Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sesame Street v. Do The Right Thing

Works better than it should.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Easy To Be Hard

It isn't that I don't find value in cynicism, that's not it at all.

In fact, I think it's healthy to approach a number of things with a healthy dose of "erm, I don't know about this" (i.e. - politicians, public restrooms, politicians in public restrooms*).

It's just when we turn what has become an overwhelming amount of collective cynicism onto a private citizen that is becoming a little disconcerting for me. It has become a knee-jerk reaction to assume the worst about people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm just as guilty as the next guy, especially when it comes to vapid celebrities (oh, you know who I'm talking about). And, no I'm not talking about the obvious miscreants** the world has to offer.

Specifically, I'm thinking about the Miss Teen South Carolina debacle. Now, I'm asking to put your biases aside for a frikkin' moment here. Yes, she's a pageant monkey; yes, she's from the South; yes, she's all of 16 or whatever. And yes, she spewed a whole lot of nonsense up there on the national teevee.

The ensuing presumptions about her, however, are worrisome: That she's dumber than a box of rocks; that she's representative of The Current Regime's failures with the national education program (which deserves a hell of a lot more cynicism than this); that this kid is a shining example of the kind of idiot children currently threatening to overtake this country, upon graduation, assuming they have one, and drag it further down the drain.

I mean, where do we get off? Here's a kid, on National TV, standing next to Mr. Jessica Simpson (I hear the little ladies--namely, one of my younger sisters--still find him "cute"), is asked a question that isn't your usual run-of-the-mill pageant fare (remember such softball lobs like "how would you change the world?"), and then she blanks under that pressure.

Isn't that embarrassment enough? Whatever happened to giving someone the benefit of the doubt? I know that a little of that goes a long way, else you end up a patsy for the rest of your life, but how is extending a bit of sympathy in this instance going to kill us?

I don't know. I've always been a little sensitive when it comes to this sort of thing, but this tendency of ours was truly brought home to me when Craig Ferguson announced publicly that he wasn't going to do any further Britney Spears jokes about half a year ago.

When someone who makes his living making fun of situations and the people in them thinks we've gone too far with such things...maybe we should take notice.

PS - I can't find it right now, but I read a brief interview with her high school principal, who said she was an honor roll student, who had taken college prep courses, and that she was an exemplary student. - tbo

*See what I did there? With the thing and the other thing? - tbo

These guys are doing a bunch of counter-programming during that fest. Support in any way you can, and help the fight against hate music. - tbo

Ahh, Refreshing: A Like Minded Individual

I know many of you are bound to disagree, but the AV Club's Nathan Rabin generally agrees with my take on Freddy Got Fingered (I say as if I'd presented it to him before he wrote his column).

Gotta say, I'm thoroughly enjoying this series of columns, Mr. Rabin has already covered a number of movies I have held dear (Joe v. The Volcano, Pennies From Heaven), and a few others I was generally amused by (Waterworld/The Postman; sorry Joe, no grand defense of Cliffhanger, yet)...and now this.

Recommended reading.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Para Mi Tio: Jesus Manuel "Papo" Guerra

On December 25th, 1953, Jesus Manuel Guerra was born.

The last of the Guerra-Parrilla clan, he entered screaming into the hostile circumstances that was that family's life.

He was my uncle, on my mother's side. A little after 5p today, he had passed on. He was diabetic, and had been on dialysis for the last few years. One of the medications they'd placed him on while on dialysis exarcebated the possibility of internal bleeding, and it was due to complications related to this that led to the coma he lapsed into starting last Saturday. He was taken off of life support today, he died within a half hour of that event.

Typically, this happened amidst a string of good news he'd been receiving lately: The ability to climb stairs without the aid of a walker, a more chipper disposition, and more energy than anyone in his family had seen in some time.

He was my uncle. And more, much more.

My first memory of interacting with him stems from early childhood. He was introduced to me, and, he had a large physique. Being a mere sprat, and not knowing better, I compared him to some pachyderm, elephant or hippo, I don't remember. He laughed ruefully, and said "yeah, you wait and see." He was right.

Not much stands out from the period where my mother, my two younger brothers and I lived with him, in Denver, after leaving PR and before heading to Germany.

No, the important stuff happened when I returned, and flawed as he was, as selfish and misguided as he could be, he still recognized something within me. It's likely that mom let him know of events in Germany, or he'd asked what my shiner was about, who knows? All I know is that he immediately took me under his wing, and for the next seven years he provided an emotional and literal respite from life in Colorado Springs.

He was the first to encourage my creative side. He was the one who made sure that my foundation in music appreciation was built upon properly. He was the one who made ridiculous home made movies featuring asinine and sophomoric humor (I remember yelling "my testes! my testes!" and holding up some silly putty at one point, I forget if there was a context or not). He was the first non-nuclear family member of the TBO Fan Club.

He was also the kind of uncle who'd introduce you to porn, made insane mixed tapes, gave lascivious advice in how to please women. He didn't really talk about more than that, because deep down, he was just as insecure, awkward, Catholic guilt ridden, self defeatist and pleasure denying as his teenaged nephew. He told awful jokes, gloried in puns, overexplained punchlines, and believed that he could turn a party around through his sheer exuberance. Yeah, was that uncle.

He was no saint, merely human, and because of that the unconditional love he had for me and my siblings felt all the more genuine.

And I loved him back, in all of his imperfections, his frugal nature, his plain old goofy glory. I miss him terribly.

He was my uncle. He was 53 years old.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Missed You, Hissed The Lolcats

I'm sure you've seen them by now, pictures of cats getting up to their usual business, or sometimes set up to look like that's what's going on; usually there's some pithy statement superimposed over the picture...why look! There's a handy example over there to the left...Amazing that.

The things are everywhere, they've inspired spoofs, there's a sub-category known as "lolrus" (same set up as lolcats, except with walruses)...What the hell is going on?

Let me confess that I'm part of the phenomenon, elusive as the reasons may be. I've sent them around to friends and people at work who are fond of cats in general. Actually, I had a hand in coming up with the caption to that picture above (though I like my version better: "I has lost my dignity").

Essentially, these things work as a photo-realistic combination of the Garfield (the cats speak) and the Heathcliff one-panel comic strip (the cats have attitude and are usually unruly); the anthropomorphism is pretty rampant.

Which is why you either love the lolcats, or you can't stand 'em. To be honest, not all of it works for me...there are times when the humor is played at America's Funniest Home Videos levels, and then there are the captions.

It took palMynxie to point it out to me; she compared the captions with the stuff over at I can get what she means.

While Engrish is humor based on a specific culture's ignorant assumptions on how to communicate with us, there is a certain amount of...condescencion(? High handedness?) even as we recognize that our own efforts in doing the reverse would be ten times as pathetic...

So, what is the need, with lolcats, to dumb down the language about? Notice the change from my caption suggestion to what ended up being on there (though, even my version is grammatically incorrect); does it make it funnier? Is it masking the fact that the picture itself may not be that humorous? Can't these things work without the dumbed down language? (I say that the answer is yes.)

"But, it's a cat, and if it could speak odds are it'd bastardize the language, get it?" Yeah, I get it, but, frankly, the bulk of these jokes come down to the cat losing its dignity (ergo...), why add to it all?

And what is it about us that needs this? Are we all secretly becoming Mrs. Umbridge (for better impact, see it at actual size) as our culture burns itself to the ground?

In the words of Craig Kilborn: What up?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wake Up: I Mean, Come On!

Impeach, for the love of Mike, before their ooze stains us permanently!

Write your Congressperson. Donate to the cause.

Do it now, before you leave the computer to watch the SYTYCD fina--

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mixed Bag

I love Keith Knight, and I don't care who knows it. This week's laugh.

(Non-sports folk: Skip the next couple of paragraphs, until you see the phrase "my ass.")

Fuck the asterisk. Unless people are willing to go back and add one beside the names of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa for breaking the single season home run record during the period now known as baseball's Steroid Era. Because Sosa and McGuire? About as guilty as Bonds likely is for taking enhancement drugs. Purists, and especially baseball commish Bud Selig, don't like talking about that. Reason being that the Steroid Era, and the ensuing home run chase, coincided with baseball's resurgence in the general public's imagination. They were still reeling from the bad PR created by the strike earlier in the 90s.

So, Barry Bonds can be the representative scapegoat of that era, he can be the big cheater, and let the public hate and revile him for it; and the less Selig says about it, the likelihood diminishes that people will remember that this was the same commish that turned a blind eye to the excesses of the players under his regime. For the sake of the sport, of course.

Bonds' breaking of the lifetime homerun record last night, and the build up to it, has likely served as an embarrassing reminder of his role (and ostensibly, the fan's role) in the whole steroids fiasco.

And hey, is it true that the sport was once prey to methamphetamines? Oh, and what about the rumors that Babe Ruth was a coke-head?

Purity of the sport, my ass.

Lastly, in the Wake Up category: If you find yourself wondering how the US has kept itself afloat over the last six years, especially considering how much money has been spent in that time, check this out.

Basically, it's a lot like taking out a bunch of payday loans that all come due on the same paycheck, there's nowhere near enough money to go around, and you're trying to tell the creditors to fuck off, while purchasing a laser display to go with your entertainment system. Nice going, Bush!

Now, you'd think the Democrats would use this to their advantage.

Tip o' the keyboard to Matski, again.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Walking Into Spiderwebs

[Great...anyone have a fix for old No Doubt? Oh, wait, Trencher, there we go. Thank you iTunes Shuffle! Anyway, not bathos, just cobwebs, etc.--TBO]

aka: The Croquet Game

Early in A Walk in the Dark (my first solo show, for those who don't know) I share a bit of story about when I first came to the States--suburbs of Denver, to be exact--and getting a crush on the blonde blue eyed girl who lived across the street from my uncle.

The bit of story ends with me talking about the day I spent sitting and laying on the sidewalk waiting for her to come out of her home (she never did on that day).

Hindsight being 20/20, I spent some time taking a look at not just my (oh-so-pathetic) behavior, but the circumstances surrounding this incident.

I know I've spent some space here whingeing about having no love-life role models to fashion myself after (I used to think it was Woody Allen's characters in his own movies, and to an extent, that's true--no gf's with multiple adoptees for one thing--but I've come to realize that, actually, it was Albert Brooks' character in Broadcast News that I imprinted on. Not the best of choices, come to think on't.), and this is a prime example of when someone should've come up to me and said "hey, bubby, wtf are you thinking? You need confidence, and this ain't it." Assuming that my PR family would use Jewish nomenclature, of course.

The nature of my uncle's home: Every street had one, the home that was never landscaped, was run over by weeds, used that fake reddish rock stuff. Yeah, my uncle's home back then was that home. The crush's? The very opposite. I can only imagine what her parents were thinking when they noticed their little Aryan perfection pal-ing around with the hispanic boy from that house (take any racist editorials with a grain of salt, please). I do know they thought that she played with me a bit too much (or so she said that they'd said), and encouraged her to play some more with the other kids from the neighborhood.

Things get murky, not sure what's real and what's made up.

But there is one particular event that I remember vividly, and that still kinda haunts me to this day: The Croquet Game.

Up until this day, I had never, ever played croquet, and the rules were perfunctorily explained to me as best as possible, considering the language barrier. Also playing that day: The all-American boy next door. You know the type: plays quarterback really well, also blonde and blue eyed, the very picture of everything that's supposed to be right in the world. I came to hate him and his ilk.

So, the game's going on, and I'm picking it up as I go along, eventually it is explained to me that if your ball makes contact with another person's ball, you could hit it away or take a mallet's length from that ball and shoot again. Somewhere in the translation, I got the impression that the preferred thing to do was to take another shot. The crush had been the one to explain it to me, and she took the free shot.

And so did I, I kept hitting other balls, and taking the free shot (displaying the lack of cut-throat mentality that afflicts most immigrants, until they're given that first, cold, hard lesson in UStian philosophy: "Always look out for #1") and I was actually in the lead, heading towards the last wicket.

Then the all-american boy hit my ball. You know what he did, and you know it wasn't to take the free shot. He launched me into the neighbor's lawn. He and the crush laughed so hard...

You know how I am about perceived injustices, and here was one that was wrapped up in the humiliation of being laughed at and by someone who I'd been attaching romantic feelings to...

I blew up. Big. I called him a cheater, and still they laughed (likely at my accent), I slammed the mallet head into the ground repeatedly, and eventually, I started crying at the frustrated nature of the exchange (I was young, and still not familiar with the UStian preference for sublimating emotion...Exceptions to the contrary did not exist in Colorado, nor Germany, nor Seattle, by and large). I'm sure I said something about her being my friend, and not elucidating that I was objecting to being laughed at.

This essentially killed everything. The crush's parents' suggestion about not playing with me became outright mandatory, and I never hung out with her again. When I did see her around, the all-american boy wasn't far behind. Then they started holding hands, and this became the first big imprint on my romantic life in the US...No wonder I identified with that Brooks character so much.

Over time, the crush's (whoever it was) choice of the other instead of me came to be seen as an complete rejection of everything I was*, which essentially justified whatever reaction I had to that event. Looking at it from the crush's POV, this probably came to be seen as a weird reaction to her being happy, and I likely created a lot of alienated women for no reason whatsoever.

The crush scenario has repeated itself a few times over the years, and my reaction to it is not what it once was, thank the gods, but sometimes I wonder and hope that, for once, I am right in my thinking that I've outgrown making anybody uncomfortable.

The vehemence I feel at that moment of discovery, however, that may have lessened in intensity, but it's still there. Usually depending on how much energy I've invested in getting the gumption to ask.

As usual, things are so much better for me and everyone else when I don't get stuck in my head, and thankfully that has become the norm of late.

*-Never mind that as "crushes" they never knew where my head was at, they were supposed to automatically pick up on it, and choose accordingly. I know how crazy and stupid that sounds, so I don't want to see a bunch of comments going "you need to pipe up" because I know, okay? I love getting defensive before anything is actually said.-tbo

Thursday, August 02, 2007

TBO Is Brought To You By Nicogum

....right. Look, just put the dressing on top of the salad, just drown the lettuce in bleu cheese dressing, okay? Be grateful I'm eating a salad to begin with, all right, just lay off. Thank you.

Oh, hey, everyone, how's it going?

First, despite several typos to the contrary, "monies" is spelled "monies" and not "moneys". Just saying that I am aware.

Frankly, I'm a little out of sorts...Can't focus at work, irritation levels are fluctuating, though not to noticeable levels (that whole subsidy discussion? Par for the course).

What time is it? Excellent, please excuse me while I get one of these little bad boys out. Hmmm, Fruit Breeze Nicogum...It's like Raspberry Methadone...What if all drugs designed to get you off of some other drug were artificially flavored? Wouldn't that be great? New Watermelon Flavored...substitute drug something.

So, yeah, I'm doing the quitting thing with the smoking habit. And uh, yeah, it's going. It's been a little under a week, it's been kind of a weird one, I'm sure accentuated by the withdrawal. Getting my sense of smell back, which is great because now I can tell who has cigarettes to bum.

Not that I do! But it's nice to know I don't have to go bumming from complete and total strangers who don't smoke.

17 years, and this is my third attempt. This time I know what the trigger is: stress. After I'm off of the stuff, I intend to have a spare box of gum for those moments when I want to smoke but I shouldn't.

Which means in about a year, I'll need to go on the patch in order to quit chewing the gum.


oh god. Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze Fruit Breeze.