Sunday, September 28, 2008

State of the Chaos - WoW, Pink Slips, Pirates and the Future of the Blog

Greetings and salutations! Yes, I still live, and my apologies for my lack of bloggage over the past several weeks. As predicted in my previous post from August 17, I have become thoroughly addicted to I. That coupled with a lack of what I consider viable ideas for blog topics lead to a lapse in updates to my Chaotic Commentary. So, here's a hodge podge blog of things that have gone on or been observed from the past month.

WoW I Really Like It!

World of Warcraft rocks! You may remember from my post “WoW! I Kinda Like It” (August 10, 2008) that I admitted to being hooked a mere 15 minutes into what was supposed to be a 10-day trial. Now not only am I full on WoW Gamer, but I've even installed plug ins to enhance my gaming experience and I've joined a guild. In fact, last night I was promoted to officer status with that guild. I've gotten two characters (referred to as “toons”) to double digits – a Dwarf Warrior (Rumplewort) who made level 38 last night, and a Draenei Hunter (Xaandria) who is level 22. I've spent nights that I didn't go to bed until the following morning (like last night for example when I think I logged off somewhere between 4:00-4:30 AM). I am now eagerly awaiting the next expansion pack for the game, Wrath of the Lich King, which is scheduled to release on November 13 (that happens to be my birthday, nudge-nudge-wink-wink). My Dwarf is also now an officer in his guild (Sons of Gotrek).

I Got the Pink Slip, Daddy

On September 26 the final payment was auto-drafted from my bank account for my 2004 Saturn Ion. The bitch is paid for! FINALLY! After 5 years of shelling out $330.64 every month (essentially the majority of one paycheck) it's finally done. I would've had a completely paid for 2001 Saturn SL about 2-3 years ago if some stupid bitch hadn't run a stop sign and totaled it. So, at the half-way point of paying for that car, I had to start completely over. But now, it's done. And unless it gets hit, or the wheels fall off, I'm not going back into debt for a car any time in the near future. Period!


Avast ye scurvy dog! Last weekend were a little known, yet annual event. September 19 were International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I realize it's too late now to do anything about it, but at least know ye now and can mark yer calendar for next year, ye scallywag!

The Future of the Blog

Though it's been more than a month since my last post, the blog is not dead nor was it intentional that I neglected it for so long. Yes, it's true that playing Wolrd of Warcraft was a big culprit in my lack of bloggage, but more importantly was the fact that I put pressure on myself to try to do a weekly blog. This was never about me trying to be a writer with a weekly readership. The purpose, for me anyway, of blogging was to have a place to vent or share a silly idea or thought. Now, I'm not saying this is the final blog. I'll keep writing as long as I think people are reading or until I just stop thinking of ideas and topics. But, rather than trying to crank one out every Sunday, from now on I'll write when I have a good idea or something that's really inspired me instead of trying to force it.

Also, a note to my MySpace peeps. This is the last time I'll post the blog on MySpace. It's to much work to try to post this in two different places, and the Blogger spot was always my intended blog space anyway. So, set your bookmarks/favorites to and keep checking there for blog updates.

Until I again get the writing bug,
~ Carlisle

Next Topic (when I get around to it) – Vacation 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Week Off

Sorry to disappoint all (two) of my regular readers (that'd be my buddy, Jimmy and my fiancée, Roxanne), but I'm just not feelin' it this morning. I had a topic in mind, but frankly I spent too many hours playing World of Warcraft this week to focus the idea into a blog. So, rather than rush one out on the fly and have it potentially suck major ass, I figured I'd let the blog rest for a week. I've miraculously been given three days off this coming pay-week (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday), so with all the spare spare time I'll be able to write a blog hopefully worthy of your reading enjoyment. So, until next week boys and girls.

Live Long and Prosper,
~ Carlisle

Next week (unless I get lazy or just caught up playing WoW again): “A Dogmatic ViewAskew”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

WoW! I Kinda Like It

I really have to learn to stop saying “never,” or at least I have to really think about the topic at hand before I say “never.” I once said I would never start a blog. Yet here I am writing a blog and here you are reading it. I even make an effort to update it at least once a week even if I don't have much to say. I said I'd never have a MySpace page. Well guess what? That's right, I have one. When you're own mother has a MySpace page and you don't, it makes you feel a little left out and like your geeky powers have been weakened a bit. So, what's next for me to fall into that I said I'd never do? Well boys and girls, that'd be the world of online gaming. It started with something simple. I love to play EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour, which I just recently acquired the 2008 edition on the cheap because EA is preparing to release the 2009 editions soon (except they're not doing PC versions this time, the bastards – but I digress). Now, the game comes with lots of great golf courses, which I would likely never to play in real life because, well, I suck at real golf plus the courses featured in the game probably cost hundreds of dollars to just play one round. But I wanted more, to which I stumbled upon a site called Not only did they offer free add-on courses for TW2k8, but they also have their own tour of tournaments each week using EA Sports Online. SWEET! So I sign up for the tour and take my first steps into the world of online gaming. Hey, it's just golf right? I would've played just as much if I wasn't online and this is the only online gaming I'm doing... I'm still safe. Ah, but the plot thickens.

A few days after that I came home from work to discover an interesting piece of mail sitting on my desk (you know, old school “snail mail” via the United States Postal Service). There it was, that little plastic DVD box offering a Free 10 Day Trial. It was actually addressed to my brother-in-law-to-be, but my father-in-law-to-be laid it on my desk instead so I could explain what it was before he gave it to Mike. I explained it was a game played online and that yes, after the 10 days you'd have to pay for a subscriptions (about $15 a month). So, Dad told me to do whatever I wanted to with it because he didn't want Mike messing with it. My initial thought was to keep the DVD box and trash the rest. But I didn't. I decided to try it out myself. I mean, what the hell? I'll take a 10 day trial to see what all the hullabaloo is about. And that's how it started.... my decent into THE WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

What was supposed to be a 10 day trial began on Wednesday (8/6/08). It is now Sunday (8/10/08) and I have already logged 14 hours, 37 minutes with my Dwarf Warrior (now level 10) named “Rumplewort” (after an old D&D character I used to play). Oh, and I've spent $40 as well. Yep, my FREE trial turned into full subscription in merely two days time. I didn't fuck around with it either. I didn't just go buy the full version of WoW or just buy the upgraded license key via the website. Oh, hell no! I went out and got The World of Warcraft Battle Chest!

So here's the deal. Within about fifteen minutes into the game with my buddy Rob helping me out (he's the one that's been trying to recruit me into WoW for awhile now) I realize that I'm having fun. I mean really enjoying myself. It's at that point I know I'm screwed. I had seen the Battle Chest at Target a few nights before when my fiancée and I went there to get an item to satiate her own online gaming habit (she plays Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Online and needed a gaming card so she could continue beyond the free version). Once I realized I was hooked on WoW, I knew I'd end up back at Target to get the Battle Chest. So, Friday night after I come home from work and eat a quick supper, I head to Target and drop $40 on my newest obsession. I mean, makes sense to me to do it that way right? A copy of the game itself would've been $20. The expansion pack (Burning Crusade) would've been $30 by itself, not to mention the two strategy guides would've been somewhere around $20-25 apiece I would think. So really, my rational is that I saved myself some cash (at least for now). Yeah, first sign of addiction is rationalizing, eh? What playing WoW the past few days has really done, besides causing me to go to bed an hour or two later than normal, is reminded me how much I miss the old Paper & Ink roleplaying games. I know they still exist and that tons of people still play them. Hell, D&D just came out with a 4th edition last month. But alas, most of my gaming buddies either live hours away (like Charlotte or Atlanta) or pretty much work schedules that don't match up well enough with my own for us to be able to get together regularly enough to play. But I do still miss good old Dungeons & Dragons.

Yep, D&D. The granddaddy of 'em all. Say what you will about it but let's be honest. If Gary Gygax (may he rest in peace) and Dave Arneson hadn't invented D&D back in the '70s, none of us would be playing WoW today. It is my completely unvarnished opinion that all gamers owe thanks to those two pioneers who changed the face of gaming from just cards and board games to a broader world of being able to become a different character and explore our imaginations in a fantasy setting. And while I may not play anymore (it's been about 4 or 5 years since I've played in fact) I still have the materials and I still long for a day when my friends and I can sit around a table and enjoy each other's company while gaming instead of chatting over the Internet. And though I said at the beginning of this blog that I needed to be careful when saying “never,” I still make the following statement with confidence. I may play World of Warcraft for a month, a year, or beyond, but I will never relinquish my trusty 20-sided dice!

Huzzah! And Happy Gaming,
~ Carlisle

Next week's planned (but not set in stone yet) topic: “A Dogmatic ViewAskew”

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Graves Point of View(Askew)

I love Kevin Smith films. In fact, my original intent for this week's blog was to share the wit and wisdom of Randal Graves, but I thought, 'How can I talk about Randal and leave out the entire rest of the View Askewniverse?' It just can't be done! And while my tiny little blog is no place to introduce you to the vastness of Kevin Smith's warped little world, it is a place to learn about some of the key characters (or at least, some of my favorite characters). We'll start with Randal and Dante.

Randal Graves

Dante Hicks

Randal Graves and Dante Hicks, the protagonists of Clerks, Clerks the Animated Series and Clerks II. These two guys are, I'm assuming, the first characters created in the View Askewniverse since Clerks is the first of Smith's films. What can I say? I love these guys. As someone who has worked retail/customer service for years, their points of view on customers is so spot on. As Randal puts it in Clerks, “This job would be great if it weren't for the fucking customers.” They present the proverbial two-sides-of-the-same-coin concept. Dante hates his job but still diligently does it and helps the customers even though he hates them while Randal hates his job and isn't afraid to say so or tell a customer who's being an asshole that they're being an asshole. Dante tries to be socially acceptable, Randal just does or says what he pleases no matter how taboo or inappropriate it may be, even to the point of using terminology that is, in truth, racially insulting while not realizing it and trying denying that it is. You can call Randal ignorant and socially maladjusted if you want, but he is, in his own perverse way, refreshing to watch because he doesn't really care about so called social norms or politically correct speech and behavior. Dante, on the other hand, could be said to have the metaphorical stick-up-his-ass and while trying to be an adult, never really takes the risks that would propel him into the kind of life or career that he has the intelligence for (reminds me of me).

Jay (right) and Silent Bob

Jay and Silent Bob, the comic relief recurring characters in the View Askewniverse. Drug dealers (sort of). Dumb-asses. Slackers. These are the only two characters in the View Askew canon of films that appear in every episode (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II). What can I say about these two? I'm not sure what Kevin Smith's purpose was with these two guys, but damn they're funny. Jay talks entirely to much and generally has ignorant things to say, while Silent Bob on the other hand is, well, silent (hence the name) except for when something profound needs to be said and then he turns out to be the most intelligent person in the whole flick (interesting that Smith cast himself in the role). They're typically background characters who only show up when needed, but in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back they're the main protagonists. That film basically has no plot. It serves as almost a parody of Smith's earlier works (gotta love a guy who can poke fun at his own shit).

To be honest, that's pretty much it for favorite characters. Dante and Randal because I can see a bit of myself in both of them – Dante, the wants to be an adult and responsible one and Randal, the doesn't give a shit and refuses to grow up and still plays video games, etc. one. Jay and Silent Bob are just plain funny in a twisted sort of way (perhaps Kevin was trying to show what can happen if you kill too many brain cells by smoking pot?). As far as favorite films, I'd naturally have to go with Clerks (which I've referenced in my blog, “Random Rantings of a Retail Sales Clerk”) After that, I'd have to say Dogma is a definite favorite for the very poignant, though thought provoking, criticisms of the Catholic Church and religion in general (it was actually the second View Askew movie I had seen the first time I watched it). But that really could be a blog in and of itself (uh oh, could that be next week's topic? Tune it next week fans – same bat blog, same bat web address).

Basically, if you've never seen a View Askew flick, do it. They're funny as hell and usually have some great social commentary as well. Kevin has a way of making you think while you laugh (usually anyway – Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back being the possible exception). I do, however, recommend watching them in order if possible. You can get away with sneaking Dogma in at any point but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will make no sense at all if you haven't first seen Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy and don't watch Clerks II until you've seen Strike Back because then Jay and Bob's scenes won't make as much sense if you do, and Jay's t-shirt in Clerks II wont make sense unless you've seen Dogma. You know what? Just watch them in order and it'll all make more sense – Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and finally Clerks II in that order and all will be right with the Universe – or should I say, Askewniverse?

~ Carlisle

Next week: well, you know me... I can't decide what I'm writing from week to week lately so you'll just have to be surprised :-P

Sunday, July 27, 2008

When Council's Cave, Cults Win

Some of you may recall a pair of posts I wrote back in April referring to our local Dogwood Festival and how a local church/cult had the balls to actually whine to the city council because the Festival's policy didn't allow political or religious groups to have informational booths.1 In other words, the Festival people knew that people didn't want a bunch of religious wackos and political zealots forcing their bullshit literature on them while they were trying to enjoy good music, good beer and good food during the Festival. I even got into it with one of the church's associate pastors about how it was decidedly NOT a First Amendment issue because it was two non-profit organizations involved and it was actually Manna Church who was trying to turn it into one by attempting to get the City Council involved.

Well, I read something truly disturbing in the Fayetteville Observer a couple of weeks ago in reference to this issue. On July 19, 2008, in an article titled “Festival reverses church policy” it was announced that the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival caved in to the demands of the local cult leaders and will henceforth allow these fuckers to have informational booths at future Festivals. What's of greater interest to me is Manna's Pastor Micheal Fletcher's quote, “And we’ll follow whatever rules they give us,... Hopefully, everyone obeys them.” BULLSHIT! His church/cult was the source of the turmoil. His church was the one that took 1,000 cult followers to the City Council to bitch and moan. His church was the one that couldn't leave it alone and essentially strong armed the Festival's board of directors into reversing the policy by creating a perceived public outcry and pressure on them. Michael Fletcher, you're an asshole! Just look at this photograph from the Fayetteville Observer:

Can the bastard look any more smug and arrogant? The article mentions that Fletcher said “I had really hoped that they would decide this way. And I’m gratified that they have.” Yeah, I'll bet you are. Now you can recruit more people for your cult. I sincerely hope that if any church truly fucks up and breaks whatever rules the Festival lays down for the use of informational booths, that these are the first assholes to do it so we can be rid of them.2 Rev. Brian Thompson of Simon Temple AME Zion Church said in that he was very interested in finding out what those rules are going to be. So am I, and my fiancée and I have some ideas (OK, they're mainly hers, but she doesn't blog, so I'm putting them down here).

Carlisle and His Fiancée's Ideas for the Dogwood Festival Non-Profit Informational Booths (read 'em and pay attention!)

1) Since AIT was kind enough to allow political and church groups to use their parking lot at the last Festival (for double the fee amount, I might add) outside of the Festival's parameters, why not seek their permission to use their parking lot again as a “Community Corner” for all non-profit groups. Anyone with a non-profit organization that wants to hand out information about their organization and therefore anyone who actually wants said information can be in this area where they aren't in the way or disturbing those who aren't interested in this bullshit.

2) Five Foot Rule – regardless of where information booths are placed, there will be a Five Foot Rule for those working the booth. In other words, you have to wait for people to come to you, you can't run around forcing people to take your crap.

3) Lottery – Space will be limited to a certain number of informational booths. PERIOD. Your application will be put into a lottery drawing (provided it is filled out completely and correctly). If yours is one of the lucky ones chosen, you will be notified and will have a set amount of time to pay the fee for the booth. If you miss the deadline, the Festival should draw to see who gets offered your spot.

4) NO FOOD/DRINKS – this was the issue that started all this bullshit, because Manna wanted to hand out free food and drinks to people along with their pamphlets and materials. (Can you say bribery?). Informational booths are just that; information only! If you want to SELL food/drinks, then pay for a vendor booth and leave your tracts and cult literature at home!

These are just a few ideas mind you. Hopefully the Festival's governing body will see to it that the churches that wish to participate peacefully and respectfully may do so while those religious zealots and nutters out there can be kept from disturbing festival goers. I'll concede Fletcher's comment “And churches are a part of this community” as being true. We are, after all, in the “Bible Belt” here. My issue is that there are to many churches that don't respect the beliefs of others or the desire of others to be left alone and try to force their particular brand of Christianity on others. And that is exactly why I don't want them to be allowed to have booths at the Dogwood Festival; that's not what the Dogwood Festival is about or for. The Festival is about celebrating the Arts, and having some cult asshole try to talk to you about Jesus has nothing to do with the Arts. Neither, however, does having a bunch of environmentalist wackos and Al Gore worshipers around either. So let's keep that in mind as well, eh there Festival board? I realized they're trying to be more inclusive, but if they let to many freaks have booths and they don't make those freaks stay in their booths and isolate them, then they'll have smaller crowds of people willing to go downtown for the event. Just food for thought.

Until next week,
~ Carlisle


1. “Why Can't Churches Live and Let Live” (April 20, 2008) and “Dogwood Manna Emails/Final Comments” (April 23, 2008)

2. If you want to know the source of my venomous comments and apparent anger with Manna Church, make sure you read the comments for the the original two posts and especially the second one in which I have the emailed commentary of one of the church's pastors and how they've managed to lie through their teeth the entire time. I have inside sources at the Festival, so I know what's going on and who's telling what lies to whom.

Next week's topic (unless I change my mind at the last moment) - “A Graves Point of View (Askew)”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gettin' Squirrelly With It



Everyone who knows me and most folks who've read my blog know I can throw a pretty good rant, but none can compare the the Squirrelly stylin' of Foamy the Squirrel. This little pissed off rodent tells it like is bi-weekly. He is the Lord and Master and those who fail to heed his words should be stabbed in the eye with a hot french fry and choke on a biscotti.

Oh, you've never heard of Foamy? Never seen him before? Then surf your ass to and prepare to be electrified!

~ Carlisle

PS.. guess you could tell I didn't really have topic this week either, eh? But fret not, for something was in yesterday's local news that may set off my own rant muscles for next week's blog (or perhaps a mid-week bonus post) so stay tuned true believers.

Next topic: a follow up/update on the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival vs. Manna Church situation from a couple of months ago tentatively titled either “When Cults Win” or “When Council's Cave In”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blocking it Out

They say that the best way to defeat “writer's block” is to just start writing, so that's what I'm doing. I have no rhyme or reason to this week's blog. I'm just sitting here typing away hoping the spirits will move me. When I started my egomaniacal stance of writing every Sunday, I knew a week like this would come, where nothing has inspired me or pissed me off enough to spark a real topic for the blog. Oh sure, I have some ideas laid out for the future, but those ideas are calendar specific, so I can't use them just yet. As I begin this week's blog, it's only Thursday night, so mayhaps by the time I make it to Sunday morning something will lend itself to add to this or to replace this altogether (obviously it didn't). Ever since my apparently popular blog, “True Confessions of a Krispy Kreme Addict,” I feel like I've tried too hard to make everything else be that funny instead of letting it flow. It'll come, it'll come, and I will soon again be regaling you all with my warped rants and twisted thoughts. Buwahahahaha!

In the mean time, here's a diagram on how to solve the classic “Rubik's Cube” in only 6 seconds!

~ Carlisle

Next week's topic: TBD (most likely something about either Randal Graves or Foamy the Squirrel)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Here in the United States we recently celebrated our nation's 232nd birthday, for it was on July 4, 1776 that our Founding Fathers told the British Empire to bugger off and declared the independence of of the colonies. Needless to say, that pissed King George off pretty good, so he sent General Lord Cornwallis over here to beat some sense into these rabble-rousers, so from 1776-1783 we fought the Revolutionary War, eventually winning obviously, else I'd be drinking tea in the morning instead of coffee and be eating scones (which are nasty) instead of sausage, egg and cheese biscuits from MacDonald's rather than McDonald's. But I digress.

The point of today's mini-blog is this. We wouldn't have won our freedom if not for the brave souls who joined the Continental Army and State Militias. More to the point, we would not still have our freedom if not for those who continue, to this day, to join the United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. The last line of the first stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner” says: “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” But really, it's the Land of the Free Because of the Brave. Think about that while you're watching those fireworks (meant to represent the “rockets red glare/the bombs bursting in air”) and eating that hot dog; think of our brave men and women overseas keeping the terrorists from crossing the line in the sand; think of the freedom you enjoy to bitch and moan about things and criticize your own government when in so many other countries it would get you executed. Think, remember and never forget that the United States is the greatest place to live because brave people fought for it (and died for it) to be so.

~ Carlisle

Next week's blog: TBD

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yee Haw, eh? part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared a bit about a book I had recently read called Hockey Night in Dixie and on being a southern hockey fan. I wrote that blog in kind of a hurry and didn't really share much, IMHO and frankly don't have any stellar ideas for this week's post so I figured I'd throw a few more thoughts on being a hockey fan in the south and maybe help clarify a couple of things about the game. Granted, I'm no expert; I've only been a hockey fan since around 2005 but I have taken the time to try to understand the game and not just go to see the fights like so many other redneck hockey fans.

“Did you hit somebody yet?!” I hear that one at almost every FireAntz game I go to; it drives me nuts! Yes, there is hitting in hockey. In fact, it's amazing how these guys can take a hit while on ice skates and still manage to not fall and bust their ass. But the game isn't about going out and hitting someone. It's not football you dumb redneck! You don't go after the guy with the puck and try to tackle him. As violent as hockey seems to some people, it really is a game of great skill and finesse. Think about it; if you've ever seen Wayne Gretzky, he's not that big (especially compared to other hockey players). Yet, he holds the all time records for goals, assists and total points. Why? Because he had skill, not because he went out and “hit somebody.” Plowing your opponents into the boards doesn't win games, people; it gets you put in the penalty box and leaves you short handed. Get a clue!

Throughout the book, Hockey Night in Dixie, players that were interviewed spoke about how the southern fans seemed to be more interested in the fights than in the hockey game itself. It's sad, but very true. Now, I love a good hockey fight as much as the next redneck... er, I mean southerner... but that's not what hockey is about. I'm sure everyone's heard the old joke, “I went to see a fight, but a hockey game broke out.” While it's true that hockey (at least on the professional level) accepts and allows fighting (for the most part) there's a reason for it. It's not like in baseball, football, basketball, etc., where a fight is the result of a couple of guys losing their tempers. In hockey, it's usually the result of some goon laying an illegal hit on a key player that went unnoticed by the referee and so an enforcer then challenges said goon to a fight as if to say, “Hey! Asshole! You can't do that to my teammate and get away with it.” It's allowed because hockey officials know that they can't see everything, and allowing fights allows the players, in a sense, to police themselves a bit. You almost never see a hockey fight simply start; there's usually some exchange of words and an agreement between the two combatants that they are, in fact, going to drop the gloves and go toe-to-toe. Sure, they both get five minutes in the penalty box, but it's usually over after that. Fights in hockey can also be used to help spark some energy. Truth is, though, I'd rather see a well skated, tight scoring game with no fights at all, than waste my time watching a match that's gotten out of hand with multiple fights (although, that can be entertaining at times too, especially when it's a FireAnt beating the shit out of a Renegade... I hate those bastards!)

Sportscaster Al Michaels, during the 1980 Winter Olympics, made the statement that most of the people who tuned in to watch the historic game between the United States Hockey Team and the Soviet Team probably didn't “know the difference between a blue line and a clothesline.” That's a fair statement about a lot of folks that attend hockey games in the south too, I'd wager. Where I live (Fayetteville, NC) we've had a hockey team long enough that most of the season ticket holders and regular fans are up to speed on that, but I still meet people who say they love to go to FireAntz games even though they have no clue what's going on especially when the whistle blows for a stoppage of play. Now, here I could go into a long explanation of rules about offside, hooking, boarding, tripping, etc. But I won't. Instead, I'll give you some links at the end of this blog to other websites that can explain it better than I can. Keep in mind that there are some minor differences between, say the National Hockey League (NHL), some of the minor professional leagues, international amateur hockey, collegiate hockey and junior hockey. These differences are generally obvious though, such as things like touch-up icing on the professional levels versus automatic icing in amateur and international leagues. Also, fighting in international and amateur leagues results in being ejected from the game rather than just five minutes in the penalty box.

If you've never been to a hockey game, go! If you go regularly just to see fights, grow up. And if your a southerner (or a traditional market hockey fan who somehow got transplanted to the south) who loves hockey like me, help spread the word and educate.

~ Carlisle

(No, that's not a picture of me, in case you're wondering)

Links to educate yourself with: (just to give you a general idea of the different governing bodies within professional and amateur hockey) (a Wikipedia article on the Hockey rink itself)

ESPN's NHL Rules Glossary of Terms and Rules ( – includes a Video Rulebook with examples.

Next week's blog: “Home of the Free, Because of the Brave”

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Seven glorious days off in a row, five of which I get paid for! How awesome is that? I love having paid vacation time. I'm so burnt out on work right now I was almost at my breaking point. I've come to close to many times to throwing my keys on the desk and walking out it's ridiculous. I need this time off to rest, recharge and relax. So here I am on day four of my vacation deciding what to do. I have no agenda as of yet, but here's what I've done so far:

Thursday, June 19
Played Golf from 8am to 12:30, then had lunch at Zaxby's. Came home and slept until 6pm (Naps are awesome!) then ate supper and did my normal evening routine of pretending to watch TV while goofing off on the computer.

Friday, June 20
Took my dog to his vet appointment, then took my Gramma to lunch and to do her grocery shopping. Wasted the rest of the day looking at boobies and other stuff on the Internet. (I likes teh boobies)

Saturday, June 21
8am – oil change at the Saturn dealership (why the f***k did I make an appointment for 8am on a Saturday?!); had breakfast at Waffle House while waiting; got home around 9:45am and went the hell back to bed! Got up at noon, had a Jersey Mike's cheese-steak for lunch that my father-in-law-to-be brought me then went shopping with my fiancée; picked up several Magic: The Gathering novels at Edward McKay's used bookstore for my collection, ordered a spare pare of glasses from Sears Optical while their sale was still going on; had dinner at Chili's with Roxanne (those little burgers on the appetizer menu are frakkin' awesome!); came home and spent the evening cataloging my newly acquired books and started reading Confessor by Terry Goodkind (not part of the Magic: The Gathering series, just for clarification).

JESUS! What a boring ass person I am! Most people go on exotic trips or cruises for their vacations. But not me. Oh, hell no! I stay in boring ass Fayetteville and catch up on reading or sleep away my vacation. Truthfully, I was supposed to be in Chicago for a friend's wedding, but alas, even with my tax returns back in February and the stimulus check I got a few weeks ago, I just had to many expenses of my own to be able to drop what would have constituted about half to three-quarters of a month's wages to fly to Chicago, rent a hotel room for two nights and rent a tux. I hate that I couldn't be there. So, Drew, if you're reading this (you said you read my blog regularly so we'll see if you're paying attention) I hope it all went well and you and Jen have a great honeymoon and we'll see you when you get back.

Well, that's it for this week boys and girls. I have to get back to my boring ass vacation of reading and sleeping (and possibly job hunting and definitely more golf, weather permitting [damn thunder storms]). Next week I plan to revisit the topic of being a Hockey fan in the South as I feel last week's blog just didn't do it justice. Until then, Have Fun, Be Young, Drink Pepsi!

~ Carlisle

Next week: “Yee Haw, eh? Part 2”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yee Haw, eh?

During the 2004-05 hockey season, when the NHL had it's infamous lock out, Jon C. Stott was visiting his daughter in New Mexico. Being from Canada, he was really missing hockey, so his daughter told him he should check out the local minor league team1. It was there that he discovered how popular the Canadian game of hockey had become in the American south. His book, Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South2 is his journey into the world of minor pro hockey, particularly in the American South; it's ups, downs, financial woes, and toothless grins. During the 2005-06 season, Mr. Stott traveled the southwestern and southeastern United States, visiting four teams in four different leagues in order to get an idea of what minor pro hockey was actually like in these very non-traditional markets. I'll admit, I bought the book because one of those teams was my own hometown Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League. I'll also admit that I started to read just their chapter, but being a bibliophile and a hockey fan, I ended up reading the entire book.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction (although I should do so more often) and, as I said before, I picked this book up because it featured my hometown hockey team. I'll admit, it mostly read like a journal and I found myself wondering if Mr. Stott was a sports writer based on his writing style (there's no biography of the author anywhere in the book). It's pretty well written and gives a very good depiction of what life in minor league hockey is like and just how tough it is to keep teams going for any stable amount of time. I think my only real issue with the book is that, while it's title indicates that it is solely about southeastern hockey, it's not. In fact, in the introduction he mentions the Albuquerque Scorpions which are in New Mexico, and the second chapter is about the Odessa Jackalopes in west Texas; that's southwestern, not southeastern. It is the southern part of the U.S. geographically speaking and considering that the author is from Canada, I'll let it slide but Texas (arguably) and New Mexico are not part of what is colloquially known as “Dixie.”

Reading Hockey Night in Dixie has prompted me to blog a bit about being a hockey fan in North Carolina. Growing up I had heard of hockey, but that was about it. I had spotted a few games on television, but never really got interested because I didn't know what the hell was going on. It wasn't until March 2004, when the, at that time, manager of our local Books-A-Million gave my fiancée and I tickets to a FireAntz game that I had ever watched an entire hockey game. I became immediately hooked; I loved the action, the fast pace and the sheer skill it took for the players to pass, shoot and take hits without busting their ass on the ice. Alas, the game we went to was the final one of that season. During that summer, I did a little research on hockey rules so I'd be able to follow along better the next time I went to a game. We started going to as many home games as our schedule and finances would allow. I became engrossed in both the FireAntz and the Carolina Hurricanes, buying hats and jerseys for both teams. On my birthday in November 2006, Roxanne and I made a pilgrimage to the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC, to watch the Hurricanes play the Buffalo Sabres. Yeah, my friends get tired of me talking about it sometimes; I'm usually boring them with either golf or hockey. I can't help it, I love watching hockey even if one of my teams isn't' playing.

In regards to the so called southern hockey fan, I will admit many are ignorant and obviously don't understand the game. I don't pretend to fully understand it; I've only been a fan for a few seasons, but even I, a southerner, get irritated with fans shouting “hit somebody!” and evidently thinking the game sucked if there wasn't at least one fight, even if our team won by a zillion goals. It's still new to us down here, but most of us are catching on to the subtler nuances of the game and starting to figure out that it's still possible to have a successful power-play even if you didn't score and that slamming someone to the boards isn't always called for.

I realize that i”m writing about hockey in the middle of June, but that's how much I want the season to start again. I can't wait for October!

~ Carlisle


1. “Introduction: Return to the Minors” (pp.xi-xx)

2. The title Hockey Night in Dixie: Playing Canada's Game in the American South appears on I have no idea why they have it listed that way, as the cover and title page both clearly say Minor Pro Hockey in the American South and is listed as such on both Books-A-Million's and Barnes and Nobles' websites. The main title is also obviously a play on “Hockey Night in Canada,” the popular weekly broadcast of National Hockey League games across Canada.

Next week's topic “VAY-CAY-SHUN!”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sign Me Up and call me 'Sucker'! - Reward Programs, Bonus Points, and Credit Cards

Take a look in your wallet, or even better, check your key chain. How many reward program cards and/or credit cards do you have? Personally, I have no credit cards (thank the gods) but I have five reward/bonus cards on my key chain, and I have a card in my wallet to my favorite coffee shop that allows me a free cup for every ten I buy. Remember when grocery stores simply had sales? I think I was still twelve-years-old when they did that. Now, of course, you have to have their bonus card (which, conveniently, is free) to get the sale price (and a shit load of junk mail now that they have your address). I think FoodLion started it back in the 1980's, and all the others soon followed suit, including Harris Teeter (can't comment on Kroger because we don't have them where I live anymore, nor is there any longer a Bi-Lo, which does have a bonus card and I only blame FoodLion because that's honestly the first one I remember ever getting). Amazingly, Wal-mart doesn't have a bonus/discount card, but it does have its own credit card.

Not only have the grocery stores saturated the market with their little plastic cards, but other places have as well. Here's the breakdown of what's on my key chain/in my wallet: FoodLion MVP Card, HarrisTeeter VIC Card, OfficeDepot Worklife Rewards Card, Dick's Sporting Goods Scorecard Rewards, Books-A-Million Millionaire's Club Discount Card, and finally, Barnes & Noble Member Program (what a boring name compared to everyone else) and I used to have a Staples one as well, but I lost it. Most of these were free, save for the two bookstores who charge $15 (BAM) or $25 (B&N) per year to receive a mere 10% off. The grocery stores, as I mentioned, just give you what would have been, in the past, the weekly sales prices. The ones that are the most full of crap, though, are the Dick's Sporting Goods and OfficeDepot cards as well as the so called Visa Rewards Program I have through my bank by using my Visa Check Card. These things are insidious. They promise you points that can be used for additional savings or items as Rewards for being such a loyal customer. What a crock of shit! Typically, with these programs, you get one point per dollar spent (although Dick's is cool enough to offer double points on items that are their exclusive store brands and to occasionally send out coupons worth bonus points). What that means is, by the time you've accumulated enough points to get that $10 gift certificate or pick something from the rewards catalog, you've spent anywhere from $300-$5,000! As much as I hate to admit it, these tactics work. I've bought stuff from Dick's that I could've gotten from Target or Wal-mart because I wanted my points or because they sent me a bunch of coupons (never mind that the other two places may have been $5-$10 cheaper and I had to go there for other things and the trip to Dick's was out of my way; well, where I live the Target and Dick's are across the street from each other, but still...). I do the same thing with certain home office supplies; I end up at OfficeDepot, even though all I've ever gotten from them is coupons for stuff I either don't need, or at least don't need the bulk amount required to use the coupon. You know the kinds of coupons I'm talking about; the ones that say stuff like, “Get 10¢ off your next purchase of $100 or more.” At least reward programs don't effect your credit.

Credit card applications are everywhere too. These are even more maddening than the reward programs, because these things can actually get people in an assload of trouble. I get in trouble at work because I don't sign enough people up for our store credit card, but the truth is, I think people are sick of being asked to sign up for stuff every time they walk into any store. I've actually had people in department stores wave me over to the cosmetics counter as I was walking by just to beg me to fill out an application because these stores impose quotas on their staff (I know, my Mom used to work for one that would regularly threaten employees with termination if they didn't make their quotas; never mind if they had gotten double or triple the quota the month before). So, before you get pissed at that clerk for asking, remember, their job may very well be on the line because of corporate greed. That doesn't change the fact, however, that I think most consumers are just plain sick of playing twenty questions at every cash register they walk up to. “Would you like to sign up for our bonus-card-credit-plan-get-a-free-lollipop-with-every-
and-give-us-a-dna-sample-card? If you sign up today you get a free kick in the nuts!
” I work retail and I'm a consumer, so I see both sides of it. The poor clerk has to ask because they'll get in trouble if they don't, but they're also tired of getting cursed out by the customers who are sick of being asked and don't realize the clerk is just doing their job and has to ask them. And during the holiday season, it gets even worse, because then all the businesses not only ask you to sign up for their rewards/discount program and/or credit card, but then they want you to buy some piece of decorated cardboard for “only a dollar” with the name of a charity printed on it so they can post it on their wall or window to make it look like they give a shit about anything but making money, and you can assuage your guilt for being a “have” instead of a “have-not” for another year.

Most of us are already in debt up to our necks (or beyond) and are getting fed up with the constantly rising prices gas which affects the prices of everything else (thanks a lot Dubya!). Many of us have gotten or will receive by the end of the summer, so called “stimulus checks” courtesy of the federal government. Do they think we'll actually spend them? I didn't; mine went in the bank to help create a bit of a buffer between checks for bills and unforeseen incidentals. Ok, ok, so I bought some golfing supplies (yes, at Dick's Sporting Goods so I could get my frakkin' points) with part of it, but that was only like $70 and the check was for $600, so bite me! I also ended up having to get new glasses (because mine broke) and my dog is due for several booster shots; so much for stimulating the economy with impulse purchases. I'd be willing to bet that most other folks are going to use theirs the same way or to try to help pay off some of that credit card debt. But I digress. Simply put, we all know that the credit card applications and bonus programs that get shoved in our face are total bullshit, just try to be cool about refusing them and remember that the clerk offering them is trying to keep their job.

~ Carlisle

Next week: “Yee Haw, eh?” a book review of Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South by Jon C. Stott and my thoughts on being a southern hockey fan.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Roll Out the Barrel - Curbside Recycling (Finally) Comes to Fayetteville

Fayetteville, NC is a little Podunk southeastern city. Sure, it's one of the top 10 largest cities in the state, but let's be honest, if not for Fort Bragg Army Reserve and Pope Air Force Base and the population of soldiers and airmen that add to the city's population, I'm not even sure there would be a city. That being said, Fayetteville is still large enough that you'd think we'd already have curbside recycling, but we don't. I actually have heard that it's been tried before, a few years ago (must've been while I was in Georgia attending college, because I sure don't remember it). Evidently, a few months into the experiment, the company that was being contracted by the city to do the pick up went belly-up.

So, now we have these blue roll-out containers that look like our green trash cans, but are smaller. The first question I had was, “Why aren't they bigger?” Aside from that, I was also wondering why we received ours on May 1, when the brochure that was attached to it said that pick up wasn't going to begin until “the week of June 7.” The week of June 7? A whole freakin' month later? WTF? Oh, and I'd like to point out that June 7 is a Saturday folks. Doesn't a week traditionally begin on Monday when referring to the “week of [insert date]?” Top that off with the fact that I've never seen a city trash collector truck ever roll down the street on a Saturday and you've got a prime example of how screwed up this burg is.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm quite glad that the Fayetteville City Council voted to finally do curbside recycling. I'm just waiting to see how long it takes before they give up on it. You see, I've already noted that a few of our neighbors have already begun rolling theirs out to the curb with their trash cans each week since we got them going on five weeks ago, even though the recycling pick ups wont begin until next week. Does that mean they're using them for regular trash? Or are they putting the correct things in them, but didn't bother to notice that June 7 is the beginning date? Either way, it's probably indicative of why the program will fail here; Fayettevillians are just to stupid to have a curbside recycling program. They'll put regular trash in the things or be to lazy to rinse out the milk jugs like they're asked to. The City Council will, of course, contract the whole thing out to the lowest bidder and it'll end up being a company that's on the verge of bankruptcy and will fail to do a good job because they don't have the money to hire a large enough crew. I'm just watching and waiting to see what happens, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic about the program sticking around for long. I hope I'm wrong.

~ JC

Next week: “Sign Me Up and call me 'Sucker'!” (How Credit Cards, Reward Programs, and Bonus Points are BULLSHIT!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pentecostal to Pagan, Online Ordination, and Weddings

A few days ago one of my best friends celebrated his first wedding anniversary. It's significant to me in that I was the minister who performed the ceremony. Yep, I'm ordained, but not how you might think. It's through an organization called The Universal Life Church, who pretty much ordains anyone who asks. It also made me think about the seemingly chaotic beliefs I hold and how I got here. For a few years now I've defined myself as a “Philosophically Pagan Universalist with Wiccan influences,” which manages to confuse the shit out of people. How did I get here?

Our tale begins in the mid to late 1980's. This was back when both Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert had been caught in elicit sexual affairs and many televangelists were getting exposed or investigated for financial fraud and otherwise being shown to not really practice what they preached. My sophomore year of high school I started dating a girl who dragged me to church every Sunday, but I really didn't see all that much difference in the way she acted than myself. We both smoked, drank, listened to “evil” heavy metal music, so the church thing, to me was just total bullshit. I was in my junior year at Terry Sanford Senior High school that I finally met a genuine Christian, even though at first I thought he was just as full of shit as the others I had met or seen on TV. So, I accepted his invitation to go to church with him (mind you, after months of him not taking my bait when I tried rag him for his 'faith' – he turned out to really have faith). So, February 1, 1989 (I only remember the date because I wrote in the back of the little green Gideon's New Testament I had at the time) I became a Christian, accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I had faith for about two years, helped at church, volunteered for stuff, went through about three youth pastors and finally got fed up with the whole thing (I could go into a whole lot of detail about how the last youth pastor I had during that time pissed me off and how the folks who kept offering to help me with the bus ministry always managed to never have the time, but that'd take to long).

Fast forward a few years to my early twenties. I had spent a few years discovering the wonderful world of strip clubs and even 'dated' a lesbian for awhile (I say 'dated' tongue-in-cheek; she was a good friend and we had lots of fun going to the strip clubs together). In a way, she was my initial introduction to Paganism as well. She said she was a Pagan, but I had not really heard of that, other than biblical references and knowing, from the dictionary, that it meant belief in multiple deities. Until I had met Carmen, I didn't know people still engaged in such religious practices in the U.S. I don't really remember what caused me to decide to go back to church and to “rededicate my life to Christ” but around 1995ish I ended up back at Northwood Temple and in 1996, at the age of 23, enrolled at Emmanuel College to major in Biblical Studies with aspirations of becoming a full time minister. I even received a Minister's License from the North Carolina Conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church the summer before I began my junior year, and served as interim youth pastor at Stanley Pentecostal Holiness Church in Stanley, NC the summer before my senior year to fulfill my internship requirements. So, you see, I wasn't just a Christian, I was one of them thar holiness-right-wing-ultra-conservative-bible-thumpin'-faith-healin-tongue-speakin' types of Christians (also referred to as “Holy Rollers”). You know, the ones who are probably a minority within the whole of Christianity, but who have the biggest mouths when it comes to speaking up on what they consider to be social ills and how evil and ungodly the country is becoming. In other words, the type of Christian that typically becomes a televangelist or at least tends to support them (ironic, eh?).

At the beginning of 2000 I was getting ready to begin my second semester of my senior year, knowing that I was going to have to go back and almost completely redo the first semester as I had managed to get mostly D's in my classes. This meant that they wouldn't count as I had to have at least a C in each one since they were now all related to my major course of study. So, with my roommate getting married and moving out, causing me to have to move in with one of my managers from the grocery store I was working at, I started getting behind again only a week into the semester. The combination of working 30+ hours a week while taking 17 credit hours worth of classes is why I did so bad the fall semester, so I withdrew, with the intent of going back in the fall of 2000 and just completely redoing the entire Senior year. Well, it never happened. I ended up back in North Carolina later that year, actually around the time the fall semester would've already been underway. By the time I got back home, I had spent months carousing at strip clubs with my new roommate and his buddies and discovered that, hey, I liked strip clubs and R-rated movies and the occasional beer. But when I got back to NC, I really did try to leave that behind and actively sought positions with churches who were looking for youth pastors and/or church education directors. I resigned from the IPHC because I had pretty much decided they were to conservative for me but I still wanted to be in the ministry so I began looking for alternative ways of being licensed or ordained. That's when I discovered the Universal Life Church, which offered ordination via their website to anyone willing to click their mouse on the link. Sounded odd at the time, but I figured, why not? The fact that I'm ordained has allowed me to have the pleasure of performing wedding ceremonies for my Mom, my Aunt and my buddies Jeremiah and Robert. As far as I know, they're all legal.

As far as how I became Pagan in my beliefs, well that's kind of an interesting story. A few months after I had moved back home to North Carolina, I had met up with some folks at a bar through a mutual acquaintance. We all became great friends and formed our own little gamer group that played Dungeons & Dragons on the weekends. When we were all hanging out at the local Barnes & Noble one day, one of the girls was looking through the New Age section at the books about Wicca. I made the statement (based on the fact that I was still mildly holding on to my right-wing Christian ideals) that she needed “to leave that shit alone.” I soon found myself researching it so I could argue against it. The interesting thing is, the more I read about Wicca, and Paganism in general, the more I realized how it made sense to me and how, even in the midst of my Bible-thumping preaching days, at my core, I never really had accepted that Christianity could really be the only true faith. So, there you have it. I became Pagan; I immersed myself in it, reading anything that I could. I even managed to, eventually, find mentors that I could trust. Truth be told, now I've really become more of a Universalist. My personally held belief is “All religions and both correct and incorrect simultaneously.” Basically, if GOD is really that big, and truly transcends all time and space, and the World as we know it is so diverse of culture, then how can there only be one way to reach GOD (or whatever term you wish to apply)? Religion is man made anyway. It's really nothing more than mankind's way of trying to explain things that are observably true, but that can't be adequately explained scientifically or logically. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think religion is total bullshit. I've personally experienced things both within Pentecostal Christianity and within Pagan practices on a spiritual level to discount either as being false or to discount any metaphysical beliefs. I'm just saying, religions in and of themselves are man made. The gods didn't invent religion, people did in an effort to understand the gods, or what they perceived to be gods or events that seemed supernatural to them. Think about, people used to worship the sun and moon; now we know the sun is a star that Earth orbits, and the moon orbits Earth. But at one time, people believed that the Sun and Moon chased each other through the sky. But that's another topic for another time, perhaps.

Well, that's a bit of a look into the man who is Carlisle, aka “Purple Scorpion”. Yeah, I could be called a dilettante of sorts, but I prefer to think of myself as multi-faceted and open to new experiences, beliefs and ideas.

I believe in the fundamental Truth of all great religions of the world. I believe they are all God given and I believe they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoint of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at the bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.” - M K Gandhi

~ JC

Next Week: “Roll out the Barrel - Curbside Recycling comes to Fayetteville”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Still Burning Bright – Ray Bradbury's Classic Novel, Fahrenheit 451

Imagine a world without libraries, without books, newspapers or magazines. Now imagine that if you owned such things that you would be arrested and all your possessions burned and you'd be carted off to prison. In the early 1950's that's exactly what Ray Bradbury did; he imagined a world like that and the result was his now classic novel, Fahrenheit 451. The premise is pretty simple, in the not so distant future, people have gradually become so apathetic toward books that the government eventually outlaws them, burns all the libraries and makes it a crime to own and read books. Firemen now start fires instead of putting them out, as they are the enforcers of this law. For one Fireman, Guy Montag, everything changes when he steals a Bible from a house that he's supposed to be helping to burn and his witnessing of one woman who refuses to go to prison and burns herself alive with her library when the Firemen come to arrest her and destroy her books. He becomes an outlaw and discovers a group of underground outcasts who have dedicated hundreds of books to memory in the hopes that one day they'll be able to help get them all printed and restored again.

I won't go into a long drawn out summary of the book. I really think you should read it for yourself. I've written in the past about my own personal library and how much I enjoy reading and how much I wish I had more time, or more discipline to make time, to read. What prompted me to read Fahrenheit 451 was a pamphlet I picked up at the local Books-A-Million. The National Endowment of the Arts has a program called The Big Read and Bradbury's novel was being featured. After reading a little bit about the book, which I had heard of but had never read, I decided to read it. While I have to admit, I find Bradbury's writing style a bit choppy and abrupt, the themes he presents in dealing with censorship and the apathy so many people have toward reading and books and our dependence on technology to the point that we never seem to take time to observe the things around us is spot on. It's almost eerie how a novel originally published in 1953 so accurately captures attitudes and technological advances that we have or on the verge of now. While it's doubtful, in this day and age of mega-bookstores and, not to mention the constant whining about freedom of speech, press and religion that comes along every election year, that a future like the one presented in Fahrenheit 451 could ever come about, it's still a very thought provoking novel. It's also made me want to read more of the classics (not that I'm about to give up my fantasy and science-fiction novels – come to think of it, Bradbury is a science-fiction author, so with Fahrenheit 451 I got both sci-fi and classic literature in one; SWEET!)

Read a book. Any book – even the trashy romance novels will do. We spend so much time wasting away in front of televisions and computer monitors these days. I've found so much more joy in reading at times. The stories are more compelling, the characters more well developed, no commercials, and you don't have to have a VCR or DVR if you're going out of town because you can take the book with you. Find something you like; romance, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, westerns, horror, biographies, history, et cetera, ad nauseum. Anyone can find something to read that will interest and inspire them. I hated to read when I was younger, now I almost prefer to read than watch the crappy reality shows on TV. So, check out your local bookstores and let's not let the future in Fahrenheit 451 ever come to pass.

~ JC

Next week: no catchy title yet, but I plan to talk a little on how I went from Pentecostal to Pagan, became a ULC minister and the weddings I've performed

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Just How Stupid Have We Become?

I've often said to my fiancée that when/if we have children I think we should home school them. Why? Because I take note of how ignorant the kids of today seem to be of simple facts, or at least things I would think would be considered simple facts. I have customers almost everyday who need help with their electronic devices, mainly because they won't read the instructions and try to figure it out for themselves. No one thinks for themselves anymore. They want the answers handed to them or for someone to do it for them. We talk, now, about how kids graduate high school without some of the most basic skills. I have a friend who teaches civics and history on the high school level, and I remember him talking about how all the school board cares about is the students passing the End of Grade Tests. He showed me, once, some of the quizzes that he had given while doing his student teaching, and I was amazed at how stupid some of the answers were.

But as much as the generation coming behind me scares the shit out of me because they so obviously don't care or don't know how to think, or are so quick to believe a single person/group without trying to examine all the facts for themselves, I wonder about my own generation. I stumbled upon what was a End of Grade Exam from 1895 for the 8th Grade. I'm college educated. There was quite a bit of stuff on this exam that I didn't even know what it was talking about, let alone being able to answer it. Have we really been dumbed down that much in the last 100+ years of American public education? We already have forgotten how to speak and write proper English and “text speak” is even creeping into college term papers instead of whole sentences. Take a look at the 8th Grade Final Exam below and see how well you can do. Afterwards, think about how your great-grandparents or perhaps even your grandparents may have mentioned how they never finished school beyond the 8th or 9th grade. Still think you're more educated than them? You're probably not. Thanks to our public school system, we've all become stupid.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph

4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie," "play," and "run."

5. Define case; illustrate each case.

6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?

4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. Long at $20 per meter?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas .

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?

8. Name event s connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco .

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

So, how did you do? Frankly, regarding the section on Orthography, I don't even know what the hell that is! Isn't it amazing that we live in the “information age” with the Internet and World Wide Web at our finger tips, and yet we know less rather than more?


Next week: “Still Burning Bright – Ray Bradbury's Classic Novel Fahrenheit 451

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Carlisle's Bucket List

In 2007, a film came out staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. The basic premise of the film was that the two main characters, one of whom is an eccentric millionaire, have both been diagnosed with terminal diseases and have a very short time left to live. So, together they create a “bucket list” - a list of all the things they'd like to do before they “kick the bucket.” It seems to have inspired others to create their own “bucket list” of things to do before they “shuffle of the mortal coil,” “become worm food,” “croak,” “meet their maker,” etc. What put me in mind of this was my buddy Jimmy, author of the blog Jabberwocky Asylum, who recently posted a list entitled “Before you Die!!” which is his list of ten random things everyone should do at least once in their lifetime.

So, here's mine – at least for now. I'm sure it'll get added to, subtracted from, edited and possibly even have a few things checked off (I hope) before I head off to Summerland especially since I'm not dying (that I know of). Oh, and I should mention that they're in no particular order.

  • visit Stonehenge

  • make a pilgrimage to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  • visit a foreign country (Canada counts)

  • attend a NHL Stanley Cup playoff game (I've been to a NHL regular season game, just not a playoff game)

  • shoot Par for an entire round of golf

  • play golf on a course that's been played on either the PGA or LPGA Tour

  • play golf at Augusta National in Augusta, GA (where they play The Masters every year)

  • play golf with Tiger Woods or Natalie Gulbis (maybe one of them can teach me how not to slice my drives)

  • write a novel/book

  • have something I've written published

  • get Duff Goldman to make me a cake (preferably my wedding and/or groom's cake)

  • have a party (wedding?) catered by an Iron Chef (my favorites are Mario Batali and Michael Symon)

  • have a party catered by Robert Irvine (even though he lied on his resumé, he's still a freakin' awesome chef)

  • attend a Broadway play/musical on actual Broadway in New York City

  • be in Times Square on a New Year's Eve

  • go to DisneyLand (in Anaheim, CA) or DisneyWorld (in Orlando, FL)

  • appear in a movie (even as an extra would be cool)

  • win a sweepstakes or lottery (at least enough to pay off my debts but enough to do some of the other stuff on this list would be even better)

  • play in an officially sanctioned Magic: The Gathering® tournament

  • get married (we've been engaged for almost 5 years; maybe we'll get married before I die)

  • Collect and read all the books in the Magic: The Gathering® series of novels [in progress – to date I have collected 31 of them, and read two]

  • Take a tour of the White House

  • Visit and tour The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

These are just some of the things I've thought of while working on this week's blog entry. Feel free to share some of your “bucket list” items.

~ JC

Upcoming topics: Curbside Recycling Comes to Fayetteville, book review(s), movie review(s), and whatever other weird shit my mind thinks up.