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Archive for July, 2011

Mad-lib Literature: Reid’s Date With Doom

This is a response to my previous post, wherein I asked for a little literary challenge: a basic story outline featuring characters and a genre.  I decided to go with this suggestion:

Characters (2): 1 – Ultra-conservative soccer mom ; 2 – two y/o twins; 3 – Harry Reid

Setting: Stalled elevator

Theme: Horror

I took some liberties with it (of course) but most of the elements are there.  Enjoy (er, if you can).  But BE WARNED: when I write horror, I write real horror– grindhouse kinda stuff.  It’s gruesome.  All right?  All right.  Without further ado, allow me to present: REID’S DATE WITH DOOM!

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Reid hated do to interviews. He’d been a politician long enough that both he and any competent interviewer already knew what he was going to say.  Some of his friends at the Washington newspapers had even been known to write their own Harry Reid quotes to save time.  Reid never called them on it.  He was generally thankful to be spared the charade.  Of course, that had been in the days before the rise of the dreaded Blogosphere, where any idiot with a computer could call themselves a journalist.  The interviewer who was due in his office any minute now was from that particular neck of the new-media woods.  Reid swore to himself as he checked his watch.  The interviewer, some drone by the name of Templeton, was late, probably checking the latest ultra-conservative hash on his cell phone.  Reid never knew what kind of crazy questions and cockamamie allegations these people were going to come up with.  It was like boxing a kangaroo.  Fortunately, that was something Reid knew a little bit about, having spent some time as a pugilist in his rather scrappy youth.

There was a scream from the reception area.  Reid heard it through the pebbled glass of his door and glanced up.  There was movement beyond the glass, and then a series of flashes, accompanied by the flat crack of gunfire.  Another scream.  It sounded like his receptionist, Louise Carpenter, who was normally as composed as the Rock of Gibraltar.  The scream cut off quickly, with an alarming gurgle.  Then silence.

Reid stared hard at the door through his glasses.  As a politician, the possibility of attack, terrorist or otherwise, was never far from his mind, thus all he felt, for the moment, was sort of preternatural alertness, spiked with a sudden rush of adrenaline.

Without taking his eyes off the door, he punched the intercom button.

“Lou?”  he barked.  “Lou, are you all right?  What’s going on?”

There was no answer.  Silence rang from the outer office.  And then, distantly, more screams.  The firecracker pop of gunfire from the depths of the building beyond.  Running feet.

Reid nodded resolutely to himself.  There were contingency plans for just such an emergency, of course.  He had to find his way to the fortified command center in the basement.  He had the key card in his wallet, waiting pristinely, protected by a thin sheet of plastic.  The card would only work once, since it would immediately begin to corrode once the film was removed and the specially treated surface was exposed to the air.  It was a safety measure, preventing the cards from posing an ongoing security risk of theft after use.  Reid never thought he’d actually have to use it.  He stood up, moved quickly toward the door and stood next to it.  Silence still ruled the outer office.  He strained his ears for any sound of movement, then unlatched the door as quietly as he could.  It eased open silently on well-oiled hinges.

Reid peered through the expanding opening, eyes wide.  A pair of legs in slate gray slacks laid on the floor, slightly akimbo, black shoes pointing at the celling.  Reid knew without seeing the figure’s face that it was Hollins, the secret service agent.  Hollins’ partner, Goring, was nowhere in sight.  Louise’s desk chair was empty, her desk shoved aside, its contents swept to the floor.  The smell of gunpowder was thick in the air.  Curls of gray smoke wafted.

Reid moved into the room, stepping carefully over Hollins’ legs, glancing down only once to see where the man had been shot.  He froze in place, still staring down at the agent on the floor.  His mind groped, trying to make sense of what he saw.  Hollins hadn’t, in fact, been shot.  At least, if he had, it didn’t look like any bullet wound Reid had ever seen before.   Most of the man’s face had been stripped away, raggedly, almost as if some wild animal had chewed on it.  The nose was simply a triangular black hole.  Hollis’ eyes had even been plucked out (or sucked out, some distant part of Reid’s mind suggested grimly), leaving the sockets dark and full of gristle.  The skull grinned openly, its teeth smeared with blood.

More screams pierced the air just outside the office, echoing through the main hall.  Reid jumped, eyes wild, glancing back toward the open office doors.  He needed to keep moving.  He looked down at Hollins again, suddenly intent, and saw what he was looking for.  Hollins’ service pistol was still in his hand, clutched loosely, the finger still on the trigger.  Reid dropped to one knee and plucked it carefully from the dead man.  The pistol was light, the metal cold.  It was a SIG Sauer P229, nine millimeter.  He popped the clip and peered at it.  There were six rounds left.  Reid grimaced at the clip, then socked it clumsily back home.  He didn’t have a lot of experience with guns, but he had more than most of his constituents would ever guess.  Besides, as his father once said, what’s to know?  Point the hole at the bad guy and shoot.

Reid nodded.  For once, his father’s advice might come in handy.

He turned toward the door, keeping the pistol pointed economically at the floor, and that’s when Hollis’ hand clutched Reid’s ankle.  Reid gasped, nearly dropping the pistol in shock.  Instinctively, he jerked away from the clutching hand, but it held firm, the fingers like steel claws.

“Officer down!” Hollis’ diminished face called, its voice a hideous gargle.  “Officer down!  Everybody down!  Git down, git down boogie!”  The skull began to laugh, to cackle gleefully.  Blood sprayed from its clacking jaw in a pink mist.

Reid shot it and the face exploded.  He saw it happen as if in slow motion, opening like flower, revealing the pulpy mass beneath.  The cackling stopped but Hollis’ hand didn’t release Reid’s ankle.  It was still moving, tugging at him.  Reid let out a little mewl of mingled disgust and terror and shot again, this time aiming for the wrist.  He missed, producing only a neat black hole on the rug.  Hollis gurgled rhythmically from the mangled ruins of his head.  He was laughing again.

Reid stomped with his free foot, bringing it down on Hollis’ wrist.  He felt the arm bones grate under his heel and the hand spasmed, releasing its grip.  Reid scrambled backwards, the pistol still raised in his hands, shaking uncontrollably.  He rammed into Louise’s desk and nearly fell atop it.

With a force of will, he struggled to regain control of himself.  All that mattered was getting down to the basement command center.  There, everything would be sorted out somehow.  Somehow.

The main office’s double doors were opened wide, providing a comfortingly panoramic view of the vaulted outer hall.  The marble walls reflected the light of the front lobby.  No shadows moved in the normally bustling space.  The panic—and whatever was causing it—seemed to have moved on to some other area of the building.

Reid stepped out into the hall carefully but swiftly, trying to look in every direction at once.  Some instinctive part of his brain insisted that he should keep track of how many rounds he still had left in the P229.  How many times had he shot Hollis?  He tried to remember, to do the simple math in his head, but it suddenly seemed too difficult.

A door burst open next to him, releasing a stumbling figure.  Reid spun wildly, squeezing off a shot before he had even taken the time to aim.  The bullet spanged off the marble wall, producing a rough crater and a blast of white shrapnel.   The figure ran into Reid, nearly tackling him to the floor.

“Harry!” the figure gasped hoarsely.  “She’s gone crazy!  She’s… she’s…!”

Reid nearly shot the figure again before he realized who it was.  The ex-president had been in the office at the behest of his wife, the Secretary of State.

“Everyone’s gone crazy, Bill,” Reid said, trying to push the larger man off him.  “Something’s awfully wrong.  Maybe it’s some kind of nerve gas or something.  It doesn’t matter.  Come on!”

But Clinton wasn’t listening.  He suddenly shoved Reid away from him and looked down the length of the hall.  Reid followed his look, turning toward the lobby.  Two figures shambled into view, half holding each other up, like a pair of drunks.  Harry recognized one of them as the fat security guard from the front desk.  His head was tilted back, his mouth opened, while the other figure, smaller and wearing a smart taupe skirt and jacket, seemed to be whispering something into his ear.  They weaved and stumbled.

“Nancy?” Clinton called tremulously, his voice echoing along the hall.

The figure in the taupe skirt suddenly raised its head, looking up at the sound of the calling voice.  As it did, it took a mouthful of the guard’s neck with it, producing a sort of wet, sucking “shlupp!”  Blood ran down the guard’s white shirt, coating it.

“Hi Bill,” the smaller figure answered wetly, then ran a hand across its mouth, smearing the blood like lipstick.  Reid finally recognized the thing, although his brain insisted that it could not be who it looked like.  Nancy Pelosi was thin as a rail.  This bastardized creature was indeed thin, but obviously wickedly strong if it could hold up the fat guard.  As Reid watched, the Pelosi-thing dropped the guard, which fell to the floor like a sack of bricks.  Nancy’s face grinned, and the tendons on her neck stood out like steel cords.  The hands snapped open and closed like bear traps, the fingernails glinting.  She began to approach slowly, like a lioness stalking a gazelle.  “I didn’t know you were here today, Bill.  How’s Hillary?”

“She’s… not feeling herself today, exactly,” Clinton said weakly, and then actually laughed a little.  It was a high, thin sound, almost a giggle.

The Pelosi-thing suddenly leapt.  She lunged forward onto all fours and ran toward the two men, baring her bloody teeth and snarling viciously.  Reid shoved Clinton aside and raised the pistol, but the Pelosi-thing was too fast.  It pounced, hurtling through the air, and landed on the former President, bowling him over.  The two rolled down the hallway, thrashing and screaming.  Reid considered shooting into the melee, not even sure who he was aiming for, then thought better of it.  He only had a few bullets to spare, and for now the Pelosi-thing seemed occupied.  He backed away, too horrified not to watch, and then finally turned.

He ran past the front desk and the stairs.  The bank of elevators stood along a wide alcove.  He stumbled to a halt by the first one and pounded repeatedly at the down button.

“Going down?” a pleasant female voice spoke from behind him.

Reid spun around so hard that his glasses nearly flew from his face.  Louise was just passing the front desk, smiling quizzically at him, her left hand held behind her back.  She looked perfectly normal, without so much as a wrinkle on her tan slacks.

“Lou?” Reid rasped, unable to control his voice.  “What…!  What’s…”  He was out of breath, panting, confused.

She shook her head dismissively.  “It’s all right, Harry,” she said, raising her right hand, palm out, still walking toward him.  “Everything’s all right.”

“But Hollins!” Reid nearly shrieked.  “He was dead!  His face…!  And he grabbed me!”

Louise smiled again.  She was barely ten feet away.  “It’s fine, Harry.  I’m fine.  I was with Goring.”

Reid blinked in confusion.  “Goring!?  But… where is he now?”

“He’s right here, silly,” Louise said, bringing her left hand out from behind her back.  In it, hanging by a fist-full of hair, was Goring’s head, the mouth lolling open, the eyes pointing in two different directions.  She tossed it toward him.  The head bounced off Reid’s chest and he scrambled backwards in revulsion, ramming against the closed elevator doors and dropping the pistol.  It clattered to the floor and slid next to Louise’s natty beige pump.  She kicked it playfully.

“Just like a politician,” she said, glancing up at Reid playfully, “brings a gun to a head-fight.”

She lunged toward him, her grin suddenly spreading so wide, so ghastly, that it split her lips at the corners.  Her jaw unhinged like a snake, rushing toward him.

The elevator dinged and shuttled open behind him.  Reid suddenly fell backwards, into the elevator.  Someone else was inside.  They caught him easily with one arm.  The other arm extended over Reid’s shoulder, holding a small pink handgun.  There was an ear-splitting pop, and Louise’s shrieking roar suddenly fell silent.  Reid looked up, still half collapsed in the stranger’s arms, and saw Louis stumble backwards toward the lobby, groping clumsily at her head.  The top of it had been neatly shot off, revealing the pink jelly of her brain.  She touched it experimentally.

“That,” she said distractedly, “was a seventy… dollar… haircut.”

She lowered her arms and her gaze settled onto Reid again.  Her face melted into a mask of animal rage and she began to charge forward once more.  The elevator dinged again, and the doors began to shuttle gently closed.  They were too slow, however.  Louis roared and got her head through the doors just as they closed on her neck, ramming her to a stop.  She screamed ferociously, her eyes rolling back into her head, but then the pink handgun, held in the stranger’s small fist over Reid’s shoulder, barked another report.  Louise’s head exploded this time, leaving only her lower jaw and the nub of her spinal cord, surrounded by a blossom of pulpy flesh.  The figure went limp and began to slide down the crack of the mostly closed doors.  They began to open again, and Louise’s body collapsed heavily to the floor.

“Excuse me, Senator,” a woman’s voice said in Reid’s ear.  The stranger pushed him upright and stepped around him.  She was slight, with curly brown hair, large dark eyes, and a small open purse dangling from her shoulder.  She placed the heel of one shoe against Louise’s shoulder and pushed.  The body slid backwards, squeaking on a puddle of brackish blood.

The stranger then stood back again.  As the elevator doors began to shuttle closed once more, she lowered the pink handgun.

“Present from my husband,” she said with a shrug.  “Never fired it at anything other than paper targets before this.  All clear, kids.”

Reid was nearly catatonic with confusion and shock.  Had she just called him a kid?  But then he heard movement behind him.  He turned quickly, alarmed.  A bright pink stroller sat in the back corner of the elevator, occupied by a pair of identical girls, both with their hands held economically over their eyes.  As Reid watched, the girls lowered their hands.

“Loud!” one of them called out happily and clapped her hands.

“Yep,” the woman answered, glancing up at the elevator’s floor buttons as it began to descend.  “Real loud.  Be ready when the doors open again, kids.  Hands over eyes, got it?”

“Got it!”  Both girls called in unison.

Reid finally found his voice.  “W-Who…” he stammered, looking back and forth between the woman and the two little girls.  “Who are you?”

The woman reached forward and punched the emergency button on the elevator.  It shuddered immediately to a halt around them.  She sighed and turned to Reid.  “Sorry I’m late, Senator,” she said, switching the pink handgun to her left hand and holding out her right.  “I’m Dana Templeton.  I was here for an interview.  Now…”  She shrugged again, as if taking in the bizarre, horrific events that had just taken place.  “Looks like I’ll have to take a rain check.”

“Loud!” the twins cheered again.  “Mommy loud, loud, LOUD!”

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awkward soda moments


Mad-Lib Literature

So a good friend (thanks Gig) always encourages me to keep writing– every day, even a little.  This is advice I aim to take, which explains the blathers that appear on this blog.  They rarely have anything to do with writing other than that they are comprised of words and punctuation and are therefore, by any loose definition, written.

Today’s will be different.

Let’s do some Mad-Lib Literature.  If it works, I’ll make it a regular feature.  If it doesn’t, I may still make it a regular feature.  After all, train crashes are often just as engaging as tropical sunsets, yes?  Here’s how it will work.  Submit a story outline to me, via comment or email, containing the following three elements:

1) Character(s):  These can be existing figures, either real or fictional (and you can make them up, too).  Include 1-3.  Examples: Madeline Murray O’Hare and Bullwinkle; Severus Snape, Barack Obama and Scarlett Johannsen; female middle-aged unhappily married dental hygienist who secretly dreams of being a roller derby superstar; a twelve year old three-legged chihuahua.  Etc.

2) Setting:  The Swiss Alps, an urban office complex, the Twilight Zone, under your bed, etc.

3) Genre:  Action, romance, thriller, mystery, horror, chick-lit, pulp fiction, etc.

I will choose one idea and write a little something, trying to stay as true to the requirements as possible.  Challenge me.  It’ll be fun!  Let’s hear it.

Here’s my own outline submission:

CHARACTERS (2):  1– uber-geek forty-something fangirl; 2 — escaped convict posing as Star Trek’s lieutenant Worf in order to slip unnoticed through a crowded convention hall.

SETTING:  under an autograph table populated by the cast of  Battlestar Galactica.

THEME:  chick-lit.

Do not make me write this.  Seriously.  Send me your three-point outlines.  Onward!!


This Ended Better Than Expected

XXXXXX said to you:

Why can’t you think of you own ideas? I hope you have a healthy bank account when the lawyers call.Your stories are rubbish. Only JK understands her universe which only she can write about.

Jun 30, 2011 04:38am
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you said to XXXXXX:

Thanks for your interest in my stories! I am always pleased to hear from enthusiastic readers. In fact, my bank account is relatively healthy due to revenue from my original books and media (thanks for asking) but not from sales of any JP books (that’s a no-no, although ms. Rowling has been very friendly about the JP series).

Again, thanks for reading!

Visum ineptio!

Geo

Jul 06, 2011 06:52pm
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XXXXXX said to you:

I never finished them, read the first two pages. Yawn. Also find it disgusting that you can use someone elses work to write your own.

Jul 07, 2011 02:15am
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you said to XXXXXX:

Thanks again for your continued interest in my works! It is unusual (and quite flattering)to meet such a devoted fan.

It IS pretty amazing that I was able to use someone else’s works to write my own. In fact, you will not be surprised to learn that I not only used Ms. Rowling’s works, I used her actual words. Every individual word in my JP novels was extracted painstakingly from the texts of the original Harry Potter series. This was particularly difficult with some of the original character names (for instance, the name “Tabitha Corsica” had to be cobbled together carefully from as many as sixteen of Ms. Rowling’s original words) but I felt it was essential to the integrity of the “Potterverse” (as I like to call it) that I remain as true to the original vowels and consonants as possible.

Not all fans of the original series will notice this sort of attention to detail, so I appreciate your insight, especially after only two pages! Congratulations on your perceptiveness!

Thanks again for the encouragement– always happy to hear from a fan!– and good luck with your sleep issues!

Accio yawn! (lol)

Geo

23 hours, 39 min ago
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XXXXXX said to you:

Tut tut tut. Can’t you see that I see your works in a bad light ( no lumos pun here please). You are a disgrace to JK’s universe.

20 hours, 40 min ago
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you said to XXXXXX:

Can I use “tut tut tut” in my next James Potter story? It would make a good villain name I think (something Egyptian? A mummy who stutters?), or perhaps a spell of some kind. What would you prefer? I’d be happy to give you credit, if you wish.

Or even better, perhaps I can make you a character in my next story? Would you rather be a good guy or a bad guy? You are obviously of a very heroic and courageous nature, to spend so much time emailing authors of HP fan fiction. Since there are, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of people who write fan fiction based in Ms. Rowling’s world, I assume it is a monumental task for you to be writing to all of them to express your opinions about the nature of their hobby. Kudos to you for your commitment to the greater good!

Yes. You would definitely be a hero. Do you have a character name you would like me to use?

No need to thank me. For an HP devotee of your caliber, it is truly my honor.

Yours in Potter brotherhood,

Geo

19 hours, 29 min ago
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XXXXXX said to you:

Obviously, I do not write to all fan fiction authors, but I do not agree with them. Why are your books on goodreads able to be marked as to read? When they are fan fiction…

And I would, I a character, like to be someone like Bellatrix, Snape, Luna or Hermione. Who would you be? Perhaps Neville or Ron?

4 hours, 20 min ago
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you said to XXXXXX:

I am not worthy of character-hood, sadly.

Consider it done. I will invent for you a literary persona that comprises all of those characters in one– Bellalunamionape (with perhaps a “tut” somewhere in the mix.) You and I will know who it REALLY is.

To answer your question (and it is a very serious question), I have personally lobbied that Goodreads implement a system that 1) recognizes a story as fanfiction, and 2) removes all possible references to reading it. Because, as you and I well know, *reading* is something that is ONLY properly done with legitimately published (and preferably notarized) Books. Indeed, *reading* fanfiction is akin to (choke!) marrying pornography, yes?

Of course, those who do choose to engage works such as mine will need some sort of system by which to mark their status. Perhaps instead of “to be read” there might be another option, such as “to be mentally molested by” or “to dirty my soul with at some later date”, or some such. I am sure Goodreads would be open to suggestions by someone with your erudition, but thus far my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Anyway, Consider your warnings well met, my friend (or should I say “Bellalunamionape”, LOL!) It is a dark time for us all, and the scourge of fanfiction should indeed be addressed head on, myself included.

Yours in the march toward progress and a better reading world,

Geo

1 hour, 10 min ago
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XXXXXX said to you:

I will just have to shy away from the fan fiction world, and let my lips curl with sourness every time someone mentions the topic. I myself as an aspiring author prefer to think of an idea, and expand in it. Maybe you could take your books and tweak them over and over again so that you have something that is your own, that could be published and that you have spent so much time with you have cpm to adore it. Even though it would be unrecognisable to unbeknown eyes, it will be ( after tweaking) the same to you, but only you would know where it had come from.
Then you would have your own novels, with a unique idea – change the school to something else, change all of the characters, change the world but stick to the genre, change witches and wizards to another supernatural being (not vampires or werewolves) or your own creation.
Have a go, after this extensive debate that has turned into a jokey chat, I would like to see your name in Waterstones one day. 🙂

PS- like Bellalunamionape. LOL indeed.

5 minutes ago
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you said to XXXXXX:

Thanks. I have indeed enjoyed this little chat. And I appreciate the advice.This may interest and amuse you:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Riverhouse-ebook/dp/B003HC9A72/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310141003&sr=8-1

0 minutes ago
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“…Beyond a Reasonable Doubt…”

Casey Anthony's Classy Lawyer

Casey Anthony's Classy Lawyer

Does not mean the same thing as “beyond any doubt at all”.  When the public’s functional vocabulary no longer contains the word “reasonable”, the court system ceases to perform as it should.

Enough said.


Am I Stupid?

It’s popular these days to proclaim one’s snarky dislike of “stupid people”.  You’ve probably seen the posts on Facebook.  I have several friends who regularly post comments about how much they hate stupid people.  The problem, I think, is that they don’t really mean “stupid” (adj. ignorant, mentally stunted, unable to learn new things).  What they really mean, in this context, is people who do/believe things differently than they do.  For example (to make up something at random): “Today my boss put ketchup on his eggs.  I think ketchup on eggs is disgusting.  Boy is my boss stupid.  I hate stupid people.”  Another example: “Such-and-such political candidate stands for such-and-such issue.  I am against that issue, therefore the candidate is stupid.  I hate stupid people, and the stupid people who vote for them.”

Implicit in this attitude is the unstated (and amusingly, preposterously arrogant) implication that none of my beliefs/opinions/predilections are stupid, but all opposing beliefs/opinions/predilections are, simply because they are different than mine.  In other words, the arbiter of validity has ceased to be any objective, external measurement.  If it feels right to me, then it is good and smart.  If anyone disagrees, then they are obviously stupid, and I hate them.

This, methinks, is stupid.  In the literal sense.

I am willing to go one further.  I don’t hate stupid people.  I actually like stupid people, especially when they recognize they’re own stupidity.  Children, for instance, are sort of stupid.  I tell my kids this all the time.  Stupid is not (as the schools tell them) a bad word.  It is a state of ignorance based on lack of experience.  When another child tells my son that kissing girls is gross (my son quite sensibly does not agree) I remind him that such a statement can be dismissed because it is demonstrably stupid– it is an example of the thoughtless  group-think spawned by a community of shared ignorance.  We don’t call other kids stupid (of course) but we do recognize that a lot of what they say is, perfectly understandably (and sometimes amusingly), pretty stupid.

The beauty of stupidity in children, however, is that it is loosely held, and temporary.  When a child is confronted with facts that defy their group-think, they absorb the new facts without a ripple.  Being wrong does not challenge their self worth (despite what the progressive thinkers of the educational establishment apparently think).  Little kids know, by virtue of a certain enviable childlike lucidity, that they are functionally ignorant.  That’s why they ask so damn many questions.  Every moment of their life is an expression of “I don’t know anything, but I want to, so tell me some stuff.”

Most adults don’t do that.  They are ashamed to acknowledge what they don’t know.  This is forgivable.  What is not forgivable (in my never-to-be-humble opinion) is the stubborn defense of their own ignorance.  This, methinks, is where stupidity becomes, connotatively, stupid.  Most adults, I think, don’t want to continue to expand their knowledge and philosophies.  They insulate themselves with friends and media that bolster their current opinions, and defend the bulwarks of those opinions with the insistence that those who disagree can be dismissed as fools.

I do this myself, I admit.  I am trying to make myself more aware of it, though.  I am slowly realizing that people can hold entirely different opinions than me and still be smart and thoughtful.  That doesn’t mean that they are right (necessarily), but it does mean that I cannot afford to dismiss their arguments out-of-hand as stupid.

Let’s take the Green Movement, for instance.  I have opinions about it.  I have come to believe that there is far less evidence in support of man-made global warming (or “climate change”, as it now prefers to be called) than there is for it.  I won’t go into specifics.  The point is this: I have come to this opinion because I have read books by intelligent scientists and thinkers on both sides of the issue.  This, one would think, gives me a balanced perspective from which to make an informed decision.  After all, who would suggest that a fair murder trial should only include the testimony of the prosecution?  And yet, in terms of the “intelligent” debate about climate change, it is considered foolish and anti-scientific to even consider the opposing position.  Those who argue the most vocally in support of drastic regulatory changes to “save the planet” would consider it utterly anathema even to briefly consider the arguments against their position, and regularly dismiss as “stupid science haters” those who do.

That is not science, it is ideology.  And as any true scientist will tell you, ideology not only has no place in science, it is utterly counter-productive to it.

This is true in nearly every area of study and experience.  How many lifelong conservatives are willing to read the works of liberal thinkers in order to sharpen and/or challenge their own beliefs?  How many atheists regularly subject their ideology to the works of renowned religious thinkers (and by that I do not mean Rick Warren or Joel Osteen)?  When was the last time that you (or I) listened with complete intellectual honesty to someone whose core beliefs were utterly contrary to our own?

I haven’t done it anywhere near enough.  But I plan to.  I don’t want to cling to beliefs and opinions stubbornly, stupidly, just because I have decided that they define me.  I don’t want to be stupid.  I want to be willing to consider the all-too-real possibility that I could be wrong.

After all, despite what modern culture teaches us, none of us can possibly be right about everything.  By definition, we are all stupid in some respects.

So I’d love to hear from you:  where might you possibly be stupid?  What belief that you hold dear might be completely wrong?  What opinion might be the one that you someday find out was totally off-the-mark?  It’s a worthwhile question, isn’t it?

I’ll go first.  I might be wrong about climate change.  I don’t know everything about it.  I could be wrong about my belief in what absolute truth is (although I do reject the popular idea that there cannot be such a thing as absolute truth).  My religious beliefs, in all their various shades and tones, may be incorrect.  After all, belief isn’t certainty– it can’t be, otherwise it isn’t belief at all but demonstrable fact, and facts, in more areas than we are wont to admit, are very few and far between.  I could be mistaken about human nature (generally bent and destructive), my political leanings (conservative), modern country music (fit only for farm animals and lobotomy patients), and sushi (like Kim Kardashian, popular for being popular).

I don’t think I am wrong about any of those things, of course, but I am willing to consider it, and considering it means, first and foremost, not dismissing as stupid those who think differently than me about them.  It’s a hard thing to do, especially since the media makes it very cool to dismiss those of certain ideologies as abject idiots (imagine wearing a  Sarah Palin tee shirt to your next social function) but I submit that widespread cultural stupidity is still stupidity, even if it is cool, easy, and comfortable.

Here’s a challenge to prove your willingness to be wrong.  I’ll steal it from the movie “Fight Club”.  This week, go out and start an argument.  Pick any topic you feel strongly about– politics, climate change, religion, music, anything.  Start an argument with someone who disagrees with you completely.  And lose.  Listen to their opinion, absorb it, and let them walk away thinking they’ve won.

If you (or I) can do that, then maybe, just maybe, we are on our way to not being stupid.

And if you do it, PLEASE tell me (and the rest of my readers) about it.  Comments below.  Don’t disappoint us.  Onward.