Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Laugh at Current Safety Measures

And why not? Someone must—so let it be me.

The late, much-lamented, Michael Crichton (author of The Andromeda Strain, Prey, and others) wrote a novel titled State of Fear (2004), a devastating indictment of how government, media, and corporate mandates conspire to make us believe in the so-called Dangerous World Syndrome. For those not gripping the book at this moment, State of Fear will not only scare the sloppy joes outta you, it will soberly inform you why such fear is (mostly) unwarranted.

Despite Mr. Crichton's obvious high-level intellect, writerly skills, and bar-none research, he never had the experience of attending the 1973 Grabowski family reunion. Ah...if only he had, civilized people might have been spared the horrific events of that dark summer.

A mere slip of a lad at 15, I knew nothing of future safety guidelines—nor did any of my relatives. Uncle Steve, a tad over six-feet-five and roughly 270 pounds, seemed cheerfully in line not only with roaring out a greeting ("Billy! Where's yer girlfriend?!), but youth-oriented by vising my hand in a manly shake that left several of its 27 bones functional. Pretty much everyone didn't notice when I sprinted into the house to change my underwear. Cold water arrested the swelling of my fingers, and before I knew it I returned to the kielbasa and sauerkraut-laden picnic table for more of his aggressive blandness.

Thank God for Aunt Dottie. If not for her, my face never would've known the greasy smear of her ruby lipstick, nor her Polish-accented cry: "Beely! BEELY! You are so BEEG!"

Nothing personal, but probably a dust speck looked as large as a manhole cover in her Hubble Space Telescope-sized glasses. We all should be so loved, eh? At least she'd brought her fruitcake, a stomach-imploding disc seemingly composed of walnuts, honey, and NASA-sanctioned epoxy resin. Even our dog ran in terror from the slice I dropped. At least she'd planned ahead, even providing the game of Jarts—steel-tipped "darts" weighing each a solid two pounds, including blue plastic fins as large as those on Uncle Steve's 1968 Cadillac. Trust me, these babies could penetrate armor on a Soviet tank, or my neighbor's aluminum shed. DOH!

Perhaps I protest too much, as thrice-divorced Uncle Fred saw potential in handing me starter fluid for the flying saucer-shaped grill. "Bill, I shit you not," he slurred, resting his 9th beer on my freshman photo. "This stuff'll light up a Cleveland police station." I took him at his word, because I'd seen the article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. Inexplicably, my father's liquor cabinet was found pried open shortly after this ritual grill-lighting.

Minutes before noon, all 20 of us settled down to eat kielbasa, sauerkraut (really delicious), hamburgers, hot dogs, cabbage salad, cole slaw, stuffed cabbage, baked beans, bean salad, egg salad, fruitcake (except for my mother, who knew better), and Uncle Fred's patented gin-marinated blue-gill fillets (don't ask—ever). My favorite Uncle—Ted—was very quiet, until dessert. "Dottie," he rasped, "this fruitcake is...is...IS—"

To this day, none of us is certain whether some chemical fermentation occurred between various species of cabbage, meat, beans, etc., and Aunt Dottie's signature fruitcake. But I can say my dearest uncle's WWII experience paid off, because he ran through our screen door without a blink on his way to the bathroom.

I loved them all, and we had a good time—until the beer ran out, and someone moved Uncle Fred's Chevy four blocks away so he wouldn't be pulled over for DUI.

Thanks, Dad and Mom. I love you, and miss you. Dad (Stanley), you sure understood your brothers. Sorry about the liquor cabinet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clean Reader: Please Exit the Fuckin' Planet

The title of this blog pretty much covers it, people. Some "moral" morons have decided that profanity doesn't sit well with them and, therefore, should be ripped out of eBooks to protect the precious bodily fluids of all children and adults. How noble!

I realize you and your app are the easiest of targets, and others have responded by effing this and effing that and mothereffing everything about you. I applaud them. But that's too obvious and easy, like letting a bully know his horses**t is getting under your skin. I make my living as a writer and editor, and reside in America. Despite all I loathe about my birth-country, the benefits still outweigh the hazards. Are you not aware that "censorship" in America ended with the supreme court ruling William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch not obscene? Do you even know the work of Burroughs? Perhaps not, and that's okay. It isn't for everybody, and I would never hold that against you. Some people like anchovies, some don't. In my experience, if I don't care for a thing, I avoid it. Period. I certainly don't presume moral superiority over any man, woman, or child. It's not my place; nor is it yours.

I'll even spot you a bit of agreement. Sometimes profanity bothers me. It's all about context. You're mature adults and should know this. There's a vast difference between my writing, in a fictive work, "That motherfucker pissed me off, and I'm gonna fuckin' kill him," and me in "real life" having so severe a problem with someone to go so far as to utter that specific threat. In a book, it's okay. It isn't real. It's fiction. It ain't true. It's a dramatic device to evoke genuine emotion. Not to mention our quickly dying Bill of Rights sorta allows this freedom people in other countries lack, and can in fact be killed for employing.

What's wrong with you? You should be thanking your stars to have this freedom, and not tied up in some imagined privilege that's supposed to protect you from harsh reality. You don't have the right to project your fear and intolerance on others. You do have the right to express those fears, and that should be enough. Be very glad of that—thanks to you, it might not last. I'm not important enough to even show up on your filth-radar, but I fear for your children.

If you slip, and the hammer hits your hand, what do you shout? "Gosh"? "Golly"? I doubt that very much. You don't know me, I don't know you. But I'm reasonably sure you're just as human and prone to pain as the rest of us.

I'm begging you, get this Clean Reader notion out of your very human head. Please. Because if we lose our right to swear, curse—call it what you f***in will—what's next?

Think about it. Please.