"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."

Friday, September 30, 2005

Political Correctness Run Amuck

There's been an uproar recently over college and professional teams naming their sports franchises after the vicious red-skinned savages of yesteryear. How dare you sully the name of these once-proud gamblers, they scream. This, of course, is nothing more than political correctness run amuck. Next, I suppose, they'll want to rename such time-honored teams as the San Francisco Puffs, The University of Alabama Pickaninnies, the San Antonio Banditos, and the Chico Chinks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mr. Smith Went to Washington

I miss Jimmy Stewart. I miss his voice, his bumbling manner, his sincerity. But most of all I miss his simplicity -- his celebration of the little things in life, and his awe of life itself.

Today a lot of people equate simplicity with stupidity. Democrats, for example. They think that Bush is in the White House because Americans are stupid. If you were to suggest that it's because Americans are simple, they'd probably say, "What's the difference?"

Which is exactly why they're not in office.

Bush is a simple man. Is he stupid? Probably. And I'm not basing that on his bad grammar or lack of public speaking skills. It's his eyes. I think there's a lot of truth to the old saying, "The eyes are the windows to the soul." With Bush, unfortunately, that soul is hidden behind thick shutters, heavy drapes, and a deep layer of cobwebs. Rather than inviting you in, they seem oddly flat and opaque. All you can see is their surface. And what you can manage to make out on that surface is disconcerting, at best. A touch of fear is always there, along with a good dose of confusion, and what could only be described as good, old-fashioned dumbness.

Now, for contrast, look into Bill Clinton's eyes. Not too long, though. He might hypnotize you into blowing him. These eyes do invite you in. You might not want to go, but the invitation has been made.

What Democrats don't seem to understand is that Americans voted for simple Bush, not stupid Bush. They might have liked smart Gore, or intelligent Kerry, but they felt uncomfortable voting for complicated Gore, or complex Kerry.

So they voted with their hearts, and sent Mr. Smith to Washington. Twice.

Monday, September 26, 2005

In Praise of Inanimate Objects

My DVD player welcomes me when I turn it on. My microwave encourages me to "enjoy my meal." My computer extols me to "have a good day." My wife has left me; I'm out of touch with my family; my friends have dwindled down to a precious few. Thank God my appliances haven't turned their backs on me.

After eating a meal out, even my check thanks me for my business. Who needs people when I have the love of inanimate objects? Besides, people are fickle. One day they'll say they love you; the next they'll tell you to "Shove your stupid record collection up your ass!"

Every person I know has let me down at some time or other. But Things are steadfast in their devotion. I've never caught my microwave thawing out someone else's rump roast. Its display never reads, "Why is everything always about you?" Best of all, it does what I fucking tell it too.

If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Peace of Mind

I wish I were younger. But why? The time between my youth and today was no picnic. Do I really want to live it all over again? Okay, then. I wish I were younger and happier. But really, given the explosive combination of my genes and the trauma of my childhood, personal happiness at any point in my life seems less likely than time travel itself. Well, what if I went back and started from the beginning, then? Unfortunately, I'd have the same genes and the same parents. History would only do what history does best. Repeat itself. What if I had different genes, different parents? Then I'd be a different person all together, and the one good thing in my life -- my boys -- would have never existed.

That's a good point. I do wish I were thinner, though. But why? I'm not so heavy that my health is in serious jeopardy, and I'm not looking to get laid. So what does it matter? Well, at least I wish I exercised more and ate less crap. But I hate exercise. And I love to eat. Dinner is almost always the high point of my day. I'd hate to think of my high point as a plate of tofu with a side of sprouts. Yes, but didn't I read once that exercising every day and eating right would add something like eight months to my life? That's true. But that's not eight months now, when I'm gorging myself in front of my big-screen TV; it's eight months at the very end of my life, when I'll be in diapers, eating mashed peas, trying to remember the name of the main character on Gilligan's Island.

Well, at the very least, I wish I had more money. But why? What is it you want that you don't already have? Nothing concrete, really. It's more about peace of mind. Have I ever had peace of mind? Well, not really. How about that year I made over a million dollars? Did I have peace then?

Okay, okay, I get it. I just wish I could accept me the way I am.

But why?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where Are the Nice Christians?

I had a crappy childhood. When I was a kid I experienced things that wounded me in ways I have never overcome. Also, there's something wrong with my brain, so I'm depressed a lot of the time. Four years ago my wife got tired of this depression and left me. I don't blame her. Sometimes I'd like to leave me, too.

Since she left, I feel like I've been slowly drifting away. Away from my career, away from my friends, away from my boys, away from me. I'm tired of dyin', and scared of livin'. If anybody ever needed God, it's me.

I am desperately lonely, but not ready to be in another relationship.

Romantic movies make me cry, not just when I watch them, but days afterwards. It turns out that the problem with being an incurable romantic is that there's no cure for it. I'm dying of love. It lifts me up and carries me away. So I close my eyes, and drift.

And sometimes think of God.

When I was a kid I went to church. The people in my church seemed nice.

There was no anger there. And certainly no hatred. I'm sure there are Christians like that today, but I never see them. I only see the far-right fringe. Accusing, damning, threatening.

So I ask myself, where are the nice Christians? The kind of Christians that I knew when I was a kid? Why have they let the boldest and meanest among them speak for all of them? Can't they see that the Bible is being tarnished in the same way the Koran has been tarnished -- by the fanatics who brandish it for their own agendas?

Maybe it's time for the meek to stand up and be heard.

Maybe then people like me might actually listen to what you have to say.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sometimes the Bad Die Young

Tragedy struck my hometown recently, as we had our first casualty in the Iraq war (or, as I like to call it, Operation Desert Drizzle). In reading the article about this boy's death, I was struck, as I often am, by how true it seems to be that "only the good die young." For some reason, whenever anyone under the age of 21 dies unexpectedly, they're remembered as being almost saint-like. They "lighted up the room when they walked into it." They "touched everybody who ever met them." They were "special," "had a big heart," and always "were full of life." I've never known anyone with even half of these qualitites.

Just once, I'd like to see an article like this take a more realistic tone:

Nine-year-old Jimmy Emery accidentally shot himself in the head while playing a game of "Give It Up, Bitch" with his little sister, Zoe. The boy, who relatives describe as being "full of death," will be missed by nobody, least of all his father, who is looking forward to converting his son's bedroom into an office. Neighbor Winn Pearson described the boy as a pervert. "He touched everyone who ever met him," he told reporters. The boy's fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Smithers of Cherry Valley grade school, was moved to hear of her student's death. Fighting back tears, she managed to say just once sentence: "Maybe there is a god."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nick and Jessica vs. America the Beautiful

The NFL wanted to kick off the new season with a touching tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. And what better way to do it than with a rousing rendition of "America the Beautiful?" So, who would they call in to do the honors -- Aaron Neville, perhaps, or that other favorite son of New Orleans, Harry Connick, Jr.? No. They decided the perfect performers to capture the emotion of this terrible tragedy would be Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.

Oddly, though, as the couple belted out the song -- in their Whitney houston/Backstreet Boys embarrassingly over-stylized vocals -- nobody in the staduim seemed all that moved. Not even the New Orleans Saints, who couldn't stop crying until the couple took the stage.

To me, this perfectly illustrates the difference between good singers and bad singers. Good singers bring out the natural beauty of the words, imbuing them with real emotion. Bad singers do what Nick and Jessica do. They show off.

In their defense, though, I will say they looked good. In that Barbie-and-Ken-you'd-like-to-squeeze-a-tube-of-airplane-glue-all-over-their-genital-less-bodies-and-set-them-on-fire kind of way.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bad Movies and the Stupid People Who Like Them

The following is a letter I recently sent to Mick LaSalle, a film critic I like who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. I felt compelled to write the letter after reading a comment he made about how fans of the movie "The Dukes Of Hazzard" don't have "two brain cells to rub together."

Dear Mick:

In your review of "The Dukes Of Hazzard," you implied that people who like this movie are stupid. In your Sunday column, responding to readers who shared this opinion, you came out and said as much. I assume, then, that you assume you are smart, and -- given your patented smug and condescending tone -- somehow superior to the people who like this movie. I also assume you assume that none of these people read your column. Certainly no one with "two compassionate cells to rub together" could be so insensitive. After all, dumb people have feelings too. If you prick the president, does he not bleed?

While we're doing all of this assuming, let's assume, for a minute, that people who like movies that offend your artistic sensibilities are stupid. What are you saying? That filmmakers shouldn't make movies for these people? That these filmmakers are doing something wrong? That you're superior to these filmmakers, as well?

In general, film criticism is a rationalization of one's personal tastes. Most people believe that what they like is good, and that what they don't like is crap. Reviewers are no different.

I didn't like "Lost In Translation." I felt it could barely move under the weight of its own artistic pretense. Because you liked this movie, does that make you stupider than I am? Because I didn't "fall for" this pretense, does that make me superior to you? What about "Sideways," a movie about a beautiful, intelligent woman who falls for an ugly man with no apparent redeeming qualities? Did you like that one, too?

My favorite movie in the last five years was "The Day After Tomorrow." "But," you may say, "it was unbelievable." I don't care! "But it was so formulaic and predictable." I don't care!! "But the plot was only there to support the special effects." I Don't Care!!!

Under a powerful enough microscope, everything is flawed. Under intense analysis, love makes no sense. I don't know about you, but that's not how I care to live my life.

With that said, "The Dukes Of Hazzard" was, of course, a piece of crap. How dare you force me to defend it.

All my love.....

Rick Reynolds

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Growing Up

How many of you that are married still make out? And by "make out" I don't mean two or three kisses before you do the noodle dance. No, no, no! I'm talking on the couch, lights low, maybe a little breast action for an hour, without sex. Let me take a wild guess... none of you?!!!

Let's face it, when you've been with the same partner long enough, you start to treat them like a 7-11. You just zip in, get what you need, and get the hell out of there!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why Popular Music Sucks

There was a time when music was music to the ears. It evoked emotions, both positive and bittersweet. The best songwriters in the world wrote the songs, which were clever and infectious. The best musicans in the world played the instruments. They were masters of their craft. The best singers in the world sang the songs. Then, in the early sixties, three geniuses and a lucky drummer named Ringo changed everything.

The Beatles infused the youth of the sixties -- and all that followed -- with ego. The ego to believe that they could write the songs and play the instruments and sing. Sadly, this harebrained notion is still around today. Which is why the music industry is in such a sad state -- with the exception of country music, whose stars continue to buy their songs from professional songwriters and populate their bands with professional musicians rather than with some guys who happen to live in the neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that four Liverpudlians with shaggy hair destroyed popular music. Of course not. Not alone, anyway. They had help from a whiny Jew named Zimmerman.

Bob Dylan infused the youth of the sixties -- and all that followed -- with the notion that songs could be about something real, and perhaps even change the world. First, let us take a moment to admit that Dylan is the single most overrated "artist" of his generation (followed close behind by Jim Morrison and Whoopi Goldberg -- whose real name, incredibly, is Yippie Tie-Yie-Yay Goldberg).

If Dylan had sung normal popular songs like "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Daydream Believer" he would have been laughed out of the business. And if he had submitted his song lyrics to poetry publications he would have been dismissed as a hack. Neither his singing nor his writing would stand on their own, but put them both together and... genius!!! Dylan's "poems" are elevated to an undeserved status for the same reason Lennon's scribblings are regarded as art -- the architects of your generation's popular culture can't be wrong.

The notion that a song could change the world is both absurd and frightening. Absurd, because the truth rarely rhymes, and, if someone's mind could be changed in two-and-a-half minutes, would you really want them on your side? And frightening, because anybody can write a song. If songs really do have such power, imagine the damage that could be done by an evil songwriter -- like, say, Batman's new foe, the Anti-Burt Bacharach, polluting the minds of today's youth with songs like "What the World Needs Now Is Hate," "This Guy's in Love with Satan," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Balls," "Do You Know the Way to Hell," and the consummately sinister "Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' 'Bout Rapin'":

Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' 'bout rapin'
Planning to spread her soft legs apart
That won't get you into her heart
So if you're looking to find love you can share
All you gotta do is drug her and do her and dump her
And pretend that you care