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The Best Of Shut Up And Listen Year Three 2--Columns 114 and 119

Oh, you better believe I love these two columns. Both say relatively the same thing, but in two different ways. The first goes about it in that nice, rational, present an argument and back it up kind of way that they're always taking about in school. The second, is just me making shit up as I go, pulling stuff out of my ass, throwing it at the wall, running up to it and rolling around in it naked for a few hours while loud rock music plays and then you come home, and you see me and you're all disgusted, but a part of you is like, "Hmm, maybe I should join him?" and I'm just, "Come on, baby, get your groove on with me," and then you dive right on in and we just roll around it, like a couple of motherfucking animals and we're just rocking out and sharing ideas and it's fucking great.

My views on this subject haven't really changed since I wrote these columns. I still find religion to be insanely stupid and just a crutch that people need so they don't have to deal with any of the big questions. Where do we come from? Who knows? Why are we here? Who cares? What's the meaning of life? What do you want it to be, little man? Stop all that bullshit. Yeah, think about it, but think about it. Sit yourself down, and think about it. Talk it over with your friends. Debate it, argue it, but don't just accept what someone else tells you is the answer! If they claim to have an objective answer to any of those questions, then you just smack them, call them bullshitters and you give them a quarter to buy themselves a clue. For fuck's sake, people, I just want you to think! Think for yourself for once! Have faith in yourself, not some man in the sky! What's so bad about that? I have faith. I have faith that things are gonna be all right. Not because some omnipotent being is gonna make them so, but because I'm gonna make them so. It won't always work out perfectly, but it'll work out. There will be tough times, but there will be good times too. To really get through them though, the first thing you need is you. If you can't rely on yourself to be there for you, what good is anyone else gonna be? I'm not trying to offer you answers, and you can totally ignore me if you want, because I may be totally off, but I just want people to stop looking to others as their primary source of strength. I know you can do it. It's good to have people you can count on and lean on, but you need yourself to be the core base first of all.

Stop believing in the Magical Pink Bunny and start believing in yourself.

Twenty-First Century Religious Living

The numbers are in and its official: Canada is moving away from the traditional Western religions. Stats Canada recently released findings from the last census which show that Catholicism and Protestant religions are on the decline, while Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and atheism (although, it's classified under the category of "no religion" which includes anyone who doesn't identify with any organised religion) are on the rise.

Oh, and twenty thousand people said their religion is "The Force." I kid you not. Twenty thousand people essentially said they believe in something from Star Wars as their religion. When I read that, I was suddenly hit with a vision of thousands of devout Christians rolling their eyes at the idea of The Force as a religion, and hell, I agree with them. But I think The Force as a religion is a necessity of the modern age. For a long time, people like me have being talking to the religious and trying to point out how fictional and wildly stupid their religions look and finally we have a nice practical example to show them.

Yes, the idea of people believing in something from an obviously fictional movie to the extent of calling it their religion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. I mean, it's fictional! There is no basis for fact about it. None. It came from the mind of George Lucas and was there for a story. And yet we've got twenty thousand people saying that it's their religion! Twenty thousand! That's a lot of people, you know and I'd bet you that those numbers will grow, because that's the type of thing that happens. Imagine if some day, The Force was actually a viable religious sect and was right up there standing with the big boys like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

But as I was saying, essentially what The Force is, is what a religion like Christianity looks like to a person like me. It's all very nice and in theory has some good ideas about treating everyone good and everything, but when it comes down to it, talks about a bunch of shit that when you think about it is just whacked out and really, no reasonable person would believe in it. Let's see, there's the big man who lives in the sky who loves everyone, but only some people really. He wants us to love each other too, but to kill each other also. And if you love him, you get to spend the afterlife with him . . . maybe. Also, he knows everything and is everywhere, but doesn't interfere with our lives, except some of the time he does. Then he made a virgin have his kid, who was later killed to save us from sin, sort of. And all of this is written in a book that was told by word-of-mouth for countless generations before being written down by a bunch of people and then rewritten as seen fit by others. And The Force seems a little crazy, right?

But The Force isn't the only religion I wish to discuss. The other is Americanism. I know, I know, another "America is bad" column, but that isn't exactly it. I just see America producing its own religion in a way under the guise of patriotism and history. The holy names are Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Madison, and Kennedy. The enemies are communism, taxes, terrorism, and the elimination of traditional moral values. The feast days are Independence Day, Memorial Day, President's Day, Veteran's Day and now, September 11. The "Pope" is the President. Holy cities are Washington, New York and Philidelphia. It's rather odd to look at the country this way, but sadly, it fits.

Of course, though, this can be seen in numerous countries throughout history, which does lead to the question of whether or not religion and nationalism and such are just constructs to keep people in line? The United States Of America is a construct, not an actuality. Nations are just little divisions created by people because it helps us to label things. If you wanted to get technical about my exact home, it would be something like the south-east bedroom on the second floor of 92 Inverary Road, London, Ontario, Canada, North America, The Northern/Eastern Hemispheres, Earth, whatever the fuck our solar system is called, the Milky Way, the universe. In reality, I'm just sitting on my bed. That's an actuality, while the rest are just constructs to make people feel more secure about their knowledge of things. If that's true, patriotism must also be a construct based on the construction of a nation.

So is America is the same thing as The Force then?

At this point, I'm just sort of thinking out loud, but hopefully you don't mind too much. I do wonder seriously if America will be taken to the extreme of being an actual religion at some point, as like I said, if looked at the right way, it's already there, for some at least. I mean, look at the efforts to spread American values around the world; you don't need to be a genius to see the parallels between that and the spread of Christianity throughout the world. Hell, is Christianity evolving into a combination of it and American values? I mean, look at how closely the two are tied together in the US in many parts. Traditional American Values is the exact same as Traditional Christian Values. One could almost draw a comparison between the current US government (not just the CURRENT one, but the ones from the past few decades or so) and the Catholic Church in its prime. The amount of corruption, money, rhetoric and power are strangely similar to the amount that existed during Catholicism's apex.

Just some things for you to think about.

Another Rant On Religion

I believe in a magical pink bunny that created the universe.

One day, the magical pink bunny was sitting around with his drinking buddy and they were intravenously taking sugar, and his buddy says to him, "Magical pink bunny, why did the producers of Taxi lie to Jeff Conaway when they said that he would share the headline with Judd Hirsch?" To which, the magical pink bunny gazed off into the sunset, staring the luminous red that made the sky look ablaze and alive with a passion not seen in centuries. In this sunset, the magical pink bunny was reminded of that one special girl he had when he was younger, that first love, the first one to slip him the tongue and let him get to second base. It was a hot summer night that first time he got under the shirt, but over the bra, and "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John was on the radio. If he's honest with himself, he'll admit that he really had no clue what he was doing. He was nervous, sweating, eager, quick, rough and frankly, more concerned about feeling some of that sweet, sweet mammary flesh than making her feel that good. Over the course of the next three weeks (what was left of the summer, meaning before they both had to leave the camp and return to their hometowns), he did get better, even inducing what she said was an orgasm, but he thought was really just a lie to make him feel better about himself, although he never let on that he knew she had faked it. When they parted though, on August 25, he looked into her eyes and said, "My dear, why couldn't you let me fuck you? I mean, shit bitch, if I had known all I would be getting was some tit action, I would've found an easier chick. Now, I'm going to go and get in my parents' car and I'm going to go back home and I'm going to tell my friends lies about how much we did. I wish that I could tell them the truth, but you made that impossible through your frigid, frigid ways." She, with tears in her eyes, clutched his hand and said, "Honey, I didn't let you have sex with me, because frankly, the bulge in your pants that was your erect penis pressing against your jeans was rather small and weak when compared to that of all the boys back home who I wouldn't let into my thong. I understand that you'll lie to your friends. I knew that you would do that from the very beginning. I understand the strict machismo culture that all you sixteen-year old boys inhabit. It's a culture built upon image, not fact. Where the alpha male gains his status through lies, not through deeds. Storytelling skills are honed by perfecting grunts, hand gestures, limericks, and a complex series of sexually degrading slang terms for women, their clothing and their body parts. I, on the other hand, will lie to my friends in the opposite way. I will tell them that you insisted we not take things too fast and were a romantic gentleman. I will go on in detail how we held hands on moonlit strolls along the beach where you improvised love poetry that was inspired by the beauty of my face and my personality. How we would talk for hours about our thoughts and feelings and wants and desires and our plans for the future, which included you promising me that you would leave home to marry me. Of course, two days before we both left for home, you'll have saved me from a bear that almost killed me and after fatally wounding the mighty creature, I'll have held you in my arms and you'll have said with your last breaths that you loved me and I'll have cried for days. Because that's the way my culture works." The magical pink bunny nodded and said with a voice barely audible, "I'll deny I said this later, but I love you." She turned away, walked ten metres and stopped. She stood there for a moment and then returned back to the magical pink bunny and said quietly, "No other man will ever make me feel the ecstasies you made me feel with your insanely huge cock." That was the last time either saw each other. Several years later, after having a string of unsuccessful relationships with a variety of women of all ages and from all walks of life, including a 14-year old Columbian drug-runner; a 78-year old former secretary for the vice-president of Proctor & Gamble; a 21-year old college student majoring in 18th century Italian literature; a 27-year old actress who specialized in training films aimed at instructing summer interns at record companies how to fuck over their asshole bosses without getting caught, including old standards like masturbating in their coffee, beginning a relationship with their spouse and during the course of it, get them to all you to shave their pubic hair, which is then ground up and stuck in the first soup that the boss orders for lunch, and inserting the earpiece from their headset phone into your rectum; a 42-year old homemaker who insisted that he make love to her in the crib her child used to inhabit until he got too old and needed a big boy bed; and many others not worth listing, he decided to renounce all former political and national ties and strike off on his own in the world. This meant saying goodbye to mom, dad, Jimmy, Billy, Sven, J-Dog, the other Billy, Lucy Q, Mr. Samuel J Bear, grandma, papa, nana, Uncle Joey, and Mrs. Zimmer. He did this with much heartache and difficulty, but he did it. Before he left, his mom hugged him and told him to take care, and his dad, just smacked him on the arm and gave him words of advice that stayed with the magical pink bunny all his life: "Marrying a man doesn't make you gay, the honeymoon makes you gay." To which the magical pink bunny replied, "Hey, would you like to live or die with that piece of advice, mister?" And his father, just turned away, trying to conceal a single tear that was forming with the realisation that his son was finally a man and no longer needed him to protect him from the horrors of the world. It was as he walked away that the magical pink bunny realised that the world wasn't made for the likes of him. That no matter how hard he tried, he'd never fit in anywhere he went. His ideas of social stature, sexuality, politics, social conventions, sports, entertainment, art, traffic codes, laws, environmental issues, economics, boating, killing, video games, poetry, education, healthcare, and televised cooking shows were too different. Too radical. Too alien. So he jumped from the sidewalk and ran towards an oncoming bus. As he ran, he stripped off his clothes, yelling, "I'll tell you about the world, oh yes! Communists are everywhere and they must be eliminated! They threaten the survival of all that surrounds us, dammit and anyone who doesn't listen will be first against the wall when the revolution comes!" The bus did not survive, but the magical pink bunny did, choosing to bathe himself in the unburned gasoline, re-baptizing his soiled soul under the watchful gaze of I. M. Pei and Thom Yorke, who were both in town for business meetings. Drenched in unburned gasoline, he set out on foot in search of his one true love, knowing that she had to be somewhere near, for his Spidey Sense was tingling and that only happened near his one true love. It was on the thirteenth floor of an abandoned office building that he found Molly, a homeless out-of-work nasal spray boxer. They made love atop the building, lubricated by the unburned gasoline and a mixture of bodily fluids. He awoke the next morning to find that she had stolen all of his unburned gasoline and split town. This only caused him to enter into a downward spiral of drugs, prostitutes, alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, sugar, caffeine, headache medications, allergy medications, cough syrups, food preservatives, spring waters, and various types of couscous. When he emerged, he found that he was married and had three lovely children, Otis, Batman, and Forgotten Pill. While the fire that was their home burned, he danced the dance of a man who had just gone through a downward spiral of drugs, prostitutes, alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, sugar, caffeine, headache medications, allergy medications, cough syrups, food preservatives, spring waters, and various types of couscous, and emerged to find that we was married and had three lovely children, Otis, Batman, and Forgotten Pill. And once the last embers had burnt out, that's when the magical pink bunny finally realised that for the first time in his life, he was truly happy and at peace with all of creation. He slept well that night, dreaming of giant women who loved potato salad and called him Generalissimo while he had sex with them. They would shout, "Storm the capital! STORM THE CAPITAL!" while intercourse occurred. He often wondered what his strange obsession with sex was, but could never find any answer beyond the simple: I'm a perv. The first time a woman called him a perv was when he was three and had a habit of spying on his mentally challenged cousin, who happened also to be a little person, while she attempted to shave her armpits with a Lady Gillette. Oh, the hours he would spend, clinging to the shower curtain's rod much like a Koala to a tree branch, as she struggled to apply shaving gel properly and then shave. It was a routine that she followed strictly every other day and it took approximately two hours for each armpit. One day, just as she was in the middle of the third stroke on her right armpit, he accidentally sneezed, causing her to suddenly twitch and cut open her armpit. She bled to death and the three-year old magical pink bunny just clung, watching in awe and sexual excitement. When his mom found him and his dead retarded midget of a cousin, she pried him off of the shower curtain rod and had him stand there and look at the body. "You're a little perv who will cause nothing by death, destruction, and psychological distress for the rest of your life," she said. "But," she added a few seconds later, bending down so they were face to face, "mommy still loves you very much. Who wants ice cream?" That was a fond memory for the magical pink bunny, because with that he learned not only of the insanely immense power a sneeze has--even Janet Reno recommends that sneezes be labelled biological weapons of mass destruction because of the sheer numbers of deaths they've caused, beating out things like nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, mustard gas, and even a combination of AIDS, cancer and safes falling on people's heads--and also the fact that the unconditional love of a parents is unbreakable, even if you cause the death of your mentally challenged, little person cousin while she shaves her armpits with a Lady Gillette. After remembering that, he looked at the charred remains of his family home, in which his wife and three lovely children, Otis, Batman, and Forgotten Pill, were trapped, having been tied up with duct tape by him to chairs and thrown down the basement stairs, and were all now dead. He had failed as a father and it pained him immensely. It was then that he decided to go out, find a woman and have some fucking kids and do it right this time! And he did. He had two semi-attractive children named The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man, and Marcy. He loved them until the day that little The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man brought home a case of Lite American-made beer. The magical pink bunny was enraged at his son's poor taste in alcoholic beverages and decided to teach him respect for beer by forcing him to drink not just one case, but 24, for a total of 576 beers in a 12-hour period. Many thought that The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man would die from alcohol poisoning, but the magical pink bunny pointed out that water has a higher alcohol content than most Lite American-made beers. After the last beer was drank and the last drop of pee squeezed out, The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man went up to the magical pink bunny and said, "Daddy, I'm sorry for what I've done. You've shown me the error of my ways and I promise to drink respectfully from hence forth." They then embraced in what can only be described as what one would see if they were watching a commercial for long-distance phone rates. The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man was killed by a frozen spike of urine that was released from an airplane overheard, flying from San Jose to Hamburg. The magical pink bunny wept for 40 days and 40 nights, depleting his bodily fluids to the point of dehydration, causing an extended stay in the hospital until his fluid count was back to near-normality. It was when little Marcy visited him that he realised how selfish it was to mourn in such a way and possibly deprive his daughter of a daddy who could interrogate any boy who tried to worm his way into her teenage panties by taking her out to dinner and a movie. The day he returned home, they had hot dogs for supper in honour of The Hulk Versus Wolverine Versus Spider-Man and the magical pink bunny was happy. That's what the sunset made the magical pink bunny think of, so he turned to his drinking buddy and said, "Charlie, they did that because it's Hollywood." Charlie just nodded and recognised that the magical pink bunny spoke only in truths. With that, the magical pink bunny rose and said, "I think . . . I think I'm going to create a universe, my friend." And so he did. And it was Good. And it was Us.

If I actually believed in that and that was really the first chapter in my holy book, you'd all think I was crazy, right? What's really the difference between what I just wrote and any other religion except for the fact that mine wasn't made up by people whose brain weren't as sophisticated as ours, along with the fact that their knowledge of social conventions and the general working of the world aren't nearly as advanced as ours? Think about it.