In Tonsil Trouble, South Park Episode 1201, Cartman Gives Kyle AIDS and They Discover a Cure Together

What an incredible start to the 12th season of South Park. I laughed my ass off, not at people having AIDS, of course, which isn’t funny, but rather, at the way South Park portrayed the perception of AIDS in America.

The episode begins with Cartman going into the doctor’s office for a routine tonsillectomy. When he wakes up, he’s informed that he has AIDS. The other boys are told, and Kyle can’t help but feel that this is all somewhat deserved and, in effect, karma just doing its thing. As retribution for his thoughts, Cartman sneaks into Kyle’s room at night and injects him with his own AIDS.

Everywhere the boys are getting little sympathy for their AIDS because apparently cancer is the new thing that everybody feels bad about. AIDS, it seems, was the 90’s disease. That’s the way it goes – America gets tired of caring about one thing and moves onto the next.

In a search for their cure the boys go to see Magic Johnson, who was diagnosed with HIV a long time ago, but continues to be fine today. They ask him how and look around his home, recognizing that he sleeps with all his money. That’s it – money injected right into the veins is the cure.

And that is the beauty of this episode. HIV can be kept in check long term by throwing vast sums of money at it – $180K according to South Park – and rather than cure it we just throw money at it. To really drive the futility of this ‘cure’ home, a white man in a big car drives up to an African village and screams excitedly that AIDS has been cured and that all people need to do is inject $180,000 into their veins…as if these people ever had the money to throw at AIDS in order to cure themselves.

I find this episode to be disturbing and profound. What did you think? What was your favorite part?

To read about other South Park episodes, click HERE. Want to buy South Park on DVD? Click HERE.

Zen Talk: Say It, Don’t Spray It

“Even if one talks a lot about what is beneficial, if one does not put it into practice, one is negligent, like a herder counting the livestock of others; one has no share in spirituality.”

You already read the article’s headline: say it, don’t spray it. Walk the walk – don’t just talk the talk.

Whatever catchy phrase you want to use (though the first really does pertain to people spitting all over you when they speak) it all means the same thing. You can talk all day long but if you don’t do anything about it then you may as well be counting someone else’s money (preferably that you haven’t stolen).

What do you think about this? Do you take action or do you prefer to talk about taking action?

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South Park Episode 806, “Goobacks” Teaches the Lessons of Saving the Future

This is a great episode because it actually provides a practical reason for why we should take care of the earth now: if we don’t, people may come back from the future and take our jobs in order to make money and invest it so that they have money in the grossly overpopulated and dirty future. Duh.

Stan says:

“They’re just humans trying to make their lives better. Look, it sucks that the immigrants’ time is so crappy, but the cold hard truth is that if we let them all come back to our time, then it’s just gonna make our time crappy too. Maybe the answer isn’t trying to stop the future from happening, but making the future better.”

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Topical Tuesday: Anger Strikes an Unpublished Writer, Prompting the Rest of Us to Say, Who Hasn’t Been There?

The following are my thoughts on the post that can be found on Absolute Write’s forum, “Rejection and Dejection,” and that I’ve posted at the end of this entry.
It’s Cold Out Here
The accusation he makes this whiner makes is that the publishing industry is a waste of time, that its agents are morons who don’t understand his genius (though you’ll notice a dozen typos in his few paragraphs) and that no one is concerned with anything but money and pandering to the hot genre’s crowds.
Now, do I understand the sentiments behind his bitching? Sure – who hasn’t had a tough day in the world of writing. It’s a rough industry to break into, has tight and finicky rules, and a lot of weird, accepted behaviors. Agents can ignore their signed clients; personally addressed letters often go unanswered; and numerous publishers can’t even be contacted without an agent. What’s more, most people don’t want to represent you if you haven’t already been published, making breaking into the industry incredibly difficult. But, hey, people do it all the time.
Money, money, money, money – MONEY!
The publishing industry is a business – everything about it. This guy is pissed that people care about money, but publishers and agents spend all their time doing doing their jobs. If they’re not in it for the money, what are they in it for? Should their children starve so that this guy and every other shmoe can have representation?
Look, it may be frustrating that he can’t get published but to think that it’s only about money – or that all the agents are stupid – is a pretty ridiculous accusation. Yes, agents and publishers may like to represent works that are part of hot genres but every agent’s site says his/her interests and they’re definitely out there for every genre. Quite, frankly, if enough agents (say, 50-100) want nothing to do with you and give you no real feedback, it’s probably not a sign that the industry sucks but rather, that you do. Either you’re querying the wrong people or you should take the hint and write something else, write a different way or just don’t write….at least not to be published.
What He Can Do
If you think your work is so great and you want other people to read it so bad and you think that the industry is corrupt, guess what! You have options! That’s right, get some copies of your book printed yourself. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re published, but at least you’re not part of a mechanism you hate. Pass them out or sell them on the internet. I’m sure you’ll sell a few. Maybe it will go so well that you can requery agents and get it picked up. Perhaps they needed proof of its potential success. Though they may know their industry (presumably, despite this guy’s accusation), everybody makes mistakes.
And, hey, if you try your hardest with dozens and dozens of letters and every other means at your disposal and still can’t get published or represented by an agent, does that necessarily mean your book sucks and you don’t deserve to be a published author? No, not really, but it does mean that you might want to rethink what you’re doing or writing. Maybe it’s not as good as you think, because if you were the next J.K. Rowling, don’t you think somebody, around rejection 19, would pick you up?
So to this guy: I feel you buddy, but you know what – it’s not the publishing industry. It’s life. You’ve got to learn to keep your head up and push through the good times and the bad. Sometimes a lot of people won’t like the product you’re offering. Welcome to a free market. Life can be filled with rejection and unfairness and be a place where people like money. Go figure. So suck it up, take a breather and try again later. And if that’s the way you really feel then I’m glad you finally think you’re free.
What do you think about these complaints? Do you think I’m being too harsh? To read other Topical Tuesday posts, click HERE. To check out Chandler’s thoughts on this post, click HERE.
This guy’s letter
I’ve had it with this B.S.

This is a stupid industry and I’m tired of wasting my time with it. I’m not going to send any more carefully crafted queries to mind-numbed morons totally incapable of understanding my thoughts. The same brainless poli-sci, english, and lit majors that looked at me blankly in my university days when they’d discover I was studying physics. A vacuous gaze followed by an imbecilic chuckle and a comment along the lines of, “I can’t talk to you.” If only I’d have known those idiots who wouldn’t talk to me then, would be running the industry that somehow sucked me in I could have avoided wasting the last decade.

I guess that jokes on me, and maybe I’d feel different if someone had actually had the balls to read something besides a f-ing query letter. But from the comfort of my home I can just feel their eyes glazing over as soon as they see a word with more than three syllables or an idea that doesn’t involve a cop, a lawyer, or a disgruntled housewife. Those who moan glowingly about their deep understanding of the written word yet don’t seem interested in anything that doesn’t involve vampires, the paranormal, or women’s lib. The world is a big place full of wonder and fantastical ideas and they’ve reduced it to a single cart-full of dung. Aristotle knew what that meant 2500 years ago.

Finito, over and out, tired of trying to bring something beautiful into a world run only by money and people who’s sole expertise begins and ends with counting it. There are better ways to waste my life than a shelf of miscarriages and a head full of impotent ideas.

Free at last!

Around the World Pic: Scientology Church in Los Angeles

I went to Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend and had a great time exploring the city (great tour guide), hanging out at the beach (great weather) and visiting Universal Studios (great day).

One thing I noticed, though, as I cruised the streets of L.A. (something many before me have noticed but as this was my first visit I just saw it for myself), was that there were Scientology churches everywhere. You couldn’t escape them. What is it about L.A. that makes it such a bastion for this cultish pseudo-religion? I have some theories that involve personal emptiness, gullibility, the need to remain fashionable, money, etc., but they’re little more than that: theories.

Though I do have a picture with me in the foreground and the primary Scientology headquarters in the background, you really can’t tell what that building is, so I opted to give you this photo instead, which I took right on Hollywood Boulevard.

Have you ever been to this church? To L.A.? Did you notice the Scientology churches everywhere? What’s your theory for why they’re there?

To read about South Park’s Scientology episodes, 912 and 1001, click HERE or HERE, respectively. To read about the Religion in the News day concerning Scietology, click HERE.

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Topical Tuesday: Should You Be Able to Return Bad Books as Faulty Merchandise?

What!? I had no idea that this was even a question in the minds of people who read. It was recently brought to my attention by my good friend and fellow author, Chandler (whose thoughts on this matter I’m sure will be better than mine and available on her blog). Apparently, some book in a “Twilight” series wasn’t what people were hoping for and a lot of them are trying to return it and get their money back.

Whoa.

Buying books is like going to Vegas: it’s a gamble and if you don’t like the results, try getting a hooker. Some books are bad. Dare I say, more are bad than good, but the moment you buy it and put the words into your head, you’ve gotten what you paid for: those words, no matter your opinion of them.

I believe that the problem in this Twilight case was that people loved the first books in the series and were unsatisfied by the most recent one. You know what? Deal with it. The author obviously did a good enough job to convince you to get this one so hat’s off. We can’t win them all.

Should you get your money back for a bad movie? I wish! What if it was the fault of one actor? Should I always get my money back when I see Ben Affleck movies? NO! I should deal with it because I took the gamble. Movies and books can suck. That’s the way of the world: filled with opinions.

If you’re worried a book won’t be good or if you think you should have the right to read without paying then start using the library more often. That’s what the system is for.

Returning books because they’re bad….ridiculous.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Have you ever returned a bad book? What’s the worst book you ever read? What did you do when you were finished reading it?

For another Topical Tuesday topic, click HERE. To read about how Ben Affleck sucks and ruins movies I should get my money back for, click HERE.

And don’t forget to check out Chandler’s blog for her thoughts on this matter HERE.

What Are We Really Voting for This Election Season, Asks “Douche and Turd,” episode 808 of South Park

As we arrive at day 72 on our countdown to vote for the next president of the United States of America, we have to ask ourselves, What are we really voting for?

Some will say “CHANGE!” and some will say, “NOT BLACK PEOPLE!” but no matter what they say we’re presented with two choices that are likely to provide us, the American people, with very comparable outcomes. And this is what “Douche and Turd” is saying.

When South Park Elementary has to vote for a new school mascot, the boys think it will be funny to write in two ridiculous things: a giant douche and a turd sandwich. When there’s a run-off between these idiotic candidates, Stan just can’t figure out what the point of voting is and why he would even bother when the choice is going to be stupid, pointless, unable to be differentiated and nothing you’d want between two pieces of bread.

Now, of course, it must be noted that this episode was written and aired before the Bush v. Kerry election, when the two candidates had a lot more in common and America appeared a lot less in trouble. This election, admittedly, looks a little different.

To pose the more obvious observation of how the two candidates are different, one of them is white – much like John Kerry. Similar to John Kerry as well, one of them has actually served in the United States armed forces. But let’s take a quick peak at the bigger picture and remember that the two aren’t actually so different after all.

They are both members of one of America’s two big parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. Though one would like to convince you that the other spends more money or that they’re more “less-hand-in-government” as a political approach to governing, that’s crap. They’ll both spend a crapload of money; they’ll both interfere in your life in a way previously unprecedented in American history, and they’ll both provide us with rhetoric that is full of shit and excuses on a pretty regular basis. And then you can turn to The Daily Show to laugh at either of them as our country and its glory spin down the drain, only to be documented in 45 years when historians can finally be far enough away to recognize some identifiable patterns.

Gloomy, no? Do I really think it’s going to be that bad? I certainly hope not – but I will say that neither candidate has actually outlined in detail or demonstrated the executable-ness of any programs that will solve any of America’s many major problems. Though I hope this isn’t the downward sloping side of the America-on-top mountain (because I think we have a lot to offer the world by way of collective equality before no one is listening to us again), I do think that when historians look back in time and have to assess, neither candidate so far has differentiated himself enough in his actual planned execution (not just policy rhetoric) so as to make him any different from the other or cause this to be the presidency of change. That’s not to say it won’t be, but just that if we went forward with what’s been outlined so far, we wouldn’t see any tangible results because nothing is really being said.

I hope that come election day we’re voting for something other than a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

What do you think? Who will you be voting for? What did you think of this episode? Do you think it’s applicable to every presidential election or just every one before a black man got in there?

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Zen Talk: 21 Rules for a Sarcastic Zen Life

Thought this might be a nice change of pace from the usual seriousness of our Sunday Zen Talk days.

The Zen of Sarcasm

01. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the heck alone.

02. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.

03. Its always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

04. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

05. Always remember that you ‘re unique. Just like everyone else.

06. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

07. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

08. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

09. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is probably not for you.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably a wise investment.

12. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

13. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.

14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

17. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Got any good ones to add?

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Zen Talk: “Great Transcendent Wisdom” Teaches of Emptiness and Impermanence

The classic Buddhist work on Great Transcendent Wisdom teaches:

“All things are subject to causes and conditions, none are independent….All are born from causes and conditions, and because of this they have no intrinsic nature of their own. Because of having no intrinsic nature, they are ultimately empty. Not clinging to them because they are ultimately empty is called transcendent wisdom.”

I really love this concept.

Now, none of us are about to go off in the woods and become ascetics, unattached to our possessions and lives. Is this to say that none of us will achieve transcendent wisdom? Well, yes, probably, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for us to learn from these words.

They’re about our attachment to material objects and the world around us. We become so attached to our things, to crap, to objects, and cars and houses and trinkets and nonsense and so many things that we don’t need that they prevents us – not only, according to this passage from transcendent wisdom and enlightenment – but from, in the meantime, living life.

People forgo so much for the crap they have. They worry about losing it and worry when it’s lost. They spend time and energy and money protecting crap (not that I blame them – I’ve had my home broken into and I know how much it sucks) and consequently don’t enjoy the finer things in life. People don’t travel and see new things because there’s too much to attend to at home, and they don’t live life because they’d rather sit amongst their crap. Many people don’t experience the fun and excitement of moving to a new city or country because they’ve accumulated too much stuff and wouldn’t know how to get it there and don’t want to lose it. The ability to pick up and go is a wonderful thing.

It’s not that these lifestyles aren’t understandable – liking our crap, that is. After all, I like crap. It’s just that we sometimes need the reminder that it is just stuff and there’s more to life than the stuff. When we see that nothing has intrinsic value we’ll see the value in everything.

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