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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Happy Deathday, Brother Theodore.

Brother Theodore was imprisoned by Nazis at Dachau. He played chess (a game he excelled at so profoundly that he once beat thirty fucking Stanford professors simultaneously – yes, read that again) with Albert Einstein, who helped him emigrate to the United States, where he would eventually become a cult hero with his uniquely surreal gallows humor and eccentric monologues, along with acting as Gollum in the classic Rankin/Bass animated feature The Hobbit, and in such movies as The Last Unicorn and the Tom Hanks vehicle The ‘Burbs. He was a staple of the late-night talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s. He died nine years ago today.

Popularity: unranked [?]

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. Please leave any comments there.

I was raised as an ordinary kid in a family that didn’t really attend church every single Sun-day but still did so frequently. My friend Mark Carper took me to an anti-rock & roll preacher sideshow at his church, the Colonial Baptist Church in the hills to the East of Nuke City. It was through that incalculably bizarre experience that i came to accept Christ the Redeemer into my heart, lungs, knees, ears, nose, and throat. I even destroyed some of my favorite LPs.

Later i became more moderate.

My grandparents (she a lapsed Catholic, i’m not too sure what he was before they became Methodists), right-thinking they were, didn’t have me baptized, reasoning that i’d do it myself if that’s what i truly wanted. So at the age of 14 i cleansed my spirit like good old St. John (but with just a dab of water, not a whole damn river).

But the whole time i was a devout Christian, i kept asking questions of our Sunday School teachers: Why are there so many religions? How do we know that Buddhism isn’t the one true religion? If killing is wrong, why does god kill so many people all the time when he gets in his moods? &c.

I’d also heard about how the Beatles found enlightenment in the East, and wondered how it could be that those four English chaps could make records so vastly incomparably better than our own Pat Boone, he of such good moral standing and strong Christian faith.

By and by, i grew up, started smoking cigarettes and screwing girls and reading books of dubious moral value. I got turned on to pot and LSD and started realizing that there is so very much more to the universe than this nice, tidy little story we’re all told in Sunday School. I realized that there are simply cultures that are incompatible with the overall Christian blueprint, much revised over the centuries as it had become. It seemed to me that Christianity obviously couldn’t be the One True Religion it heralded itself to be.

Then my uncle Stephen found himself dying from AIDS. Why should god be so incredibly crappy to us humans? After he died, my grandmother noticed that his name was no longer printed in the church directory under our family’s listing. She was understandably incensed, having taken that as an indirect denial of his continued presence as part of the hallowed twinkling in the Lord’s eyes. She pretty much lost her shit over that.

That was the final straw for me as well. I figured out real quick that Christianity, at least in its current incarnation, is about the most phony fucking gig in town.

I explored elsewhere: first Wicca, then paganism and other namby-pamby New Age spiritualities, then North American Indian shamanism, then Taoism, then Buddhism, then Hinduism, then various forms of the occult, then Qabala Judaism (not the Hollywood crap), then more occultism (including Satanism). When i finally found Eris and read the Principia Discordia (i am now a full-ass Pope*), and dove into the Church of the SubGenius (where i am a reverend), i realized what i should have known all along: all religions are full of crap. As far as i can tell, they all DO point to the same thing: lies and self-heresy. I took from all this only two things: the concept of WILL (Crowley) aka INTENT (Castaneda), and the simple damn idea that you should be nice to your fellow organisms, whoever they are, avoiding stupid, fruitless endeavors like hitting them over their heads with rocks (wherever possible).

Having had an interest in science from a young age, i always valued truth over fiction, lies, fabrications, or embellishments. I still see truth as an unalterable thing: all things being measurable, one must have mass and either be at rest or in motion. Relativity does not mean that these values are subjective. Killing another human being cannot possibly be “wrong” for one person, but “right” for another. It is either right or it is wrong. The fact that individual humans can measure the same thing and come up with wildly varying answers only points out the flaws in each of our lenses. There must be a correct solution which is not invalidated by any other.

Therefore, i reject god in all its forms, because it makes no sense in the context of the rest of nature which we have studied for the same number of millenia and have a pretty good grasp of in contrast.

*actually, my title is CounterPope

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

I put together this YouTube playlist of Carl Sagan’s “You Are Here”/”Pale Blue Dot” speech. I highly recommend checking it out.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ’superstar,’ every ’supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

“The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

“Ann Druyan suggest an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?”

- Carl Sagan

the chasms

Nov. 6th, 2008 04:54 am
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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

omfg where do i start?

today sucked.

preface: we are so poor. that is all about that. we are poor, and it sucks balls. Holly works so hard, and for what? what the hell do i do to make the world any better? not a god damned thing. especially not her world.

on to the viewing…

my old friend is dead. younger than me, dead and gone. i remember yesterday when we were all young and crazy with life and the ecstasy of the world being at our fingertips.

i got there, alone. i killed time rolling a smoke and killing it. i rolled a couple more and walked up. almost immediately some cat comes up for a light. he’s a friend of Jason’s. there is some small talk, then he reveals that there are internal social problems & factioning, a division going on. he calls it childish; “bizarre,” i reply.

after chatting with another of his more recent friends, i mustered up just barely enough guts to go inside. what awaited was hell.

so i go inside and i don’t see anyone i know. except for Susan and Mike, who passed by on their way in. i couldn’t tell if they were ignoring me or if they didn’t recognize me. that was sort of a theme of the evening. they have every reason to ignore me. when i was younger and stupider, i did stupid things and said foolish things to Susan, who i loved then, about Mike, who was actually a terrific guy, really. so there’s that.

i’m in line for about a half an hour, behind a small group of people who obviously bothered to keep up with him in his last years. suddenly i realize that the older gentleman standing idly by is Jason’s dad.

omg. it’s his dad, i thought. omg. is it better that he does or doesn’t recognize me?

see, we used to be really crazy teenagers. really crazy, just completely off the chain and full of joy and insanity. we used to bounce off the walls with energy. we also used to do some questionable stuff. nothing terrible, just not real virtuous behavior. all in good fun, we figured at the time. and it was.

but we got suspended from school once, toward the very ass-end of my senior year, which would have been Jason’s sophomore year, for showing up drunk at a school dance, with liquor and beer in my car to boot. crap. i got him in trouble. i hope they don’t remember that.

he looks at me and we chat, and he doesn’t seem to really remember me well. that’s kind of a big relief.

then the question i was dreading.

no, i said, even though i only live a half hour away, i didn’t really bother to go and see him, as he’s dying, because i just didn’t. because i don’t fucking know, right? i didn’t say it like that, but i certainly meant it like that.

i tried several times to gather a posse together. too many years had passed. i needed a buffer to fill up the empty space of time that had grown like kudzu between us. he and i talked on the phone a few years ago, and the net result of the conversation was, i felt at the time, that he was grown up and doing his thing, and though we were greatly cordial, there was a fairly vast chasm that had come up there in the middle. we weren’t those kids anymore. he didn’t need me in his life. we of course said “we should get together sometime,” and “give me a call anytime,” and neither of us really meant it. though i would have secretly loved to. but you know how it goes. it’s happened to everyone. two old friends, grown apart after too much time.

i loved him, though, and i never stopped loving him. it had just become awkward. that’s why i wanted help, someone to go with me to see him.

so i answered that question. no, i didn’t go to see your dying son in his last couple of years in life. fuck! i wanted to. desperately. i was too scared of that god damned void that had opened up its gaping maw between us to suck our friendship in. i pussied out.

finally, i see him up close.

no mortician on earth really ever makes a dead body look natural. not to me anyway. it’s always a horrific shock to see something that resembles someone you used to know very well lying before you like some kind of expired doppelganger. it was just too unreal. i knew it was him, he just didn’t look… real. that always happens.

the shock, the numbness of it all was overwhelming.

i go outside, roll a couple more smokes, pretend like i’m talking on my phone. anything to keep the questions at bay. thankfully, Travis shows up with his mom. i keep quiet and let them do all the talking. conversations get better that way.

Fred texts me that he can’t show up because he supposedly doesn’t have enough gas. me and Jason were pretty tight back in the day, but Fred and Jason were like peanut butter and jelly. completely inseperable. i am disappointed.

Kevin Holsinger shows up in a little while. the other day i practically cried at the thought of seeing that kooky lil’ kid again. we were never all that close, but i always liked him. you couldn’t not. and we always had terrific laughs together. he doesn’t seem to know who i am, and since it doesn’t really matter anyway, i let the matter be as it is.

later on, Travis and his mom and Kevin and his whole family go out to eat. i didn’t go, it was just too awkward for me. i had a bad day. plus, i needed to pick Holly up from a business meeting. it turned out she got a ride, a fact i knew at right about the same instant as everyone was driving away. not that it would have made a difference.

there was not one single moment of the day that i had any business being a part of. but i owe like hell.

it’s hard when it really sinks in how much you never really mattered in the end, when someone you loved so much and had so much fun with is dead and gone so many years after you last saw them.

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Jason Stafford and his sister Danielle

Jason Stafford and his sister Danielle

Yesterday morning at about 7:45 in the a.m., the world lost one of its most gifted and talented minds. My old high school pal Jason Stafford died from ALS after a 2 1/2 year fight that brought his body to its knees.

I met Jason either through mutual friends or through the band program at our old alma mater, Tecumseh High School. Over the years, we became very tight, and performed a number of questionable but downright hilarious acts together. We used to drive fast down country roads and goof off after school. Notoriously, we got childishly drunk and attended a school dance, where we were all caught and suspended. For me, it was my first real taste of alcohol, and became a stupid end to an already faltering career as a high school student.

Jason earned the nickname “Froot Loop” for his unusually wacky sense of humor. You always knew he was around by his loud but always jolly laughter. I don’t think i have any memories of him where he’s not laughing the whole way through. Some of my memories of those times have degraded over the years, leaving just that sacred sound echoing through the fog. If somewhere in the world, something goofy was happening, you could have bet your very life that Jason was involved.

I also credit Jason with turning me on to Drakkar Noir, which was the scent of the day for bemulletted, Camaro-driving guys across the American heartland, and which was virtually guaranteed to get a teenager laid, which it did not in our cases. Or maybe just mine.

Jason played guitar. He had a beautiful gray Les Paul and an Ovation acoustic. He was so humble. He always downplayed his abilities, but he was an extremely capable musician. He also played trumpet. Along with Bill Davenport, we formed an ad hoc band at band camp my senior year called Homicidal Cat, for the sole purpose of playing “Helter Skelter” and freaking out the grownups. We were lousy, but not because of poor musicianship on anyone’s part. In hindsight, we should have had a drummer.

He and i both always ran around with the bad crowd, and by bad crowd, i mean drummers and saxaphone players. People who, instead of rocking out to Phantom of the Opera, were rocking out to Metallica, the Pink Floyd, and AC/DC.

We were in marching band together. That’s probably all i should say about that. Whenever you hear the phrase “this one time, in band camp,” you should bear in mind that high school students who are shipped far away from parental guidance make a habit out of having an absolutely improper amount of fun, and much of it highly questionable.

I can say with impunity, knowing whatever statute of limitations may have been applied has long gathered dust by now, that he was absolutely instrumental, no pun intended, in the creation and probably the transportation of the World’s Largest Spitball (unconfirmed), which had to be transported via industrial-sized trashcan lid, over to the girls building, where it was promptly dropped by the two or three giggling chicken-shits it took to do so, of whom i was among their number. He also assisted in the removal of an extension cord which was inconveniently supplying a camping site worker with electricity which would have otherwise caused him to wake up on time, and with a weather forecast that would have permitted our band director to make plans for us that day.

I only have a single memory of him where we didn’t get along for a few minutes. After school one day, he jumped into my blue 1977 Chevy Nova, started it, and proceeded to repeatedly test out the transmission by shifting it back and forth, back and forth, from Drive to Reverse, with myself on top, pounding vigorously on the hood and demanding angrily that he let go of my precious toy. Within about ten minutes (probably less), he was hugging me and calling me a teddy bear.

I’ve never in all my life, either before or since, met a more good-hearted or sweet-natured guy, and i probably never will again. And whatever happened between high school and now, i will forever be saddened that i wasn’t right there with him, because if there was ever a guy who you could count on to cheer you up no matter what the circumstances were, it was Jason Stafford.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a degenerative nervous system disorder that is always fatal. Treatments are available but there is no cure. Famous sufferers include Stephen Hawking, who has had it since 1963, and guitarist/composer Jason Becker. It is terrible, but with advances in stem cell technology, there may yet be hope for the future.

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Harkening back to the legendary days of old, i present to you… MTVMusic.com

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Martin Sargent (from Unscrewed, Infected, Web Drifter and Internet Superstar, also formerly of TechTV’s The Screen Savers) and Sarah Lane (from popSiren, also formerly of The Screen Savers and later on Attack of the Show) have been canned by evil Revision3 execs, along with their respective shows. Several others were also let go. (Here’s Martin’s heartbreaking Tweet.)

Revision3 just went down to Revision2 in my book, and maybe not even that. Those shows had a lot of heart, a lot of soul. I loved Martin’s shows, and popSiren has no doubt influenced a generation of young women to take up careers in technology, geekology, or to otherwise become visionaries like the bold, talented, and fun women on that show. It’s a sad, sad day for Internets.

But hey - Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht still get to giggle hysterically while drunk and looking at Kevin’s ATM.

For my own records, here are some comments/posts i’ve made about this tragic malarky, most of which are just ranting and whining about this crappy, crappy turn. You can skip them, i just want to go back and see if anyone wants to fight me or anything.

http://revision3.com/forum/showpost.php?p=454311&postcount=13

http://revision3.com/blog/2008/10/27/changes-to-revision3/#comment-10623

http://blog.sarahlane.com/2008/10/look-ma-im-a-fr.html#comments (moderated)

http://louderback.com/2008/help-im-infatuated-with-my-fable-2-avatar/#comments

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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

(Wherein the author expounds upon his deep disgust and hatred for the city he once loved so dearly.)

Dear Dayton,

I know we used to be kinda tight - but never really all that close somehow, even though you were always in my heart when i was away. You’ve got to admit, i’ve been trying like hell to get reacquainted with you these last few years. Really, the love has never diminished.

Until now. You have shown me your true colors; the ones i always secretly knew existed in the back of my mind, but never wanted to actually admit to myself were there. I loved you, and you have used me. You were using me all along, weren’t you? Well, my love: fuck you right back. I hate you. I seriously wish that i didn’t, but there it is: i do.

When i first moved into your diseased little middle-American labor-driven bosom, i knew that something didn’t feel quite right. That warm glow just wasn’t there.

Your only value is in history. You’re only good for one-night stands, a casual drive-by down the Oregon District during happy hour. Nothing more. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

I should have known better. Your gay neighborhoods are too straight, your gay business district too laughably tiny. You’d think i didn’t care, but i do. Diversity is the spice of life, Dayton. For a saucy little dish such as yourself, you need to mix it up a little better. You are still segregated, no matter what you say. You don’t even provide bus service to the malls from the West side. Come on! Why is that, Dayton? Seriously now - give me a straight answer, and don’t think too hard for something pretty to say. We know, we all do. Such a pathetic, racist little weasel. 

And speaking of people who aren’t where they should be, where is your middle class, anyway? My only choice with you is to live by rich white Beamer-driving dickheads, or in the ghetto. I’d love to live somewhere in between, but you neither have that, nor do you have any means for me to get there. My advice to you in this regard: get jobs. And pay people what they’re worth. And when the UD kids graduate - kick ‘em out. Back to wherever their filthy rich little behinds came from. Give the rest of us some space to get ahead, instead of whoring yourself out to the foreign-born Easterners, who bring their decadent and depraved “me-first” ways from across the Appalachian range to our once-proud mud-whipped riverbanks!

This brings me to my last point. Since the vast majority of your residents are poor and undereducated (do you even know what a school levy is??), it’s no wonder at all why everybody in the heart of the city is a criminal. You can’t go anywhere around you anymore without risking life and/or limb! Is it much of a stretch to imagine why even the police are fearful of your slums? What you need is industry. Enterprise. Something people can believe in, that gives ‘em a real, honest goal to work towards. But all you care about is bling and fireworks, and taking what you can from those who cannot afford to give any more. Ah, but you are at least good at that: crushing the tender souls of those who could have provided you with peace, and with comfort in your premature old-age.

I call bullshit on you, Dayton Ohio. The Wrights and the Ketterings and poor sweet old Mister Dunbar are all choking on their worms because you have forgotten what made them and yourself so great, back in the foggy mists of your bygone golden age! You are a rotten, stinking pusbag of a city, and you need some serious bitch-slapping to force you to get your shit together. Look at you! You smell of piss and hobo vomit, and your wrinkles are like vast crevasses, eager to swallow men whole. When is the last time you actually felt good about yourself? Honestly? Your glory days long gone, you are relegated to retelling the same old tired stories of your wonder years, the twinkle in your eye having vanished many years back.

It’s high time for me to leave you once again for greener pastures. No, don’t say that! I never, ever wanted to just give up on you. Not once! But sadly, you have left me finally with no choice.

From now on, and until you change your ways, and i mean really seriously take a good long hard look at yourself and actually change your ways… you are dead to me. You will one day soon be that thankfully nearly-forgotten ex-, about whom i tell horror stories to my new friends, in a far-off place, away from you and your putrid, decaying streets filled with haunted, meth-hollowed eyes and rivers of discarded waste and gutter-bile. 

I honestly do wish you the best, really. But good riddance, when i leave you forever. This time i really truly mean it.

March 2011

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