Category Archives: lp4

Resting Bitch Face

Let’s begin with an unhappy admission: I am not a pretty man.

There was a sort of lean, athletic okayness when I was young and had hair, I guess. I had pretty girlfriends, and they certainly couldn’t have been hanging around for my car (1967 Dodge Non-Chickmagnet GT), money (none), prospects (none), personality (“intense” was the euphemism, as I recall), and I forgot where I was going with this.

But as I’ve aged … Unhappy admission #2: I have what the kids call “resting bitch face.” Per Wikipedia, RBF:

…is a facial expression that unintentionally appears like a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion.[1][2] The concept has been studied by psychologists and may have psychological implications related to facial biases, gender stereotypes, human judgement and decision-making.[3][4][5] The concept has also been studied by scientists with information technology.[clarification needed] Using a type of facial recognition system, they found that the phenomenon is real and the condition is as common in males as in females, despite the gendered word bitch that is used to name the concept.[6]

Looking back, there were early signs (despite the hair and lean athletical thing).

Flash back to 1984. I’m bartending (Darryl’s 1913, Northpoint Blvd. in Winston-Salem). It’s earlyish in my shift when my buddy and fraternity brother Jim, who’s a waiter, picks up an order at the bar and asks “why are you being so pissy?”

Huh?

“Everybody is talking about what an asshole you’re being.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. I had just come in and started working like I did every other shift. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t sad. Not a cross word to anyone. I was just … neutral. And yet, my foul mood was the talk of the wait staff.

I can’t say how many times since I’ve had people ask what was wrong with me when nothing was wrong with me. Let’s go with “many.”

Fast-forward to last week. I’ve started a new job, and I am being pulled into the usual number of Zoom meetings. Obviously, the new guy wants to make a good impression, right? So, I was paying attention to the speaker and looking at the document being shared on screen, and then I happened to notice myself in the audience window to the side.

Great googley moogley.

Seriously – just being me, neutral, approachable, engaging, etc. Nobody said anything. Maybe they have low expectations. Maybe they were afraid. Regardless, I can’t go around looking like the old drunk sucking a PBR and shaking a rake at the neighborhood kids, no matter how cool and non-judgy the culture is.

So for the first time in my life I’m making an effort. This was taken on my last call.

I know, my pretty days are behind me. But if nobody calls the police we’ll call it a win.

From Sand Creek to the Table Mesa King Soopers: Here’s What I Think

king-soopers shooting

Welcome to Colorado, the Shoot-’em-Up State

We do have a bloody history, don’t we? The latest breaking news happened the other day at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder. At least three or four good friends live nearby and shop there regularly. And I used to shop there two or three times a week – I lived maybe a mile up the hill toward NCAR during grad school. Read more

The Soul-Sucking Ur-Obsidian Ceiling

I posted this to Facebook yesterday.

billionaires

Got some interesting comments, but came away feeling like I needed to elaborate a bit.

Chris Rock explained to us the difference between rich and wealthy. Shaq is rich. The rich white man who signs Shaq’s check is wealthy.

That’s what I’m thinking about – the wealthy, not the rich. Because you can become a millionaire a lot of ways, including by being smart and working hard. Yeah, it helps if you aren’t born into poverty, but you can be a wonderfully moral millionaire. I’m lucky to know a few myself. I sometimes wish I were one.

But there’s a point where it’s not clear a person with a soul can pass. It’s like a glass ceiling, except maybe it’s made of some kind of humanity-sucking ur-obsidian. I’ll never forget Michael Milken in the ‘80s – a hypermillionaire cheating little old ladies out of their social security checks. Pure pathology.

Fitzgerald and Hemingway used to have an argument. Hemingway believed the “very rich” were more or less regular people with a lot of money. Fitzgerald disagreed. “Let me tell you about the very rich,” he said.

They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”

William Gibson took it a step further: first with the Tessier-Ashpools in Neuromancer and then with Virek in Count Zero, his argument was that they weren’t really human at all anymore (or that they won’t be in the relatively near future).

I look around the world today and wonder just how human our billionaire overlords really are.

Maybe this is why the idea of lizard people doesn’t scare me.

The Ties That (No Longer) Bind

Donald Trump is a referendum on what kind of human being you are

A few months ago I wrote that “I don’t want to “heal America’s divisions.” I’m reflecting on that sentiment this morning, the day before what may be the most important election of our lifetimes.

Many of us have some version of the braying racist, fascist, misogynist drunkle archetype in our lives. A Karen, a Chad, a Becky. Maybe it’s a relative we have to contend with at holiday dinners. Maybe there are family obligations, so we grit our teeth, bite our tongues, and tell our children (before and after) to ignore the ravings of the yahoo at the other end of the table. For others it may be a long-time friend who drifted in the wrong direction through the years. Or maybe the friend never changed, but we drifted in the right direction. Read more

I’m Glad I Wasn’t Black Today

white-privilege

I came home this evening after running a couple of errands to find a half-dozen people at my door. Two or three were uniformed.

Two followed me around back as I parked. Since my girlfriend (let’s call her J) has never so much as jaywalked I figured they had to be after me. No idea why, but the adrenaline was starting to pump.

I’m not going to talk to cops but I can hear what they have to say. It turns out they were looking for a woman named Amanda, whom they had seen coming in and out of my apartment routinely over the past three weeks. Read more

Zen and the Highway

interstate-zen

Ikkyū regards young Sōgi’s calligraphy as golden hour yields to white. “Your hand is inelegant, as always. It’s … bold, though.”

Magpies screech disapproval from a nearby pine.

A horn echoes through the courtyard. Sōgi looks in the direction of the disturbance. Ikkyū bows his head and sighs.

“Forgive me for speaking out of turn, Master Ikkyū, but it would perhaps be best were the monastery further from the highway.” Read more

Defund the Police? Good Cops, Bad Cops…

defund-the-police_lg

The individual tells you nothing about the system. The system tells you nothing about the individual.

The issue isn’t whether you respect Black Lives Matter. It isn’t whether you respect the Police. It’s whether the Police believe all are equal under the law. Recent weeks and months (and years) have set before our eyes a wealth of evidence answering that question. Read more

Stop Saying “Cancel Culture”

cancel-culture

I’m getting a little tired of this “cancel culture” nonsense.

The term originated with the #MeToo movement, which targeted the likes of Bill Cosby and Louis CK, men whose history of misogynistic behavior led people to (justly) withdraw their support for the offenders’ careers. But while the term is newish, the tactics it describes aren’t. Canceling is another word for boycotting, which has been around forever. Read more