Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Carol Qualms


            Ah, winter. Happy near-solstice holiday of your choice! Just kidding, let’s remember the reason for the season, and any season we get to have: axial tilt. So wherever you’re traveling this holiday, remember to thank the Earth for that perfect 23.5 degree tilt we’ve got going on. It deserves it, deep down to its solid iron heart of gold.
            I don’t know about the either of you, but tomorrow I will be celebrating Christmas, the America of holidays. It’s a great time, from the smelly pinecones stinking up my place of employment, to the lights on houses that blind me while I drive at night. Wherever you go, there remains one constant about this time of year (and the six weeks preceding it), Christmas songs. Some are traditional, and some are contemporary, but they’re really all the same in one important way: they’re dumb. So, let’s have a look at the more famous ones.

     Santa Claus is Coming to Town
            My biggest beef with this song is that they keep talking about how Santa is watching us at all times, which is creepy enough, but they add on the fact that you should be “good for goodness’ sake” which is BULLHONKY. You’re obviously being good for your own sake, so Santa will give you presents. Like, Socrates might see a difference (yeah, I’m a sophomore who took a philosophy course, wanna fight ‘bout it), but I’m like “Hey, as long as those kids will shut up and just be good, feel free.” However, I’d prefer we not ruin their ideas of what “Goodness’ sake” is.

     Little Drummer Boy
            Hey, kid, let that freakin’ baby sleep. Get the heck out of that barn! Those poor parents just put him down. It’s three in the morning, quit playin’ your damn drum at this newborn. And if any baby smiled at you, it’s simply because it’s copying your facial movements, not because it’s pleased at your elementary drumming. I mean, come on, a fifth grader can do “rum pum pum pum pum,” I don’t think even a baby Jesus would be impressed.
Hey, kid, go do something productive.
Join the Army, maybe.

     Do You Hear What I Hear
            I really think the line should go, “Do you hear what I hear/ said the sheep to the shepherd boy/ That sheep, that sheep, it totally just talked/ do you want to start a freakshow zoo?” Plus, uh, not that I’m beefing on this for historical reasons, but if you’re going to write a song on the Bible, shouldn’t you get the fact that the king, instead of proclaiming to all his subjects that the child would bring fortune and light, instead had all infants in Judea killed? Yeah, that’s a little tougher to fit into a major key, I know, but let’s try and get the details right, okay?

      White Christmas
            The guy who wrote this was Irving Berlin, the same man who wrote “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” later made famous by the great singing sensation Taco. He also is the only man to present an Oscar to himself. Irving Berling was Jewish, and apparently only wrote a Christmas song to make easy money, like every single other artist who releases a Christmas album ever.

     A Few of my Favorite Things
            Yeah, I know, why is this in a Christmas songs list? Well, it's always on the Christmas station that gets played where I work, so we’re counting it. “When the dog bites/ when the bee stings/ when the Nazis invaaaaaaade!” Look, von Trapps, it’s going to take a little bit more than thinking of girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes to get Hitler out of Austria, now that Chamberlain sold you out.

     Baby, it’s Cold Outside
            There’s no way around this, this song is about rape. Like, way more obviously than it should be. It’s hiding in plain sight. Hey, guy, I don’t care how cold out it is, this woman wants to go home. Stop giving her alcohol. ESPECIALLY stop slipping things into it. That’s just mostly a life rule.

     The First Noel
            How many Noels have there been since? Off topic, I could sing that “Glooooorrrrrururururiaaaaa” part all day. ALL DAY. I feel like such a boss when that comes out my mouth.

      Silent Night
            If you didn’t giggle when you said “virgin” during this song when you were younger, then you, sir, are a greater man than me. Not that it takes a lot. I mean I didn’t shave for a month and two weeks and it still didn’t show up in photographs.

So there you go. I just ruined Christmas for all of yo- OH MY GOD.

Merry Holidays, and to all a secular Good Night!

Mick “Santa’s Favorite” Dickinson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Pride of Iowa

Okay, so some background. If you two didn't know, I live in Iowa, and am very proud of that fact. Recently, Professor Stephen Bloom published an article in The Atlantic concerning Iowa. It's very long, but it really has to be read to be believed just how big of a dick one man can be towards a state. So, I felt it was my responsibility as a loyal Iowan to defend his state. Others have done it before I got done with mine, but I had work and finals. Plus, you know, being a cool guy that has things to do. Not really. My roommate took our TV. So, uh, this is a lot longer than my normal posts but I'd really appreciate if you could give it a look. I will be sending in a copy to the Atlantic itself, but they only accept submissions by mail, so that'll be a bit.
If you don't have the time to read the entire thing (either mine or his), here's a summary. tl;dr: Stephen Bloom is a doodyhead that is mean to my state.


            Perhaps I should thank Professor Stephen G. Bloom for his essay on Iowa. I know that seems a little odd, but even as a born and raised Iowan, I do find myself having this thought. All of my life, I have taken pride in my state, often presenting my views to anyone who would listen. Most of these attempts were met with silence, but now, because of Prof. Bloom, my fellow Iowans are now speaking up like I have been. Because of Prof. Bloom’s unfair and even sometimes slanderous composition, we Iowans have been given a target to unite against, and that is needed from time to time. The essay that Bloom had published in The Atlantic was originally, and supposedly overall, concerned with the fact that the first presidential primaries take place in such a small, out of the way state. Of course, he only covers this topic in the first five paragraphs and the last sentence, thrown in as if he had reached his word limit and needed a desperate way to tie his way back into the thesis statement.

            But, of course, in any rebuttal, perhaps we should start with the major topic first, and slowly move our way down each supporting paragraph as it crops up in the essay. Prof. Bloom starts his paper disparaging the political practices of glad-handing in the state that owns the first presidential primary, although we in Iowa hold a caucus. Why do we cling to this dated practice? Well, you see, I’m not entirely sure. It’s how it has worked in Iowa for some time and since we haven’t had any major problems with it, we Iowans haven’t gotten around to tackling the issue. Although for the record, the Republican Party does not use a caucus like the Democrats do, they subscribe to a secret ballot like most other primaries. And, with respect to Prof. Bloom, I cannot argue that the practice of politicians coming to Iowa to use its unique status as the first major stage in order to vault themselves to further heights is a negative. After they feel the bonus in national attention, they often drop Iowa by the wayside, without breakfast or a phone number.

            The major problem with this essay, other than its treatment of Iowans as a whole, is the assumption Bloom makes at the very beginning and bases the rest of his essay on. He seems to believe that Iowans hold the power to determine who is eventually nominated for his party (or her party, which is a possibility in 2012), and uses Barack Obama as his example. Because Barack Obama (or perhaps a different Obama, as Prof. Bloom does not use his entire name in the opening paragraphs) won the Iowa caucuses with an 8% lead over John Edwards in 2008, Bloom argues, he was given the fame and resources necessary to continue his run, eventually securing the nomination, and the presidency later still. Bloom jumps from this conclusion to suggest maybe Iowa should not be the state that wields this much power.

            What Prof. Bloom happens not to mention is that the Republican candidate that won that year’s caucuses was Mike Huckabee, with only 4% less of the support than Obama (38%-34%). Mike Huckabee went on to be mathematically eliminated some time before the Texas primaries. The man who eventually earned his party’s nomination was John McCain, who finished at fourth in Iowa, with a distant 13% of Iowans’ votes. According to Bloom’s implied hypothesis to begin his paper, Mike Huckabee should have earned the notoriety and name recognition through Iowa to continue a successful run towards the candidacy. Huckabee eventually was named winner of only two other primaries, in West Virginia and Kansas, both within the same week of each other.

Monday, November 28, 2011

First Year Grab-Bag

     Well, here we are. We've come a long way in our year here. Okay, so it's not actually a year until Dec. 4th, but my roommate is using the TV so I can't play Skyrim, and I don't know if I'll be bored enough to write this then. So here we are, like I said. 9.3k views later. That's roughly 25 and a half people per day that stub their toe onto this website just searching for UV Blue pictures or MEGAN FOX TOPLESS (here's to hoping that's another 300 views). The highest viewed post, FYI, is this one about high school movies I put almost absolutely no thought into. Sorry about that bad impression.

This blog's view count is... Well, if you get it,
you've already gotten the joke.
     So I thought to myself, "How should I celebrate this milestone that nobody, especially my attention span, thought I was going to be able to reach?" Perhaps a heartfelt bout of thanks for the quasi-legitimate semi-read outlet for my inane writings? No, of course not. Instead, several things that, smashed together, make up an entry of satisfactory length. That's the way Jesus would do it.

Life's Great Questions
     Yes, I know I already posted something similar to this, but this is more of a philosophical exercise instead of the life-skills my questions previously instilled. So, I'm welcome to debate, whether over text, email, screaming my name three times to a mirror so that I appear, heartfelt love letters, a rock to my window (please, no more bricks), or in the comments section down beneath this entry. Also, I'm not answering these for you. It's up to each man and woman to come up with their own answers.

1. When shuffling past someone in a row of chairs, are you supposed to show your butt or your crotch?
2. If someone holds both of the doors in a two door entryway open, do you say thanks both times, or just the first? Or, perhaps, just the second?
3. How many times does your roommate have to moan before it's okay to wake him up?
4. Just when should I stop? How will I know if I've got enough?
5. What language do deaf people think in? What do blind people dream about?
6. Magnets, how do they work?
7. Why do the smartest people say the dumbest things, like "That's the way Jesus would do it"?
8. If society wanted to, we could make sweat pants formal attire. What I'm asking is, why don't we do that right now, right away?
9. Why aren't you following me on Twitter?
10. Isn't the most dangerous thing about questing for the meaning of life what happens when we find it? Ooh that one's serious! Look out!
11. Which Journey song is better: Don't Stop Believin'? or Separate Ways?

Funnily enough, I wrote those questions during Philosophy instead of actually responding to the real questions as often as I could have. I also wrote these two stories.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Post: Jenkins, With a Call to Reason


     It’s hard to remember my past life. It’s as if I have woken up from a twenty-something year long dream and it disappeared back into the mists of my mind the second I awoke. Sometimes, in my wanderings, I stop and catch myself staring blankly into space, trying to recall just who I was.
     Speaking of waking up, I came to in this life in a strange school’s boarded-up cafeteria. Mega-spooky. The woman that was there must have known me and not been a huge fan, because my earliest memory is her looking into my opening eyes and crying. I tried to ask what was happening and where I was, but I was so tired (God, I felt like I was dead for awhile), only a gurgle or mumble came out.
     It didn’t seem to improve her spirits. The woman started crying and pulled a gun on me. I sat up slowly, trying not to make any sudden moves. On the ground, I saw another man laying facedown, in a pool of blood, dead. This woman had killed him with that revolver she was holding. The gun was so hefty it looked like it would do just as much damage to her slender shoulder as any of its bullets would do to me. I urged her to put down the gun, but once again, only a mumble.
     It must have been something I said. She sniffed once, and cocked the hammer on the revolver back. Now, I’m not a violent guy, but I’d much prefer to stay alive, so I pounced on her. I tried grabbing the gun, but she was uncommonly strong, as if she was panicking. Her hand mashed into my face, and reflexively I bit it. All the fight went out of her, and she simply stopped and looked at her hand. I tried to apologize, but my words hadn’t had the best effect on her mood, so instead I lamely got up and left. I should have taken the revolver away from her, but guns make me uncomfortable.
     Occasionally, I see her wandering out with the rest of us. She must still hold a grudge, because she won’t acknowledge me. I’m not going to be the one to patch things over either, I mean, she’s the one who pulled a gun on me.
     People have gone crazy all over, it seems. A couple days ago I walked over to a nearby mall in order to pick up a new shirt. The one I’ve been wearing for awhile until I get home has a huge stain on my collar bone, which has been sore for awhile. But first of all, the mall was packed. Didn’t these people have jobs? The economy must have really tanked. That must be why nobody was driving. Well, except for those crazy Hummer owners that seem not to care about anything. Gas prices, mufflers, open carry laws, whether or not they were about to run me over, those sort of things.
     Sorry, I’m shambling. I mean, rambling. I got to the packed mall and finally fought the aimless crowd till I found a nice clothing store. A guy was there already, so I asked if I could get some help shopping. I must have startled him with that damn gurgle mumble thing, because he jumped and spun around.
     Naturally, he had a shotgun in his hands. You know, as you do. I tried being the calm one, slowly walking at him, trying to be non-offensive. He said some one liner I don’t care to repeat here, and pumped a round into the chamber. Luckily, a fellow shopper of mine popped up behind him to save me. Unluckily for my good taste, he chomped onto the man’s neck instead of just hitting him in the back of the head. I shouldn’t judge, he saved me.
     Perturbed, I forgot about my shirt purchase, and fought the curious crowd streaming into the store in order to get out and into some fresh air. Once I got there, I saw a bus with chainsaws sticking out of the windows drive by. There must have been a heavy metal show in town or something.
     I don’t know why some people hate my friends and wandering buddies. All we want to do is enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. Sometimes we want to go to the mall or pay our respects to the fully dead in graveyards. You people do that all the time, too.
     I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say you people. That’s the intolerance I’m fighting against. But when others call my people derogatory names like “zombie” and “undead” it really hurts my feelings. I prefer things like Dead American. We’re not evil, we’re just different! Even though you may be Homo Sapien and I am Homo Decomposiae, we still have much more in common than you’d think. If you see me staring off into space or into the sky, please, just let me be. Isn’t a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I mean, I know I smell rotting, but you’ve boarded up all the pharmacies and I can’t get deodorant. Do I not have a heart that beats like… well, bad example. Just please, learn how to live with us. Those that get close enough come to like us and even join us! It’s a pretty great life. Thanks for your time.

-Jenkins the Dead American

"Are you okay, man? You took a nasty fall!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Passionate Eruption... Not Like That.


     I don’t know if you guys have noticed in these 50 POSTS I'VE WROTE, but I kinda like history. It’s one of my many passions, along with pipes, scotch, and finely-bound books. Okay, so maybe only one of those things is true (it’s history), but I’m going to tell you how I got to be so passionate (about history, which I’m going to tell you about).
     The scene is Pompeii, Italy in the first century AD. The Romans living beneath Mount Vesuvius wake up one day and start to go about their business, conquering the know world, persecuting Jews, those sort of things. But from underneath their besandaled feet comes a rumble. Well, the resortish town lives beneath a volcano, these things happen. So, they go on beating slaves and stealing culture from the Greeks, choosing to ignore it. Then BAM- Vesuvius full on erupts and covers the entire ancient city in ash, lava, and firey, firey death. No matter how fast they fled, tens of thousands of people died.
     And that’s why I love history.

     No, just kidding, there’s more to it than that. When this volcano erupted, it covered the town so fast that many people were caught doing their day-to-day lives. The best part is that the town was preserved from weathering almost completely by being covered in debris from the eruption. So, almost two thousand years later, an archeologist was digging around when he found a rooftop. “That’s odd,” he probably said, while his eyes changed to large, cartoonish dollar signs. Digging further down, this archeologist finds an entire town, preserved almost to perfection. You know, except for all those fossilized dead bodies.

"Can somebody cover that with a blanket or something?
It's starting to creep me out."
     Remember those people that died two millennia ago doing their day to day activities? Those nearest to the base of the volcano were pretty much frozen in stone doing just that. Those further away had time to die in horribly depressing ways, like holding hands in bed or fleeing in the street. But by using these fossilized dead people and their possessions, we learned an amazing amount of information about the way ancient people lived and behaved.
     But I’m not even to the best part. Pompeians and Romans at large wrote on walls as a sort of public advertising or an extremely large bathroom stall. Apartment classifieds, job opportunities, and more commercial advertisements littered random buildings.
      There was a political campaign going on in Pompeii at the time of the eruption. Just like our campaigns today, political ads littered the walls of the town. One of them read along the lines of “Vote for Tiberius, who is backed by thieves, liars, and those who are asleep.” That’s a legitimately funny mudslinging political ad! As long as two thousand years ago, Romans had perfected satire in their most serious establishments.
     Remember how I said the walls were like the world’s largest truck stop stalls? Well I hope so, it’s only a paragraph above this one. Stop smoking that refer, and get some memory back. I’m worried about you, I hardly even know you anymore. Where was I? I’m rambling so much… I need to ease off the wackee tobackee.
     Anyhoo, bathroomish things. The Pompeians wrote such things as “Maximus had sex with a girl in the butt here during the Ides of March,” cause, you know, men still existed at that time. Others talked about their poops or listed sexy contact information. I assume it included a phone number, which, if cartoons are to be believed, worked by having a pterodactyl relay information before exchanging pithy comments to the camera.
     But we’re not even to the best part. The one thing that drove me to a life of crime history. The statement that sent me down a path of which I would never look back:
         “Everyone writes on walls but me.”
     That simple, scrawled message changed my life like I’m in Inception. Somebody wrote that. A man woke up, safe and warm in his Pompeii bed, and decided to hit the town, but today was different. A smile played on his lips as he fingered the chalk in his tunic pocket. He had woken up with this idea, and he was going to finally do it. Checking both ways, he wrote out his little joke, and with a small nod of approval, moved on to live the rest of his life. Two thousand years later, a thirteen year old, living on a continent the writer never would have dreamt existed, read the joke, on a machine that would surpass the imagination of the joker, and laughed.
     The guy that wrote that existed. He had hopes and dreams. He had an asshole boss and crazy ex-girlfriends. Most likely, he sometimes had weeks where he couldn’t poop very well and got crabby because of it. He thought everyone else could grow facial hair better and got laid more often than he did. Then one day, he got up, basically tweeted onto a stone wall, and was lost to history forever after. In a totally different world, this guy lived the same life as we do today.
     People throughout recorded history complained about their crazy kids and how they didn’t respect their parents like they did when they were young. Even Vikings, who laid waste to an insane amount of Northern Europe, thought their daughters’ way of dressing was becoming too scandalous.
     The point I’m making with the Pompeii writers and the complaining is this; While others study history as a way to recognize how different the world is, I study it because it amazes me how much humans have overcome to never really change. While worlds may come and go, human nature will always be the same.
     Also, I’m egotistical enough to hope maybe something I write will make a kid laugh 2000 years after I die.

Everyone writes blogs but him,

Mick Dickinson

Friday, October 14, 2011

Morning Constitution

Warning: educational content follows.

     You guys. I don’t care if it takes away all my cool guy cred I’ve stacked up from getting kinda good at Call of Duty (I have that, right?), but I’m going to say what’s on my mind. I love the Constitution. Not in a “WOO AMURRICA” kinda way, but a more refined, “Excellent, America,” kind of way.
     The Constitution represents America in a multitude of ways. It’s relatively new, but made a definite impact on the rest of the world. It’s profound, but widely misunderstood. And it’s wonderful, but undercut by its most fervent supporters.
     First and foremost, let’s discuss where the Constitution came from. If the Revolutionary War ended in 1783 (full disclosure: I had to look that up) and the Constitution was written in 1787, what happened in between? A little hilarious failure called

            The Articles of Confederation
     Okay, so America has always been “The Great Experiment” and yes, nerds, I know an experiment can’t technically fail. So I guess I should say the results came back negative. But the Articles were the inept rules for the newly freed 13 colonies. Some highlights include: Congress (the only branch of national government) needed a unanimous vote to pass EVERYTHING, and you know Rhode Island would vote opposite just to be a dick, like the juror who would rather disagree for the free deli sandwiches. Congress didn’t have the power to tax, and instead had a tip jar if the states felt like donating some money. Also, states printed their own money. Exchange rates everywhere!
Also the males are laying eggs!
     The federal government was almost non-existent, and much like its modern day opponent Ron Paul was forced to stand on the sidelines, lamely suggesting courses of action. You can’t exactly blame the people for choosing such a non-central form of government. They had just come up from under the thumb of an oppressive monarchy, which is about as central as one can get. So, in their complete humanness say “Well, that sucked, let’s try the other end of the spectrum.”
     When a rebellion re-erupted in the New York countryside, Congress was tugging on the shirt sleeves of the states like a small mustachioed man holding his hat in his free hand. That is, until George “Ax-Man” Washington decided he’d had enough of these farmers’ BS and marched on in to shut the business down. So some politicians decided they’d meet and OVER THROW THE FREAKING GOVERNMENT.
"Damn it feels good to be a gangster," G.W. , 1784

            Overthrowing the Freaking Government
     So these guys decided what they were doing wasn’t working. Imagine the balls that that takes. I can’t admit that maybe I’m not going to land that 360 degree backflip on the motorcycle in GTA after five minutes of trying, but yet the same men that fought the strongest military force in the world to earn their freedom stopped, looked at each other, and said “Well, we sure screwed the pooch on this go around.” But, you know, 18th century-er. I will fall into the lava three times in a row trying to get one piece of coal in Minecraft, and these legislators realized they were pushing the wrong stone, and decided they’d just let that one roll back down the hill, and start with a new one. But how did they come to this realization?
     The delegates from Virginia said “Hey, guys, party at our statehouse! BYOB, or let Samuel Adams hook you up, I guess. Also, we can maybe fix these Articles, you know, brah, if we feel like it.”
     So all the states show up, except for Rhode Island, who probably had better things to do than create one of the most powerful documents in the world. Also, being contrarian is just kinda Rhode Island’s thing. In a world where Maine is still part of Massachusetts, Rhode Island needed a claim to fame other than the smallest area and most misleading state name, so they chose being the biggest “That Guy.” You know, That Guy who will disagree with you on everything, like attending the Constitutional Convention or ratifying Prohibition. That Guy.
    Anyhoo, almost all of the states show up with a “Let’s fix these pesky Articles of Confederation!”attitude when Virginia asks if bros can just be bros and they’ll keep the whole proceedings quiet. With what I imagine as nervous exchange looks, the delegates responded with a resounding, “Uh, sure, man, whatever you want.”
    But Virginia wasn’t there to ask if sometimes you check out other guys’ butts, they got down to all business and said, “Alright, brosefs, it’s time to fix these bogus Articles. We, the delegates of Virginia, suggest pitching the whole thing out and starting anew.”
     There was much harrumphing and wig-picking-up and even probably a fancy tea spit take or two at this suggestion. Throw out the Articles of Confederation? The thing that had saved the states from an infestation of pirates for going on a decade? But after the last bowtie had stopped spinning, they finally decided maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.
     So Virginia says “Let’s have a publicly elected legislature based on population. That House of Representatives (sound familiar?) will appoint another, higher house. Then these will appoint an executive leader for the new executive branch. Also, a judicial branch will exist, I guess. Oh, and, uh, this Congress will have the power to tax, regulate interstate commerce, and supersede the judgment of the states. We call it the Virginia is Super Awesome Plan, but Virginia Plan will work too.”
     The delegates were stunned. Bicameral legislature, based on population? Executive branch? Any separation of powers at all?! Letting average citizens vote!?!? Once again, much hurrumphing. All the large population states couldn’t see the problem with an entire government either directly or indirectly controlled by whoever had the most people, while small states though maaaaybe that was unfair. But you know what didn’t come up as an option? The Articles.
     So New Jersey fist pumps its way to the stage and pitches its own plan, “Okay chiefs, we like the taxes and interstate commerce and even the separation of powers thing, nah I’m sayin’. But we, the mad phat delegates of NEW JOISY, say we should go back to a unicam- unicam- one house legislature, all states even, right?”
     So these two plans were fought over in 103 degree summer weather in a hot room with men wearing wool and fancy wigs. What I’m saying is, things got sticky. And for awhile it looked as if things would fail almost as hard as the Articles had originally.

            Connecticut Does Something for Once
     That is, until Connecticut comes in and says, “Dear lord, good chaps, can’t we agree? Obviously EVERY STATE HERE wants the power to tax, regulate interstate commerce, and the ability to supersede states, and we’re all quite enamored with this ‘separation of powers business.’” So they cooked up a plan to take Virginia’s two houses idea, but separate them, making one by population, voted in by the public, and another, with each state getting the same amount of representatives as the others. Finally, a publicly elected executive and some sort of judicial branch (that nobody really cared about, I’m beginning to guess). You may recognize this as the organization of THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Please hum the Stars and Stripes while imagining waving flag.

     So here lies the first lesson to be learned from the Constitution. This blueprint for our 240 year old nation was born of compromise. The large states and small states can be considered the first political parties. And, on the eve of the most important decision since the one to split from England at all, the parties decided to put aside most of their disagreements and compromise for the good of their new nation. A compromise leaves nobody completely happy, of course, but these men realized that agreeing to some other person’s ideas doesn’t mean your ideals ‘lose’. It only means you understand something is better than a firmly standed nothing.
     So, then, it was up to hammer things out. I’m not going to delve into huge detail because not even the most entertaining writer (which I don’t claim to be) can make these legal documents exciting for the common reader. Suffice to say each branch gets its own article in the Constitution, and the legislative was certainly meant to be the main branch, coming in first and longest. Also, the judicial branch was almost an afterthought. After the whole thing was written by tiny man James Madison, it was up for ratification. Fun fact: not every state ratified the Constitution. Guess which state was one of those who didn’t. I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with Chode Island. Heh. Chode Island.
     But! At the end of the Constitution comes the Bill of Rights and the following amendments. One thing you wouldn’t think would happen is the fight over including this Bill of Rights. We take it as nothing less than a certainty it would be there, but many people at the time saw it as an unnecessary indulgence. Federalists and the imaginatively named Anti-Federalists were the first official political parties, fighting over these ten amendments.
     Here is the second lesson to learn from the Constitution: it is constantly changing. The Framers believed they were making a country to last, and knew the rules would change, like the pronunciation of two f’s. Congreff?! So they wrote their rules vague, gave a lot of outs, and included an entire device to change the very rules of the document. They made it extremely difficult to do, of course, but that’s to prevent rash decisions, which is why there are only 17 amendments in addition to the original ten in all 240 years, and one has been cancelled out with another, so that’s like 15 actual things. Show me a legitimate Constitutional scholar that believes in a strict interpretation of the 240 year old document, and I’ll show you an illegitimate scholar. If we only went by what the actual Constitution said, blacks would still count as 3/5 of a person, and state legislatures would still elect the Senate.
    
            MESSAGE
     The Framers weren’t perfect. They wore Capri pants which was SO 1750’s. But they have, do and always will represent the best of America. They came together, and even with all their differences, made a success out of a failure. They built a country to last, not pretending like they could see and control the future. So the next time someone says “Constitution” make sure you listen to what they’re talking about. Unless they’re discussing a walk or something, in which case stop being such a history nerd.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Musta Thought It Was Whiteboy Day


     If you had to describe me in one word, what would it be? White? Yeah. White. Or “scrumptious”, but I’m not sure that’s an actual, cromulent word. So, as a scrumptious white guy, I like to think I know a thing or two about what’s going white in the world. Well, let’s get white to the list, white now.

1. The Whitest Thing in Music
     Coldplay. What with their quasi-falsetto singing and unexplainable sense of entitlement, I cannot imagine a whiter band. They’re like a honey-er version of U2.

2. Whitest Thing in Cinemas
     Crash. The underdog choice here, as it deals with racial tensions on a hot day in Los Angeles. Also known as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing but and whiter. There’s also never been a bigger disparity between popular and critical opinion. You know what else is widely hated but receives constant awards and accolades? That’s right. White people.

3. Whitest Thing in Sports

     Quidditch. What, that’s not a real thing? THINK AGAIN. The only thing with more white people than those pictures is the actual Harry Potter movies.

4. Whitest Thing in Music Pt Two
     Line Dancing. Dancing is an artform derived solely from emotions resulting from music, expressed physically. Only white people could make it about conformity.

5. Whitest Thing in Fashion
     Sports bras. Only white people would think to take the greatest things in the world and make sure nobody can enjoy them. I mean seriously, boobs are the breast. Er… best.

6. Whitest thing in Technology
     Blogging. What? I already admitted I was very white. A close second is slacktivism on Facebook.

7. Whitest Thing in Crime
     Embezzlement. Here’s a quote: “I’m so rich! But I need to screw an entire group of people in order to make myself richer!” White business owner, or white colonist?
    7a. Whitest Thing in Drugs
      Acid. Only white people could take something as cool as drugs and add Science to it.
Or take Science and add Drugs to it.
8. Whitest Thing in Cuisine
     Chicken Nuggets. Chicken could be the majority of fast food menus, but white people divided it up into separate sections then slam them back together into a stomach-hating nugget. You know what I call that? Apartheid

     So there you have it. Whiteness is much more than skin color and being bad at sports and talking. So get out there and… I don’t know. Do. Something?

He’s pretty fly for a white guy,

Mick Dickinson 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sophomores Be Grouchin'


     Hey you guys. Mick here. Licensed Sophomore™. I know it’s a little late, but this one is for the incoming freshmen. College is an exciting time. I should know, I was there. Heck, I still am sometimes. And since you’re two, almost three weekends deep, you’ve probably realized it too.
     But Freshmen, us Sophomores have been talking, and I’m sorry to say not all of it is positive. Now, while most of my classmates would be happy to simply let you flounder about and continue to make fun of you, out of the kindness of my heart and the lackness (don't look at me, it's a perfectly cromulent word) of my other ideas (not to mention an hour to kill between classes), I’m here to bring you…
The Lackness Monster
Mick’s Magnificent Manifesto
Or
Several Solutions for Shorter Students
1. Alliteration Is Key
     Try getting “Mick’s Magnificent Manifesto” out of your head. Even if this isn’t really a manifesto, it is now alliterative, and therefore better.

2. Stop Wearing Those Lanyards
     You know how when you were seniors in high school at this time last year, and you’d see the kids that tried to use trapper keepers? You’d dismissively make a wanking motion at them. “Freshmen,” you’d say. A lanyard around your neck is the college trapper keeper.

3. Stop Dressing So Nicely
     Look, if you and the skank patrol want to go out on Friday nights what with your vagina dresses on, that’s fine by me. Probably more than fine. But when I can’t hear the professor because you’re climp-clomping around in high heels, I have no pity when one heels breaks and you tumble down the stairs, leanding in a pantie-flashing heap at the bottom. And if I hear one more freshman (or any other year, for that matter) girl complain about how she had to get up soooooooooo early in order to get ready, I’m going to go crazy. But by and large, the worst is when a guy wore a shirt and tie (!!!) to move-in. Let me say that again, in sentence fragments. Shirt and tie. To. Move. In. Day. This rule also applies to over-the-top team spirit. We all go to the same school as you, you don’t have to constantly be wearing a hat, a t-shirt, and shorts that are blasted with our logo, and you don’t have to buy shoes to match the team’s colors. Then again, maybe Mr. “I only own three UNI shirts and they were all free from the DOR” is the wrong one to be writing about this.

4. You Live With Others. Act Like It
     Now that you’re surrounded by 100 or so strangers on your floor alone, life is going to change for you. The opposite sex will be walking past, half-naked, you have to wear shoes in the shower, and people will be pooping where you just peed. I can’t speak for the girls, but in guy bathrooms, why do I have to wipe pee off of a toilet seat? That’s where your butt goes, stupid.

5. Seriously, Stop Wearing Those Lanyards
     I can make you a big “I’m a freshman, don’t listen to me,” sandwich board for you to wear around if you want. Believe me, I’ve got the time.

6. Get Out of People’s Way
     Mostly, mine. Walk in single file lines in crowds. Don’t try to keep your little chat line next o each other the whole time because while I will step out of people’s ways, I’m not turning my shoulders to let your whole group slide past. And if you are getting a drink at the soda fountain, please stand in front of your selection. I don’t know why I have to tell you this, but stop reaching across all of the machine just because you don’t want to move move move your feet.

7. Most of What They Say is True
     You will subsist entirely on Easy Mac and Ramen. You probably will gain weight, and whether that’s muscle or fat is entirely up to you. You’ll see guys playing Ultimate Frisbee on the Quad. What’s more, you’ll begin talking in acronyms and abbreviations. “Yeah, I’ve got Poli Sci in the I-T-T-C pretty soon, and then I have to go all the way to the S-E-C for Child Dev,” is a sentence that actually occurs, and nobody questions it.
We listen to BTO, whose biggest hit was TCB.
It was the 70's, and we didn't have a minute to spare.
8. Don’t Be Stupid
     Look, this is what I could have titled the whole entry. And it doesn’t relate specifically to freshmen either, it’s just that your minds are malleable, what with all the new experiences/ hallucinogenic drugs. It’s pretty easy not to be stupid, and here’s how: Go to class. You’ve either paid lots or had lots paid for you to come to college. It’s the least you could do to capitalize on that investment. Just because you add a nickname to a day doesn’t make it okay to get drunk that night. That doesn’t mean you can never get drunk, but life is all about moderation.
     Here. Don’t go to college like your mother is always watching you, because you’ll miss out on a lot of fun. Don’t go to college like only your friends can see, because you’ll get nothing done. Instead go to college like your older brother is looking over your shoulder. The older brother that will ask if you’ve gotten laid yet immediately after asking how your classes are going. If you don’t have a brother like this, invent one. Think Sodapop or Darrel in The Outsiders.
My older brother is also a bouncer, and likes to fight Commies.
He's also a ghost.
     So, in summary, act like a youthful Patrick Swayze is watching over you, and you’ll do great in school.
     
    And take off your damn lanyards. 

This blog has over 5,000 views but I ain't changed. Call the crib same number same hood,

Mick Dickinson

Saturday, August 6, 2011

4.01K

Hey, ya'll. I have more than 4,010 views now. FINALLY, AMIRITE?! To celebrate: DANCE PARTY.


 MORE BELOW, DAWGS AND DAWGETTES

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just One More Block

Day 69
     That’s a lie. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here, and it’s only because of my immaturity that I’ve given it that distinction. The days here pass into night and back into day without any sort of effort at all. I know it’s kind of a late start, especially because I think I’ve actually undersold the amount of time I’ve spent in this place, but I finally decided that I should record this for posterity in case it’s ever found.
    I awoke some time ago on the beach not far from where I’m writing this. No signs were evident in how I had gotten there, or who had deposited me. Before this, I was a college student, happy and safe at the University of Northern Iowa. One day I was studying for finals and the next, I’m on a beach, the ankles of my blue jeans soaked from the lake it surrounds.
     Immediately, I tried to get a bearing on my location, and climbed to the top of a hill near where I had awoke. Empty, seemingly untamed land stretched in every direction. However, I didn’t immediately go exploring because night was beginning to fall, and I didn't want to get lost or separated from the one piece of land that I had any familiarity with. Of course now I’ve scouted out some dozens of square miles around it, but on this night I was content with my beach and my hill.
     With the night came strange sounds in the distance. Howls and strange cries I didn’t recognize scared me stiff, and I knew that I did not want to spend any more time in the dark open than I absolutely needed. I grabbed a large log that must have washed up on the beach and began digging into the hill in an effort to give myself some shelter. To my luck, there was only a few feet of dirt before I found myself in a large enough cave to spend the night. Piling the dirt I had dug into a sort of barrier against the outside, I looked out into the strange night I had removed myself from.
    Whatever was shuffling around outside, I knew I wanted no contact with. What appeared to be giant spiders cavorted about seemingly aimlessly, searching for prey. Other four legged animals grazed in the grass, and a strange four legged creature I could not attach any label to also roamed around, and all other creatures avoided it. Scared, I retreated into my cave. I did not sleep on that first night.
    When the day broke, I poked my head out, and set out to find some way to improve my cave. First I found some thicker parts of the log that I had used last night to dig, and fixed a stone head on it to cut down a tree. It was hard work and I got numerous blisters that I had to nurse through that night. But now my shelter had a door I could hide behind.
    As the days went on, I grew more and more confident about leaving my cave behind to go looking for some sort of help. It was impossible. I didn’t, and still, to this day couldn't, find a single other soul besides myself, although I have found what at first glance appears to be natural caverns until you realize there are levels too neat not to be human-created stairs. At least I hope they were created by humans. I shudder to think what creatures put up with those dreadful spiders and four-legged monsters that come in the night.
     Occasionally I’ll find some precious materials in the walls of these caverns, and carefully pick them out with my trusty array of tools made from the surrounding stone. I don’t know why I do this. Who am I going to give all these diamonds and gold to?
     Through trial and error, I recently built a raft that would float on the lake, and a fishing pole to catch some food with. Speaking of food, several species of animals I recognize roam the landscape at all times of the day. It feels like a scene straight out of Lord of the Flies whenever I find one of these wild boars roaming in front of my cave. To cook this meat, I built myself a crude stone oven that I fuel with the wood from the surrounding trees. Not bad survival skills from some no-name sophomore from Iowa.
    I’m not kidding about that no-name thing. In all these days without any human interaction, I’m beginning to forget who I was. Occasionally, I see what looks like another person walking on top of my hill at night, silhouetted against the starry sky. But I shake my head and get back inside my cave before those spiders spot me.

Day 70
     The curiosity was too much. I had to find out what that silhouette was. I fitted myself a torch from the continuous fire that burns in the oven, lest I have to find more flint amongst the gravel, and iron inside the caverns. I also carried a weapon and fitted myself with a small leather helmet I had fashioned from my hunting kill earlier today, to protect me from the spiders.
    I spotted the silhouette again, and made my way towards it, careful not to make too much noise or travel too close to any hostile-looking shadows. I got close enough to recognize it was clearly another human. I called out to it, “Hey! What are you doing out at nigh-” when it cut me short by turning around. This man was not alive.
    I do not know what black magic propelled him, but he stepped frighteningly quickly toward me, drawn by my torch. I swung my stone tool and cracked him on the head. A low gurgle I recognized from my first terror-driven night sounded from his throat, but the dead man kept on coming. I swung again and again until finally, he collapsed. Breathing hard, I turned around only to find one of the giant spiders had snuck up during my battle. It pounced on me, and I flailed the stone… sword I suppose, I don’t have much of another word for it. I flailed the stone sword in a blind panic, striking in the eyes in an attempt to drive it off of me. I don’t know if it was poisonous or just ill tempered, but I was in no hurry to find out. Finally, the spider collapsed just as the dead man had, and I stood back up, shaken but mostly unhurt.
    I dusted myself off and began running back towards the safety of my cave. Closing the door, I leaned against it, head in hands. Suddenly, a snakelike sound reached my ears before I was thrown towards the back of my cave, by what felt like an explosion. Looking back, I saw my precious wooden door was blown to smithereens and rubble stood where the entrance to my cave had been. I piled the rubble into another barrier, as I had on my first night here.
     Now I sit and wait for the morning light to come, and write on my bamboo tablet to pass the time.
     Now that my cave is no longer a viable shelter, I’ll need to create another one.
     I’m thinking Skull Fortress. 
Skull Fortress: Home Sweet Home
Based on a true story,
Mick Dickinson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Open Mick Night

"Ladies and gentlemen, Mick Dickinson" *pity applause*

     Hey everybody, my name’s Mick and I’m here to say jokes at you. You know, writing isn’t that easy. Well I mean, it’s not that hard, it’s not like being a firefighter or something. Plus if you have to work super hard at making people laugh, maybe writing jokes for others isn’t exactly the best idea for a hobby. But still, finding the jokes to tell isn’t a walk in the park. One trouble is the temptation to repeat certain jokes. It’s hard, well, I mean, not as hard as being a firefighter or anything…  Some of the best jokes I come up with are on Twitter. Well hey there!
     Not only was that a shameless plug, it’s also a great segue into my next line of jokes!
     Twitter is an amazing invention. My thoughts are almost always simple enough to sum up in 140 characters. Plus, I’m just egomaniacal enough to believe everybody wants to hear my genius jokes about how bad my farts are, but this time, I write it in less than the 1,000 words I use on here. My favorite place to use Twitter is at lunch. You might say I’m tweating. Tweating. Moving on… If I had to sum up Twitter in one example, it’d be that not only can I tell complete strangers how big the poop I just took was, but if I was so inclined, I could show them a picture of it.
"No." -The Internet

     That kinda sums up what our culture’s become. We’re so wrapped up in ourselves that we think people want to see how big of a crap we took, and that it’s totally okay to go ahead and show it to them. I’m serious; it’s really troubling me how the world is teaching us that everyone wants to hear about the stupidest, most meaningless details in our lives.

This picture has also made it
into one of my dreams.
     So this one time I had this dream where I was playing basketball with Conan O’Brien against Arnold Schwarzenegger and the kid from Home Improvement in basketball. The one with three names, you know. That guy. Arnold kept boxing me out but luckily Conan was rainin’ threes. I want to see Sigmund Freud analyze that one. Did anybody stop to think that maybe it was just Freud that was so crazy? That he was the one with the messed up relationship with his mother, and not all of us? How would you react if I was a psychologist and I told you every single person, including me, wants to have sex with barnyard animals. Would you say “Huh. Guess it’s buried away pretty deep,” or would you nudge the person next to you and be like, “Uh… I think this guy has a hankerin’ to bang some chickens, and is willing to go to med school to legitimize it.”

"You seem to have an inferiority complex  stemming from
your cigar smoking and resemblance to George Carlin." - Sigmund Freud
     I really don’t get how we take a 19th century coke-head psychologist seriously. He figured out that by saying the most outrageous things he could get humongous amounts of attention. Freud was like the 1800’s version of Glenn Beck, but with cigars and cocaine. Moreso. But there’s a lot in this world I don’t get. Like pralines. Say that word out loud. Pray-leens. Now, do you really want that in your ice cream? A praline is most certainly a fish. A cold water, Alaskan, freshwater fish. Now we’re throwin’ that in with some pecans and frozen milk and calling it dessert? “Ma’am, can I get some tartar sauce with my frosty tasty treat?”
     I should know a little something about fish. I mean, I don’t want to brag, but I was in the Boy Scouts. Yeah, no biggie. Just kidding. Well, I was actually in the Boy Scouts, it’s just a real big biggie. I hated it. Hated it. I spent the entirety of my career in the Scouts waiting until I was allowed to start a fire. But there was always that kid with like, the bandolier of merit badges that would start bragging he could start a fire without matches. He always came around when I had this huge can of gasoline and a Zippo (just kidding, we didn’t get Zippos in Boy Scouts. Not until we killed us some Nazees) and he’d be say “Psh, I could start this with a magnifying glass.” And I’d say “Well that just means you didn’t pack well enough to start a fire. Always be prepared, holmes. Now stand back, I’m going to set this puppy off!”
NATURE

    For all I’m knockin’ on it, Scouts does teach you to respect nature, and how fast a canvas tent can start on fire. You know who else really respects nature? The people we’ve named after the country we stole from them, Native Americans. They’re cool enough people, just don’t date one like I did. There are too many white-guilt moments. I mean, everyone has their comfort sections for racial guilt, but when you end up in a strange family member’s basement inside his Indian arrow-head collection room surrounded by pictures of white people being scalped, you have to fight not to just yell out, “I’M SORRY, OKAY?! IT WASN’T ME, IT WASN’T MY IDEA!” But you can’t yell like that, of course, you have to be more polite, like “Do you have any black friends who build models of slave ships I can meet?”
    I broke up with that girlfriend in a way going down in the record books. I asked her over for Thanksgiving with my family dressed as Pilgrims, and we kept trying to sell her blankets.
    That was a lot of history packed into that last made-up joke. You don’t even know how much I’m a huge history nerd. It’s going to be my job for goodness sakes. That is to say, if this whole “blog writing” thing fails to materialize. (3000+ views, dawg). But seriously, history is pretty great. How can you not be interested in the study of 16th century kings? I mean, right?
    That’s, after all, what I’m going to college to study, history. College is an interesting place. It’s like the final step between childhood and adulthood. Especially for freshmen. One great example of adulthood: “Psh, what are they going to do? I know all my rights, man.” But then later that night, “Mommy, I’m in jail and I’m scared! Please come get me!” Freshman regress that quickly. I couldn’t pull that with my parents. My mom would be like “Why were you breaking the law?! I’m so disappointed! You get yourself out of this mess.” And my dad would probably say something like, “If I were you I’d still be running! You’re 19, how can you not outrun a cop?” “Dad, I had sandals on, I wasn’t prepared to deal with that situation!” “Well shit, didn’t Boy Scouts teach you anything?!”

He may not have a big stick, but he'll speak however he darn well pleases,
Mick Dickinson

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Post: Cart-Carriers, Inc. HR Department

     Hello, and Welcome to Cart-Carriers Inc.™ (We like to joke it stands for In-cart-porated). If you’re reading this that means that you’ve been hired to join the fast-moving and exciting world of cart pushing! Many different stores employ our workers to clear their lots, and our records (re-carts) of success are higher than any of our cart-erparts©. Businesses like Lot-sa-Carts™ and Pushin’ Stuff Etc.™ may give us a push for our money but we stand alone, much like that one cart you will eventually be too lazy to go get.

We meet again, my mortal coil.
    Although the cart workers of the world have many names, like Lot Associate, Cart Jockey, Lot Jockey, and Cart Associate (or Cart-sociate©), they all have the same job: pushing in lots and lots (get it?) of shopping carts for the customer’s ease of use, until the customer puts them right back out there in the wrong place, and it starts all over again in a continual (cart-tinual) cycle of passive aggressive declarations of "Let me get that for you".

    Now, before we get started (s-cart-ed) with the rest of your orientation, like the sections on Sexual Abuse (Long story short: don’t do it. We mean that in every sense of the phrase.) and Customer Relations (Try not to yell at them), we thought we might test your mettle with a little thing we like to call…

The Hard Truths© of Carts

1. You will assume any and all b**ch work inside the store
  Being the cart person (let’s face it: cart guy) in any given store means that you will also assume the roles of janitor, tool picker-upper, gopher, message runner in times of walkie-talkie failure, general eye witness, and pop refill guy. You will never be recognized for performing all of this work that’s not in your actual job description.

2. You will not look cool
   If a cute girl watches you push your stack of carts by, she won’t see that you’re pushing 13 carts, which adds up to be actually quite a bit of weight, and that you’re steering them quite well, and she won't understand why that's cool if you begin to brag about it. She’ll see a sweaty dude with a really crappy to mildly crappy job. Just get through your head that sweating and panting are no way to go through life, son. There’s almost no way to look cool in a bright orange vest with reflectors when it’s broad daylight outside. In fact, instead of looking cool...

3. You will look a little crazy
   We here at Cart-Carriers, Inc. ™ don’t judge you. You’re part of our loving family, as soon as you sign a contract (cart-tract) to be paid by this hourly wage. But others may see you for what you’re actually doing, and choose to treat you differently because of it. We’ll just lay it out for you: You’re going to talk to inanimate objects. At some point or another, sooner or later, you’re going to get so frustrated with a broken or defective cart, that you will honestly believe berating it for being uncooperative is going to work or change anything at all. Some of you may even take to talking to the carts with sarcasm, because your straight-forward tough love approach wasn’t working. You will get frustrated because no matter which way you're pushing the stack, the front cart will go in the direct opposite direction, causing you to lean into the push like you're a sailor on rough seas. The only way you can look halfway impressive is if you get to drive some sort of power machine around, which is a problem because…
"Yeah, awesome. YEAH. DO EXACTLY THAT. NO,
I WANT YOU TO CRASH INTO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING!"
4. You won’t get trained for anything
   Let’s face it, your orientation for cart-jockey-ing could be six words long. “See those carts? Push them here.” So it’s not too hard or expensive to train a new you. You’re going to be so replaceable that your employer won’t bother actually attaching any knowledge of worth upon you, lest they have to think twice about your disposability. You will learn things, of course (of carts), but they won’t take the actual time to train you. Employers can hire two of you for the time and effort it would take to train the one. Which is odd because…

5. The person that works before you each day is the laziest on Earth
   You’re going to get to work and breath in a fresh, full breath of asphalt, gasoline, and dead dreams, ready and rearin’ to get cartin’. But then you will find that each and every corral is dead chocked full of carts of every kind, and that inside the store are more ownerless shopping baskets, strewn about the aisles like so many ownerless crying children, also in the store. Then you will find your predecessor in the break room, watching until the seconds tick down to the point when they can get back home and leave you alone to deal with paying customers.

6. You will lose your faith in humanity
   Not all at once. Oh no, it’s much more subtle than that. Our researchers here at Cart-Carriers Inc. ™ have taken the average time until cart-plete soul crushing as about three weeks. Slowly but surely, questions creep up in your mind. “Honestly how can it be easier to push a cart onto the grass islands than into the actual corral?” is a common one. “Who thinks that that is okay?!” is our number one question asked whilst throwing hands up in exasperation. Pretty soon, you’ll believe every customer is out to get you and make your life slightly harder (slightly cart-er), and that adds up. Plus, there will be one time every two months when you have to pick up a dirty diaper someone left in the lot. Like that’s okay.

"This seems like a good place to put this," he thought,
before life (unfortunately didn't)  punched him in the throat.

     So there you have it. If you can get past all these Cart-Carriers, Inc.™ Hard Truths© without weeping, or perhaps are still willing to work through those tears because we’re the only place that bothered calling you back, then you’re ready for a glorious life of not being recognized for doing some of the most physical labor in the retail store of our choice.

Thanks for your time, and get Cartin’!©

Cart-Carriers, Inc. ™ HR De-cart-ment

Cart-Carriers, Inc.™ does not claim any responsibility for rises in depression, mood swings, odd tan lines, a new wardrobe made entirely of briefs and cargo shorts, or excess sweating.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Hole in the Plot

     It’s a touching story about wizards, magic, and witches, which, upon further reflection, are basically all the same thing, and this sentence has far, far, FAR too many commas. I’m of course talking about Harry Potter, the series of fantasy novels by acclaimed author J.K. “Just Kiddin’” Rowling. I’m sure if you haven’t read them you’re either lazy and waited for the movies, or believe that teaching our children witchcraft is a surefire way to send this country straight to hell. There’s no denying the success of these books, both financially and from a “good for the country” standpoint. Unless of course, you’re of the aforementioned “crazy person” demographic. But even though these books most likely got our newest generation interested in reading, there are still a few bones to pick with the series at large. And heck if I’m not the man to pick those bones.

     Our story starts on an empty street, and we join two figures in conversation. Well, one old dude and a cat, but later something something magic, and it turns into a person. They’re here to deliver a little baby boy whose parents were just brutally murdered by a dark lord, and he was the “boy who lived”. My first point is this. This old guy and cat-lady knew that he was the secret to stopping the dark lord again and still decided to just give him to the uninvolved relatives. This is my impression of Dumbledore (he’s the old guy), “Oh, we’ll surely need this boy again, in case Voldemort ever rises again. Also, he will be recognized the world over by anyone remotely involved in our magical culture. Okay, well, we better drop him off on this stoop with a family of jerkoffs!” Why wouldn’t they keep the ultra-magical boy in safe keeping and let him grow up in a safe, ensured magical upbringing? Jeeze Louise. (In an unrelated tangent, I’ve never seen that phrase spelled out. It looks ridiculous.)

    If earlier you saw the word “Voldemort” and said “But Mick, Albus Dumbledore and WhateverherfaceisI’mtoolazytoGoogleit McGonagleorwhateverthehell would never use that name! They’d only call him ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’!” then I hate you. Who’s the most evil man you can think about? That’s right, lead singer of Judas Priest, Rob Halford. But the second most? Hitler, naturally. Hitler killed millions upon millions of people, and we now use his name as a nickname for “opposite political party”. The worst thing about Hitler’s name was his nephew being rejected from the Army. I have a newspaper from October 2nd, 1942 in my house, and it proves it. I'm serious: 

Bill Hitler, everyone.
     Also, racism.
"One-Man Army Kills 36 Japs
"Would go back for more of the Japs"
I'm not kidding. That's what it says.
      But the point is this- calling Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is not only killing my hyphen finger, but is completely unrealistic. This one gets half a pass, because the main character kinda points out how dumb it is.

     Harry thinks it’s dumb because he’s grown up completely outside of this world. Now, when he gets his letters and owls and whatnot, he’s all very confused as any of us would be. New experiences, new concepts, and a total tidal wave of uncomfortable admiration fall on this little kid who just wants to go to school and get away from his totally awful family. It’s a relatable story, kinda. Except the magic parts.

    The trouble starts when it’s the fourth book in the series. Now, Harry has been a wizard at a school full of wizards for four years. But, somehow, he failed to realize that Quidditch had a world cup. You don’t think that Seamus Finnigan (or as I call him Irish McDrunkenson) was talking up how Ireland was going to make it all of the last year? And also how Harry didn’t know what a Mudblood was. What, they don’t have Xbox Live in wizarding school? There’s plenty more, but the point remains that at least once a year, Harry learns something about wizarding culture he really should have found out about before then.

     Especially on the Quidditch part, you think he would research the sport a little bit. Seeing as he’s a freaking prodigy at it. One year, he doesn’t know brooms can fly, and the next he’s the best player at an entire high school. There isn’t much meat to this bone (wait what) so let’s just move on.

    While playing Quidditch, Harry gets most of his exposure to the other houses at the school. He, of course, resides in Gryffindor, and plays the likes of Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. I recited those from memory, so I’m too nerdy to be cool, but that info is too easy to give me actual nerd credit, and I just alienated myself twice in one sentence. Anyhoo, let’s examine the houses for a moment. Gryffindor’s mascot: a griffin. Pretty obvious how that works. Slytherin’s mascot: a snake. Equally obvious. Ravenclaw: a raven, naturally. Hufflepuff: Uh… What the hell is a Hufflepuff?
One of these, but in a rush
     Another think with houses. Why the hell do they let kids from Slytherin go into the real world? I mean it’s so blatantly obvious they’re evil it’s stupid. This is straight from the Sorting Hat, describing the houses in a song. “Or perhaps in Slytherin/ You’ll make your real friends,/ Those cunning folk use any means/ to achieve their ends.” What the heck is that?! “Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends”! It might as well say “If you’re evil and like getting stuff done, well damnit you belong in Slytherin. Our mascot is a snake, the animal most associated with evil and sin!”

    But of course not everyone turns out to be a majorly evil dick like Malfoy or… um.. Crabbe? We only get access to a couple characters from the other houses, most notably a hot Asian and Edward Cullen. But of course there’s a whole 3/4s of the school’s worth of kids missing here. Someone could write an equally large series of books about these unnamed, unmentioned characters dealing with Harry’s bullcrap. “It was my fourth year when all of a sudden, people started getting frozen into rocks. Turns out it was a big snake. But it all works out because some second year student climbed down the plumbing and stabbed the crap out of its face. Then, they were honored for breaking every single rule in the whole school. My house was going to win the cup till that friggin’ stunt. God I hate that kid.”- Average Hufflepuff student.

     Speaking of the Chamber of Secrets, where the heck did that whole thing go to? “Yeah, there’s a major labyrinth of tunnels and huge rooms somewhere underneath this school dedicated to supernaturally gifted teens. Ah, whatever. Leave it. I’m sure no one evil again will come to this school." It spreads to more than that. Think of all the crap Harry and them had to deal with in the first book to get to the Sorcerer’s Stone. Life-size Wizard Chess, plants that try to rape you, and a three-headed dog straight out of Greek mythology. They’re all gone and mostly forgotten by the next year. You know, the year with a mythological snake that freezes people into stone. A basilisk, something else I recited from memory. Boom.

     Another thing. Harry bangs his best friend’s sister. What the heck, man?

     And the bankers? I can’t be the only one who sees this.
Jews.

     Harry Potter might as well be called Chekov’s Gun: The Novel.” It’s like, “Hey, Harry, here’s this book. I know it may sound insignificant now, but… no, no, it probably won’t turn out to be anything. Don’t worry about it. At least not until only about a month is left in the school year.”

     Maybe I’m being unfair. I mean, it’s still 1000x better than Twilight ever was, and the fact that I have to even make that distinction makes me cry a little bit. Even while writing this article I really realized I want to read the books again. So, to Jamaican Kitchen Rowling, I say, good show ma’am.

He doesn’t spend time like he really should,

Mick Dickinson

Also, here are the answers to all my qualms. 1. Without Harry out of the wizarding world, we can’t join him as outsiders. 2. The air of mystery surrounding Voldemort is half the fun. 3. Harry has these things explained to him as a relatively un-clumsy way of explaining them to us, the reader. 4. Seven chapters about Quidditch practice would be really friggin’ boring. 5. Hufflepuff’s mascot is a badger, although that still makes no sense. 6. Without Slytherin, there are no minor villains. 7. I really want to read a book of Harry Potter, written from a 3rd party’s perspective. 8. They’re gone because there’s no point in bringing them back up again. 9. Who wouldn’t bang Ginny Weasly? 10. The bankers are like that because J.K. Rowling is an anti-semite, duh. 11. That’s how books work, stupid.