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Erect Posture
As we enter the cusp of the playoffs for Major League Baseball, I would like to take a moment to assess our rooting posture. My concerns rest chiefly with the fortunes of the San Francisco Giants, but I am hoping there will be something useful here for anyone who has a team still in the hunt to become World Champions in 2021. That includes those who consider themselves to be fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The first canon of our fandom is pretty straightforward: don’t get ahead of yourself. Yes, even though this year the Giants have literally been ahead of every other team in baseball for most of the season. In fact, that history of success is all the more reason to ignore it. To pause — even for a moment — and reflect on those glories would all but guarantee disaster in the playoffs.

The only glory we will settle for is winning the World Series, and the only way we get there is by not thinking about getting there — or how we got here. Only the present matters.

It will be particularly hard to stay in the moment this year. Our championships of 2010, 2012, and 2014 all came with teams that were widely dismissed as real contenders, and rightly so. They were all wild card teams with not much to reflect on from the regular season. That made it easy to focus on the here and now.

It is possible that they could end up a wild card team again this year. Even though the Giants currently sit in first place in the National League West, the Dodgers are right behind and gaining. Or, worse yet, the Bums could tie us, forcing a one-game playoff to decide the West. The loser of that game would then face another one-game playoff against the other NL wild card team.

That would be a hellish scenario for either team, especially if you consider the long and emotionally charged rivalry between the two teams. None of those other Giants teams had to contend with the Dodgers in their postseasons, and that surely helped their chances.

This brings us to our second rooting canon: don’t be a hater. I understand that this may be difficult. Hating the Dodgers is seen by many as central to the Giants’ fan ethos. My research, however, has revealed that hating actually makes it harder to win. It’s much better, I have found, to think of your opponent as a lifeless thing, something you can crush and dismiss without a second thought. Like lint or a dead maggot. But no hating, please.

Lastly, the most important guidepost of all: keep your eye on the ball. While this rule is admittedly less important when you are sitting at home on your fat Barca-lounger, the focussed mindset it represents is fundamental to winning.

So see the ball, be the ball. And get me a beer.
Left Out
Given all the monstrous
Complex plots at play
On earth today
With so many folks
It got me started

I’m the only one
It seems
Who’s not in on
These secret schemes
So let me say
It’s clear to me
It must be a
Bookedy Shoop
If you take a look at the Subconscious Comics page on the site this week, you’ll see that I’ve posted another peek at the innards of Head First, my graphic novel. Just another day in the Subconscious.

That picture is a detail from page 73, which is where things take a turn for the bizarre in the story. The truly bizarre, that is. The subconscious (at least my version of it) is pretty strange already, but this tale goes some places the comic strip never did. I can’t wait for people to see it.

I’ve almost finished with the inking and coloring, and now I’m headed into the most mysterious part of the journey. Telling stories with words and pictures is something I know how to do; launching a crowd-funding page on Kickstarter is uncharted territory for me.

But I’m moving forward…one step at a time. My face will be there when we launch, immortalized on video, and so will my characters’. They’re the stars of this production, after all. Plus, I’ve known them for forty years now, and I’m pretty sure I can trust them. For the most part. Usually.

I don’t have a launch date yet, not even a ballpark estimate. But it is definitely closer than it ever has been. I promise that you will be the first to know. Stay tuned.
A New Voice
There is a trend on the websites that I turn to for news. I've been seeing a certain kind of story that is meant, I think, to elicit some pretty ugly schadenfreude from the readers. The stories go something like this: a long-time opponent of vaccination or masking — someone who has promoted conspiratorial misinformation in support of their views — comes down with COVID-19 and dies.

“Good!,” comes my first thought. “He deserves it.”

The story often goes on to report that the deceased changed his tune after getting infected. He begs friends and family (who are uniformly devastated at his sad passing) to mask up and get the shot.

“Too late, jackass!” I think. “Eat shit and die.”

I do not like my inner voices to talk this way. Even though this response is accompanied by feelings of righteousness, it is not the family-friendly, G-rated response I’d prefer to hear from my voices. In addition to confirming my worst fears about myself, I believe that such sentiments have a corrosive effect on my soul (if such an entity actually exists).

But I had been hearing a lot more from these voices in recent years. My opinion of my fellow humans has taken a dark turn for the worse during these times. I find more and more that I am categorizing others (like the people in those COVID stories) as idiotic, craven, hopeless, or just plain evil. They have become the other to me, and that is a brand of thinking I despise in them. This troubles me.

So, over the last couple of weeks, I had tried to adjust my thinking about my fellow humans. Rather than seeing of them as stupid, callous, and zombified, I started thinking of these people (who constitute, apparently, just under half of the entire human race) as crazy. Certifiable. Unable to care for their own safety.

I found this approach to be helpful in maintaining my own mental health…at least for awhile. Where once I experienced anger, I was now filled with pity for these folks. The poor things can’t help themselves. Maybe they’ve got some bad chemicals squirting inside their heads, or their mothers did not love them. Whatever it is, it’s not their fault.

Even though it’s been nice to have all that bile removed from my system, I am finding that feeling sorry for other people can also take a toll. Instead of bitterness, I began tasting something else. Pity in large amounts takes on he flavor of spoiled milk after a bit. That's the best I can do at describing it. Too much pitying probably won’t make you sick, but you will want to throw up just in case.

After experiencing that for a while, I decided that I could not handle that feeling, either. So I am trying something else, something other than bile or sour milk. And so far it’s working. Now my official position is that all those people are suffering from temporary insanity.

These are really good people at heart, I now think. They’re just having a bad day, or week, or decade. This makes me feel much better. I still have a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s like the taste of beets. I don’t like it, but at least it won't hurt me.

We’ll see what happens the next time one of those shock jock screamers falls over dead with the virus. If all I can taste is beets, then I just may have saved my soul.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon