Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Augusten Burroughs Is A Moron: A Series

"I'm a complete and total fuckup. Why is exactly why I am equipped to write this book and tell you how to live" - Augusten Burroughs.

I enjoyed his series of books about his fucking up and his crazy family, embellished or no, but when he goes out of area, he looks like an idiot. The book starts off fine with an ancedote about that annoying SMILE! BE POSITIVE! person who you always meet (He meets his on an elevator) and how afrimations are bullshit. Basic stuff, but amusing enough. The How to Find Love chapter is amusing as well, but in a more idiotic way. There's a bunch of blather about how most people stay within a six mile radius. I'm not seeing how going to the bank on the other side of town will help me find love. I think that this is a case of assuming that people are all the same as you. When I go to the grocery store on the other end of the city, the same thing happens that happens in the grocery store in my neighborhood- I buy some groceries and go home. I'm sure Augusten strikes up life long friendships, booty calls, and job interviews everywhere he goes. Not being that person, the whole thing confuses me. In fact, I think this whole chapter could be condensed into "I got nothing. Maybe you have weird teeth or need to deeply accept your own soul. Whatever.'

The Fat and Thin chapters are also stupid(you may be noticing a theme here). The fat chapter is stupid in a boring 'You'd be thin if you wanted it enough, and weren't worried about being hotter than your sister" way. Oddly enough, he doesn't talk about brass tack issues such as food is avaliable and delicious and activity is harder to fit in without actual planning leading to fatness. The thin chapter is really stupid, since he speaks directly to anorexics, which is intensely outside of his area, and possibly a bit dangerous.

I'm OK with him dealing out the thinness is really a metaphor for what you truly want in life crap to folks who want to lose ten pounds, but when we get into anorexia, and his theories about it, I want him to sit down, shut up, and realize his claim to fame is being a kid with a fucked up family and being drunk. No matter how much you think anorexia is about control, and are shocked shocked that they are in HOSPITALS with RULES, there's no need for the BS about throwing your anorexic daughter out of the house with only a credit card. I'm not actually afraid that someone will try this (much). It's just the sort of thing that is too stupid even to post on twitter, let alone in a book. The reason I read a book is to read something with better quality control than the crap I read on twitter, OK?

The next chapters will be self pity, confidence and how to fail. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm going to have to require everyone to shut up about participation trophies. First, not everyone under the age of 30 was in a youth soccer league- possibly due to the parents not being able to afford to let their kids participate. And really, who is giving out the trophies? I know the 6 year olds aren't going "Man, I'd play soccer, but I won't get a participation trophy at the end". It's the grown ups not telling their children that they suck at soccer, are failures, and should not even go out on the pitch with such noncompetitive soccer skills. Also, that life sucks, and then you die. Let's get real here. The 6 year olds know who is good at soccer, people. They know who scored the game winning goal , and who couldn't kick the ball if his or her life depended on it.

 I think the real  cause for their ire is the idea that young folks are enjoying themselves with no whiff of Calvinist dog eat dog. Everyone gets to eat pizza and have a party- the worst player and the best player. There's an equality in that that people who feel that everything is a hierarchy can't understand as anything else but character destroying. But the truth is that most of us won't be the best at anything. And those who can be the best- they love the thing enough to go through the hard parts without external reward. I think people do their best when work becomes real to them. When they feel their efforts are of use. Without meaning to work, people flounder, and with young people, it's easy to say that we lack some essential verve because we're 'soft'. But, maybe people want to bring great customer service to people instead of annoying them with credit card offers. Maybe people want to help children blossom not teach state performance indicators or worry about a child's wellness reducing cash flow. Maybe people want to be able to take pride in their work, and then only way to create pride is to create work that matters. I guess it's easier to complain about trophies.