Monday, January 28, 2008

"All the women who are independent; Throw your hands up at me" -Destiny's Child

I read an article on CNN's political blogger that the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Women feels abandoned and betrayed by Ted Kennedy after his endorsement of Barack Obama.

I am not out of my mind, I hope, when I announce that I find it hilarious that they felt compelled to comment on a stodgy old white dude backing a hip young black dude. Dude is the operative word here.

If Nancy Pelosi came out and backed Barack Obama I would say they should be upset, betrayed and abandoned. But it isn't Pelosi, it is FUCKING TED KENNEDY. This guy, as they pointed out, was late to the table on Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave Act and you are shocked and surprised that he endorsed a dude.

I don't know how to say this. But NOW should have come out and said, "Hey look at that, a fucking guy, endorsing yet another fucking guy to be president. Figures. Guess we will have to do this one on our own. Come on Ladies." Then if they could throw on some bandanas and toss a rivet gun over their shoulder it would make it awesomer.

Personally I don't like Hillary Clinton; not because of her being a woman (I voted for Libby Dole in the Republican Primary when she ran). I am not voting for her because she sent her ex-president husband (who I also voted for) out against the opposition like a fucking bull dog.

If Hillary is supposed to be a strong-minded woman candidate she can't fall back on her Hubby as the shin-kicking heel. She has to get out there and make me want to vote for her. I liked Bill Clinton but I don't want him to be president again, I want something new and exciting. And she has to reel him in if she is going to make me believe she is it.

What NOW should be doing is making Hillary a viable candidate without Bill hawking her like a cheap rolex on 59th and 6th, and get out there empowering and activating the women in the country to vote.

I mean Christ, Ted Kennedy? I can't believe anybody honestly thought that a Kennedy was going to endorse her; he is a Kennedy and they aren't renowned for their... progressive women's rights stances.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Ain't that news, man aint that news?" -Sam Cooke

What does it say about me that I peruse the splash page and the news item that sucks me in is that the Oscars have announced the nominees.

In a follow up to my recent post on Atonement I am delighted that Chris Hampton received the nomination for Atonement.  What a gem of a movie.  Also I love that Saorise Ronan got a nomination for best supporting actress.  

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"I'm sorry; Two words I always think..." -Feist

I suppose that before I get into the meat and potatoes of the post here I have to give a shout out to my sister Lauryn. She has goaded me into posting a review of a couple of movies that I have seen by telling me that she likes the way I write them. So blame her for the glut of writing that will be focused on the movies I have seen over the last couple of days.

I have at various points in the history of this blog posted up movie reviews. I have expressed my disdain for over the years for movies that butcher the literature of my youth, making needless edits and changes and thereby inexorably changing the story and robbing it of its magic. I have extolled the virtues of good old-fashioned mindless entertainment and I have given a review that I think I filed under the heading “Good But Who Gives a Shit.”

The common thread for all of these is expectation; because when you get right down to it expectation shapes the way I view movies. I can remember really not liking “Children of Men” because in my heart I wanted more from the movie than it was capable of delivering. By the same token, I look back fondly on movies like "Transformers" (and G-d am I saying this out loud?) "Spice Girls" because they met my very very low expectations for the film. But I would never say that "Children of Men" is worse than "Spice Girls".

Since we have a lot of ground to cover let’s get to it:

First up is Atonement; book by Ian McEwan, film directed by Joe Wright, Screenplay by Christopher Hampton.

I am a slow reader by nature. I am a very comprehensive reader as well. The end result is that I don’t spend a lot of time rereading books because I have a very good memory for them. I recently reread Susan Cooper’s, Dark Is Rising and was surprised at how much I still remembered about the story, even though it has been twenty years since I read it. Ian McEwan’s Atonement was a very difficult read for me. It took me all in about a month to get through. Not because the words were too big or difficult; but because every single page was wrought with emotional turmoil and passion. (Now admittedly I was also in the middle of Christmas Carol so I was working six, sometimes seven, days a week and found very little spare time to just sit and read.)

What McEwan does so beautifully is pack the pages full of description, which is so hard to do. I would love to call myself an earnest writer and one of the things that I have been told over and over again is describe, don’t tell. McEwan describes, in every sense of the word, the story so well.

The book itself is a little over 350 pages and divided into three parts. The first part is told from the perspective of an eleven or twelve year old girl, Briony; her sister, Cecilia, and the maid’s son, Robbie Turner. (Cecilia and Robbie are ten years older than Briony.)

The first part captured with amazing eloquence that moment in time when children became young adults. In Briony’s case, the innocence of her youth is chipped early in the day and by the end of the night completely shattered and this sets the whole story into motion. McEwan captures, through brilliant transitions in voice, the seeming gaps in maturity between the three principal characters. When we are told Briony’s story the word choices are often grander than absolutely necessary, but then that is how a twelve-year-old surrounded by adults might interpret language so it works; whereas, when Robbie’s story is being told it is kept tidy, the story really reflecting the son of the Charlady in the house. The first part culminates in a closing chapter that is infuriating and heartbreaking in equal parts. The palpable anger that I felt for Briony was astonishing to me – and I am well aware of my own book-reading flaws, which include, amongst other things, laughing out loud in public at the humorous parts.

The second part was the most difficult for me to get through. First because it the story of Robbie Turner’s evacuation from France during World War II. And second because it is just an incredibly descriptive section. I found myself having to go and reread whole sections because I was lost in the imagery that McEwan creates. It was the imagery that bogged me down and for good reason. In the story Robbie is marching to Dunkirk where the Royal Navy is evacuating over 300,000 people. What McEwan does is to make the reader very aware of the pace of this march. The whole process in the book takes maybe three days, and in the story it is almost a continuous 125 pages of incredibly lush-bordering on poetic-description of the French countryside, the horror and atrocity of war, and the fragile camaraderie that exists between soldiers.

There is a particularly gut wrenching scene where Robbie is trying to help a mother and her son avoid a German strafe and bomb mission on the retreating British forces. He is left with only a crater in the ground as the mother and son are stricken with fear and stop running.

It is the horror of war being captured through the eyes of someone whose life has gone so horribly wrong that makes you weep the hardest for the character. You are left with a real sense that Robbie is a hero, somebody who really is a good person. And not for personal gain, he does it because he, quite simply, doesn’t know any other way.

It is with part three that we get to the real essence of what this book is really about. As the name suggestions the book is about the reconciliation of grievous error. In this case a twelve-year-old lets her imagination run away with her and, in an effort be an adult before she is ready, ruin the lives of both Cecilia and Robbie. The third part joins Briony during her Parishioner year at a hospital where she is filling the role of Nightingale Nurse. This section is so hectic and the action jumps from one activity (or patient) to the next with such abandon that I was really struck by the speed that Briony must have been moving; speed that was by design and effort to outrun the shame that she felt now that she was a little older and understood what the implications of her actions are.

The thing that really sold me on the book is that it really is a heart-wrenching story. I can’t quite describe it, but anybody that has exes, or siblings or parents ought to read this so that as a minimum they understand the potential consequences their actions might have.

(I was trying to come up with a pithy way to segue into the comparison between book and movie, but alas five deleted paragraphs and some lame idioms have made me resort to a juggernaut approach.)

I made the mistake of seeing the movie first. I started reading the book, put it down, saw the movie, and then finished the book a full month and a week later. I think that the book would read faster with out the imagery and the criticism that I have of the movie.

The thing is though, that my criticism of the movie isn’t that large. First I pictured Cecilia to be more homely than Keira Knightley is capable of being, and second I thought that Romola Garai, who plays the older Briony, looked 25, and not 18. There you have it; criticism concluded.

Sometimes, when literature is being turned into a movie, I think moviemakers tend to want to change the story to make it fit the camera lens; examples of this include The DaVinci Code; The Dark is Rising, Golden Compass to name a few. Each of the examples I gave had different aspects of their story changed to make it different and change the story; in Da Vinci Code the book the church was not a bad guy, in the movie The Church was the antagonist acting through Opus Dei to thwart the Priory of Scion and Robert Langdon; Dark is Rising was an abomination and they changed the story so much that I think it is better to just pretend that it never happened; but I did make a post about it and you can find it here if you have the fortitude. Golden Compass, same thing read it here towards the bottom.

Joe Wright and Chris Hampton didn’t change a thing in "Atonement" until the epilogue that makes up the chapter titled London, 1999. And you know what? They nailed the important part and got the information to me in a way that changed very little of the story.

Here are the things that stood out to me in the movie, James McAvoy is going to be a super star; at least that is my hope. This is a guy who, in span of one movie, played three very different characters and he did it in a way that had me believing that he had gone through the life altering circumstances of the character in the book. I suppose that is what acting is all about, right? But why is it so remarkable that he did it so well and Tom Cruise keeps throwing up a regurgitated version of himself from Jerry Maguire every time he makes a movie. Maybe it was his youthful exuberance? Also I think it would astonishing to not see Saoirse Ronan or Romola Garai in the future.

One of the best transitions in the book for me was Briony’s growth from the creepy eleven-year-old who is treated like an adult but is very obviously a child, to the eighteen-year-old version that sees, with startling clarity, the errors of her past.

This transition is really well captured in the casting of Ronan and the aforementioned Garai. Ronan captures the creepy intensity of Briony at 13 as she wanders through the events, with her prejudices and fears really driving the way, until the act that cements the story. Garai has a striking innocent quality to her appearance and a great tone of voice, she is able to really exude apology with her eyes and I am still haunted by her first scene.

Quality of acting aside though, the director and cinematographer really are the stars of the show. Ian McEwan packs so many visuals into the novel and the filmmakers here really got to the heart of it and captured the book on film. The scene of two figures at the fountain, filming in the house, the march to Dunkirk, the hospital were all done with such great attention to the words that McEwan used to describe the environment—whether it is heat, or dryness, or the exhaustion that come from a long march—that it cemented this movie as a great translation.

The epitome of this for me is a scene that I have heard simply called “The Long Shot”. The scene in the book involves Robbie Turners march from somewhere in Northern France to the British Expeditionary Forces withdrawal point at Dunkirk. The text is probably twenty-five pages of marching, avoiding bombs, being in the army and survival. The Long Shot hit me like a can of film up aside the head.

The thing that makes it so remarkable is that you don’t realize what is happening until you get half way through it and then you realize, “HOLY CROW, THIS IS ALL THE SAME SHOT!” The whole shot takes about fifteen minutes, maybe a little more and it covers the walk up to Bray Dunes by Robbie Turner and Corporals Mace and Nettle.

I have read that they were under budget constraints, which is why they did it this way. Whatever the reason it works. I left the movie "Atonement" and spent the day wondering how the book was written because there was so little dialog for a large junk of the film. I remember thinking about the line that divides filmmakers and moviemakers and trying to place Atonement into a compartment that made sense: is it a film or movie, is it good or bad? I don’t think that I was able to place the magnitude of my feelings for the movie in their proper place until I had finished reading the book; now that I have, I am more appreciative of the masterwork of Joe Wright.

This is a movie that everybody who loves film should see, if for no other reason than to see the cinematography of it. It is far and away the most beautiful movie I saw last year.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

"My stupid mouth has got me in trouble..." -John Mayer

Leave it to an honest mistake to spark a big stupid fire.  

Seriously, did Golfweek really go out and put a noose on the cover of their magazine?  You know I totally support the rights of a person to make a mistake using a word on the air in the moment when your job is to provide color banter.  

But a premeditated cover designed to incite more animosity in an already touchy subject is just reprehensibly irresponsible, and it deserves a judicious response.

I really think that the publisher, the editor-in-chief and the graphic designer of the magazine should lose their jobs on this one.  I think that the magazine should lose a healthy chunk of their advertising revenue and if people boycotted and picketed the offices it wouldn't bother me at all.  What they did was stupid.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Out from the kitchen to the bedroom to the hallway; Your friend apologizes, he could see it my way" -TMBG

I am firmly entrenched in the belief that things are out of hand when a TV personality on the Golf Channel is suspended, and her network is being threatened unless they fire her.

Al Sharpton, you are out of line on this one. With Don Imus you hit the nail right on the head, you were dead on balls accurate and look where it got you. Nowhere. Imus is still on the airwaves, he had a six month vacation on his ranch and now he is back and maybe a little wiser for his lesson. But Kelly Tilghman is not Don Imus; and to say that, "Lynching is not murder in general. It is not assault in general. It is a specific racial term that this woman should be held accountable for," the reverend said. "What she said is racist. Whether she's a racist -- whether she runs around at night making racist statements -- is immaterial." (as reported on the article Tiger OK with 'lynch' remark, but Sharpton ready for battle)

But you are wrong. Originally the word Lynching referred to a Virginia justice of the peace who meted out harsher justice than was legal justifiable to... now wait for this... TORY SUPPORTERS! This is incredibly ironic to me that the first victims of lynching were probably white anglicans in the colonies.

Now I will not deny that when somebody says the word lynching I am immediately drawn to the image of burning crosses under magnolia trees and morons standing around in white robes. But that is the power of media and language. For a word to have its definition changed over time.

Is the concept of lynching specifically racist? No. You can ask the friends and relatives of Matthew Shepard, or James Maestas, both gay men who were lynched (one was white the other latino). I think and feel that lynching as an act occurs by definition when someone is killed by a mob for an offense without a trial. In the case of Shepard and Maestas being openly gay, in the context of Tilghman's comments being better at the game of golf than literally everybody who has ever played the game. But it isn't specifically racist, it is sometimes (or I will concede often) racist in the context of the 1960's and the south. But it changes where ever you go. I grew up in a region where cattle thieves were lynched.

What Sharpton is trying to do with this is to raise awareness (I imagine) and make people more aware of the words they are using and what they mean or how they are interpreted affects the message of what they are saying. I wonder if Tilghman had said, "If young players want to beat Tiger Woods in a PGA tour event a good place to start would be to take him out and beat the hell out him." If we would be having this big discussion. I don't think we would. I think it would have blown over, the twenty-five people that watch the Golf Channel would have nodded along at the dominance of the games greatest player; or maybe they would have been aghast at the open defiance towards the spirit of competition. But the key point is that we wouldn't be having a dialog.

Sharpton very specifically objects to the use of the word lynch. Which is just fucking stupid and it marginalizes the real issue of the "deep-seated" (should that be deep-seeded?) and "well cloaked" racism that IS very apparent in this country.

But seriously if we are going to be nit picky can we please get rid of the use of the "N-word" and yes I feel stupid typing that by everybody: white people, young people, dumb people, rappers, racists. Let's start there. The N-word should be banned forever from the parlance. And I wonder if all the people that marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and that support the Rainbow Coalition and the National Action Network threw their full weight behind that if it would make a difference?

Because if Don Imus got rehired by a radio station for saying the girls basketball team at Rutgers were "nappy-headed hos" and nobody talks about it anymore; I am pretty sure that Kelly Tilghman, as bad as she feels right now, is going to fade back into the pleasant obscurity of televised golf.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Why don't you fly around my pretty little miss?" -Built to Spill

This post is going to be be something else. I haven't posted pictures on here before, or rather I haven't posted my own pictures on here. But today I will; strangely I am getting my stage fright symptoms.

Today I took a flying lesson. It was through an outfit called Horizon Aviation and it was totally amazing. There is almost no way I can put this into words. So of course I will try.

First I guess I should highlight the whole day, as some of you will know I am sans automobile which means that I take the bus; the bus went right to the hanger from which I flew (what an amazing sentence to type). There was a pretty funny cast of characters on the bus, which is, I think, pretty standard for buses that go into Cranston or Warwick. Anyway at the back of the bus was an Asian couple; I am going to guess that they were Korean because RISD seems to have a pretty large Korean population, but I don't know and it doesn't really matter. One of them was flying out of the main airport (as evidenced by the suitcase that was in tow). The guy in the couple was being pretty overt about feeling up his girlfriend and the girl was damn near shamed into looking out the window the whole time. Now I am not normally a sick-o pervert that stares at this--okay I am but in this case I would have had to move or crane my body uncomfortably to not watch; and I got on the bus first so fuck 'em, free show for me. I felt bad for the girl she was pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing and I tried to keep my eyes glued to the stupid bus ads for the domestic violence group here in town; however, it is hard and so I tried to watch traffic through the opposite window or play a game on my phone.

I got off the bus and walked over to the terminal. I have this thing about public transport, I call it the one-stop-rule. Basically it means that if somebody gets off the bus one stop before me I will get off with them and just walk the extra 500, or so, feet to where I would have gotten off. Warwick, near the airport, is weird. I don't know how to describe it but if I die and end up in hell it might look a lot like Warwick, with the worst parts near the airport.

When I got to the Horizon Office (45 minutes early, yes I am insane) I said hello and sat down and started talking to the folks there. Really great group of people, funny, well-mannered by my standards which doesn't say a hell of a lot), they were all Patriots fans, and they weren't afraid to tell a dirty joke or two: so naturally I fell in love with them all, and wanted to start working with them as soon as I could, because I knew I would be hooked.

This is, you see, not my first experience in small planes. I have been in crop dusters when I was growing up, at least twice that I can remember, I have also flown in a small plane called a scitaborea up in Nome, Alaska when I was visiting a family friend. We landed that in the middle of a snow field so that we could look at some caribou up close (and I mean really up close). Point being I knew what I was in for; but what really amazed them out of their knickers was that my grandfather was a Hump Pilot during WWII.

It was pretty amazing, growing up, to hear stories from my grandfather about his flying back and forth from Kunming or Chengdu. He was also part of the Berlin Airlift and has some really amazing stories about that as well.

Anyway, I am digressing here a little bit. The point was that the guys at Horizon were impressed and I like impressing people, so yea that.

I flew in a Cessna 172, tail number N470U (or 470 Uniform). Something interesting about me is that I know the phonetic alphabet used by the Civil Air Patrol.

This particular plane was not uncomfortable, thankfully. It was however mighty snug and I sat with my arms folded so that I wouldn't interfere with the piloting of the aircraft.

We took off from runway 23 on ramp Victor (hehehe) and headed south to the Newport practice field. Let me tell you, taking off on the same runway that a Boeing 737 has landed on just before is pretty damn exhilarating. One thing that surprised me is that the plane doesn't go as fast as I thought it might need to at take-off. There is also this feeling of weightlessness as the plane bumps through the air on the initial ascent. It was pretty great.

This is me flying a plane. I know it might seem frightening, me flying a plane when I don't even drive a car, and trust me flying and trying to look that damn good was really hard work.

I don't quite know how to describe this. So I will use my baser language skills. IT FUCKING ROCKS! Flying a plane might be the most fun I have had in my clothes. It feels like and act of open defiance, the weight of gravity when you turn to the right or the left, keeping the plane level on the horizon, keeping the nose up or down, it is really something else and I had no idea how much fun it could have been.

Here is some random stuff that came to me when I was flying and looking down at people's lives. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the state of their backyard. From the air, there were despicable and incredible views. I saw a pool covered in a weird brownish green slime and a backyard that was littered with bikes and broken lawn furniture. I saw some that had vegetable gardens, flower gardens and manicured lawns. It was really interesting.

Little Compton from AboveWe also need to recognize that we build far too many roads. (i.e. We are destroying our surroundings.) The picture to the left is a picture of the town crossing of Little Compton, RI. What you can sort of make out is the natural landscape and how the town is plopped down and then the roads spider-web out, it was a sad realization when I was up there, because you miss the scope of it from the ground. Little Compton is a beautiful town from the road, readily thought to be one of the prettiest in Rhode Island.

Last thing I am going to show is the view of a former Rhode Island landmark; this is Rocky Point Park. I am not a Rhode Island native and I believe that this park has been closed since I have been coming here (late 90's). But I understand the stigma behind the idea of the small town amusement park. There were two near me growing up; as a kid there was a park in El Paso, TX called Western Playland. It is pretty standard fare for an amusement park, at least it was, back in the day. It had a roller coaster, a big midway section and some other rides: a whoa belly ride called Drop Zone, a couple of the whip around gravity rides. It was great. In Albuquerque there was a place called Cliff's. Same thing, nothing really special, just an amusement park, good for a lark during finals week or spring break.

The sad thing about Rocky Point is that they tore it down and I can't seem to figure out what happened. When you talk to Rhode Islanders they all have great stories about what Rocky Point meant to them but sure as shit the thing is gone. The picture is black and white so you don't get a real sense of how unfortunate the imagery is, but it is really stark. Some of the dark rings in the photo are just holes in the ground. The place is covered in graffiti that is visible from 1500 feet and it just sort of makes you sad inside to see something like that in that state of disrepair. I sort of wish, for all the Rhode Islanders, that someone would just level the property and get it ready for whatever is next.

I think that the down-fall of Rocky Point is a direct result of a bigger better amusement park in Massachusetts, called Six Flags over New England, being so darn close. You get so much more bang for the buck that it makes it hard for the mom and pop places to compete. Which I suppose is true for most businesses. I guess it hits me the same way as it hits me when I see a run down "Main Street" scenario. Like we are losing Americana for a strip mall vision of America, we shouldn't let that happen. We should support locally owned businesses. (And yes that even includes the Dunkin Donuts or McDonald's franchise, local people are taking a chance, reward them for it.)

The final descent back into TF Green was nice, for a controlled crash (something my grandfather used to call landings). We taxied back to the hanger via ramp Bravo and that was the end of the day.

Now the bad news: I am hooked on an activity that I can't possibly afford. Each lesson is somewhere between 250 and 400 dollars and so I doubt I will be able to afford it on a non-profit salary.

The good news is that it gives me something to strive for.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Who do you need? Nobody! Well you're lucky nobody's around." -Bishop Allen

I have a gigantic bone to pick with The Media. Specifically the .com media sources. The bone is best summed up like this. You Suck!

Now I will explain a little bit more.

No, wait. I am going to qualify my emotion behind this first. I think that politics in America sucks; and I am going to blame every news media source.

See I think that somewhere politicians are a lot like me, angry young men and women who get sick of walking past hungry, homeless, impoverished people and decide that the time to stand up and do something about it is now. So they take action and start a campaign to change something locally and it escalates and then they run for something else and so and so and so on.

What the shit the media groups do to fuck it all up for us is they target the people that will sell papers and hype the shit of stories involving those two people. I think that if the American Public where made more aware of the platforms of Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and John Edwards there might be a real opportunity to effect some change in a country that desperately needs it. Shit, I am so sick of this I will extend the same courtesy to Ron Paul.

But The Media (and it fucking kills me to use capital letters on that) has decided the Democratic nomination should be between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I don't need to point out that they are both minority candidates and it would be an amazing story to have either the first woman or the first black president sometime before I turn forty, but still. They are both establishment candidates and I would love to be a fly on the walls of either Kucinich or Paul's war rooms when announces that Americans are making change a priority in the election.

I wonder if poor Kucinich is banging his head against the wall saying, "Am I taking crazy pills here?"

Part of the reason that it makes me so damn angry is that I happen to have met Bill Richardson and I think that the US would be a much better place with him in charge of things at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But we will never know. He is an environmentalist, a minority (he is of Mexican decent) a wonderful diplomat, (I have heard rumors that Colin Powell used to call him daily for advice when dealing with foreign diplomacy issues).

But the thing about it is that I am convinced that if any candidate got elected The Media (and again, I hate myself right now) would find a way to turn on them, regardless of the esteem of the public. And I feel this largely because the News Media is a business. They make money by selling papers and clicks on websites. That is why all of the edgy talking heads (I am specifically talking about the dipshits like O'Reilly, Chris "Mine goes to 11" Matthews, Bow-tie dick-head from Point Counterpoint, pretty much anybody from Fox or MSNBC... It doesn't matter they are all the same) are loud and theatrical. Because we stop the channel flicking and listen to what they have to say.

But look it is really sad to me when the best news source in the US is a comedy show on a basic cable COMEDY NETWORK!

I know I am all over the place on this but you have to understand the cartwheel of rage in my mind.

The Primary elections are the place where we, as Americans, are supposed to be able to find the candidates that appeal to us, speak to us in a metaphysical sense and evoke in us the spirit of America that we most identify with. And I would be shocked out of my knickers if 100 people polled on the street could name everybody that was involved in the Democratic Primary this year.

I wonder if, in a purely unscientific survey, we searched MSNBC, CNN and Fox New websites for articles on each of the people in the primary elections what percentage of news is directed at the top two candidates and what guys like Kucinich and Ron Paul get? I would wager my wrist watch that the bottom four don't even come within half of the top two. (And I love my wristwatch.)

I still can't help but think that we are doomed in this election. And between media interests, special interests, and a shaky international diplomatic reputation I don't know what we can do.


Monday, January 07, 2008

"The sun shining bright, everythings seems alright when we're poisoning pigeons in the park." - Tom Lehrer

Chalk up this scene into the things I can't unsee column. I was walking to go and grab breakfast with Lovely Wife Sunday when we saw a small group of sparrows feasting on a pink mass of vomit. I wish I was kidding but alas I have a witness to it. It was pretty damn gross.

All of the grossness aside I have the wonderful prospect of a couple of days off coming up and I am really beside myself with joy right now. During the holidays I worked from mid-November to New Year's Eve with only two days off, which is pretty brutal, I am still a little groggy. My goal for the vacation is to make a little headway into a writing project that I have been doing some research on for a while. I am also hoping to finally cash in a gift certificate from my 30th birthday (yes it is eighteen months old). And I am, fingers-crossed, going to start taking fencing lessons. I am sort of hoping that the first lesson covers the classic line, "My name is Eniego Montoya..."

Outside of writing and finishing Atonement, the novel by Ian McEwan, I have no other goals which is pretty damned amazing.

I have been thinking of something lately that is a little more obtuse and harder to articulate. I have this nasty habit of not being afraid of talking to people. It doesn't matter the context either; people standing on a street, sitting on the bus, at a restaurant, etc., I will talk to anybody. Sometimes it gets me into trouble and I regret it in the long run. I can think of a couple of situations where I have invited some insanity into my life by striking up an unprovoked conversation. But most of the time it turns out to my advantage and the end result is that, as I walk around town, I am constantly running into people that I know. The downside I suppose, is that I feel like an ego-maniac when I can't take twenty steps without seeing someone I know.

Now I wouldn't say that these people are my friends but I am not going to not acknowledge that I I know them. So I will typically wave and smile. Now for the obtuse part; why is it so nice to have someone smile at you? What is it about an act of genuine good-will that is so heartwarming. I am sort of wondering if we all smiled at people on the street more if this wouldn't be a better place in grand terms.

I am sitting at Starbucks as I type this up and a woman that I have never spoken to, but see here often came in and smiled. It feels nice: reminds me that we live in, or share, the same space with people.

If you read this during the day, and it isn't too late. Smile at somebody on the street, or wave or whatever feels natural to you and let me know what the response you get is.

Well off to tackle some writing. I will certainly send an update when I take my flying lesson.

Friday, January 04, 2008

"I read the signs, I got all my stars aligned..." -St. Vincent

A guilty pleasure of mine is astrology. It sounds really hokey and I would file my feelings for it under the heading: interesting but not particularly germane. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about Mercury in retrograde or Mars's transit through Virgo, because I don't know what it means; but I like to read my horoscope and I have spent a small (albeit very small) amount of time learning more about star charts and what it all means in the long run.

For example, I am a Leo. But I am also a Leo/Cancer Cusp. It is strange because most people would say, "Oh, he's a leo so he is the attention hog, self-centered, guy that likes to be in the lime-light and wants everybody to see him." And honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth. But I will save my diatribe about "What it all means to V. in astrology" for another more crystal laden, granola-y post.

What I want to mention today is that my local newspaper had a big special for New Year's Day where they posted up the Holiday Mathis (that is the astrologer that syndicates the horoscope) thoughts for the New Year. Since I am a Cancer/Leo cusp I read both (that is the Leo in me). Here they are:

Take your instinct about what is truly valuable with you into the New Year. And what you can leave back in 2007 is your fear that you are unworthy of it. Repeat: "I am worthy of the things I desire."

Take your need for attention into the future. It perfectly matches other people's to be amused. But if there's ones thing you can leave back in 2007, it's low confidence. You're a star! Believe it.

When I read that it really floored me. Never has the horoscope been more apropos of the things I was thinking about at the time. Usually I read them a day late and sit there and say, "Nope, you were wrong, my day sucked. I don't know what you are talking about financial windfalls and romance; more like flaming bags with poop in them."

But this has been on my mind a lot because I know that somewhere along the way in my life, I heard Leos are arrogant, and I picked up that self-deprecation is cute. And maybe those things are true: but maybe only in small doses. I trip over an ottoman, stand up and announce that the next show is completely different: cute. I constantly say that people don't like me because I am overweight: tiresome and boring.

Also, to me the two of these horoscopes are inextricably tied to each other. Part of the reason I have such a hard time with the thoughts of achieving success as a writer or in my career or whatever because when it all comes down to it I can't believe that good things happen to me; because sometimes I don't want them to.

This is turning into a really weird post so I am going to announce, to the world, my New Year's Resolutions for 2007.

1. I am NOT going to run the New York Marathon. (This is strictly so that next year I can say I kept at least one resolution.)
2. I am NOT going to be so damn hard on myself. I know somewhere in the pit of stomach that I am a fun person, I hear it all the time, it is time to start believing it.
3. I am going to make a conscientious effort to cut meat (and I mean chicken, pork, beef, game and fowl) out of my diet.
4. I am going to believe that I have the ability to be a writer as a career, I just have to believe in it and chase it.