Tuesday, July 31, 2007

B. Jones: Listen Up, Seattlites!

[Edited to add: Never has the blog entry and the comments field been more schizophrenic. Those fearing 20+ messages of nothing but sports talk should take a dive in. --tbo]

First, the link I am referring to; then I add my own half-baked rantings, at best tangentially based on said link:

Do you know what kind of cities have their teams taken away? Cities like Baltimore. Cities like Cleveland. Cities like Charlotte.

"Cities like Los Angeles." Shut up, JJ.

"Cities like New York." That was like 500 years ago, Joe.

"Charlotte got a new team in less than a decade." This is true, Deni, but then it becomes a matter of tradition. Tradition's important for fans of organized sports, wouldn't you agree Deni, even in this entirely fictionalized conversation I'm having with everyone? "Why, yes, TBO, yes, I most definitely agree." Thanks, man.

"But Cleveland and Baltimore both got screwed out of their teams by ownerships who were too greedy to do right by their teams' fans, right?" Yes, very true Stine, quite astute, actually, as it has a lot to do with why I ask the question. But, I'll get to that later. Yes, lyamhound?

"Look, I'm getting the sense that this is gonna be yet another loud blog entry about the Sonics-ownership's threat/plan to take the Seattle basketball teams to Oklahoma City...Well, I don't know how many times I have to say it, but I just don't care about organized sports, any of them. They're a waste of time, and money that could otherwise be spent on the arts, where I happen to dwell most of my actual and mental energy. Let 'em move, I say."

You raise a couple of points here that I'd like to argue against, like, what makes you think that money is gonna go to the arts? Even when this town was rich in imaginary money, the fraction spent on the local arts scene, particularly at the level you and I delve in, was pathetic. What makes you think that's gonna change because Seattle would lose a couple of basketball teams?

But, let's ignore that for the time being, and instead, let's think about cultural currency.

Now, let's think of some cities in the US that are considered cultural metropolises...LA, NYC, Chicago, Miami (particularly Latin culture, but once upon a time, it was a hotbed), Boston (due to the colleges there)...anywhere else? San Francisco, Atlanta...Okay, sure, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City and New Orleans are given passes based on their past, by and large, but I'd argue against them being metropolises...All right all right, Cleveland too, Atul, the Rock and Roll Museum is there after all, but again, metropolises. JJ, I do see you over there wanting to pipe up, but let me get to something resembling a point first.

Part of my point resides in the fact that most of the cities we've just named have teams from at least 3 out of the 4 major organized sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey) housed within their city limits. In fact, out of the first seven cities named, all of them do.

And so does Seattle. Okay, JJ, go ahead.

"Are you seriously calling Seattle a major metropolis comparable to New York? Or Chicago? San Francisco?" No...but it does have the potential to be up in that echelon, and in the not too distant future, also. Besides, 14th national market's nothing to sneeze at...ain't great, but it's not bad. "You're dreaming." Maybe.

What I'm getting at, though, is that having at least three major league teams in your city has just about become part of the criteria in being a proper big city. Even though you wouldn't necessarily call Denver, Phoenix or Houston major cultural hubs, you can't say that they're small potatoes either.

And Seattle can be both. Why settle for also-ran status?

"Okay, but, LA doesn't have an NFL team. Isn't that the biggest of the organized sports? Why doesn't that decrease their cultural status?" Good point, Miss Uz J, but you already know the answer to that. If Hollywood was placed in North Dakota, instead of on the coast, then maybe you could say that LA was a cultural backwater ("You still could."). As it is, they have that, plus two of every other organized sport, so...Pity LA NFL fans, though, they have no history, they have no tradition...

"This has got to be the lamest excuse for kowtow-ing to a bunch of rich white motherfuckers I've ever heard."

Look, A of all, in terms of comparison, would you rather be akin to New York City, or Portland? "Seattle." Good answer, but you know what I mean.

B of all, nowhere did I say that we should cave in to Bennett. Fuck that. I'm saying we should fight for what's ours--what's been ours all along. Here's an organization that is helping us to do just that. Vote for keeping the Sonics, y'all.

The Sonics/Storm are an integral part of what it means to live in Seattle, and the loss of those teams would definitely affect city-morale. Ask the lesbians who support the Storm (or ask the lesbians in the team about how they like the idea of Oklahoma City). Ask the burgeoning NW Basketball talent pool, who hail from the less-priviledged parts of town. Ask random boneheaded sports enthusiasts with blogs. Let's be brats.

What self-respecting big city would allow some out of town Okie to come and take one of its teams away, willingly?

I beg you, let's not make Seattle the first answer to that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TVDoaN: So Far, No References To "Champions"

As I watch the CBS late night offerings, I keep thinking that I'm flashing back about 7-8 years whenever I see this promo for a new TV show.

Have you seen it? It's about a vampire who is a private eye in modern day Los Angeles. It deals with all of the pluses and minuses of being a creature of the night, has something of a smart-alecky feel to it, and the lead is this tall, dark-haired brooding type who wears a long coat.

It's called Ange--no, sorry--it's called Moonlight.


Does this guy also have a yen for bratty blondes? Is Joss Whedon's Mutant Enemy getting royalties?

I could go on the predictable rant about the dearth of imagination in Holly--bored now; this just takes the cake. Craig Ferguson, while talking about the up-fronts (where the major networks debut the fall season), used to joke that really the networks were unveiling the shows they were going to cancel by November.

Here is candidate number one. It may or may not last longer than the Geico Caveman sitcom.

This is akin to having NBC unveil "Police Soul" three seasons after ABC's disastrous run w/"Cop Rock" (levide, do you still have that clip?).

The thing is, who does CBS expect to attract with this show? Whedon-fans are bound to look at this thing with proper levels of disgust. Also, it's not like Angel drew massive numbers...fiercely loyal numbers, but not enough to...well, that may not be true.

CBS is placing this during their "weak imitation shows" juggernaut on Fridays (home to The Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs), so expectations aren't exactly high.

Still though...what? I'm sorry, but this is too direct a rip-off...this isn't even an homage, or a redux of a classic (like "Night Stalker" a few years back)...This looks like Angel, without the personnel, charisma (as in "magnetism", not "carpenter" and I sincerely hope she's not this desperate), and wit.

Witness the latest batch of promos, which feature the vampire in question ("Mick St. John"...I mean, really), being interviewed. "What's it like being a vampire?" asks the off-screen interviewer. "Being a vampire sucks," is the reply.

Much like being contracted to do this thing, I'll wager.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Me & The Old Man

[Warning: This is gonna be one of those soul-baring blog entries that make people squeamish, so, if you're one of those, you might wanna skip and go to whatever your next destination would normally be. Having said that, I'm not looking for sympathy, this isn't bathos, this is me rooting through the cobwebs of my mind...that is all.--tbo]

The 7th anniversary of my dad's passing happened earlier this year...

I only bring this up because I'm going through yet another moment of reckoning about the old man. This is part of the process of grieving, and it's something you never really stop doing...

I think I've hinted around that he was an abusive alcoholic; if not, well, he was an abusive alcoholic, and as the oldest of the five kids, I was the usual target for this vehemence. Like most subjects to this kind of treatment, I used to take the abuse.

It couldn't have come at a worse time either. Already reeling from the culture shock of moving from PR, then to Denver, then to Nurnburg, DEU (living among the army brats), figuring out just how rigged US society was, last thing I needed at the time was the soul crushing, confidence draining abuse of an angry substance abuser.

Thankfully, my mother was undergoing a sort of awakening at the time (her father was worse than my dad - her husband), and towards the end of our stay in Germany, she started letting me know that I should start building an emotional shield from the bullshit.

Easier said than done, but at least it let me know that what was coming at me had very little, if nothing, to do with me.

The last time I simply accepted the abuse happened within 48 hours of our leaving Germany...a tale too disturbing and subjective to get into here (it involves a public beating and berating through downtown, rush hour, Nurnburg). I was 13 at the time.

In the following four years, my level of resistance grew exponentially until the climactic fist-fight/wrestling incident in Colorado Springs.

It is the nature of this resistance that is currently the focus of my attention...Because I find that it is informing how I deal with interactions of an argumentative nature. Thankfully, most of those interactions tend to be settled early and amicably. The longer it goes on, though, the sooner my patience and good nature dissipates.

So far, there a couple of triggers that I can recognize in hindsight:

*There is a percieved injustice (worse if it's egregious). Actually, more than anything, if it's being done in a high-handed manner...that shit will burrow under my skin and embed itself like that parasite that climbs into your uretha and hooks on for its dear life.

*If my point, whatever it may be, is never recognized in the course of the argument; or if it's dismissed without any kind of consideration; if it isn't discussed on its merits...That's just about as bad as the high-handed thing.

You'll probably note that the solution to these triggers is communication, and more of it. Really, it's a matter of approaching a subject as equals, or if a snag is hit, then it's a matter being able to step back and approach the matter from a different angle.

You'll also note that the electronic medium is not exactly known for providing clear, distinct communication...

You may also be wondering why it is that I am sharing these things, especially when I claim this isn't for the sympathy...I'm not sure. I think that by noticing, studying and then mentioning it all, it would increase my awareness and force me to take a step back sooner rather than later when things get heated. May not take right away, but one can hope.

And it seemed like a big revelation at the time; that my more stubborn and pernicious instincts can be traced to a more violent time in my past, and then be able to identify exactly what it could be traced to...

As for me and Pops, after the wrestling/fist fight, I endured a few more hours-long diatribe, but the spell had essentially been broken, and the agita between us went undiscussed for a number of years.

Until I left. On the night before leaving the family for good (as I was moving to Seattle), I went back to bid everyone adieu. At one point, my father and I went into the same room we'd ended the wrestling/fist fight, and we awkwardly faced each other.

"I just want you to know, that despite anything that has happened over the years, I love you and I'm proud of you."

This was the only acknowledgement of the bullshit he'd put me through, and I could've asked for more...But really, it was enough. Enough for me to forgive, at least.

Yadda to the bladdah to the yappyyapyap.

Wake Up: Noticing the Discomfort

I mean, I understand the impulse to just sweep the badness under the "out of sight, out of mind" rug...

There just comes a point, as evidenced by Sereena X over at Metaphor Voodo, where you have to notice you're tripping on the bulge whenever you walk past it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

In About 12 Hours...

I plan to crack open the final installment in the Harry Potter series...I may not sleep til morning.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wake Up: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept Terrorism As A Fact of Life

Bruno & The Professor's Matski has it right.

September 11th, 2001 was, in essence, the US's initiation to global citizenry.

Monday, July 16, 2007

In Defense of The iPod

This will probably be one of the last times anyone will defend the iPod in a blog ever; especially since iPhone-bashing will become the new craze.

But, defend the bloody thing I will, because people I otherwise respect, musically speaking, keep taking it upon themselves to trash what has become one of the most indispensable toys I've ever bought.

People like palDeni, who, while posting about the joys and virtues of buying albums on vynil, still takes time out to trash-talk iPod owners.

Normally, I wouldn't care, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that there's been a dearth of personal rants on this blog lately, and this seems to've given me a head of steam, so here goes:

1) "I don't want to spend all that money when I already have a turntable/boombox/home stereo system/walkman."

Fair enough, but then, for those who do not have a turntable, buying one can be as prohibitive as buying an iPod...and considering that most of the population essentially liquidated their album collections in the switch to the CD format...

So really, the only comparison here is to the CD Walkman, which were equally pricey when they first showed up on the market...Now, the antiPods would have you believe that the sound quality's better (I'll get to that shortly), and the obvious retort is simply "I don't have to carry 3 - 15 CDs for a full day's listening anymore."

2) "Sound quality on the ipod is for shit." Or as Deni states, "[listening to music on your]iPod makes it sound like you are listening to it on an AM radio."

Uhm, yeah...considering the antiPods claim to've never used one of these things, one wonders how they tried it out...In a store display where others have been screwing with the dials? A friend blasts a song selection for them? How?

That tangent aside, I think these critics assume that iTunes (not to be confused with the iPod itself, even if they're essentially married to each other, another point for later) only transfer songs in the inferior MP3 format. Again, wrong.

The iPod owner has a choice when first using it, transfer using MP3, or using Apple's AAC(m4a) format. This format takes up more space than the MP3 format does, and the reason is quality. Most people are concerned with making the most of what space they have, so they switch to the nearly universal MP3. Real music aficionados stick with the m4a, which is akin to CD quality recordings. Especially with the more advanced headphones out there. (Earbuds rule.)

Even so, the MP3 format isn't as horrendous as statements like Deni's make it out to be.

(While I'm here: Sound quality on cassette tapes isn't the best, but it brought us the Mixed Tape, didn't it? iTunes has made the entire mixing phenomenon soooo much easier to do, and that can't be wrong.)

3) Earlier in the same paragraph, Deni states: "Not having anything to open or the lack of having a cover to look at the first time you sit and listen to an album just doesn't appeal to me."

It doesn't appeal to me either, and probably not most audiofiles.

Here, Deni makes the fetishists' argument about ownership of music. Which excludes people who are tired of dedicating so much storage space to either vynil or CDs.

And again, this is personal preference, not the object's fault.

Me, I'm a confessed fetishist. I too love the process of opening up the CD/Album and looking at the artwork, and the excitement of placing it is onto/into the stereo is palpable. Equally important is protection against the digital revolution's tendency to either break down or get completely erased. Should either of these things happen, I wanna know that I can get the majority of it back in there at the same level of quality as before.

But I'm not about to start yelling at people to keep on buying the damn things. It's like convincing Deni to abandon his Braves, or getting JJ to stop liking football, Lyam from talking about SGM, or Stine from enjoying sex. Just not gonna happen.

3a) The thing about buying it online, beyond mere convenience, is that, as is becoming increasingly true, you get to cull the wheat from the chaff. I mean, seriously, we've all bought albums that had one great song while the rest sucked ass. Even from artists you know and love.

At $20 a pop, that's too much of a gamble to spend on either CDs or vynil. Buck a song starts looking pretty good for the general populace.

But all of that has more to do with the music industry than with the iPod, or iTunes, the real target of this critique...iTunes is serving as an accelerant, sure, but we'd still be talking about this had Napster remained a force to be reckoned with.

4) The iPod breaks down frequently.

Can you name any piece of technology that doesn't? I've had to reboot this bloody computer twice today, and yet I'm not griping about it...it's part of the price tag.

Besides, I've only experienced one instance of a "typical" breakdown: The frozen iPod. I was doing something non-music related and it froze. Couldn't turn it off, and the fact that there isn't a physical reset option is kinda frustrating. I had to wait for the batteries to die down in order to recharge it.

However, when I did, it ran beautifully again.

And what if that hadn't worked? I could mail it back to Apple, and they'll charge me $50 for my trouble (as long as it is fixable).

Compare that price to doing the same with a DVD player, home stereo system, or laptop...

5) Not a rebuttal, but stressing the value of not carrying music around with me...

Do you have any idea how many CDs I've lost or damaged because I had to bring it with me? Can you imagine the cost the iPod has saved me even in less than a year of usage?

"Well, maybe you shouldn't bring so much music with you."

You're missing the point. The point is accessibility. But if you want to limit your choices to 3 cds a day, that's your prerogative.

I'll stop here, even though I could start going off about video capabilities, the value of podcasts, and iPod's new downloadable dishwashing feature...

Anyway, antiPods, just drop it. Your vehemence is about as tin-eared as blog entries extolling the virtues of the things. You don't like it, fine.

Your arguments, however, are baseless, so, really, just drop it, okay?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wake Up: War Fatigue? War Fatigue?!?

This is taken from thinkprogress.com:

Today in his press conference, a reporter asked President Bush why he is “so resistant” to a “change of course in Iraq,” even though that’s what the American public is “clamoring for.” Bush dismissed the reporter’s question, stating that he isn’t surprised “that there is deep concern amongst our people,” but ascribed it to “war fatigue.” “It’s affecting our psychology. I’ve said this before. I understand that.”

“War fatigue” is not the problem in Iraq. On every metric, the administration’s efforts in Iraq are failing. More than 3,600 Americans have been killed in Iraq, and Bush’s escalation still has not had any significant effect on reducing the violence. Additionally, al Qaeda has “rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since the summer of 2001.”

In January, Bush claimed that Americans “sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible image of violence on TV every night,” adding that “the psychology of the country…is somewhat down because of this war.” First Lady Laura Bush has also argued that “no one suffers more than their President and I do.”

Americans don’t need psychological counseling; they need an end to the war in Iraq.

(for vidclip, click here)
more to come--tbo

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wake Up: From The Mouth of Mr. Olbermann

"I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war. I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient. I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors. I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent. I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought. I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents. I accuse you of handing part of this republic over to a vice president who is without conscience and letting him run roughshod over it." -- Keith Olbermann, 7/3/2007 (for a full transcript, go here)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

We The People...

"[The neoconservative right's]political strength...comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out." --Matt Taibi

I'll let people who can say this shit better than I can do the honors:

Sidney Blumenthal

Joan Walsh

What will it take for us to get off of our asses, people?