Monday, December 15, 2014

In the Land of Virtual Guide Dogs

I derive great comfort from knowing that many blind people still get around the old fashioned way, by using guide dogs. Because one day way back when I was in college, I went to the office where they served crippled student and there was a guy with a robot. I don’t know if he was an inventor or a robot salesman or what but the guy did a demonstration about how in the foreseeable future, robots will be able to aid cripples in all our household tasks.

It was hard to take the guy too seriously because the robot was a clunky hunk of aluminum and flashing lights that looked like it had failed an audition for the Jetsons. And about all it could do of use to me was open a door. I don’t even think it could get a beer out of the fridge. But it was sobering to consider that someday we might live in a society where robots do all the dirty, low-wage grunt work, like fighting wars and tending to the cripples. I wouldn’t like it much if all my assistants were robots. Of course robot workers do offer some advantages over some human assistants I’ve had. For one thing, robots don’t have fake grandmothers. So they won’t call me every other weekend telling me they can’t come to work because yet another of their grandmothers died. I swear to God, I don’t know how some people end up with 26 grandmothers.

But all things considered, I prefer humans. I imagine robots are pretty obstinate. There’s no negotiating with them. They’re programmed to do certain tasks and that’s it. “I am sorry but I am not programmed to do windows.” And talk about feeling uncomfortably conspicuous. Cripples get stared at enough in public, but imagine rolling down the grocery store aisle accompanied by a robot pushing your cart.

And humans are quirky too. I know that can be a pain in the ass sometimes but I would miss quirkiness if it was gone. I supposed robots could be programmed to be quirky but it wouldn’t be the same. Programmed quirkiness is an oxymoron.

Sometimes I get scared that that glorious age of fully-mechanized cripple assistance the man spoke of in the 1970s isn’t far away. Because technology is moving so fast. Pretty soon GPS will be able to do what a guide dog does. GPS can almost do it now. It can tell you exactly how to get from point A to point B but, unlike a dog, it can’t help you sidestep a pile of shit or avoid getting hit by a semi en route. And suppose there’s a 50-foot cliff between points A and B. A dog will stop and refuse to proceed. But a GPS won’t say a damn thing until after the unsuspecting blind person merrily steps over the edge. And the last words that poor, plummeting blind person will hear will be, “Recalculating! Recalculating!”

So as far as I know there is no such thing as a virtual guide dog app just yet. But there sure as hell must be a dastardly scheme to create one being carried out somewhere out there by an evil genius, one of those visionary fuckheads who can’t leave well enough alone. Don’t you just hate those types?

And when said app is perfected, guide dogs will shortly thereafter be obsolete. And then the evil visionary fuckheads will come after me and my human helpers next.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Exclusive Chat with Bono

It’s December and everyone is giddy and full of joyous anticipation. That’s because, as everyone knows, December is Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month (SCAM). This is the third annual SCAM, as established by President Obama in his 2012 SCAM executive order calling upon every American to “remember and honor the indispensible contributions Smartass Cripple has made to the enrichment of American society.” Thus, “government agencies, community organizations, schools, museums, cultural entities, institutes of higher learning , houses of worship and ordinary citizens are urged to organize displays, parades, exhibits, school assemblies and other events that honor Smartass Cripple.”

The president took this action for two reasons. First, it was right after he was re-elected and let’s just say he owed me big time. Second, he knows I have the worst recorded case of Attention Deficit Disorder. I can never get enough attention.

It seems the most common way people have chosen to show their appreciation for Smartass Cripple by erecting trees in their living rooms and decorating them with lights and ornaments. I’m not sure who thought of that one or how it’s supposed to show appreciation for me, but I’ll take it! Some people are organizing SCAM activities that are more smart ass in nature. For instance, throughout December, some students at the University of Northern North Dakota are wearing black armbands bearing the initials SAC. They’re mourning the fact that I’m still alive. Very funny, brats.

But here’s a big announcement. This year we have our first SCAM International Ambassador and it's the one-and-only Bono! This is truly a dream come true for him. He’s been bugging me for some time now to let him be my SCAM International Ambassador so I figured I’ll give him a shot. What have I got to lose? I recently took time out from my busy schedule to sit down and talk to him. Here’s a transcript:

SAC: Hello, Bono.

BONO: Hello, Mike! And may I say how utterly thrilled I am to meet you? I’m an enormous fan!

SAC: Please don’t gush.

BONO: Sorry.

SAC: So why are you so hot to trot about being the SCAM International Ambassador?

BONO: Well, as you know I’ve always been an activist. I’ve raised billions of dollars to feed children in Africa. But recently I had an epiphany. I thought, “Why should I raise billions of dollars to feed children in Africa when I can raise billions of dollars to feed Smartass Cripple?”

SAC: I like how you think.

BONO: So I’m organizing a huge rock concert called Smartass Cripple Aid. And I’m going urge everyone to contribute to the Feed Smartass Cripple Fund. I'll tell everyone we can ensure that Smartass Cripple gets plenty of food by contributing just two cents a day.

SAC: Wait a minute! Two cents a day? Where’d you get that figure? That sounds pretty cheap ass.

BONO: According to the World Food Pantry, two cents a day will purchase a child in Africa a full day’s supply of oat germ and bulgur wheat.

SAC: Oat germ and bulgur wheat? You call that food?

BONO: Well…

SAC: When was the last time you ordered up a heapin’ plate of oat germ and bulgur wheat? I take that back. You probably do that every day. Look, I like the pitch, just lose the two cents a day part.

BONO: Brilliant! And I shall tell everyone that I am contributing generously to the Feed Smartass Cripple Fund so they should too.

SAC. Hold on. If you put it like that people think, “Well hell, that Bono has more money than God so if he’s taking care of Smartass Cripple then I don’t have to worry about it.” Make it a challenge grant instead. Tell them you’ll give a billion dollars but only if they do first. I mean, you’ll still quietly slip me the billion either way, but this way people don’t know you let them off the hook.

BONO: Brilliant again! I wrote a song about Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month. It’s sung to the tune of Silver Bells.

SAC: Let’s hear it!

BONO: (Singing) City sidewalks busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month
Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
and on every street corner you'll hear

Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month
It's Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month time in the city
ring- a- ling hear me sing
It’s Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month.

SAC: I’m moved

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Viva Stella Young

Check out this TED talk by Stella Young, who died last week.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Everybody in Heaven is a White Male or Inappropriate Things to Say at the Funerals of Oppressed Minorities

And then there was that time when a street corner preacher nearly beat the crap out me with his Bible. He was spewing the gospel and then he saw me and he said, “You better get right with Jesus or he ain’t never gonna make you walk!” What the hell kind of insulting comment was that? He might as well have walked up to me and kicked me in the balls. So I said to him, “You better get right with Jesus or he ain’t never gonna make you white!” That really pissed him off. I thought he was going to beat the crap out of me with his bible, right there on the street corner. Wouldn’t that have made a helluva headline?

But I couldn’t help it. I’d had enough. I wanted him to see how it feels. People say stuff like that when cripples die too. They come to the funeral and say to the cripple’s loved ones, “Well at least he’s not suffering anymore. He’s in heaven, where everybody can walk. He left his burdensome wheelchair behind.” Does anybody say that kind of stuff at funerals of other oppressed minorities? “Well at least he’s not suffering anymore. He’s in heaven, where everybody is white. He left his burdensome dark skin behind.” Or what about when a woman dies? “Well at least she’s not suffering anymore. She’s in heaven, where everybody is male. She left her burdensome vagina and mammaries behind.”

Or what about when a woman died in America a hundred years or so ago, before women could even vote? And suppose that woman was a suffragette. I wonder if anyone said to her loved ones at her funeral, “Well at least she’s not suffering anymore. She’s in heaven, where everybody is male. So she finally has the right to vote.” Now I know they probably don’t have elections in heaven. Or if they do God probably runs unopposed, like all good dictators do. Or maybe there are competitive elections for lesser offices like angels. I don’t know but please humor me on this one because I’m trying to make a point, okay? My point is, isn’t that a pretty fucked up concept of divine justice? God rewards you by homogenizing you, by transforming you into the superior other you failed to become in your mortal life.

If I was a praying man, my prayer wouldn’t be, “Dear God, when I get to heaven, please reward me for enduring all the shit cripples are forced to endure by making sure I’m no longer crippled.” My prayer would instead be, “Dear God, when I get to heaven, please reward me for enduring all the shit cripples are forced to endure by making sure I don’t encounter any more creatures like that street corner preacher.”

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An Elite Twelvathlete

It’s hard to believe that Pavol Nezmysel is an elite athlete. He spent the first three years of his life in an orphanage in his native Slovakia. His biological parents abandoned him there as an infant because he was born deaf and blind and without any legs. He also has chronic eczema and is clinically depressed. Hell, with all that shit going on, who wouldn’t be depressed?

But Nezmysel was adopted by a Canadian couple, John and Mary Bland, who raised him to believe that in spite of his crippledness he could still achieve his dreams. And so he went on to become Canada’s most highly-decorated crippled athlete. But now, 20 years after arriving in Canada, Nezmysel is about to embark on a quest to accomplish what no other crippled athlete has ever accomplished before. And all the citizens of Canada are stoked with excitement and rooting hard for his success, because they know when a Canadian tries to do something big it usually doesn’t work out too well. Exhibit A: Look how they fucked up bacon.

But the biggest challenge Nezmysel faces is that it has become very hard to find something to do that no crippled athlete has done. These days cripples are even competing in the Iron Man Triathlon, where contestants swim 2.4 miles and then ride a bike 112 miles before running a 26.2-mile marathon, all within about 17 hours.

So Nezmysel has created the ultimate grueling athletic challenge known as the twelvathlon. After finishing all that wussy triathlon stuff, contestants must then dunk a basketball, kick a 40-yard field goal, jump on a horse and play a round of polo, perform figure skating and gymnastic routines, ski a grand slalom while singing the aria Ritorna vincitor! from the opera Aida and then wrestle an alligator. All this must be done within 12 hours. And in the twelfth and final event, which is perhaps the most brutal of all, contestants have five minutes to consume 50 hot dogs.

The Canadian government has announced that the first official twelvathlon will be held August 8, which is a national holiday in Canada known as “summer.” Nezmysel plans to be the first and only person to successfully complete the competition, or for that matter to even sign up for it. Right now he is relentlessly training.

But Nezmysel knows some day other cripples will successfully complete the twelvathlon and he’ll have to find a way to one-up them. That’s when he intends to become the world’s first reverse twelvathlete, which means he’ll eat the 50 hot dogs first and then go do all that other stuff.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There Once Was a Little Crippled Boy Whose Mother Found a Dog

There once was a little crippled boy whose mother found a dog. It’s was a mutt, a charcoal-gray mop of a dog, its body the size and shape of a football. Mother named the dog Binky. She said it looked like a Binky. Because the little crippled boy was a sucker for dogs, he quickly fell in love with the animal and made it his own. And the little crippled boy and his dog lived happily ever after, for about a week.

Then, one day, the doorbell rang. Mother answered the door. In walked a man with a little boy who was about the same age as the crippled boy, except this boy wasn’t crippled. The dog saw the boy and ran to him. The boy scooped up the dog and hugged him joyously. “Hello, Spike! I’m so happy I found you!” he said. The little crippled boy was sad. The man thanked the little crippled boy and the little crippled boy’s mother for taking good care of the dog. The man, the uncrippled boy and the dog all left.

But then, about an hour later, the doorbell rang again. It was the man holding the dog in his arms. The little uncrippled boy was not with him. The man told a harrowing tale about how, when they brought Spike back home, this greatly rankled the new dog the family acquired to fill the void created by Spike’s sudden departure. A vicious dogfight ensued. Therefore, the man returned Spike to the sole custody of the little crippled boy. The man wished all Godspeed and departed, never to be heard from again.

The end. Until about 20 years later, when the little crippled boy was a full—grown man (FGM). In fact, he was part of a pack of badass crippled protesters who disrupted public meetings and got arrested for blocking streets and snarling traffic. One day, whilst wistfully reminiscing with his mother about family dogs past, he remarked what a stroke of good fortune it was that Spike clashed with the previous family’s new dog. Mother shot him one of those mother looks that says, “Do you really still believe that bullshit story?” Mother then proceeded to recount from her point of view the story of the night Spike was briefly taken away. The events were exactly as the FGM remembered, except for the part where as the little uncrippled boy left with the dog, the littlie crippled boy sobbed and sobbed, almost to the point off hysteria. The FGM had no recollection of behaving in that manner. Perhaps he had blotted it out of his mind.

The FGM was mortified. As he pictured his child self crying inconsolably, he said to himself, “Damn, that was some big time Tiny Tim shit!” And he realized that somewhere on the loose out there was an uncrippled FGM who was the victim of his tantrum.

To this day, the crippled FGM still wonders and worries whatever happened to--- oh screw it! I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the little crippled boy was me, dammit. And when that kid’s dad made him give up his dog for me, surely that tainted the kid's view of cripples for life. How did his resentment manifest itself later in life? I bet today he owns a chain of nursing homes and exacts his revenge on cripples by locking them up and intercepting their Social Security checks. Or maybe his seething, obsessive rage for cripples took the form of seething, obsessive pity for cripples. Maybe he’s one of those people on the street who drops a dollar in a passing cripple's lap like we're all beggars or who tries to cure us with the word of the Lord.

I fear my tantrum is having a destructive ripple effect on my fellow cripples even today. That Tiny Tim shit can be downright lethal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I was a Little Person Watching the Kentucky Derby

If I was a little person, I don’t think I could watch the Kentucky Derby without getting all pissed off. I’d watch the winning jockey soaking in the adulation and I’d really want to celebrate the success of one of my own. But I would succumb to resentment because I couldn't ignore the potential political consequences of this moment. I’d know that somewhere out there some people are using this moment to reaffirm to themselves and others that there is no such thing as tall person privilege. In America, even a little person can make it big. All they have to do is try.

And I would know that this is all a bloody goddam lie. I’m not lazy and shiftless. I just can’t ride a horse going full gallop, which makes me like 99.9999999 per cent of little people or people in general. The existence of a few rich jockeys doesn’t let tall people off the hook for examining and dismantling the tallcentric society we live in! And now this guy wearing satin knickers and a beanie is only going to make it harder for our marginalized voices to be heard!

I know myself well enough to know that’s how I'd be. That’s one of the suckiest things about being crippled. It’s hard to cheer on your crippled brethren because doing so can be a slippery slope.

And if I was a little person, I wonder how I’d feel about robot jockeys. In the parts of the world where camel racing is a hot sport, these days the camels are almost always ridden by little robots specially designed for that purpose, instead of by little people. No doubt this will soon be the case with horse racing. If I was a little person, part of me would be saddened and outraged seeing a long line of forlorn jockeys at the unemployment office. But a part of me would say, “Welcome back to the ghetto, boys. Don’t worry, we’ll still take you in.”

But there is one employment advantage little people have over other cripples. I bet they have an easier time finding acting jobs. But that’s only because it’s a lot easier for a Hollywood producer to stick a big fucking star like Denzel Washington in a wheelchair or give him sunglasses and a white cane than it is to turn him into a little person. Although in the movie Forrest Gump they amputated the legs of Gary Sinise using computer tricks. So I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they’ll use computer tricks to scrunch Denzel Washington down into a little person. And then Denzel Washington will win an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of Rumplestilskin.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)