Pushing Thirty

and shedding pretentions

Skulls: A Cultural Acquiesce

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but skulls are in. If you want to be cool, get a shirt with a skull. Or a belt. Or draw some skulls on your canvas shoes. Probably a skull on a sundress would be cool, too: it’s way ironic.

So, what’s the deal with skulls on everything? They’re everywhere.

Like, a few weeks ago at an apparel store Bran pointed out a t-shirt I might like. It was a floral print. Hawaiian orchids. I rock Hawaiian Orchid floral prints. But I said, Honey, the bunch of flowers are in the shape of a skull. And, sure enough, she could see it after I said it.

And then, another time this summer, I saw a cute 3 year old girl with adorable blonde curls running around some suitcases at the airport. When her mother called her and she turned, I saw that the words Rock Star were written on her t-shirt. And below them was a grinning skull. It suddenly wasn’t so cute. Kind of grim, actually.

I’ve only got one guess as to why this is taking off. After the Black Plague killed half of Europe, there was a noticeable spike in skeleton art. A global plague has quite an effect on people’s world views, sort of like Lehman Brothers and Merill Lynch just suddenly going under. The rules had changed. Life was no longer as stable as everyone thought. It was like death took a big black marker and underlined “inevitable” five or six times in everyone’s script. For awhile people were just scared, but then they did what people do and got on with their lives, and incorporated tragedy into pop culture. So just after the Black Plague you see a lot of skull-art.

And maybe that’s what’s going on today, in post terrorism-attack America. Not that we’re out of the woods, but its been years since 9/11, and maybe that’s enough time to take the edge off the fear. And global tragedy like genocide in Africa is no longer shocking because the sustained drone of news reports has deafened us like factory machinery. And as a nation we just survived another round of hurricanes that made the levies swell and sent tropical storms to places as un-tropcial as Kansas. So maybe all of America, like pummeled insurgents slowly standing amidst the rubble with our hands in the air, are surrendering to reality.

We get it: we’re going to die.

Now would someone just buy me a graphic tee for Christmas, one with a skull in the middle of a coat of arms and something written in latin so I can die cool? And if that doesn’t quite do it, get me an iTunes gift card because there are some indie rock bands that would go great with my life-soundtrack: this year it’s melancholy and sombre and reflective , a pop-dirge, because its not hip these days to act like you’re going to live forever. You’ve got to get it through your thick skull that you could die tomorrow and today is all you got. So we surrender, but like movie stars in a Cold Play dawn.


September 24, 2008 Posted by | elegy, limitations, Religion, writing | 2 Comments

Like White on Rice

Through an interesting (and unsolicited) blog linking system that WordPress generates, I made my way to a very funny blog called “Stuff White People Like.” My two favorite entries (after perusing more than I’d care to divulge) are on Grammar and Kitchen Gadgets.

The funniest part was that while reading “Grammar” I actually noticed that the author used a comma splice to introduce, as an afterthought, the comma splice as a rival white-peev to using the wrong kind of “there/their/they’re” in a sentence. (And yes, I do have a developed opinion on the Oxford comma).

And, after laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe at “Kitchen Gadgets,” and just as I was grasping the couch arm in an ecstasy of hilarity at the very last line that references William Sonoma, I actually thought, “well, they do have nice stuff.”

Yeah. I’m pretty white.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | journal, limitations, writing | 3 Comments

The Gospel According to Wiki

If you haven’t yet heard, the open source information site Wikipedia has begun a translation of the Bible. The translation is already underway, conducted in the same manner that all information is accrued on the site: lay “experts” post their information and it stands as the entry for their topic unless it is challenged by someone else. If it is challenged, minutia can be debated for page after page in the subtext (just look up your choice of hot-topic on Wikipedia for an example).

Now, I like Wikipedia. A lot. It’s the most convenient source of cursory information on the net, which is exactly what you’d expect from an Encyclopedia. Continue reading

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Religion, writing | 3 Comments


Nothing presses me to the edge of my abilities like computers.

I bought a Mac for a thousand good reasons, and one of them was that it was supposed to do all the work for you automatically that would normally take a team of tech-geeks 10 hours to walk you through on the phone. Mostly I’ve found that to be the case. But the problem with that kind of service and automation is that if something doesn’t work right, you’re out of answers from go. Continue reading

July 6, 2008 Posted by | limitations, writing | 1 Comment

Fool’s Gold

It should come as no surprise that I agonized over the title of my blog. This isn’t my first blog and the first was shipwrecked more or less over issues of Title. When the enormous pressure of gathering together all of my thoughts heretofore beneath a single banner confronted me, I didn’t fare well. I went Latin, and not Latin like Ricky Martin, but Latin like Catholic Liturgy. I called it “Ipsum Audite,” a title from an obscure verse reference that I got from a book. I wanted to write about the nuances and perils of modern Christianity, and I didn’t see this as a light topic, one that could be peppered with pie recipes and sports banter. I intended to dispel with a Title any expectation of reading about my favorite latte foam or random thoughts about life distilled from the current weather I was experiencing. I would have done well instead to have borrowed a title first penned by Dante: Abandon all Hope all ye who Enter Here. (He imagined these words were posted at the gates of Hell.) Continue reading

June 17, 2008 Posted by | journal, writing | Leave a comment