Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dark Knight's Agenda

There is a opinion piece in the Wall Street Journalabout the movie "The Dark Knight." The author compares Batman to George Bush. Now, I try to avoid politics, but this was too much. Sure, lots of movies and TV shows have political agendas. "The West Wing" was liberal and "24" is conservative. And back in the 40s, when Superman regularly kicked Hitler's ass, that was a definite political statement.

However, I couldn't agree with this article because I see no connection between Batman and George Bush. The movie delves into the problem of dealing with terrorism and heroes having to do dark things to achieve good goals, but that's an old comic book device that's been around since the 80s. I think it's unfair to attach this very popular movie to a specific political agenda. But since the WSJ has opened the door, I felt it only fair to show how the movie would have gone if Batman were exactly like George Bush.

"The Dark Knight" begins with the Joker doing horrible crimes and telling the media that if Batman didn't turn himself in, the Joker would do even more terrible things. Batman sees the news report and immediately jumps into the batmobile, but instead of driving to the heart of Gotham to confront the Joker, Batman drives to Houston, Texas instead.

When Alfred, Batman's trusty butler, realizes where Batman is headed, Alfred calls him on the batphone and asks why he isn't dealing directly with the Joker. Batman explains that the Riddler just recently got out of jail and has gone back to his old job as CEO of a large corporation in Houston. Batman is on his way there to take out the Riddler as a preemptive strike against evil. Besides, the corporation that the Riddler is working for is one that Wayne Enterprises has been trying to get their hands on for ages. Since Batman is Bruce Wayne, head of Wayne Enterprises, he can kill two birds with one stone.

Batman gets to Houston and catches the Riddler in his office doing cross word puzzles. The Riddler is surprised to see Batman. He tries to fight the dark knight, but he lost of all his clever Riddler weapons way back when he went to jail. Batman kills the Riddler easily and takes over the corporation.

Meanwhile, back in Gotham, the Joker is running the city. Batman promises to save Gotham as soon as he has finished liberating the Riddler's corporation.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On Crack

Time: 2007
Place: Atlanta, GA

I made an appointment to have a taxi pick me up from my house and take me to the airport. Atlanta is a city that prefers to drive rather than take mass transit, and as a result, the quality of taxi service is sporadic. Most taxi drivers are like the horses at a horseback riding stable. They’re used to taking the same route over and over. Any deviation is resisted. In Atlanta that means most taxis go from the airport to the downtown hotels and back again and nowhere else. I worried that the taxi driver would never find my house.

In fact, a few years ago, my wife ordered a taxi and the driver called from the front of our house and said he couldn’t find our street. My wife told him where he was and he refused to believe her.

“You are parked by our mailbox, which by the way, has our name on it. Can’t you see me waving at you from the front porch?” my wife said on the phone.

“I’m nowhere near your house,” the cab driver said. “I’m telling you I can’t find your street anywhere.”

I was pleasantly surprised when my taxi not only showed up, but arrived an hour early. The driver looked to be in his 60s. He was a white guy with a sparse beard, a raspy voice, and the worst cough I’ve ever heard. I honestly thought he was going to keel over dead any minute. I think he said his name was Corey, but he was very hard to understand.

Once we got my suitcase in the trunk and got going, Corey started talking and didn’t hardly let up the whole trip. I learned that the reason he arrived early was because the fare before me cancelled at the last minute. Corey was royally pissed about it too.

“I was supposed to pick up this woman that lives in Dunwoody,” Corey said. “I get to her house and ask where she wants to go. She says to me, ‘I refuse to ride with a driver that don’t speak English.’ I said, ‘Lady, what the hell do you think I’m talking right now?’”

Corey repeated this story three times before I understood what he was saying. Between his cough ravaged voice and an accent from God knows where, he might as well have been speaking another language. Perhaps one from another planet.

There was nothing exotic about Corey. He wasn't from another country. His accent might have been from the South, or not. He spoke American English, but in a way that was damn near impossible to follow.

After Corey shared some rather indecent opinions about gay men, and how much he hated that they made up most of his fares, I asked Corey what was the shortest route to take to the airport.

“I don’t want to kiss you,” Corey said, “so I won’t fuck you.”

“I appreciate that,” I said.

As it turned out, Corey knew a route that was much easier and quicker than the way I had been driving to the airport. In fact, I still use his route to get to the airport from my house. But I digress. Back to the cab ride…

Corey is driving. I’m sitting in the back seat. It’s a lovely morning. Corey coughs, then looks at me in the rear view mirror.

“You know what?” he said. “You and I are on crack?”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“,” Corey said, pointing first to me and then to himself. “We..are..on…crack.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t do crack.”

I wondered if maybe he was on crack right then, which might explain the cough.

“You’re sitting down, aren’t you?” Corey said.

“Sitting down?” I asked.

“We’re both sitting down,” Corey said. “So we’re both on crack.”

Oh of course. We were both sitting on our butt cracks, thus Corey and I were on crack. Not quite a knee slapper, but clever all the same.

“Did you go to college?” Corey asked.

“Yes, I did,” I said.

“I thought so,” he said.

Oh of course. Corey was implying that I was too overeducated to understand a salt of the earth, blue collar joke. Actually, I was too used to people speaking English coherently.

“Tell your wife that joke,” Corey said. “She’ll get it.”

I did tell my wife that joke. She didn’t get it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trade Off/ Fibers and Dog Hairs


Time: 1981
Place: Atlanta, GA

I was sitting with my neighbor Nancy in a McDonald’s on a spring day in downtown Atlanta. It was early morning. Nancy ate breakfast while I sipped on a cup of coffee. Besides the generic happy music and people giving their orders at the counter, the place was relatively quiet. Most of the customers were sitting by themselves and were busy eating, waking up, or both.

This peaceful scene ended when an old black woman stood from her table, shuffled to the middle of the floor, and glared at us all.

“Damn right!” she shouted. “Damn right, that’s what’s got to happen!”

I glanced around the room and noticed that everyone was doing exactly what I was doing: trying to pretend the old woman wasn’t there and avoiding eye contact with her.

“Damn right, the white man needs to be shot,” the old woman shouted. “That’s the only way before they stops killing our children.”

The old woman’s tirade became clear to me. Atlanta was growing more and more tense from the Atlanta Child Murders case. The city seemed to be holding its breath wondering when another murdered black child would be found in a patch of woods or in a stream. The week before, John Hinckley Jr. had shot President Reagan. Somehow, the old woman had connected the two events in her mind.

“The only solution to saving our children is for more white people to get shot,” she shouted.

The old woman wasn’t shouting to the room in general any more. She had moved over to our table and was looking right at Nancy and me, which seemed to make sense. Nancy and I were the only white people in the room.

“The sooner white people start dying, the sooner our children will be saved!” the old woman shouted.

Her ranting continued for a while longer before she ran out steam and shuffled out of the McDonald’s. Nancy and I were afraid to move. We didn’t say it, but the questions from unnatural fear were there. What if the other black people in the restaurant agreed with the old woman? Did they hate us for being white? Were we in danger?

A black man caught my eye. He was sitting in the booth across from us. He looked to be in his late twenties. He seemed very sad.

“Please don’t listen to her,” he said. “She’s upset and talking crazy.”

“We understand,” Nancy said.

Nancy and I relaxed. She finished her breakfast and I drank my coffee. Two months later, Atlanta police arrested Wayne Williams for the Atlanta Child Murders.


Time: 1985
Place: Atlanta, GA

I have another anecdote that relates to the Atlanta Child Murders that took place four years after the old black woman ranted at Nancy and me in a downtown Atlanta McDonald’s.

I was working for a small television station. We had a live show on Friday nights hosted by a local black radio personality named Alley Pat. He had the best connections in the black community. We were a small rinky dink station, but Alley Pat could get any well known black politician on the show he wanted.

One Friday night, Alley Pat invited Wayne Williams’ father to be on the show. There had been a lot of discussion over the years about whether or not Wayne was really guilty of the Atlanta Child Murders. Some argued that Wayne may have killed one of the victims, but not all of them. Others argued that evidence used against Wayne wasn’t enough to convict him.

Fibers and dog hairs found on some of the victims matched fibers and dog hairs found in Williams’ home and car. Though using fibers as evidence is common now, it was still a new thing back then. Wayne’s father came on Alley Pat’s show to voice his opposition to using fibers to send his boy to jail.

“Fibers and dog hairs,” Wayne’s father said, “That’s what they used to put my boy in jail. Fibers and dog hairs! You can’t put somebody in jail for fibers and dog hairs.”

Allow me to set the stage for what happened next. This was a live TV show. In our studio, there were three cameramen operating these big ass cameras. There was a floor director. On the set was Alley Pat, the guest, and next to them, a four piece jazz band to play music in and out of commercials. In another room were the director and the technical director. In yet another room was the sound guy. I was the sound guy. I was responsible for everyone’s microphone. All the technical crew communicated with each other by headsets. We could hear each other, but the people on the set couldn’t hear us.

I was in an odd situation in that I had monitors to see what everyone was doing, but I was the only person sitting in a room by himself. I was involved and isolated at the same time. I also had a bad habit of making jokes during live events. Because of the headsets, only the technical crew could hear my jokes.

Around this same time, there had been many commercials on TV for Fruit and Fiber Cereal. The cereal’s tagline was “the fruit is so good, you forget about the fiber.” The idea was that the cereal’s fruit was so delicious, you didn’t think about that health benefit of the fiber.

Okay, now you have the situation. Wayne Williams’ father is saying that “fibers and dog hairs” unjustly sent his son to jail, which triggers the cereal’s slogan in my head.

“Dog hairs and Fibers,” I said. “The dog hairs are so good, you forget about the fiber.”

Mr. Williams doesn’t hear my joke, but the technical crew does. They all wanted to bust out laughing, but this was a live event. On the monitor in my room, I could see one of the cameras bouncing up and down from the cameraman trying to laugh quietly. Unfortunately, his camera was the one directly on Mr. Williams who saw the cameraman laughing and was not happy about it one little bit.

I felt terrible. Poor Mr. Williams was defending his son and it appeared as if the technical crew was amused by his efforts.

“Camera two, hold your shot steady,” the director said. “And no more talking.”

For the rest of the show, only the director spoke and only to give direction. After the show, the crew went out and did what we did after every live event. We got stinking drunk. About every ten minutes, somebody shouted out, “Dog hairs and fibers.” To which someone else would shout “the dog hairs are so good, you forget about the fiber.” And we would all start laughing again. Out loud like only really bad people do.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More answer to all our questions

More examples to how the statement "no matter what the question, Jesus is the answer" can be applied to the questions we ask.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Talking to Mom

I love my mother for many reasons. I love how she takes logic and loops it and twists it around. When she gets done talking, everything she said makes sense, but you're not sure how she got there. Here is a small example: a short telephone conversation she had with my wife.

Mom: “I’ve been reading Barbara Walters’ memoir. You know, 'Audition.'”

Wife: “Oh yeah. I’ve heard a lot about it. How do you like it?”

Mom: “I don’t like it at all.”

Wife: “Why not?”

Mom: “It’s about Barbara Walters.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Vagina Breast

Time: 1974
Place: Chattanooga, TN

Dennis and I were reading comic books at his place when he told me about the dream he had the night before.

In his dream, Dennis was in a large white room with no doors, windows, or furniture. Just four blank walls, a floor, a ceiling, and a woman. The woman was attractive, in her early 20s with shoulder length brunette hair and a nice build. She was medium height, which made her taller than Dennis. At 4 feet 11 1/2 inches, just about everybody in the Western Hemisphere was taller than Dennis.

Both Dennis and the woman were in their underwear. The woman had on a white bra and white panties. Dennis wore a pair of tightie whities and his glasses. Even in his dreams, Dennis couldn’t see shit without his glasses.

Dennis had one goal: remove the woman’s undergarments. The woman had one goal too, which was to keep them on. They dealt with their competing goals by wrestling each other. Their intense struggle went on for hours.

It was a frustrating fight for Dennis. Why wouldn’t the woman give in? Why didn’t she ever get tired while his arms grew heavier by the hour? Would it be so terrible for her to be naked? Dennis was willing to get naked with her, if it would make her feel better.

Finally, Dennis managed to get both hands on the back of the woman’s bra. He pulled as hard as he could and ripped the bra in two. Her breasts bounced free. Dennis noted that she had a nice rack. Her breasts were like the baby bear in the Goldilocks story- not too big, not too small, just right.

This victory spurred Dennis on to achieve the ultimate prize: the removal of the woman’s panties. As Dennis described his dream, I realized that he had never seen a woman’s naked crotch. We had been exposed to the same cheap men’s magazines, which featured mountains of bare breasts, but not one beaver shot. Seeing so many woman naked from the waist up, but never from the waist down, it was no wonder that Dennis would obsess over what a woman’s vagina looked like. He was fifteen and his hormones wanted an answer. In his dream, he was willing to fight for that answer.

I was lucky. I had a girlfriend who let me see hers. My dreams centered on my struggle to convince my girlfriend to let me put my penis inside her vagina. She was waiting for marriage before allowing anyone that privilege, so I could look, but not insert.

Dennis didn’t have much luck with women. Dennis didn’t have much luck with anything. His parents were divorced. His big brother picked on him. He had polio when he was an infant. He was born before the Salk vaccine reduced polio to the rarity it is today. For years, he had to wear leg braces. He was furious that he would always be a half-inch under five feet tall. How could a man ever make it with the ladies if he constantly worried about half an inch?

In his dream, Dennis continued to wrestle the woman. She was topless, which was nice, but it also made his mission harder because he had less clothing to grab hold of. They were both become covered in sweat and she kept slipping out of his arms. Dennis didn’t give up. Nothing was going to stop him from getting her panties off and finally seeing what was hidden inside them.

When the woman stopped to catch her breath, Dennis saw his chance. He reached down, grabbed a handful of panties and in one mighty tug, snatched them off her body.

What he saw between her legs shocked him. It was another breast. A smaller more compact breast than the pair on her chest, but a breast all the same. A vagina breast.

I smugly assured Dennis that a woman’s vagina did not resemble a small boob.

“I know that’s not what a vagina looks like,” Dennis said, defensively. “My mind filled in the blank with the only part of a woman’s anatomy I was familiar with.”

I offered to give Dennis a detailed description of female genitalia, but he refused. He wanted to find out for himself. Still, that vagina breast gave Dennis quite a shock.