Monday, October 4, 2010

The Reign of the Rotorman.

One of the more interesting, and occasionally baffling, aspects of working in an amusement park is dealing with the regulars, the season passholders that come to the park every day. Most of these regulars are junior high school kids who received their pass from a parent or loved one that wanted to legally kick them out of the house for the summer. Of course, after the first few weeks, they become dangerous, not because they're bad kids, but because the they're bored. And if you're a bored thirteen-year-old and you've run out of things to do at an amusement park, the next logical thing to do is to try your hardest to annoy the shit out of the high school and college kids that work there.

Yeah, the kids are annoying, but they're relatively benign unless they're actively trying to break things in your stand. It's really the adults that you have to worry about. Some of you reading this may have read my previous post about the most awkward interview I ever had to conduct, and I wasn't lying the first time when I said that season passholders who aren't kids and don't have kids of their own should be handled very carefully.

Not surprisingly, the crazy ones were always the most famous. I would like to think that every park has them, these kind of urban legends that manifest themselves as people. Back at Geauga Lake, we had Country Joe, who would watch the same country show four or five times a day, every day. There was Handshake Steve, who, upon entering the park, would smile and compulsively reintroduce himself to every employee as he walked down the midway. But the real mascot, the beating heart, the best-known of the regulars at the park, was the Rotorman.

Let me take a second to explain, for those unfamiliar with the Rotor. It was one of those spinning rides in which the circular outside rotates rapidly, and the centrifugal force from the spinning causes you to stick to the wall as the floor of the ride drops out from underneath you. I was never much of a ride enthusiast, and the discovery of the delicate nature of my own stomach stemmed directly from an experience I had as a 5th grader, when I rode the Gravitron, a similar ride, twice in a row at Blossom Time and then threw up behind the bushes into the Chagrin River moments afterwards.

Rotorman was in line at the Geauga Lake front gate every morning that it opened. He was one of the first people through, and he would make his way as fast as he could to the Big Dipper, which always opened a few minutes before his namesake, and after his obligatory Dipper ride, he would get on the Rotor. The most prevalent legend that I heard about Rotorman was that he simply wouldn't get off of the Rotor until the park closed thirteen hours later. This was somewhat confirmed when I overheard a Rides supervisor in the break room explaining where Rotorman's hiding spot was, behind the entry/exit door of the ride.

In 1995, I would have said that he was middle-aged, but I was a teenager, so I could have been overestimating at that point. From what I remember, he had a heavier build and the paunch usually associated with ex-football players. He walked quickly, but with a slight limp in one leg, which was probably the reason why he ambled along at a quick pace instead of flat-out running down the midway with everyone else when the park opened. He had a receding hairline and shaggy hair parted on the side, straight out of a 1970s yearbook. His eyes were kind of a piercing light blue, but what made them noticeable was that his right eye was fixed down and away from the center of his face, regardless of where his left eye was looking. It was easy to pick Rotorman out of a crowd because he usually wore the same royal blue t-shirt that had a stylized "R" on the chest and said Rotorman underneath it, yes, like a superhero.

A few of my previous entries focus on my being fifteen and the awkwardness of not knowing what the hell I was doing. In 1995, I was seventeen, and at this point, it was pretty safe to say that I had become accustomed to drawing and selling caricatures to the point of actually liking it. I had been promoted to Lead Artist that year, which basically meant that I was good enough at making money and not antagonizing guests to the point where I could be trusted to count inventory.

I was opening the "B" satellite umbrella stand one morning and decided that I was bored. There's a period of time in mid-July, after the crowds from the holiday weekend leave, that forms a sort of temporal no-man's land, because it's dead center in the middle of the summer and going back to school isn't even on the horizon yet. During this period of time, the park gets relatively quiet for a couple of weeks, the temperature starts climbing into the low-to-mid 90s, the days start running together into a haze and and most of the employees get start getting burned out. Morale worsens and self-motivation falters, so avoiding apathy is important if you still want to make money. Worse, the opening shift at B stand was solitary for the first four or five hours. I was bored. I had to do something notable. I looked over and saw Rotorman making his way down the midway.

I waited until he was within earshot of my stand to strike.

"Hey, uh...Rotorman!"

He turned his head to look at me. His pace slowed and he began to adjust his course towards my stand.


I hadn't thought this far ahead; in fact, I hadn't even expected to get his attention. I suddenly felt like one of those naturalists on television after they attract the curiosity of a potentially dangerous animal. This was a pretty stupid stunt for me to pull, I thought. I didn't know anything about this guy except for the myths I'd heard about him. For all I knew, he was a violent sociopath. But I had already started this. I was going to finish it.

"Uh, could I draw a practice sketch of you? You won't have to pay for it or anything..."

He stopped in the middle of the midway and glanced at the Big Dipper. He looked back at me and winced.

"Ummm...I don't...uh, I have to get on the Big Dipper soon."

"Come on. It'll only take me a couple of minutes."

He looked back at the Big Dipper, and then looked back at me. They hadn't opened the ride yet. He started walking towards me again.

"Uh..." he stammered. "Yeah, fine. But when people get on the Big Dipper, I'm leaving."

He approached. Part of me panicked. There were many theories about how Rotorman became Rotorman, and I had no idea which one, if any, was true. Some of the Games supervisors were convinced that he was a Vietnam War vet with a Purple Heart and a metal plate in his head, and that the only thing that could alleviate his constant migraine headaches was riding the Rotor. This theory would have also accounted for his slight limp.

Another theory was that, as a baby, someone had left him, covered in a bag or something, on the Rotor, and that no one had noticed him for the better part of a day, and by the time that someone found him, his brain was scrambled and he subsequently became addicted to the Rotor for life. This supposedly accounted for his right eye, but was one of the more implausible theories; Geauga Lake had at least been there since the turn of the century, and the Rotor was a very old ride, but I doubt someone could have gotten a bag or backpack on the ride in the first place, whether there was a baby in it or not. Plus, I don't know what the effects of centrifugal force are on babies, but I doubt that they are described above.

I also remember there being some speculation that he was an ex-NASA test pilot who took too many Gs while flying experimental aircraft over Area 51, but that sounds like something that I would have made up when one of the rookies asked me who Rotorman was. Regardless, it made no difference to me at that point. I was going to be the first and only Geauga Lake caricature artist to ever draw Rotorman.

He sat down in my chair, still glaring at the entrance to the Dipper. I could tell I had thrown a serious curveball at him by interrupting his daily morning routine. His polite compliance with my demands had limits; he had already told me that he was a ghost as soon as that ride opened, so I knew I had to work fast. Still, I had questions.

I started drawing the side of his face. Temple, cheekbone, right jaw.

"So...what's your name?"

"Huh?" He looked at me with his primary eye.

Chin, left jaw, cheekbone, temple.

"Your name. Besides Rotorman, I mean."

"Fred." He looked back at the Dipper.

"Hey, I'm Jamie. Nice to meet you."

"Yeah. You too."

Left ear, right ear, inner hairline. Ask him. Wait, not yet.

"Have anyone ever drawn you before?"


Outer hairline, inner left ear, inner right ear. Go ahead, ask him. Do it.

"So, did you become Rotorman?"

"I...ride the Rotor a lot." He smirked. Diastema, check. Damn it. He had deflected my question.

Hair detail, sideburns, left nostril. Try again.

"No, I mean, like...why do you ride the Rotor all day?"

"I like it. It's fun."

Septum, right nostril, philtrum.

"Yeah, but you...hey, smile real quick for spin around on that ride all day. Don't you get sick of it?"

He smirked again and shifted in his chair.

"No. Don't you get sick of drawing pictures?"

Upper lip, top of lower lip, top teeth.

"Uh...yeah. Yeah, sometimes I do."

I heard some excited yelling behind me, signifying that the Big Dipper had opened. As promised, without a word, Rotorman was out of the chair and ambling as fast as he could towards the entrance, leaving me sitting at my easel staring at an eyeless sketch of my new acquaintance. It didn't matter. I'd spent just enough time staring at him that his eyes and eyebrows were committed to memory. Mission accomplished. I had successfully drawn Rotorman.

As I drew a generic superhero body on him, I thought about our conversation. I felt cheated. When I decided to try and hold a conversation with him, I had expected to learn all of his secrets, the unanswered queries about his psychoses that made him ride around in rapid circles all day, every day. I wanted to take a peek inside this guy's brain. I wanted to stare into the mouth of madness and ask it questions. Maybe I thought that learning about Rotorman would somehow educate me, indirectly giving me a new understanding of people. Or maybe I just thought that I would come closer to learning the truth about what makes them crazy.

But the only truth that I had learned was that Rotorman was probably one of the smartest people that I had ever met. I thought about the countless times people had told me, "Do something you love, and you'll never have to work a day for the rest of your life." Well, Fred was doing that in the most literal sense possible. Sure, he wasn't technically working, and he might have had a pretty severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder, but he still seemed pretty happy to me. I dare any of us to be that satisfied with the daily routine of our lives, with or without mental illness. I asked Rotorman why he rode the Rotor all day, and he told me. Maybe the rest of the answer didn't matter.

The afternoon shift came in, and I went on break. I took my Rotorman sketch with me to the Main stand to show my buddy Rob before we headed out to Sirna's for lunch.

"Hey, check it out. I drew Rotorman."

"No way. Weird. Did he sit for you?"

"Yeah. He got up halfway through and ran away when the Dipper opened, but yeah."

"Nice, man. You could put that up as a demo."

"Nah. I was going to, but...nah. If he saw it, he might not like how I drew his eye."

We started walking towards the employee gate.

"Was he like, psychotic, or mentally challenged or anything?"

"I...I don't know. I don't think so. He was all right."

"What, like, was he normal?"

"I...I wouldn't say that, but...I dunno. He was a little off. He was pretty friendly, though."

"Well, what''s wrong with him?"

"Uh...he' I dunno. I asked him, but he didn't answer. Nothing, I guess. He's just some dude named Fred who really likes riding the Rotor."

• • • • •

After I closed my stand a few nights later, I was walking down the midway on my way to the money room and saw two shadowy figures collecting cans in a giant garbage bag. As I got closer, I saw that one of them was Rotorman. I said hi.

"Hey, Fred."

He looked at me with only a vague sense of recognition. Maybe he couldn't see me in the darkness.


Or maybe he just didn't give a shit about who I was. I was okay with that. Maybe, I thought, he actually was like Batman, obsessively devoted to a cause. Maybe there was only room in his heart for the Rotor. At least part of the issue of Rotorman's sustainability had been answered. I mean, the guy obviously didn't work. He rode the Rotor all day. Who knows where he lived, if he survived off of government disability checks or was in assisted living. Maybe he was just retired. I knew now, at the very least, how he saved up enough money to afford a season pass every year. He collected cans at night. Part of Rotorman made sense now.

Thinking about all of this now, I kind of wonder what happened to Rotorman after Geauga Lake closed down a few years back. I would like to think that he bought the Rotor at an awesome layaway price when Cedar Fair was selling off GL's roller coasters, but I know that was probably impossible. It couldn't have been easy for him. That park closing affected a lot of kids and their summer jobs, for sure, but that place was Rotorman's whole life. I would like to think that he found a new dedication to his life's work, like building gyroscopes. Or playing Roulette. Or maybe even something that has nothing to do with spinning around rapidly.

Wherever he is now, he was legendary then. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fear and Loathing at Geauga Lake.

GEAUGA LAKE, JUNE 1993. I was fifteen, working a shift at the Computer stand on a weekday, which, like most amusement park caricature stands, was named for what it was closest to. In this case, my stand was between the Big Dipper and the Computer Photo stand, where customers had their photographs taken by an early digital camera on a template with a hole or two cut into it for the face(s).

I was sticking to my normal daily regimen of standing under my umbrella with my chair and easel behind me, which was par for the course among caricature and portrait artists. My personal routine, however, was the added challenge of appearing as accessible as possible while avoiding the performance of my actual job at all costs.

My motives stemmed more out of cowardice than laziness. I was still in the early stages of picking up the drawing part of my job...drawing, and I was under the impression that every sketch I did had a 50/50 chance of an awkward exchange where my customers had to tell me that they didn't want to buy my sketches. This didn't happen too often, but Geauga Lake had a pretty honest crowd back then. In comparison, a lot of my rookies at Kings Island drew sketches that resembled Sloth from The Goonies during their first few weeks, and people rarely ever complained aside from a wince here and there. They almost always paid for their sketches, whether they were good or not. Such was not the case at Geauga Lake, and I was terrified of getting rejected.

I had been through some pretty rigorous training that spring, sure, but the weeks since hadn't done much for my sketch. In most parks, rookie caricature artists usually learn by working alongside veterans. For whatever reason, the Geauga Lake Caricatures department from 1992 must have imploded; on the rare occasion that I actually worked alongside someone else, the entire crew of nine or ten artists was comprised entirely of other rookies, except for one second-year vet. My supervisor only worked at Geauga Lake on Saturdays and Sundays, and was at Sea World, across the lake, on weekdays. So the opportunity to learn was there, if you were okay with learning from someone who didn't really know how to draw caricatures either.

So I would just stand there. If someone would approach me to ask how much caricatures cost, I would answer them with a smile, but I would make no effort whatsoever to sweeten the deal or try to get them to sit for me. I secretly hoped that everyone would just walk away so I could just collect my minimum wage in peace until I somehow magically got better at drawing. When guests decided to buy a sketch, I would try my hardest to feign confidence during my panic-induced nausea, awkwardly moving my marker around the paper and silently praying that I didn't forget anything. Like earrings. Or eyebrows.

I had ways to pass the time when I was trying not to draw. I would people-watch, and when that got old (which, believe me, takes a while in amusement parks), I would watch the weight-guesser across the midway, another high school kid trying to learn his job like me, narrowly avoid getting slapped by the women who demanded that he guess their weight or age. This usually made me feel a little better, as he was far worse at guessing than I was at drawing caricatures. I would watch the aging monorail make its way into its station, evaluating its status as the "transportation of the future." I would stare at clouds. I would fantasize that the Skyscraper, the space-needle-esque observation tower in the middle of the park, would fall and crush my stand as I dove out of the way.

One day, as I was staring out into space, I heard some shouting behind me in the Big Dipper line, and I turned around to see two men yelling in each other's faces. At the risk of sounding demographically insensitive, one was wearing Cross Colours and the other was wearing NASCAR and a mullet, and both were each surrounded by many more men dressed as they were. I couldn't quite discern what they were shouting about, but I could see their faces as they grew increasingly more aggressive. I could see them gnashing their teeth at each other like rabid dogs. I could see the sunlight reflecting off of the saliva being ejected out of their mouths as they screamed.

The escalating cadence of their voices was made all that much more terrifying by the fact that they were in line for a roller coaster, and when I say "they were in line," I mean that they were inside the confined area where the line is winding between steel railings, banking from straight lines into 180-degree corners. And it wasn't like they were near an edge of the area, either. They were right in the middle, practically dead center.

I remember wondering, as I watched these grown men start shoving each other in slow-motion, how this could possibly end well. The line was pretty tightly packed, and many of the guests were far too overweight to climb over or fit through the railings that were cemented into the ground. The people a few rows away from the action were craning their necks, trying to get a better view of the the developing situation and relaying the play-by-play back to their shorter party members, but they certainly weren't moving.

This was bad. For the people surrounding the two groups of angry men, there was no way out. For the security guards that would be called to break up the fight, there was no way in. This wasn't going to be like the other scuffles, the quickly-dissipating glorified slap-fights that I'd seen while working across the midway from the Beer Garden. This was going to be a vicious, sweaty, no-holds-barred cage match, complete with innocent bystanders in peril. I took a step towards my sales counter to call Security before I remembered that my cart didn't have a phone. And then NASCAR threw the first punch.

Cross Colours took the blow to the side of his head and reeled backwards, his lower back hitting the railing. Almost instantaneously, he straightened his backbone and, in a Weeble®-like motion, sprang forward and transferred all of his upward momentum to his fist in a right hook. He hit NASCAR square under his left eye, a blow that would have surely would have knocked him down, had there been anywhere for him to fall. NASCAR bounced off of the people surrounding him like a pinball, regained his composure, and lunged back at Cross Colours. At this point, it became a free-for-all. The groups of men who had been taunting one another started blindly throwing closed fists at anything that moved. Women were screaming, children were crying, and people were being forced against the railings by others desperately trying to escape.

A paper cup half-filled with lemonade slush exploded as it hit the blacktop and brought me out of a trance; I realized that I'd been standing motionless, staring for a good five to ten seconds. I looked at my stand again. No phone. I looked at the Computer Photo stand, which had a phone in the back room. Closed, as the computer had inexplicably frozen up the day before, and locked, to protect the equipment. Calling Security clearly wasn't an option right now. The shouting and screaming grew louder, as the back of the line began to break up, clearing a path for the melee to bleed into the midway. The fight was going to be on my doorstep in seconds, I thought, and my tiny umbrella stand would be at the mercy of intense, perhaps racially-based animosity, and preternatural levels of testosterone. What was I going to do? What the hell was I going to do?

And that's when I hurdled over one of my chairs, ripped the cord out of the power strip, picked up the register, and started running.

Let me pause here and make the point that, in my naive, diseased 15-year-old mind, this seemed like the most logical course of action. Escape was imperative, and even though I probably hadn't made much, if any, money, there was still a $170 beginning bank in the register, and I wasn't going to leave it. In my mind, it was a hundred yards or so between my stand and the office adjacent to Portraits, and I had to call Security as quickly as possible before the proletariat started looting the Dipper Gift Shop and the Sand Art booth.

Of course, what I failed to realize then was that if I had encountered any security guards, and thankfully, I didn't, it was unlikely that they would have understood my reasoning for sprinting down the midway with a cash register in my arms. I imagine these events now from a third-person perspective, and I'm sure it didn't look like i was heroically saving the company's money from an angry mob. More likely, it appeared that I was attempting to rob my employer in the most idiotic way possible.

By some miracle, I made it to the Portrait stand without getting tackled by Security and thrown in handcuffs. I slammed my cash register down on the back counter next to a completely bewildered Portraits cashier whose mouth dropped open, seemingly having trouble forming the words to ask me what in God's name I was doing. I flung open the office door, picked up the phone and used the rotary dial to call Security.

Security: "Security."

Me: "There's...uh...whew...a, uh..." (breathing heavily)

Security: "There's a what?"

Me: "A fight...Big Dipper..."

Security: "Yeah, we got that. We already sent them over."

Me: "Uh..."

Security: "Anything else?"

Me: "I...uh..."

Security: "Jesus, kid, get off the phone. You're tying up the line."

Me: "Oh. Yeah. Sorry." (click)

I hung up the phone and caught my breath for a second. What the hell had I just done? I had to get back to my stand. The situation was being taken care of. Had I completely overreacted? I had to get back to my stand. It occurred to me that, since the portrait artists were all drawing, no one seemed to notice me run into the stand except for the one Portraits cashier. This worked out well for me, I thought, since there probably wasn't any way to recount the events of the past ten minutes without making myself seem like some sort of lunatic. Which, it now occurred to me, I probably was. I had to get back to my stand.

Yes, I decided, any attempt to vocally explain my behavior to anyone, especially management, would only result in disaster. The Portraits cashier stared at me in silence as I grinned at her, picked up my cash register, and slowly walked out of the building.

I returned to the scene, expecting to find a bloodstained, smoldering crater where my stand used to be, only to find the area completely unchanged. There were no medics bandaging the wounded and carrying them out on stretchers, the railings containing the line for the Big Dipper weren't mangled or ripped out of the pavement. They weren't even bent. In fact, the sweeps must of just been through, because the area was even cleaner than it was when I left. The entrance to the Dipper was temporarily roped off, a few security guards were still milling around, one of my chairs had been knocked a few feet over, and it looked like someone had bumped into my umbrella, but that was it. It had practically never happened.

I plugged my cash register back in and walked over to my easel, where a little kid had apparently used my color sticks to draw a stick figure, some sort of vehicle that looked like a tank crashing into a train, and his name, "Jason." I wondered if he had sat down and drawn it while his chaperone was being questioned, attended to by First Aid, or in the preliminary stages of getting ejected from the park. I wondered, to that end, if that kid would remember being booted out of an amusement park when he got older.

For that matter, I wondered if I was ever going to really like this job, like the veteran artists from Sea World who trained me. They genuinely seemed to enjoy drawing caricatures. Maybe it was because, at their Anheuser-Busch family-themed utopia, they didn't have to worry about drunken goons punching each other in front of them when they were at work. Maybe the last twenty minutes was a good indicator that my naivete and paranoia deemed me unsuitable for working with the general public. On the other hand, I thought, there was no sense in evaluating my feelings about my job, or the seemingly dangerous people around me, until I practiced enough to get better at this. I had to practice so I could get better. I had to. But not now. Maybe tomorrow.

I settled back into position in front of my chair, imagining the Skyscraper falling towards me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Make the World a Better Place.

I think that the news on television should be read by robots.

But we'll get to that later.

I've been pretty open about myself in some posts on this page, but I generally make a point of avoiding any mention any specifics regarding my personal life or political views on this page. It isn't that I don't feel strongly about things, it's just that I started writing this blog (and have been consistently less consistent about writing in it regularly) to tell stories about stupid things I notice from day to day and the mind-numbingly awkward occurrences that have befallen me in my life as a caricature artist. I haven't intended to eschew my views completely, it's just that I don't think that anybody would really care about what I think in terms of politics or worldview. Which is probably why you've stopped reading this by now and resumed watching videos of wiffle-ball induced crotch injuries on YouTube. Hey, I'd be doing the same thing if I wasn't typing this right now.

Anyway, I've decided to violate my own rule. I know that I'm not, in any way, an authority on the subject, and I'm about as qualified to talk about politics as a violinist is to talk about aeronautical engineering. But I have my reasons.

The biggest reason is one o my new responsibilities at work: comment moderation on the message boards. You know, at the bottom of articles posted online, you can choose to comment on said articles. Now, I'm one of the people that deems whether or not the comment that you have posted is appropriate in a public forum.

This means that if any comments are:

  • unnecessary personal attacks on other posters or anyone that isn't in the public eye,
  • making use of language typically considered vulgar,
  • racist,
  • sexist,
  • homophobic,
  • or in some other way a violation by the standards of the Terms & Conditions,

then I am one of the people that blocks said comment from view of the public. Personally, I'm not easily offended, but I generally agree with said Terms & Conditions in what I think is appropriate to post in a public forum. I have only been doing this for a week now. And I've already decided that I hate a whole lot of people that live in Cincinnati.

Seriously. I've seen some of the most backward, idiotic, insensitive statements that I could have ever imagined, and that's not just the comments that I've removed. There is something very, seriously wrong with people.

Fortunately, I think I know how to fix everything. Except, that is, for the spelling. Apparently, the strength of one's opinion is inversely proportionate to the person's skill in spelling and use of grammar. Ironically, these are usually the same people that feel that everyone in the U.S. should learn English. Go figure.

Anyway, I have it all figured out.

The news on television should be read by robots.

I'm not saying that robots would do a better job than news anchors; as a matter of fact, I think that most news anchors, especially the network ones, are extremely talented. It's just that any subtlety in facial expression or vocal intonation can be interpreted as a political leaning by people f*cking crazy enough to look for such things so they can discredit it. And believe me, they do.

I'm also not saying that opinions and/or political leanings can't still be expressed in writing. I don't think that has to change. I just think that the subtleties of the written word can be interpreted in more ways than speech and body language.

Therefore, in order to retain the journalistic principle of absolute non-bias, the news needs to be read by robots. Faceless, emotionless robots that look like Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Except that the light is exactly 50% grey, instead of, say, red or blue or white. Otherwise, the color of the light could be interpreted as indicative of a political leaning or racial bias by people f*cking crazy enough to look for such things so they can discredit it.

You might be wondering why I think that the news should be read by cold, unfeeling mechanical beings. I'm not finished quite yet.

Secondly, television or radio shows with any bias towards a political viewpoint, especially those on channels themed after news programming, will be outlawed. All copies, digital or otherwise, are to be destroyed immediately. The time slots will be replaced by 50% Grey Newsbot.

I realize that, as you read this, might ask, "Hey, what will this fix? Because right now you sound like a total sociopath." And you're right. This topic is, admittedly, making me talk and think like a crazy person. I've come to the realization that the problem isn't with the left or the right. The problem is that people aren't listening to the news and then forming their own opinions based on facts. They're just listening to someone else who tells them what to think, because they're either lazy, stupid, or both. And the people that are spouting rhetoric on television are getting about as close to mass misinformation as you can get.

This is why this country is currently so polarized, politically. I mean, come on. People are either behind our president and what he's trying to accomplish, or they actually believe that he's a Kenyan-born Muslim sleeper agent that dabbles in Marxism. 

That isn't normal.

Yeah, the recession has been hard on a lot of people, and I understand that. But health care reform does not make us a socialist country, people. It's just health care reform. About health care. Reform that only affects your freedom to not pay for health care. You're overreacting. Lots of other democratic countries have socialized health care. The rest of your freedoms remain unaffected. No one is going to show up and take away your precious guns. Storm troopers are not going to come to your door to shake you down for your tax payments. Inversely, the Bolsheviks are not going to invade the White House to round up the First Family and execute them, and, if they did, they should have come during the last administration, for no other reason than that Dick Cheney is a practically flawless analogue of Rasputin.

I guess what makes me the angriest is that the American public is being taken advantage of right now, and I don't think that many people realize it. People are unemployed, underemployed, and stressed out. They're looking for answers, so they turn on the news. They turn on the news looking for facts, but they don't get facts. They get speculation. They get opinions that, rife with exaggeration, rile them up and make them angry, regardless of political leanings. The news networks see that people are watching their batsh*t crazy shows, and the high ratings that result from it, and keep pushing. They push and prod the people that watch these shows disguised as news programs, and viewers start freaking out more and more. The rhetoric starts getting more and more intense, further away from logic.

Then it involves me, because the comments under a news story on, about the opening of an ice cream shop, somehow start with people talking about the economy and ends with people arguing about how we need to rise up against our socialist president who is actively ruining our way of life because he and his family hate white people.

Come on, think about it. That's f*cking crazy.

That's crazy, and this can't keep going on. People in the American television news industry, you need to realize that you can only push people so far before they snap. All it's going to take is one of these jackass pundits to say something that can be interpreted the wrong way, and some Michigan militia of lunatics is going to plan an attack on the Capitol building, or an unemployed factory worker is going to shoot up a police station, or something equally f*cked up is going to happen. Actually, check that, it's already happening.

And the saddest part is, people are going to get hurt or killed because cable news networks want the ratings that guarantee advertising dollars. It's about money. Let me repeat that. IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY. You people out protesting with your picket signs need to calm the f*ck down. Television is making you crazy, and we all know it's television because the clever sound byte you've hilariously misspelled on your sign came straight out of the mouth of someone who was paid to antagonize you so you keep watching their stupid show.

Maybe if television news channels focused on other things, like, I don't know, the two wars we're involved in, or maybe even an occasional reminder of how totally f*cked Africa is, we would even out a little bit with our priorities, as far as things we should really care about. We need to remember that other people have real problems in the world. People in other parts of the world are starving, or running from death squads, or getting blown up in subways. They aren't whining about losing a nearly insignificant amount of their personal freedom.So, my theory is that, if you actually force people think for themselves instead of telling them what to think and how strongly to think it, then they'll calm down and we can avert the chaotic breaking point that we're swiftly headed towards right now.
I know, I know...this doesn't give the American public a whole lot of credit for not being mindless sheep. But hey, does anyone remember the lady that told John McCain on live television that she could prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that presidential Barack Obama was an Arab? Not even a Muslim, not even a Muslim extremist, an "Arab". How about that guy the yelled "Kill him!" while Sarah Palin was speaking about Obama at a rally? That's a whole lot of conservative talk radio right there. We're not mindless sheep, but we have to admit to ourselves that:

  1. There is a scary number of people that believe everything they hear on TV or on the radio.
  2. There are personalities on TV or on the radio that tell people crazy, crazy things so people keep paying attention to them.
  3. Television networks and/or radio programs that theme themselves after news programming have an ethical obligation to offer non-biased factual accounts of current events and little else. Some people might call this "news".

Let me gently make the point that I know that the government tends to screw us over from time to time, as taxpayers, citizens, or just people that place trust in our elected officials. I'm not saying that I think the government is perfect, far from it. Even if I lean left of center, I'm still not saying conservatives are wrong. Every effort deserves a look from more than one angle. I just think that we need to concentrate our efforts on concepts based on truth.

The truth.

The truth, as in, not theories that the country is undergoing a complete redistribution of wealth to black people so they can buy crack and abortions with their health insurance. You stupid, awful bigoted backwards redneck idiots.

And yes, a lot of people will come to the same delusional conclusions without any help from television or radio programs. But I think that it's a step in the right direction. Remember fifteen years ago, before the internet was as popular, when there was a certain stigma attached to living off the grid, in a log cabin in Montana writing angry letters to the government? I doubt that doing this sounds anywhere near as crazy today.

In the meantime, I will avoid paying attention to biased programming and continue to take a non-politically-biased stance on moderating comments on the message boards, even if makes me want to move into a log cabin in Montana and spend my days writing angry letters to people that make idiotic comments on