Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 10

As promised, Zombies. I have to assume that our cultural shift in horror genre can only be connected to our innate collective consciousness feeling that the end is upon us. Here are some fun examples to prove that everything is Zombie right now.

First up, World War Z. Part history book, part science fiction, I may have to read this before the movie comes out.

This one is a TV series about Zombies. Well, it's about the people trying to not get eaten by the Zombies. I imagine the dialogue in a TV show about Zombies would be rather limited.

There is also a 5k obstacle course type run where part of the obstacle is avoiding getting eaten by zombies. It's harder than it sounds, trust me. These are definitely "48 hours zombies" not "night of the living dead zombies". There are a myriad of other examples from I Am Legend to remakes of the old classics. It's cool to be the undead these last couple years.

So what's up with the sudden fascination with Zombies? Personally, I think whatever the genre is at the time represents an underlying societal fear or issue. Aliens were the popular topic during the cold war. The 80s was the serial personality, i.e. Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers. The early 90s seemed to deal more with ghosts. The late 90s was all about vampires. Now its zombies. Zombie culture hasn't really been main stream since the 70s. So what is it about this decade and zombies. Zombies represent a fear of overwhelming odds. Something out there so big that there aren't heroes or saviors, just survivors. It evokes a sort of hopelessness for the future. Even if you don't die, the life awaiting you is a less than pleasant existence. I don't think it's a coincidence that the last time this was popular was in the 70s. There was never ending trouble in the middle east. People had lost pride in being American. There were gas shortages and high unemployment rates. Jimmy Carter was president and most people felt he was clueless as to how to fix what was wrong. There was a fatalism that expressed itself through story telling. The story was about Zombies, which is in essence Apocalyptic.It seems that we have returned to this post-modern, what's the use, mentality. People lost their houses, jobs, retirement investments. Essentially, our notion of the what the world was like ended. Hope has faded. The zombie is the fictional embodiment of despair.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 9

They have discovered a jellyfish that lives forever. You can read about it here. While I was at first intrigued by the misleading title that it is showing promise for humans to achieve immortality, I continued to read the article due to my fascination at how poorly it was written. It turned into some meandering piece that talked about the life style of the researcher and interspersed pseudo-science comments. One such comment read, "Jellyfish collect food and eject waste through the same orifice. In essence, it eats through its anus." Really? Did you try "poops out of its mouth" and it just didn't look right in the final edit?

So while I thought I was going to say that the next sign of the apocalypse is our brush with the discovery of a real "fountain of youth", my sign today is the degradation of the use of the English language. This was in the NY Times for Pete's sake! We are definitely not only getting dumber, but we are becoming more accepting of poor work. We see it now in the lazy antics of the media, reporting unresearched fact or sometimes just making things up on the fly. The lines between news and opinion have been blurred also, and most of us have become too brainwashed to even know the difference. I almost feel bad for yelling at my former students that Wikipedia is not a real source for research. If we stop caring about the things people say and the way they say it, is there really any hope for our society? Next post: Zombie Apocalypse!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 8

A couple signs today. Nothing earth shattering, but together quite intimidating.

1. Skip Bayless is starting to make sense. A shout out goes to my boy, Phil, for pointing at that this is surely a sign of the apocalypse. I also think that as good as Manti Te'o is, that a linebacker winning the Heisman would also be a sign of the end times approaching.

2. Skip Bayless is this guy's brother: Rick Bayless, host of the best cooking show ever. Alright, you win, my love for Notre Dame football and Mexican food is clouding my judgement.

3. But this surely has to be a sign of the end of days: Tom Cruise is leaving the Church of Scientology!?!?!?! According to reports, he's breaking all sorts of rules to see his daughter and rumors have been previously whispered that he's disgruntled with the organization.

4. This blog has over 1000 views. I am disappointed in every single one of you for reading this drivel; and multiple time, nonetheless! Just for that I'm keeping the 5th sign of the day to myself. Just kidding, I only have  four. Or do I?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 7

     If one were to take the word apocalypse literally, we also see that it refers to a prophecy or revelation (which makes sense as its the name of the book in the Bible). Synonymous with revelation is the word epiphany. Epiphany obviously has a nicer emotional quality to it. Referring literally to when the wise men visited Jesus. Figuratively, it means to make a discovery, or to realize something that changes your way of seeing something. It refers not to an end, but to change. So, in essence we all have our own personal apocalypses every day. I read a wonderful article that Timothy Cardinal Dolan is pushing for the canonization of Dorothy Day. I knew from my education that Dorothy Day was a tireless advocate for the poor, the worker, and the marginalized of society. I also know she deeply mistrusted the government. What I didn't know was that she had an abortion, later converted to the Catholic faith, and became a staunch supporter of the Church's opposition to abortion.
doing his best "Buddy Jesus"

     At first I was surprised that someone who is supposedly the poster boy of Catholic conservatism would embrace someone viewed as so far left as Day. She obviously could never be the symbol of what Cardinal Dolan believes to be the future of the church, right? But maybe she is the symbol of the modern church or, better, what the modern church could be. Or instead of church, one could insert our society, or us as individuals. There is a common bridge between the right and the left. Someone can be pro-life and yet concerned about women's rights. A person can be devoutly Catholic and still vehemently disagree with the leadership or policies of the church. Someone could even, dare I say it, disagree with the church's stance on contraception, but still support their right as an institution to not be forced by the government to provide it. No matter what the case, Day stood for social justice and fought for what she believed to be just, not a party line or an ideology. So go rediscover something you thought you knew about and have yourself an apocalyptic day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 6

     The next thing that assures me that the apocalypse is upon us is the fiscal cliff. Here's what I know about it... Alright, I honestly don't know anything about it. Just like the end of the world!! But it sounds really ominous and big!

     Seriously though, after reading numerous articles, I don't think anybody truly appreciates how interesting this thing is. I honestly forgot about it with all the election stuff going on. Congress has basically passed a measure that if they don't do certain things to balance the budget, then there will be dire consequences that they imposed upon themselves, including tax hikes and major cuts in spending. Just like the predictions for the end of the world, most people aren't taking this seriously, because the boys on the hill will probably just pass more legislation to say they don't have to do it. That still doesn't mean it can't happen though! AAAAHH! (that was the sound of us falling off the fiscal cliff).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 5

It's the end of the college football regular season and Notre Dame is ranked number one in the country. If you know nothing about football, then I should explain. The most famous backfield in history was nicknamed "the four horsemen" (as in "of the apocalypse"), and they played for none other than the Fighting Irish.

Somewhere, a running back is peeing his pants.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hurtling forward

Short post, because I can't deal with the enormity of the situation. House full of fraternity brothers and all of them left before the keg was finished. If the end isn't near, I want it to be.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 3

Day 3? Don't you mean Day 4? No, I thought it was inappropriate to talk about the end of the world on Thanksgiving. And if you remember from an earlier post, I built myself in one flex day. Besides, I was busy helping prepare a feast for 36 of my closest relatives. Let's just say 20 lbs of potatoes and two 20+ lb turkeys. Work. Sorry, without further ado:

R Kelly's Trapped in the Closet is playing in its entirety on IFC today. I believe there is a reason that Mr. Kelly broke his Opus Magnum into small segments. There is too much power locked into those hip-hop harbingers of cataclysm. To show them all together will certainly have the power to open one of the seals mentioned in Revelation (which seal are we up to anyway?).

As if that wasn't enough to scare the bejeezus out of you, I saw this today!

R Kelly Trapped in the Closet Premier on Broadway

That's right. It's being turned into a musical! On Broadway! These fools have no idea what they're playing with! I can't control the volume of my voice!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 2

Day 2 of the Apocalypse Countdown

"Go fly a kite!" "Get a job, hippie!"

We should've seen this coming. Angry Muppets. After all the politicization of Sesame Street lately, I can only conclude that Jim Henson's master plan was brain wash America and create a divide between the classes. I became suspicious of this when I was 10 and Mr. Hooper died, to which Oscar responded, "Good riddance, he was a capitalist pig anyway!"

"Bird is dog?  Crazy Americans!"

Initially Sesame Street was happy just to sit behind the scenes and pull the strings, but it seems that their growing power base and their awareness of the polarization of our society has bolstered them to a new level of political activity; Case in point, the 2012 election.

This day they will remember the name of Little Bird!

The coup de gras of their plan is materializing in the middle east. I'm sure we all know the connection to the Holy Land and the end of the world. What do we find in the aftermath? You guessed it: Muppets.

Let's be honest, this dude creeped you out way before the allegations.

Bonus: I'm pretty sure when the gates of hell are opened the first things out will be little, red, high-pitched, sodomizing monsters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


In case you haven't heard. The world is going to end some time around mid December, the 21st to be exact. I am exceptionally pissed since it means that Christmas will most likely be canceled. Whether you believe this will happen or not, I feel compelled to provide this as a public service:

In preparation for the end of days, I have 
decided to dedicate this blog to a month 
of signs that the apocalypse is upon us! 

... I know today is the 20th, but I don't think I'll have time to post on the actual day of reckoning, and I wouldn't want to short change you a day!

Day 1

Not Frodo and Sam

Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings movies is about to erupt. Geologists are predicting that pressure is building up inside the exact same volcano that Peter Jackson decided looked like the place that created the most evil piece of metal in middle earth. Many of you may not know this, but Tolkien was a devout Christian, and many of his themes are derived from Judeo-Christian themes and symbolism. "Dooms" Day, Mount "Doom", coincidence?

Monday, November 19, 2012


Notre Dame football is ranked number one in the country. And it is completely irrational that I am deriving so much joy from it. I have no vested interest in the outcome of their season. I never attended school there. I have never lived in South Bend. I don't know anyone on the team or associated with the program. Yet I find myself saying "we" when referring to the team. I will shout at the television, as if the linebackers can hear me yelling, "It's a draw!" or "Fumble! Ball! Get the Ball!" I even wear clothing in order that others may associate me with the Fighting Irish. I rank my visits to Notre Dame Stadium as some of the most exhilarating moments of my life. I am a fan.
     Now let's move from Fandom to Obsessionville. If you look for it on a map, it will say Levittown. I'm not saying that other areas don't produce as vociferous fans, just not in the multitudes that exist in the greater Philadelphia area. There is something about sports here, that fills more than just that need to associate with something greater than oneself. This is particularly true with the Eagles. I've worked with, lived with, went to school with fans of other teams from other places. I have yet to see a group of people take a loss harder than Eagles fans. On Monday morning you would think that they were in pads the day before. Listen to the two (two!) FM radio stations that are all Philadelphia sports all the time. I'm afraid we may need to close the bridges over the Delaware river to prevent jumpers! Every forlorn caller, they aren't even mad anymore, just sullen and depressed. They have this weird "How could my team do this to me?"
     The odd thing here is that they have developed a one way personal relationship with a sports team. They have committed hours to reading stats, watching drafts, driving up to Bethlehem to watch summer workouts, and invested real emotional capital. If this kind of attention were directed towards a human being, like say Jody Foster, we'd suggest that they should seek professional help. They than expect that the team has a duty to repay them for all the diligent time they have invested in supporting them. There it is. The line is crossed when someone creates an imaginary relationship in order to associate themselves with success. There is a vapidness that goes along with this type of seeking. That sports team allows you to "win" without putting in the real work. The reality is though that your support or ennui has no impact whatsoever on the success of your team. That is the dirty secret that lies underneath this macho version of celebrity worship. They don't care about you. They don't even know you exist. No matter how hard you root, how much you lust after the Lombardi trophy, how much time you spend reading ESPN, they will not play harder for you. I heard a guy on the radio say that he may never see his team win a Superbowl in his lifetime, with the angst of a "Make A Wish" foundation spot. I love football as much as anyone, pretty much sports in general. My fear is that people are using sports as a "false idol", a thing to distract them from whats really important. If you never put that effort into your own happiness, into your own betterment, the Eagles can win the Superbowl, but you'll still be a loser.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Think like a Genius

I have made a hobby of reading great thinkers. I wanted to originally make a career of studying them, but the minutiae involved in the academic side of studying great minds proved too taxing (I'd say mundane, but I'd hate to insult any philosophy professors who might be reading this). I have always been particularly drawn to those who deal in Ethics. That's a dangerous word to use, because it usually evokes numerous impressions in the perceiver. None of which I probably intended. I'm talking about Ethics, with a capital 'E'. I'm not talking about right/wrong, good/bad, God's will/intrinsic good distinctions. I'm talking about attempting to answer the question, "What does it mean to live a good life?" Again, don't mistake good as in moral good, but good like "that was a good beer". I think this is really the original purpose of Ethics. We've sort of bastardized the meaning into something that roughly means, "How do I decide what is right and wrong, when there are conflicting values in play?" Sartre does a beautiful job illustrating this in Being and Nothingness, when he talks about his student who must choose between fighting against the Nazis or caring for his mother. Without going into too much detail, we can see how both would be really good things and based on your take on the world, one may be better than the other. Congratulations, you now know as much as a sophomore at a liberal arts college.
     So after reading Aristotle, Aquinas, Jesus, Buddha, Plato, Rawls, Sartre, etc. I set out to formulate my own ethical path, to try and devise my blue print for leading a good life. There is no word in English that does a good job of describing what this ultimate goal is. In religion it would be heaven or nirvana. I want to call it "the big happy". A happiness that is complete and self sustaining. So I took little pieces of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and tried to Know Thyself, and do nothing to excess. I bought deep into Sartre and tried to live in the moment. I pulled pieces of Buddha's teaching of non-attachment and sought a life uncluttered by desire. What I ended up with was a constant sense of yearning and second guessing. The biggest problem was that I kept running into conflicts along the way. Who knew that Aquinas wasn't going to jive with Confucius?!
     I put this quest on the shelf and concentrated on everything else. I got a real job (not teaching philosophy). I got a wife, a house, some hobbies, I traveled, I started attending mass regularly. Once I did all the modern, proscribed paths and attainments, the question popped up again and stared me dead in the face. I imagine this is when those who are unprepared for the question drop into a midlife crisis. Lucky for me, I had a quarterlife crisis to prep me for it. The interesting thing is that the answer was so obvious, that I was amazed that I hadn't come upon before. It was definitely an epiphany, a discovery, and not anything I had created. The discovery is that there is a central theme to all of these thinkers and I had never seen it. My original thought was that we are supposed to be turning our eye inward, perfecting ourselves. I then moved on to the idea that we are supposed to live our life for others and turn outward, being completely selfless. My next step was thinking that happiness was sort of process based, that our relationships determine our level of satisfaction and sense of wholeness.
     What I didn't see was that these are all interconnected. Every single great ethicist has stated pretty much the same thing. We must set ourselves up as examples. Sartre says that we are solely responsible for our existence and in turn how live is a statement to the rest of the world that this is the best life possible. Christianity stated that we are the light of the world. Every one you read has an example of this kind of language. Essentially, we are to be the person that we want the world to be. An obvious statement if ever there was one, but that still doesn't state what one does to achieve that. And don't we all have different visions of what the perfect world would be like? To answer that I took a page from Kant. We are human beings, persons, and in essence, want to be treated as such. Then in order to be treated like such, I must create a world where that happens. Therefore, I need to treat everyone like people. I need to really think about that what that means. Simple things like being patient in traffic or making eye contact with the person behind the register are a start. That leads to bigger steps, like ensuring those around me can become fulfilled and that I am not simply using them as vehicles to my happiness. Until finally there is the apex of the life well lived, not from selflessness, but from selfishness. My desire to live in a world where I am treated as someone special and important, drives me to treat others as special and important. I need to keep myself grounded at this moment and not degenerate into the feel good, "everyone is special" mindset that is plaguing our society today. The road to happiness is paved with humility. That humility is the certainty that my happiness is contingent on helping others to that place and allowing myself to be helped by them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

wise up

I will not talk about politics. I just can't bring myself to do it. Unless you feel that politics are people strongly expressing their ideas about how society should work. And now I think I just described Facebook. This is really my issue with people getting political, or fired up about their beliefs in general.
We're doing it wrong! No one, but no one, changed their mind about the election because you posted a witty "meme" picture. No one stopped believing in Creationism or Evolution or the flying spaghetti monster or that Star Wars is better than Lord of the Rings because of your three sentence, deconstructed, argument. It's lazy proselytism. A fellow blogging friend of mine (who loves politics way more than I do: ), suggested that if we really cared about who won, we would be volunteering our time, worrying more about local elections that we can effect, and more importantly, educating ourselves. I hate blanket statements, and I have no research to back it up, but I imagine that most people have no idea why they really voted for a particular candidate. They, in actuality, have no idea what each party, candidate or even a single platform entails. They buy into nice platitudes, "Republicans hate poor people" "Democrats are Socialists" "There's more than two parties?"... I could go on. Now look, I'm not saying that social media, or media in general, is a bad thing. I'm not saying that people using it to spread an idea is a bad thing. It's a bad thing when we think that it is persuasive, or should be used as a club to beat dissenters over the head with. This is the whole crux of the blog, so I want you to pay attention to the next sentence. It is good for spreading information. That's it. Would you like to share an obscure piece of policy that will have a long term effect on our trade with Canada? Great! You want to direct me to a website where I can read about a lesser known candidate? Lay it on me! You know where I can find Bob Casey's voting record? I'm salivating! The president giving a fist pound to a guy with a mop next to a picture of Romney getting his shoes shined?
Moving on. These last couple of months have really just been illustrative to one simple fact. I do not believe that we are apathetic. I think we care a lot. We are however, lazy and willfully ignorant. Don't get offended, I  am including myself in the "we". I know, I know, we work hard and don't have time to follow politics, educate ourselves on policy, worry about brown and tan people being killed overseas. But I will argue that it's not time, it's priorities. We somehow find time to follow seven different television shows. We find time to go out to dinner. We find time to pic up junior from soccer practice and take him to piano lessons. I'm not being critical of any of those things, but we are in control of what we deem important.
[So this is the part where you are waiting for me to be critical of our democratic process, or criticize super PACs. Actually, it's the opposite. The problem isn't the system, it's the fact that we believe that the system will fix things. That's the equivalent of buying a lawn mower and then bitching that the lawn still isn't mowed. You still have to use it!]
But that doesn't make us lazy, just uncaring. The sad thing is, when we really do look at those issues we decide they are important. So then we aren't uncaring. So then what are we? We are humans, and as such animals. Animals seek pleasure and avoid pain. We follow the path the least resistance when we allow our baser instincts to take over. It's hard to live in a life of constant focus. It's unpleasant to question our beliefs. And here's the hardest thing: There is so much effort in having an intelligent, meaningful discussion with another human being. Ask yourself, how much time do I spend each day really talking about the things that matter to me, to people that matter to me? Have we become so post modern that we have completely replaced real human interaction with social media? I think the real culprit is not the tool, but our fear. The scariest thing about entering into a conversation with someone of a differing opinion is that they might change our mind! These beliefs that we've spent years cultivating, supporting, polishing, might be wrong! Seriously, just pick one thing that you are really passionate about and learn everything you can about it. Form a real opinion about said thing. Then go and talk to someone about it. Really talk about it. Once you do that, you may be surprised to find much less satiety in your former channels of communication.