heating bills for their family. If only more people were sensitive like you.

And lastly, if after all of this you still get good service from somebody, do not, under any circumstances, ask for that person again when you come back. After all, you'll almost never get bad service in a restaurant if all you do is act reasonable...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The First Hypocritical Church of Christ

I am a huge fan of satire, I've actually exhausted the category on stumbleupon several times. The Onion, Betty Bowers, Landover Baptist Church and several youtube channels are frequent lurking grounds for me on the interwebs, and that pales in comparison to my religious devotion (irony noted) to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I'm certainly not the only person on the internet consuming sarcasm and the like, devouring laconic ironies for breakfast, sardonic videos for lunch. One of my most popular stand-up jokes involves lampooning racists, something nearly everybody gets behind, so it shouldn't be too surprising that I started a satirical facebook group called The First Hypocritital Church of Christ. It's obviously satire, isn't it? I mean, isn't it?
I've thought of making it bigger and having a web-site designed, selling some t-shirts, making some videos, all poking fun of the obviously hypocritical things that are pervasive in our culture (Also, daddy has bills to pay and needs constant attention). But before I move forward on that I really need to find out why average Christians find it so offensive. I'll admit I didn't think it through all the way and added pretty much my entire friend's list without thinking on whether or not they'd be offended, and I certainly won't blame facebook for letting just anybody add you to any group without your permission (Although in light of this they should probably change it before some bored miscreant puts everyone they know in a group called 'rapists and thieves), but it is interesting how people get so defensive about the groups they belong to without thinking about it.

I wonder if there's a way to phrase it to dull the emotional reaction without losing the edge that makes it funny. It's not my intent to insult people, well not most people, but to really point out how irritating hypocrisy is. For example, is there anything more Christ-like than to sell everything you have and give it to the poor (Matt 19:21) or taking care of the sick (Matt 25:36)? Yet how many 'religious' people are against universal health care or social programs to help the needy? How many religious leaders have to molest children before there is a real outcry of the people? Why do we condemn children confused about their sexuality in a culture with more mixed messages on the subject than clarity to the point where they lose so much hope that they take their own lives? I may not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but if the words in his book are a true reflection of his personality as a man, I'm pretty sure I can extrapolate how he'd feel about it (hint: not good). Even his Father hates hypocrisy (Job 13:16) to the point where they don't even get into heaven...

We are all hypocrites. None of us lives up to our own ideals, few of us are innocent of driving in the same ways that enrage us, and even David, the man after god's own heart, had a man killed so he could steal his wife. Yet it's not God's forgiveness that's important, it's each others. It is the forgiveness of your neighbor's faults that we all share, more or less each in their part, that makes a society strong. I try to do my best daily and I try specifically to be a douche as little as possible, just like most of  us, but what irks me is the person who stands up and loudly proclaims what they believe and then openly does the opposite. And if it offends you that they are the subject of my ridicule, than I guess you just don't get it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Blog of the Dead.

There is nothing in the world like zombies. Well, sorta. You don't have to dig deep into the genre, especially Romero's part of it, to see that it is a repository of cultural reflections, with enough metaphors and allegory to explode your brains.

This weekend, during our brunch and zombie movie marathon, I'm sure someone (me) will have enough beers to start the conversation about what the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse would be. And, while I love these conversations as much as everybody else, they are really easy to have, something missing in the conversations about what zombies usually represent.

Putting these thoughts together makes me wonder. If zombies really represent our endless hunger for blind consumerism, or to show how easy it is to lose our ability to think (brains anyone?) when it comes to religion or politics (not like there's much of a difference these days), what really is the best way to survive when you're surrounded by the unknowing dead? (answer: shotguns and cocaine!) I have to say that for both of those scenarios I just don't know the answer. When I was talking to people about the health care debate, the sheer amount of inaccurate information that they believed as fact was depressing. What good is a democracy when the people are just too damn lazy to educate themselves? And it is impossible to illuminate someone to your world view when they openly state that their version of the 'Truth' (what an evil word) is just as valid as yours and must be respected.

Imagine a zombie movie where the only weapons available are reason and persuasion, where our band of unlikely survivors have to talk their way through an urban landscape just to survive. Not only would this movie really suck, it would never work. Zombies don't listen, zombies don't reason, zombies only feed and die. Maybe this is why people paint me the cynic, I belong to a long tradition of thinkers who have stared into the abyss and have seen that it was us. And if history is any indicator (hint: it is), the future is only more of the past, but with bigger explosions and titties (I'm sure god is a big fan of Michael Bay films).

So what's the best way to survive? Do you barricade yourself in with the other survivors, hoping that the zombies don't smell you out and overwhelm you? Do you flee into the mountains armed with the knowledge that fewer zombies means easier victories? What if the success of the Tea Party is the vanguard of the 'new religion', the synthesis of blind faith and blind nationalism (incidentally, the only necessary ingredients for a fascist state)?

I'm not saying that it will happen that way but, once a certain tipping point was reached, it has before. Zombie movies traditionally don't end with the heroes riding off into the sunset. Usually they are picked off one by one until all that's left are the lucky, doomed to wander a dystopian landscape until their fates catch up with them. I'm also not saying that blind consumerism and the empty worship of capitalism is leading us down a path where multinational corporations can purchase elections without limitations and get to help us paint our political landscape (okay, that I really am saying).

We live in the future now, damn it! With all the progression that our species has made in the last few thousand years, I hope we don't stop before robots get a chance to steal it all from us. We are so close, on a large scale, from leaving the confines of our planet and exploring the entire galaxy. Every year scientists get closer to understanding their theory of everything, arrogantly named but pretty cool nonetheless. It won't be much longer before nanobots are performing our heart surgeries and we can grow replacement limbs from our own cells. There are a million ways for us to fail, but only one way to survive, and that is together. Maybe the solution isn't in defeating the zombies, but co-opting the system for ourselves. I understand the inherent conflict necessary for opposing world views, but pretending that it doesn't exist or believing that rational conversation alone is a good long term survival practice will not assist us in reaching our species' potential.

We should fight back, not always just with words, but with action. Weird that this whole rant just boils down to an appeal to action, but if you don't vote next week for something that you believe is important, or if you don't know enough to tell the difference, than I guess you're just another zombie.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why I am an Atheist.

I really wanted my second post to be light-hearted, something for the kids, ya know? But I guess I chose the name of this blog for a reason. My writing has traditionally been without purpose, more to shape my voice and to appease my ego than anything else, but as I age I find I need more goals in life. Damn it.

Lately on Facebook I've been caught up in several conversations about the lack of belief, traditionally called atheism, and it never ceases to amaze me how few people truly understand the condition. I'll write on it a lot here in the future, but first let me explain why I'm an atheist before we move on to the less important details.

I was the first of five born to young parents, my father recently out of college and starting on his first career. At the time they had taken the common route of falling away from their parent's belief system, dabbling into what my father now refers to as the 'occult'. Stories from this time are vague, after their conversion back into the fold when I was 5ish the early 80's and late 70's are hardly referred to at all. I remember being left at my Grandparent's house so that my parents could head to the river to be baptized and they have been in that river ever since.

I'm going to glaze over a lot of the details of my childhood; the deaf mother, the two younger siblings born with special needs, the constant conflict with my parents (my best guess is that I actively fought with my parents an average of six days a week for twelve straight years until they packed all my stuff into bags, threw it on the lawn, and called my friends while I wasn't home right after I turned 18), even though these issues had a lot to do with the person I've become. While it was a general sense of rebellion and lack of trust in authority that pointed me towards Atheism, I was still a strong proponent of the faith until my twenties, only identifying myself as an Atheist after a lot of introspection and investigation (a common theme among atheists is introspective conversion). What made me an Atheist was how I felt about it.

My family had a long history of jumping churches, eventually my mother's persecution complex would kick in and she'd accuse the church of ostracizing her, or my father would find some conflict of theology and we'd move on to another church. This happened a lot, sometimes it seemed like more than once a year, but it did let me observe many facets of the Christian faith.

I first faked speaking in tongues when I was about 8 or 9; I did it to impress my parents but deep inside I was torn up with guilt in it not being real. I devoured the bible studies my father would teach in our house, refusing to play with the other children and sitting with the adults and mostly just listening and reading. I tried to read the Bible at least a dozen times, but it just couldn't hold my interest, and this is despite the college age reading level I developed before I left school in the sixth grade. I would lift my hands during the charismatic church services, and bow my head when prayer was offered, but deep inside it always felt empty. I joined church choirs, hoping that the gift of music I inherited from my very religious grandfather would be the gateway to the mind of God, but no amount of attempt was powerful enough to get past the silence. When I was 16 I started to develop pain in my knees and I would force myself to kneel and pray, believing that the needles in my legs were his way of edifying me, spending hours there until the silent tears ran down my cheeks, always begging for relief and hoping that God would reward me for my faith. There was never anything there other than cheap church carpeting and the quiet prayers of those next to me. 

There were bible vacations held over the summer, bible camps when I got older, and after we started homeschooling even my curriculum was filled with God's truth. As my own desperate attempts to reach God bore no fruit, and the adults in my family showed even less ability to translate God's love to me, I started to lock onto the information given to me and that's when it started to happen.

My father is a big nerd and I love that part about him. He was a computer geek back in the 70's and we were on the internet in our house back when there were only 4 colors available and you had to use your phone to call a university to log in. He exposed me to science fiction as a child, even taking me to the drive-in to watch Empire Strikes Back when I was too young to sit through the entire thing. But the thing about science fiction is the first part of it, the science. I inherited his love of science, even creationism for a while, but the problem with science is it makes you think. I'm not suggesting that only thinkers are atheists, or that it is not possible to think and come to a different conclusion, but once you open up that door, it is nearly impossible to close.

I eventually got married to a Catholic, one church being the same as any other to me at this point, and I went to my first Catholic mass. Say what you will about all the extra deities the Pope's people have, but they do understand how to translate the glory of God. Their architecture is beautiful and they behave like a group of people who truly believe that the God of the New Testament is the same one who was capable of all that genocide from the old Testament. There is an element of fear and ritual to their version of Christianity completely lacking in anything I had previously experienced and suddenly it all came together.

By the time my Father was convinced that God wanted him to sell everything he owned and hide from the end of the world up in the mountains, I was pretty much done with the whole thing. I took an intellectual step back and started to actively research it from an outside point of view. Once I reached this point than it was a simple matter of deciding what to believe. I spent years in dark places, the foundation of my entire universe had been removed from me by the simple facts of living through it, but eventually I found myself on the other side, absolutely convinced that all the fear, guilt, shame, and panic I had experienced throughout my life because I could not feel what I was supposed to feel was unnecessary.

Eventually, as I matured in my new views on life, I found authors and people who had blazed the trail before me and it all made more sense, but that doesn't change that I'm an Atheist because of how I feel. Despite how the entire Atheist world view is one built on rational thought and reasoning, no amount of those things has ever convinced the faithful they were wrong; that takes emotion and time, something all humans are born with plenty of.

It's been years since those moments, but it has defined who I am. Some of the best people I have ever met will disagree with me until the end. I am well armed now with logic, quotes, reason, and passion, but that is not my Genesis. It all started with a boy waiting for his parents to return from the river, wondering why he was left behind...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's the new me.

Same as the old me.

Sure, I'm all domestic now. (again)

But this time I'm gardening, so that's totally an improvement. Also, I'm baking...this time without boxes.

My last blogs were all about whiskey and mistakes, sleeping with other people's girlfriends, and the cutters (strippers) that loved me. Today finds me sitting on a well-lit couch intended to be uncomfortable, listening to Concerto in Bb Major by Tempesta Di Mare, a complete news junkie (this is mostly new), and desperate for an outlet. I am always amazed at how many people in my life have read my stuff and I would like to welcome you all back.

So where to begin? Should I rant about how Vince Vaughn is misunderstood and that it is the intent and not word usage which should be the focus of our rage? Perhaps it's strange that I have yet to vomit out an opinion on Glenn Beck, he is more necessary than you probably realize, or give everyone an update on our new porch (the old one was stolen by the winds of change and a cedar tree).

Maybe some emo crap about how much I miss my cat.

Or maybe we should just take it slow, get used to each other again. Like an ex-lovers arms, my brain and ramblings will be comfortable again in time.

Since most of you refuse to participate in this conversation, instead lurking in your family rooms while the kids get into the cookies again, and don't think I don't love you for it, allow me to welcome myself back to our old ways again. Me being me and you being you.

Until Glenn Beck's zombies kill us all.