Thursday, April 26, 2007

Roundtable: Please Go Changin'

Life has been a little crazy for our dog-loving, theater-slinging, gal-about-home Suzanne, who spends her days Perfecting the Fine Art of Procrastination.

Makes her wish for a change, any kind of change. Wants to know what kind of changes you'd make in your life...

You wanna know what I'd change? I'd change it so that I'd shown up to the prom wearing a proper goddamn tuxedo, that's what I'd change! My life went to hell ever since that moment 67 years ago...oh, the pain, the humiliation...

go tell her what you'd change, while I go drink the memories away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Discipline v. Abuse

Ahhh, Salon, while there are days where your offerings are kinda stale and boring. Then, there are other days, like today, where you provide fertile nourishment for the brain. For example, the latest in Glenn Greenwald's series of media excoriations came out today.

What really got me going, though, was the essay from Heather Havrilesky (aka Polly Esther)...I was worried that after getting married, then having a baby, that Ms. Havrilesky's writing wouldn't be as cutting as it once was. That fear was allayed for a while, but today's essay (about the latest crapscandal involving Alec Baldwyn calling his daughter a rude pig) put it to rest.

I think she has a valid point (I say this as a childless single person, and fully prepared to get a bunch of responses about not knowing what the hell I'm talking about, and one about Havrilesky building a strawman to make her point)...

The question is, in this day of the nanny-state, are we becoming too worried about how parents communicate with their offspring? What is considered abuse? Keep in mind that, as Havrilesky points out, that the effect of all of this handwringing does not decrease the number of hooligans and bullies in the world. Also note that she makes a distinction between calling your kid a "worthless piece of shit" and a "rude, thoughtless little pig;" just as there's a difference between a spanking, and beating your kid with a racquet.

Anyway, curious what y'all have to say on this.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Yield:" An Amazing Race Rant

Possible Spoiler Warning!!! If nothing else, a ton of talk about The Amazing Race!!! You've been warned!!!

Hopefully that'll thin this out to the handful of people who read my blog and watch TAR...

Maybe you're like me, and you watch this show every time it's on. Maybe this is your first season, maybe it's your 11th, just like it is mine.

Regardless of where you are in this continuum, it seems pretty unanimous: The Yield Sucks. More importantly, teams on the show whining about the Yield, whether they've been subject to it or not, sucks hippo dick.

Personally, I've never been a fan of the fucking thing, and in this "all star" season, the whining has reached levels hitherto unexplored.

For those who didn't know, the Yield option was not part of the original show concept. In fact, for the first 4-5 seasons, all that was in place was a fast forward option at every leg. This was truly a good thing, because if two teams decided to go for it, there was pressure to make sure you did the task a) correctly the first time, and b) faster than the other team. If you failed at either one, you'd be screwed for time, and had to scramble back and do everything. Some teams overcame this hurdle with flying colors.

Then, the Rob and Amber season happened, and that was when the Yield, along with the "give us your clothes and your money" non-elimination rule (which, thankfully, no longer exists. All it did was force people to beg. Watching priviledged UStians begging on the streets of Calcutta isn't as much fun as it sounds), was introduced.

Simply, you reach a point in any given leg, and you're given the option to delay a team behind you an unspecified amount of time (from 15 minutes to 45 or so), giving you a cushion of time to get farther than this other team.

As if racing internationally isn't enough of a stress factor, or the possibility of having yourself not understood, or getting lost on your own...No, that's not enough, now you have other teams trying to screw you over to contend with. As a means of creating conflict out of whole cloth, it works. But is it necessary? I'd argue not.

Here's the thing: As much as I hate it, it's an officially sponsored rule, so it's part of the game. A sort of "go directly to jail, do not pass go" thing.

Does that stop the whining? No. What's worse is the hippocritical stance that if another team does it to you, then that team's character is now obviously in question (as opposed to if you got to it first, and doled it out to another team, you're just trying to play the game). One of the current contestants invoked some bullshit called "Yield Karma" a couple of weeks ago. It's annoying, I tell you.

Yesterday's episode introduced a new wrinkle to the "Yield" aspect.

Danny & Oswald (aka, Team Chacha, my hope for the eventual winner) found themselves in a dilemna: They were quickly running out of money, they were first to the next challenge, and the other team with them (Dustin & Kandice, aka The Beauty Queens, aka BQs) had already used the Yield. Meaning that Chachacha could use the Yield on the BQs, but not vice versa.

Chacha did a very clever thing: Offered the use of the Yield in return for money. The implied threat was that if the BQs didn't comply, the Yield would be used on them. BQs thought this over, and wisely offered $45 dollars (Chacha should've haggled) to have the Yield used on Eric & Danielle (aka Team The Frat and the Pink - she's one of those - aka, Frink). Frink had already been subject to the BQs Yield, this'd be the second time they'd been Yielded this season.

Chacha accepted, and deal went down like they'd negotiated, and then all kinds of stupid shit started happening: Charla & Mirna (aka Chmirna) became all self-righteous (there's a whole other entry dedicated to the annoyance that Chmirna represents, but I'll let someone else take that assignment); the BQs behaved as if they weren't behind the notion of yielding Frink; Frink offered a ton of violence visited upon Chacha...

It was how Chacha reacted to their own actions that rankled the most...Instead of just taking the money and dealing with their act as one borne of necessity, they put on the biggest display of LatinoAmerican Catholic guilt ever seen since...hell, you think of something.

They became whiny, self-abusive, and really bitchy at each other. They made poor decisions, like keeping their lousy cabby even though he'd repeatedly screwed them over. They didn't get directions to places they were going. All in all, they did the very opposite of things that made them one of my favorite teams ever.

Do you know what they blamed? "Yield Karma." Which is bullshit, at least under the terms they believe the concept of karma to operate. First of all, because the Yield is a part of the game, this is a competition, after all, so there is nothing inherently wrong in deciding to profit from it. That act, in the parlance of Buddhism, becomes a neutral external stimulus. It just is, neither good or bad.

Chacha's karma comes in how they reacted to the event (and please, this is greatly simplified for this discussion, so don't come a-pickin at me if you take issue...This is pointedly not in my Buddhist blog). They could've just sailed through the rest of the day, instead, they became bogged down in negativity.

Whose fault is that?

Chacha ended up not getting eliminated, thank the gods, and in the episode's exit interviews, their attitude bespoke of a decision that they'd already paid that "karmic tab." Good, I hope they're serious and recover.

The fact remains that the stupid manipulative rule upsets me enough to put this much fucking thought into it, though.

Perhaps that's the most annoying thing of all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Allow Me To Step Aside...

I generally don't write about national calamities like the one from this past week...Not unless it affects me directly, or some boob (like the Chimp in Charge) comes up and does/says something so head-jarringly moronic that something must be said (and even this depends on the occasion. Gods know I could've said something after the CIC decided to comment on the right to bear arms not even 4 hours after it all went down).

I do, however, look for the comments from those who may have been even tangentially involved in such events. This time, I didn't need to look far...

Egg's a dear friend, and current co-worker, who happens to have VT as her alma mater, and on her blog, you get a sense of how we as human beings tend to deal with calamities of this nature, from avoidance, to shock, to, well, ruminative (I giggle with glee over one of the revelations).

Check it out; scroll down to the entry from 4/16, and immerse.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Brain Cancer I Can Deal With

The deforestation of the planet? Yeah, not so much.

Sadly, we're probably gonna have to wait until the new Prez takes over before we can find out more about this.

I sense a "Why did I give in to you motherfuckers?" post coming from Deni.

Roundtable: Me First! Gimme Gimme!

Or: The US is the Terrell Owens of the World

I agree with Steph, the Incurable Insomniac, the US, as a whole, has the mind and attitude of an adolescent jock-bully. You know the kind. Aggro, always bragging about the football team, regardless of their record, and as likely to kick your ass as spit on you.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we've yet to reach the point where we turn into overweight, balding, used-car salesmen. We could still become that earnest, "ah-shucks" boy next door who knows how to party. Or that kinda quiet really cool guy who's in a band and knows a whole bunch of pointless movie trivia...

Okay, not likely, but we can dream.

Do you agree with this characterization? Do you try to keep up with the Jones'? How exactly did we become this way? Tell it to the Steph.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm Glad Someone's Noticing

After being derided, or, at least, looked at askance whenever I get on my soapbox about the UStian government invading its citizens' privacy at an alarming rate, it is refreshing to see that some people with credentials are noticing the same things I am.

Someday the skeptics will listen.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Roundtable: (x + Brick Wall)Cannon = Kersplat! x = ?

It's pretty easy, really: Joe suffers from Tyra Banks overload, Banks goes into a cannon aimed at a brick wall. Boom, kersplat.

Who would you place in the cannon?

RIP - Kurt Vonnegut

Hi ho.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

1) Adrift

The other extreme to being cosmically busy, is, of course, the doldrums of "I've got nothing to do."

Madness seeps in; due to the fact that you're home earlier than usual, you start going stir crazy; the usually benign roommate becomes the target of aggravation that is made up of whole cloth.*

"Aren't I supposed to be..." The thought dies out. This is how you end up taking whatever project comes down the pike, regardless of quality. You string up enough projects taken out of desperation, next thing you know, it's seven years later, and you've nothing to really show for it, except a killer rep and more fodder for the resume.

You buy new music to fill the void. You queue up just under 400 movies to be delivered to you. You watch back to back episodes of The Wire because, simply, you can.

*Well, that and, really, you shouldn't be living with anyone who's not romantically involved.

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2) Le Dives

It helps to have a back up routine, one that you can fall back on once the rehearsals are over...You get done with work, why not grab a beer?

Maybe catch a game while you're at it. Maybe flirt with the bartender, if she's cute and amenable. If not, shoot the shit with the guy bartender, and the other regulars lined up at the bar.

Maybe one of the regulars is carrying some merchandise with him, and if that's the case, you just step out and around the corner. Twenty minutes later, you're ready for whatever the evening will bring to you.

And if that bar happens to be a dive? All the better.

Yuppies and meat market monkeys have no appreciation for the dive bar. It's really simple: You don't go there to flirt, you don't go there to shmooze, you don't go there because the latest local It band will be playing. No, you go there because everyone else there just wants to hang out, drink (or just get drunk), and do nothing but talk bullshit with other like minded individuals.

I love dive bars. Sadly, they are a dying breed here in the town of Sea.

For the last ten years, old, funky, charming portions of town have been developed in much the same manner Joan Rivers gets facelifts. Yeah, yeah, it's progress and all that crap, but what these neighborhoods are being replaced with are nesting areas for the young and rich.

Does this town really need that many ugly faux-brick and glass monstrosities?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about density. I've been ranting that this town needs to accept its impending big-city-dom, for eons now. But at this price? If you've ever been to the Fremont neighborhood before the year 2000, you wouldn't recognize what has become of that place now.

Right. Okay. One of the unfortunate side-effects of all this development is that the dive bars tend to evaporate along with the neighborhood. Businesses run on the model of catering to the local population usually have to deal with an unearthly drag in cash flow as the locals are forced to move.

It's not as if dive bars don't have enough challenges as it is.

The Nightlight had to adapt to the moneyed youths that were suddenly pouring into their place. The Frontier Room and the Rendezvous both remodeled for the same reason. The Family Affair (probably the standard for dive bars in Seattle) was forced to shut down due to the economic depression that took place in the aftermath of 9/11. Marsbar/Cafe Venus (which partially took over a dive bar legendary in the Punk scene: The Storeroom), remodeled. Hell, even Targy's, the only dive bar on top of Queen Anne Hill, remodeled and stopped serving swill. Jade Pagoda, gone. Ernie Steele's, aka Eileen's, gone. Sorry Charlie's, gone.

That's only a small sampling...

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3) RIP - Lobo Saloon

Now, those places that adapted are still open. Bully for them. Really, you can't blame the owners for deciding to make more money. It's understandable.

Witness the latest dive bar casualty: The Lobo. Established in 1972 (or 1974, depending on 1)who you talk to, and 2)their level of sobriety at the moment), The Lobo shut its doors for the final time on March 31st, 2007.

Yes, the neighborhood that surrounds it is changing drastically. Really, though, it was the smoking ban that killed the place dead.

Used to be (god, I'm old), you showed up at around 6:30 and the early evening crowd would be lingering on, and the switch to night crew was about to begin. This was my niche. The 'tween.

I'd come in, relax, and then get ready to do whatever was next on the agenda: date, rehearsal, performance, being an audience member, whatever.

Then came that fateful, cold, December night.

The effect on the Lobo was immediate. Weekday nights were barren of clientele. Bartenders who were once fairly busy, were now watching the M's lose in typically bored fashion. The cute women bartenders were replaced with increasingly humonculous males.

The Lobo didn't even make it 18 months after the ban was enacted.

The majority owner has been bought out, the new head (who has successfully turned a couple of other bars around) is turning it into a sports bar. The place will be named Victory, for pete's sake.

Will I still go? Likely. It's not like there's much they could do to the place, but still...I'm going to have to get used to a lot more "brah" from well intentioned frats/yuppies...

That is, unless I find some other place to go to.

Cherish the Canterbury. Cherish The Comet. The Streamline Tavern. Honeyhole. Bus Stop. REbar. The Zoo.

Yes, even cherish Targy's.

S'long, Lobo.

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Roundtable: These Are The Days Of Miracle And Wonder

Or at least, they're supposed to be...I mean, by this point in time, we're supposed to have cars that run on garbage, hovering skateboards, the beginnings of cyborg technology. That's on the happy end.

At the other extreme, it's a full on war between man and machine, with both parties able to travel back in time. Or a bunch of replicants running around with fake snakes.

But, nooooo! Instead, what do we have? SUVs, emoticons and sky-rocketing gas prices. Hell, we don't even have a decent Lasertag league. Wasn't Rollerball-madness supposed to take over the globe? What about giant space-bound fetuses?


It seems that Mr. Stephen V. Funk, Esq. III, PhD, ASCAP, EMI, PDQ shares in this massive disappointment. What dreams were shattered for you when tomorrow turned out as bland as today?