An Incredible View

God, who has been off my radar for far, far too long. A ridiculous little man named Fred Phelps died yesterday. Mr. Phelps was a publicity whore who founded a hate group that claimed to base their actions upon God's principles, which conveniently matched up precisely with the principles of Mr. Phelps. That's nothing new; there have always been loudmouths around who try to bully their priorities through society and give them teeth by claiming that it's actually Jehovah they're speaking on behalf of, using as authority books written thousands of years ago by dudes who also claimed that they were speaking on behalf of God. Mr. Phelps gained his notoriety by banding together a tiny group of people (whose numbers were so small that they'd lose a game of tug-of-war to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and cruelly picketing funeral services to draw attention to their belief that God disapproved of all the man-on-man butt sex and girl-on-girl scissoring that was becoming a plague on our society, even though it was primarily an obsession of the friends of Fred Phelps. I have always professed to being an atheist, but the reality is that I have looked upon the face of God many times. I have seen it when looking out upon the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I saw it once or twice when I did my best to play Shakespeare's Hamlet. I have seen it when gazing into the eyes of a woman I loved. I've even seen it when I look at my little pug Winston wake from a sound sleep, glimpse up at me and wag his little tail. I always know when I'm in the presence of God because I am enveloped in an aura so massive that I lose a sense of my own individuality and become one not only with everything around me, but everything in existence. In that brief flicker of an instance, I am aware that the physical universe is such a massive thing that it has the space to embrace all things in it, because all things in it are essential to making up what it is. I am nothing. And I am everything. And I am incapable of judgment, because I am no more able to comprehend the vast expanse that I am suddenly a part of than I am to comprehend a microbe in one of my fingernails. The regrettable truth is that men like Fred Phelps, men who have the galling arrogance to claim that they have the ability to understand the unknowable soul of God so clearly that they can speak in Its name, are all around us and often rise to the heights of power by conning the gullible masses into believing their shell game. Mr. Phelps was just a laughable clown who is to be pitied, and was far less dangerous than theological con men who put on a more sophisticated act while selling the same snake oil. Mr. Phelps often made the reprehensible claim that "God hates fags,"as if a massive unfathomable deity was even capable of something as trivial as hate. And now that his life is over, I can't help but feel sorry for him because it is my experience that anyone who could make such a statement has never looked upon the face of God even once And that just makes me sad, because it's an incredible view.

Tom Ashworth, whose mother passed away this week. I mourn Mrs. Ashworth's passing and extend my heartfelt condolences to the Ashworth family for their irreparable loss. But I must take issue with the manner in which Mr. Ashworth discovered the news of the death of his treasured mom: from a Facebook post. The traditional way for someone to learn about his mother's passing is to have her slip away while being cradled in his arms; or at the very least (if he is living on another continent) from a long distance telephone call placed in the middle of a rainy night by a mysterious attorney who discloses that Mom left him a multi-million dollar fortune if he'll only spend one night in a haunted house. Someone is not supposed to find something like that out between an online quiz stating that Mindy Kaling should play his dermatologist's wife if they ever make a movie of her life and a lame pun posted by George Takei. Even news organizations will wait for family members to be notified before breaking the announcement of some famous person's death, but on the social network it's all about being the one to get the scoop. Mr. Ashworth did explain that a telephone call came with the news prior to Facebook breaking the story but he was practicing the accordion at the time and couldn't hear the ring, which is the latest of 167 reasons I can think of that Mr. Ashworth should give up the accordion and devote himself to more soothing musical endeavors like conducting a choir of screaming alley cats. He could have learned the news in a dignified fashion rather than next to a sponsored ad from some dating service which attracts the eye's attention with a thumbnail picture of a woman with weather balloons for breasts. But regardless of how the news of her tragic passing went out into the world, the late Mrs. Ashworth was a beloved figure and I have no doubt that her memorial service will be a deeply moving experience for everyone in attendance. I only hope that they do a live tweet of it.

Bro Joe, with whom I dined last week. I invariably drive to Joe's house to meet him and then he insists that we walk to whatever eatery we've agreed upon, whether it be around the corner or in downtown Budapest. And however long the trek and regardless of the weather, Joe loves nothing more than to reenact the title dance number to Singin' in the Rain as we make the journey. Joe thinks that passersby are enchanted by seeing him act out the Gene Kelly standard with an infectious exuberance (especially if he engages them into briefly joining him), and on that point, we are in complete agreement: I have no doubt that Joe thinks that everyone enjoys it. Many is the time I've seen Joe skip away from some poor innocent he's just crashed into, sending the poor man or woman careening into a cinderblock wall or marble column, absolutely convinced that he's made that person's day even as the scream of an ambulance siren approaches in a vain attempt to reset dislocated bones. And that's when Joe is high on Life. When the sweet muse of alcohol is introduced to the routine, Joe's Gene Kelly becomes a spastic break dancer, spinning and twirling in such a madcap fashion that pedestrians cower in the gutter rather than share the sidewalk with him. I only pray that Joe continues his habit of colliding into preteen children and senior citizens with walkers because the day he crashes into a varsity linebacker who's just refilled his steroid allotment, Gene Kelly's going to be doing his singing from a wheelchair. Let's just hope he can find one with rust-proof wheels.

My number 1 enemy of 2013 Jesse Merlin, who offered me a quote of one of his heroes Yoko Ono, saying "If someone is unpleasant to you, draw a halo around his or her head in your mind. He/she is an angel who came to teach you something." Mr. Merlin added "Keep drawing halos, Jonny" but try as I might, whenever I picture Mr. Merlin with a glowing orb around his head, all I see is a really annoying guy with a halo. In fact, he's even more annoying because all I can think of is how unfair it is that such an annoying guy has a halo on his head. And when you add the fact that he's probably got Yoko Ono music screeching in the background, now my head is ready to explode. So you see Ms. Ono's wisdom backfires because I want to keep annoying people out of my mind, and drawing a halo on them creates an impromptu spotlight that only adds more attention to them, even if they've never actually done anything to achieve any kind of attention. But that's Yoko Ono in a nutshell, so maybe she's on to something.

Day 19: Marini-style
Enemies List favorite Mara Marini who continues to taunt me with her participation in the "March Photo a Day Challenge." I wrote last week about how Ms. Marini was celebrating the coming of spring by posting a photo-a-day during March on the social network, but none of the images she's displayed show off the luxurious expanses of creamy-smooth epidermis which has made Mr. Marini a household name. My mind finally snapped on Day 19, when she posted this innocent photo to celebrate the birthday of her dog Monroe. It's a sweet image to be sure, but (at the risk of being crude) the only one in my house who would be able to use it for wank material is my pug Winston (he has a fetish for Chihuahuas wearing tutus). To inspire Ms. Marini on what is an acceptable image for her to display, I posted this picture of me sexily lounging in the surf with my flat, magnificently toned stomach soaking in the sun's rays. I hope that just one look at it will give Ms. Marini an idea of the kind of pictures I want to see for the rest of the month. At the very least, it will induce vomiting to keep her stomach magnificently flat and toned.

Day 19: Jonny-style