damn doctors

So, I had a bad experience with a doctor yesturday.

Of course, it was an eye doctor but it does go to show the dangers of doctors abusing their authority. I went for my first eye exam in about two years. I've worn glasses since I was 5, so I'm well versed in these visits. I picked a new guy, because he was close to my apartment and got an appointment for my vacation week. Just looking for the basic exam and to get a new prescription because my current glasses are showing their age. I also have a coupon for a $40 gift certificate when I get my glasses at this great little place in Boston called S.E.E.

I should have expected problems when I had to wait an hour and a half for my exam after I got there early. Suffice to say, I was not thrilled. But, what happened next was the real problem. The doc takes a visual exam of my eyes, does the Glaucoma test, does the wall test, and that's it. He didn't actually check my prescription. You know, the "Is it better now... or now" test. Its such a familiar part of an eye exam that its even gotten into commercials. None of that. He pronounces my vision with my glasses to be 20/20 or better. He then proceeds to lecture me about how near-sighted I am (like I wasn't aware) and start insisting on me getting a referal from my primary care physician so he can dilate my pupils. Now, this always happened as a normal part of the exam before, but whatever. I already knew I wasn't coming back to him so I tried to put him off and ask about getting my prescription.

The guy refuses to write me a prescription. He insists I come back for that. He proceeds to then say I need to come back THREE more times and starts suggesting ways for me to make a reason for my PCP to give me a referral. I'm just too upset to even know what to do. I should have held my ground, but it was intimating. I mean, I tried to bring up what I needed, and the guy flat out refused me. I called my HMO and they were uniformly unhelpful so I called back my doctor and insisting on getting a prescription saying I didn't know when I could come back due to work demands. They were also unhelpful but acted like they'd see if he could mail it to me.

Its all so frustrating. It was supposed to be a simple little eye exam and its just left me feeling helpless and frustrated. I don't appreciate someone taking $15 from me and gosh knows what from my HMO just to make me wait 90 minutes for a 5 minute exam that wasn't even complete. And I expected my HMO to be more interested in a doc trying to extort additional visits from a patient, since they are paying more of that then I am. The only good thing is I had this appointment this week because my annual eye exam is done by calendar year so I can get another as of next week and have it paid for. They better, anyway. I'm also going to talk to my employers insurance agent (who is not an employee of the HMO but an independant guy who handles a lot of accounts with them) and see if he can do anything since he specifically said that's what he was there for. Wish me luck.


movie review two years too late

Okay, so I finally saw Shallow Hal, only about 2 years after it was released. Quite a hot-button issue in the fat community with a lot of people making judgements sight unseen, myself included. You know what? We were right, and we didn't need to watch this garbage to know that.

Everything that upset people at the time was entirely accurate. The only problem was that some people expected us to be won over by the heartfelt ending. They refused to admit that we had a right to see it as condesending and insulting. I'm sorry, but "I love you anyway" just doesn't feel quite as nice as "I love you" no matter how much you want it, too. The movie's producers seem to be missing a point even made in the movie. Just because a conditional love is offered doesn't mean a fat person won't see through it.

Still, the real devil is in the details. Oh, forget the absurd sight-gags that really upset me before I saw the film. The just plain stupid attention to detail is what really irked me. They actually seemed to have the Rosemary character down at a couple points, but the character kept contradicting herself. I mean, we do see her being realistically self-conscious when showing off her lingerea to Hal, and that felt very honest. But, the scene before she is being the same way about wearing hot-pants and a belly shirt in front of her parents. I mean, I understand where the character is coming from, but I also don't get why a self-apologizing fat person would even own hot pants or a bikini. They made her apologetically fat when it was convenient and uncompramisingly fat when it was convenient. There was just no consistancy. I'd have found it all much more satisfying if her character had been more defiant and self-confident. Or, at least give us reason to think Hal is giving her such self-confidence. I just didn't see that developed, so it all felt pieced together.

And honestly, 1 boyfriend? I mean, I know it happens, but still, its not that common either, is it? Again, the movie just promotes a ghetoization of fat people rather than challenging those perceptions. It pretends to be unconventional, but only after it makes time to acknowledge all the conventions. Heck, even the Peace Corps was a stupid plot point, since they actually wouldn't allow a woman like Rosemary to participate. I know the Peace Corps was really just a punch line, but its a reminder of just how shut out fat people are.

And I still can't get around the "in spite of" ending. Give us something. Some acknowledgement that there ARE people who would honestly find Rosemary beautiful. We're here. Get used to it. But no, she's doomed to "in spite of" and told to be happy about it. All the movie really does, then, is to defend the status quo and only dare to suggest the perfectly conventional message. Safe, perhaps, but nothing edgy about. Just more of the same. Give me "Inclusive of" any day over "In spite of".


merry december

I have a couple weeks off to celebrate the season. Going home for a week and then just hanging around for a week. Should be a nice relaxation. Work has been very stressful for a couple months and it hasn't helped that I've been sick off and on. Lots of little frustrations, too. It doesn't help that my girlfriend's been so busy with buying a house that I've hardly seen her for weeks. And even before that, we had a stretch of about two months where we were alternatingly sick. Not like I haven't seen her, its just not the full girlfriend experience. But, its understandable. Just not helping with the stress.

But, I get to go home and play with my dad's big screen television and computer. Generally not do much. And that's not bad.

So Merry December to you all, and you can still comment with an email to get my online Christmas Card. Hope life holds you well.

Opps. I forgot I've been using lower-case in my titles. Good thing I can fix that. hehe


random thoughts #2

I really REALLY REALLY feel bad for any children or young adults who get subjected to a Kidz Bop CD or video. Have you seen the commercials for these crimes against nature? Basically, they take pop songz and santize them by way of having them sung by kidz who can't really sing, but you hope no one notices if you get enough of them together to sing in a very large group. Judging by the video, these are those disturbing children that I'm pretty sure are produced by Disney in labs. You know, those bland, attractive in that manufactured to specificationz way, who've clearly been bred for acting in Disney movies. I'm guessing the Kidz Bop kidz are the rejectz from the Disney factories who are bought wholesale. All very disturbing.

My favorite Reese's Limited Edition flavor (check out my first post for more), White Chocolate, is back for good. I'm so psyched. I can stop hording the White Chocolate miniatures now! I think the Inside Outs are now perminant, too, but I didn't really care for those. The flavor balance is just all out of whack.

Has anyone else noticed the subtle fat hatred in those Jazzy ads for Chili's restaurants? You know, the ones with some "regular person" singing about Chili's in some style of music. There are about 4 of them, and they all follow the same pattern. Start with a wide shot of regular person singing. Cut to food. Cut to regular person at the restaurant with friends. Logo. Close up of regular person signing. All except one. That one happens to have a fat woman as the regular person. It skips the at restaurant with friends and the close-up. It only has the wide-shot. It all seems kind suspect to me. I mean, its JUST the fat woman who doesn't get the close-up out of all the ads. That seems too convenient to me. Meh.

I'm all done with my Christmas shopping. Yay! Woo hoo! Not that I'm a last minute type, but I have a nasty tendancy to fret about gifts so much that I don't even have them come Christmas. I freak myself out much more then necessary. I had a brief period of panic that I was going to do that again and just got something impulsive for my girlfriend. But its something. Its the thought that counts, not the overthinking.

Speaking of my girlfriend, I'm now dating a home-owner. Again, woo hoo! And, also, that's kinda scary. Not as scary as when I first found out an exgirlfriend was married. And that happened when I was 20! I don't have many ex's either. hehe

Red Sox fans are the most self-important, self-absorbed sports fans around. They don't deserve a World Series victory, and I hope they never get one and that every star player their turn on gets one. Already happened with Roger Clemmens and Wade Boggs and Mo Vaughn had a near miss. Looks like Nomar gets to be the next to try to show-up the team and fans which responded to his loyalty and unfailing dedication by treating him like dirt.

Oh, that's right, no one here cares about sports.

I'm sending out an online Christmas Card this year. Respond to this message with your email if you want to get one. Unless you already got it.

That is all.


freedom tower unvailed

Final designs for the Freedom Tower complex in NYC were unvailed today. Still not sure what I think about them. Some of the renderings make it look stunningly dramatic and others make it look underwhelming.

I should preface this by saying that I personally thought they should rebuild the towers as they were. Aside from being a nice big FU to the people responsible for the destruction of the WTC, I actually liked how they looked. I know architects slammed them, but there was just something about their simplicity and bluntness that really worked in the urban environment. In cities, we always see buildings shoe-horned to fit the surroundings. That was actually an artistic conceit of the Hancock Tower in Boston, which I actually like a lot. Still, there was something refreshingly defiant about the Twin Towers. Not only did they have the balls to build a big box in the biggest city on Earth, they went and built another right next to it. They demanded attention. Which, no doubt, is what made it an attractive target as well.

As stunning as the Freedom Tower appears to be, part of the design seems intended to deflect attention. A VERY significant part of its upper struction looks skelatal, which has the effect of making the Towers seem transparent. Like its trying not to be notice. Something just doesn't sit right with me about that. I don't like the idea of us trying to bind ourselves in the face of threats. I am encouraged by the idea of standing front and center. It projects strength, perminance. As beautiful as the Freedom Tower is, it seems like an effort at camoflage. Pretending nothing was every really there to begin with.

Actually, I'm most initially impressed by the sister structures which occupy the Trade Center land. Towering about as high as the meaningful part of the main tower, they also rise above the buildings around it. The slanting roofs make for a powerful addition to the skyline from the Statue of Liberty.

But, the execution will be key. Maybe the computers are ghosting the top of the tower too much, and it will really be a visible and tangible proof of the tower's reach towards the sky. Maybe the companion buildings will be colored drably so they don't make as potent an addition as they might. But, its all interesting, and I'm eager to see it proceed, even if its not what I would have liked to see.


we got him. now what?

It seems that the No. 2 fugative in the world has been caught as we dragged a bearded Saddam Hussain out of a hole. A couple of thoughts...

Damn good we got him alive. It frustrated me to no end the way we murdered his sons. Not that they are good people, but that they could have led us to their father and provided other valuable information. Oh yeah, and be brought to justice the old fashioned way. Instead, we sent an absurd ammount of manpower into a residential neighborhood rather than wait them out. This left the disturbing prospect that we were either lied to about Iraq's WMD threat or that the one man who would know where they were was still out there. Guess that last one is crossed off the list, as long as he didn't supply anyone else with the info in the 8 months it took to catch him.

That's another thing, 8 months? And he wound up being exactly where we always thought he'd be? Am I missing something here? Why did it take this long when he was still out by his hometown?

Finally, one thing keeps popping into my head every time I hear this refered to as perhaps the most extensive manhunt in history. I hinted at this in my opening. This better not be the most extensive manhunt in history, because there is someone out there we need to catch even more and we've been actively after him for over a year longer than Hussain. Remember what started the whole War on Terror? Wasn't Saddam. It was someone else who is apparently still out there and well funded to boot. But we caught Saddam. So I guess the administration is hoping people will forget about what really started this and how we never did catch the No. 1 fugative.


people suck

Sorry. I know I haven't posted here in forever. December is my busiest time at work, especially last weekend. I actually worked both days during the Blizzard. Wheeee! And apparently people in Massachusetts completely freak out in the face of snow, buying bread like they are getting trapped for winter. But, I keep thinking of things to write about, really. I just usually collapse long before I can get around to writing them. So what finally inspired my return to the blog? Me being pissed of. Sorry to do this to you, but my friend at work has left early and my girlfriend is busy buying a house and out of range for me to bitch to, so you get stuck with it.

People really suck sometimes.

I went to lunch today. I was only buying lunch because I've been too exhausted and sick to get into work on time, much less make a sandwich on the way here. So, I went out for pizza. My favorite place, unfortunetly, was out of Sicilian which is the only stuff they do right, so rather then wait for hot sicilian (which is not that good to begin with, and would be undercooked because that's what they do when someone is waiting) I went next door to a lesser pizza joint with higher prices. Not much higher, but considering a better place is right next door it still strikes me as pretty ballsy.

Anyway, I get my pizza, and they stick two pieces of Sicilian on a paper plate. Not a great set-up, but whatever. Problem is, some guy is crowding me to begin with and as I'm trying to get off to a table, he bumps me causing me to drop the pizza. So there is $5 wasted. An accident, sure, but caused by him crowding me to begin with. The real kicker is, the guy doesn't even acknowledge any of this. Acts like its all on TV or something and didn't involve him. Doesn't apologize at all, even after I glared at him. Really pissed me off. Mostly, though, because I'm not out $5. I spend money on some frivilous things, but I utterly hate wasting money. Drives me insane. Really just bothers me very deeply. Not sure why, because its not like I'm a spend-thrift. I just like getting my money's worth on things, and getting litterally nothing just doesn't sit right at all with me. It just leaves me completely crest-fallen and upset.

So, that's what just happened to me. Sorry to stick you with it, but I had to get it out to someone. Stay tuned for something better later. I promise.


$40 air freshener

I had a BIG MOMENT last night. One of those signs of adulthood. Probably one of the last I will experience, actually, as I'm really getting a touch too old to have any Adult Firsts. But at least one was left.

I got my first Christmas Tree on my own. Woo hoo!

Out of college, I lived with my now ex-girlfriend and she had a fake tree which predated me and I never really felt was mine and besides, was fake. Last year, I opted not to get a tree since I was not on good terms with my roommate and my now girlfriend had one at her place anyway. She lent me a little fake tree which suited my needs, anyhow.

But this year, there is no fall back. My girlfriend is probably not getting a tree at all since she will be moving just before Christmas. I have big living room just begging for a tree. I thought about getting a fake one, but one wiff of the massive wreathes in my office building's lobby convinced me that I needed a real tree.

I'll be decorating it tonight. I have lights which I used to decorate my windows last year and picked up some ornaments at le Boutique Target. Have to let the branches drop first, of course. Which is essentially all I know about Christmas trees. Its a nice looking sucker. Not too big, but nicely full. I'm all excited. I woke up and the pine scent was just all over the place. Gotta love the real deal. And I've always been a sucker for room's lit by Tree lights. Its one of those enduring childhood memories that always moves me. I can't wait.

The funny thing, of course, is that I'm celebrating Christmas at all. I'm religious non-committed, after all, being an agnostic. Just goes to show how secularized the holiday has become. Although, I've always been a sucker for the Charlie Brown Christmas special precisely because it is so religious. I am not be of faith, but I have tremendous respect for those who are and do it right, encouraging others not by bluster or force but by living as examples of the teachings of their faith. The Charlie Brown special is doing it right. Reminding us what Christmas really means, both if religious and secular terms. Its one of only a handful of Christmas specials which is explicitly anti-consumerism, and you have to love that. Even The Grinch can't quite claim to be that as its more interested in stripping away the artifice to show the true meaning. That's not quite the same thing as Chuck's explicit condemnation of consumpsion celebrating. And I respect the hell out of how they do it. Painting Christmas without Santa and Rudolph and Snowman but rather with the hope of the Savior. Christmas get's slagged for being an unimportant religious holiday, but Charlie Brown provides an important rebutal to that line.

But, I can't say I went with Chuck's choice of trees when I got my $40 Air Freshener. At least's not some weird color or made of aluminum or (shudder) inflatable.


won't someone please think of the soldiers

It seems the Pentagon is considering battlefield use of the Segway Human Transporter.

Haven't we put the men and women of our armed forces through enough?

Those are those bizarre little two wheel scooters that balance themselves in some complicated and ingenious way that you don't quite understand but is supposedly one of the most brilliant inventions ever even though it looks kinda goofy and no one can actually imagine people using the darn things. Supposedly, its virtually impossible to fall off the thing. Although our President seems to have managed to fall off the un-fall off-able Segway. (Seems he forgot to turn it on)

But our soldiers? In battle? Do we really need to spend the millions you just know we are spending to figure out that a battlion of Marines puttering around on scooters is not likely to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. Somehow, I just can't picture some exciting and inspiring military combat video game involving scooting about.

And for that matter, what the heck is with all of these exciting and inspiring military combat video games? They seem to be all over the place. Forget the handful of blatent exploitations of the Iraq war. I'm talking about the combat simulators, usually either based in modern day urban warfare situation or in World War II. There just seems to be so many of them. I understood it to a point, butthere is a point when it just feels like too much. My dad is into them, and he actually served in the armed forces. Okay, he served in the Navy and JFK and John Kerry notwithstanding, that's not really a combat activity, but it still seems weird that a vetern would be interested in playing pretend soldier. Still, it seems a bit more understandable for him than for the majority who are playing the games who surely have never even been remotely in combat situations. The weirdest are the games that do multiplayer "death-match" games in their real World War II. That just freaks me out. I mean, I can sorta wrap my head around doing honor to those who fought in defense of freedom in World War II against the Nazi's with video games which chronicle their couragous efforts. Video games aren't just play anymore. They are a way of archiving our culture, our history. But using this as a backdrop to kill people over a high-speed connection just seems weird to me.

Oh, well. I guess mine is not to question why.


surprise, surprise

Much talk in the news about the President's "surprise" visit to Iraq. The Administration is spinning this as some daring act of heroism on the President's part. I suspect most of America is responding in the manner my mom did. To paraphrase, "Damn right he should be going over there after he's had all of those people risk their lives for him."

My mom was a big supporter of the bombing or Afganistan. As was I, actually. Indeed, as was most of the international community. But like me, and most of the international community, she's never seen the connection to the War on Terror and the War on Iraq. A couple years ago, my mom was being down right jingoistic, but now she's been completely put off by Bush. I guess it just goes to show its not just the good will of the world he has squandered as he has turned attention away from an increasingly active Al quieda and to the hardly imminently threatening Iraq. So, upon hearing that he was visiting the troops, she thought it was literally the least he could do.

Of course, he's also facing some pretty tough questions from the White House Press Corps over this. Mostly because he just pissed them all off by lying to most of them for weeks and hand-picking a select group of reporters who got to tag along. It reminds me of Valentine's Day in elementary school when it was made very clear to me and my class mates that we had to get Valentine's for everyone, lest anyone feel left out. I guess they didn't touch such lessons in sensitivity to other's feelings back when Bush was in grade school. The greater concern is whether those invited were chosen because they were especially friendly with the White House. And, of course, the President does himself no favors when he basically tells the left out and lied to reporters that they should be thanking him.

This is not to say that a level of secrecy wouldn't have been warrented. Regardless of my personal feelings about his job performance, I certainly can acknowledge that a great deal of care is needed when visiting a war zone. And while it certainly has hints of his grandstanding habits, I am sure the troops appreciated it in a way that the crew of the Air Craft Carrier the White House placed just out of sight of San Diego wouldn't.

Still, it all just feels so over the top. Like W. realized he could live out his spy fantasies as he sneaks around "undercover" posing as a couple with Condi Rice. And of course, his paternal instincts kept kicking in as he threatended to turn Air Force One around if the reporters didn't behave. Seems like this all could have been accomplished if the President planned to have Thanksgiving Dinner at a military base in Germany but was really bound for Iraq. Then you can get a full press contingent who just don't know the scope of their visit until they find themselves getting off the plane in Baghdad.

The other thing is, it doesn't seem like it was all that safe. I mean, he did fly one of the two planes outfitted as Air Force 1. Even with a fighter patrol and AF1's impressive defense measures, seems like that would be a pretty noticable target. They actually were spotted by a British Airways pilot. I'm not expert, but you have to think that some Iraqi with a beef against the US might have noticed it, too.

But, they felt it was secure, so I'll go with their judgement. I'm more concerned by their typical stand-offish response. I'd be more impressed with this sort of thing if it wasn't always so overtly orchestrated or if they weren't premptively defensive. It is reminding me of the minor out-cry over Bush's plane hopping on September 11. A lot of people were fairly upset that our President was not providing visible leadership in one of the darkest hours of American history. But the Secret Service were also fairly concerned about safe-guarding the President's safety. The nation hoping made sense, even if the risk was slight. A few people would find issue, but they really weren't being fair. And yet, the White House still felt compelled to lie about it and make up a story about how they knew Air Force One was being targeted and they had to evade attack. It was all fantasy. They had no such information. Now, they didn't have any reason to lie. They had a reasonable explanation and an understanding public, but they still were making up stories. That's really disturbing all on its own.



Oh, one more thing. Anyone know where to read the new Opus comic strip online? I can't seem to find any info on it. Thanks for any help!

happy thanksgiving

Sorry for the last post, but I just had to say it. Funny way two months of daily personal insults can take their toil.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving is going well. Turkey Day has never been a big deal to me, probably because I'm a vegetarian. My Thanksgiving memories are of being at relatives and feeling uncomfortable at everyone trying to accomidate me. That's the thing that sucks the most about being a veggie is other people feeling bad about not accomidating you. I genuinely don't mind. Obviously, its something I'm used to and completely understanding about, but it makes me feel bad that they are feeling bad, and its all just a big vicious cycle.

So, the last two years, I've just stayed by myself all day. Actually, I did that the previous two years when I lived with my ex, but that was mostly because I wasn't allowed to see her family so the option of spending the day with her was out of the question. BUT ANYWAY... I've just kept to myself the last two years and I really don't mind. Its kinda nice. I'm making some Salmon Mignon, got myself one of those little Frisbee pies so I've got that covered, and am just going to chill out. Watch some parade, watch some football, and just relax. I actually have to work on Friday (and Sunday, for that matter) so the little break will come in handy. Might even catch up on some email I've been long delinquent on and maybe right some posts I keep meaning to. Maybe if I toss them all out at once, my cyber stalker won't know what to insult! Now there is an idea.

But, until then, my best wishes for a happy holiday to you all, and special good wishes to Kell and her progress with NaNoWriMo. Happy Thanksgiving!


for all of my bald gay readers

Some very positive news out of the Bay State this weekend. While Massachusetts has tended to poll in favor of gay marriage, the numbers have always been close. Back in April, it was 50% supporting and 44% opposing, and that was before the jump in opposition that was seen in national polls after the Lawrence decision from the Supreme Court and Canada's move to legalize gay marriage. One might have suspected a surge in opposition after last week's court ruling.

Actually, it was the opposite. Well, kinda.

Support stood firm at 50% but opposition took a steep drop. Also, opposition to a Constitutional Ammendment banning gay marriage was even stronger, sitting at 53% opposed. That has to be a positive sign that the Commonwealth can hold the line on this, even if the politicians try to dump an Ammendment in our laps. Especially since the soonest it would be on the ballet would be during a mid-term election year with a Governor race to boot. A high turn-out would reduce the chance for a bill with marginal poll numbers to sneak through.

When asked about affording the legal rights and responsibilities, some polls saw the numbers climb very high, in fact. Up past 70% support, actually. This offers more reason to suspect that if this issue can be framed properly, that support will jump. If people know this discussion is about the civil institution and nothing to do with their personal religious beliefs, I think a lot more people would be uncomfortable opposing gay marriage. All interesting signs. One negative, though, is that the state's Governor and Attorney General and blatently misinterpreting the rulling as permiting Vermont-style civil unions instead of marriages, when almost all legal scholars and observors have noted how emphatic it was they were talking about marriage and that "seperate but equal" wouldn't remedy their concerns. But, I suspect the politicians are intent on calling the court's bluff on this one, and the court could well back down. I'd be comfortable with a seperate system, as long as it was called marriage, too. Either that, or start calling all civil marriages, civil unions and be done with it.

In non-gay marriage related news, I'm increasingly pissed off with these anti-baldness ads. It seems like once or twice a year, some baldness "cure" puts out an ad which is just out-right mean-spirited, and that time is now. Honestly, I can't think of a better case of someone promoting a stigma to promote their product. Not to say that there isn't stigmatization of baldness in our culture, but there is still something uncomfortably annoying about the way they are trying to promote those prejudices. I regard baldness cures in pretty much the same light as diet products to begin with, but outside of the dreck from Stacker 2 or, apparently, Amstel Light, they usually aren't just mean when promoting stigmas. Still, I'm not sure their faux emotional promotion of the same stigmas is any better. In a lot of ways, I can see how the mother who tells a story of how their child hated them for being fat doing a lot more damage than the gleeful cruelty of of an actress portraying a girlfriend bashing the boyfriend's formerly receeding hairline by means of praising his hairied self. But, lesser of two evils style discussions like this are always dramatically uninspiring. (yeah, i know that makes no sense, but it sounds nice) But the cruelty of the baldness cure ads increasingly seem to be more interested in promoting stigmatization than in just taking advantage of it.


what to write, what to write...

Been debating topics to write about for a few days. I've been really burned out all month from work and haven't been writing as much as I'd like. Thank goodness I abandoned NaNoWriMo, because I'd be in no shape to write anything. But, this isn't a whine about work blog. Not that I think my superiors are web saavy enough to find me anyway, but I *really* am not interested in either boring you with that or dwelling on work on my own time.

Been thinking about writing a follow up to the gay marriage debate. For all my hand-wringing over worries of a back-lash, I've also found two reasons to look more optimistically at the situation. For one, gay marriage in Massachusetts is inevitable. Its gonna happen, that's pretty clear right now. That means any move to ban gay marriage is going to be a move to revoke people's rights, a move to end happy marriages. I'm not sure that will sit well with a lot of people. Arguing for the status quo is always easier, and in 6 months, gay marriage is going to be the status quo in the Commonwealth. The debate of gay marriage is dominated by moderates who currently disagree with gay marriage, but not that strongly. It may really challenge those people when real faces are put on this issue.

Also, I'm encouraged that the GOP wants to make an issue out of gay marriage in 2004. I think they are radically overestimating how much this means to that vast expanse of moderates. The people in the middle are precisely the type to be motivated by discouragement over the jobless "recovery", massive budget deficits, and the lack of focus in the Iraqi occupation. Abortion never ignited these people. Why is gay marriage going to? The real kicker is I think a lot of those people actually would support gay marriage if they thought about it too long. Especially since the GOP seems ill-prepared to keep the gay-hating attack dogs at bay, which will really put off the moderates. The hyperbole employed by even Republican leaders is going to annoy people. This maybe a deciding issue in 2004, but only if the GOP is hanging themselves with it.

But that's about all I have to say about that.

Thought about doing my second random thoughts post, but I really only have one random thought. How long will it take Ashton Kutchner to get washed-up enough to be doing Old Navy commercials?

Oh, and White Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures freaking rule. I wish they'd make that a perminant variation. Its easily the best of the Reese's limited editions this year. I hated the Honey Roaster ones. Bleck!

And did you know Bloom County is (kinda) coming back? Opus anyway. Really, this is too important for a random thought. I loved Bloom County and Outland back in the day when I was too young to understand all of it. Its due back in the form of Sunday only strip starting this Sunday. Expect it to join Boondocks and Get Fuzzy among my linked comics. I've always loved the funny pages, especially the artists who really respect the medium. I'm still a little annoyed that we don't get any more Calvin and Hobbes. I'd also LOVE to be able to own all of the Peanuts strips over the years. Schultz *made* comic strips what they are. To paraphrase Get Fuzzy's aritst, all comics are either rip offs of Peanuts or rip offs of Far Side. (Darby Conley actually said that all comic strip artists fall into two categories: those who started out ripping off Far Side, and those who won't admit they started out ripping off Far Side because they still are).

Have two longer posts I want to write, but I suspect they'll bore the heck out of my readers. Well, except the troll who can always be depended upon to read very closely to find out the best way to misrepresent something to justify his/her obsession with me. With the impending release of X-Men 2 on DVD, I kinda want to talk a bit about my super-hero fandom. You see, its funny because I hate comic books, but love comic book movies. That's pretty much the jist of the considered post, except I also bitch about why Warner Brothers is planning a new Superman movie instead of trying to build on their already successful Superman property, Smallville.

I also wanted to write a bit about my thoughts about being a moderate progressive (which in non-progressive circles means a solid progressive) but I think I've overdone it with politics in the last couple of days.

So, I write about nothing much. Just be glad I'm not discussing the latest episode of Angel or something horribly bloggish like that. hehe



The top court in Massachusetts just tossed out a ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts and have ordered the legislature to fix it within 180 days. The kicker is, they specifically stated that Vermont style Civil Unions would not satisfy the court's concerns with the law. Simply put, seperate but equal ain't enough. Hawaii and Alaska both saw the same thing, but each were able to get amendments passed. Although an amendment to the State Constitution would probably pass, it also seems like there is enough support in the state Senate to prevent it from getting out of convention. What's more, procedures in Massachusetts would prevent such an amendment from taking effect until 2006, at which point the genie will be decidedly out of the bottle.

I'm frankly stunned at this. It's been hanging for about 6 months as the Court considered the case, a really extraordinary length of time for deliberation. Moreover, I was expecting the court to take the stance lower courts did, that this is an issue that is best left to the legislature. I kinda agreed with that, too, but never very strongly. I am deeply concerned about what damage could be done to the movement for gay rights by too much coming too soon. I mean, the Supreme Court only recently decided that having consentual gay sex was a protected activity, and even THAT caused an outrage. I worry that more mainstream unease with homosexuality could be ignited if the marriage thing came too quickly. At the same time, it is impossible to ignore how many extraordinarily important changes took place in this country because the courts stepped in. Indeed, the only important change in civil rights that took place without the courts was the abolishing of slavery, which the Supreme Court got very, very wrong. They got segregation wrong, too, but they also took the opportunity to fix that. Sometimes, that is the only way for change to take place.

I guess my concern is that I don't think this is the only way to break down bans on gay marriage. I think it is increasingly clear that things are moving overwhelmingly in the direction of supporting gay rights, and it may well have happened within a decade or two on its own. If, however, constitutional ammendments are passed, that will make things MUCH more difficult. Especially in the thankfully unlikely event that a federal ammendment gets passed. But, even gay marriage opponents don't think that's a good thing. A few of them aren't as hypocritically conservative as others.

Former Rep. Bob Barr, for instance, is at least consistant to his philosophy. Hardly a friend to the gay lobby, he is the guy who spearheaded the stupid fight for the Defense of Marriage act. But, he's at least being consistant. The DOMA allowed states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed out of the state and denied federal benefits to gay partners. Seemed like a much ado about nothing, at the time, but it seems Barr has a soft touch. He's an ardent federalist, and doesn't like the idea of meddling with the constitution to either restate what the DOMA already does or more importantly, forbid states from setting their own marriage laws as they sit fit. He is, it seems, one Republican who really means it when he says "State's Rights". He doesn't just want it when it serves his idealogy. I still think the guy is dead wrong, but I do admire ideaological consistancy like that.

But, for now, a huge victory for gay marriage may be 180 days away. I just hope it isn't a prelude to a lot of huge setbacks.

i hate the music industry

Have I mentioned how much I hate the music industry? Because I really hate the music industry. They are destroying music, running their business like idiots, and then they blame their fans for their troubles. I've never downloaded an album I could have bought. I have bought albums because I had downloaded tracks, though. I'm not alone, either. Downloading has, at times, made me more motivated to be interested in music.

I'm lucky that my favorite band, R.E.M., is astonishingly downloader friendly. Although in this day and age that's really just being fan friendly. I'm amazed at what they do for their fans interested in their work, and it has managed to increase my interest in one the handful of acts I'm really interested in. A while back, they released an entire album online. Not new stuff, granted, but it was an album of remixes from their most recent album. A mixed bag, but it was just plain awesome that they did it. Even offered album art to download. They've also offered their explicit endorsement to a fan downloading site which fosters trading in bootlegs and B-Sides among their fans. They even got better when they recently offered access to ALL of their videos and some live video to boot. Yes, ALL of their music videos. How cool is that? I mean, this is a band known for their cutting edge and creative videos, and they've got it all there. This is an act doing things right. They've also got the clout to do that. Most artists are too busy being stuck in the disturbingly unfair contracts that are standard in the music biz. Any time the music companies claim they are doing things to protect the poor artists, they are lying. Its that simple. Did you know a musician whose music is sold online as a download is still charged in their royalties the cost of damaged CD's? Do you know how many pennies an artist receives from those low-overhead music downloads? Do you know the music companies aren't even bothering to PAY the artists for the download services they set up?

I recently bought an MP3 player. Well, okay, not really. Its one of those CD players that can play CD's burned with MP3's. A cool comparmise from a real MP3 player. But, it requires blank CDs, which I've started using a lot. I stocked up on them years ago when I first got a CD burner because they were dirt cheap. And I mean CHEAP. I got 250 blank CD's without paying a cent through really generous rebates. Now, I wouldn't expect that forever, but the regular price was still good. Now, they cost a ton. And why? Because they are secretly taxed and the proceeds go directly to the music companies. Its supposed to also go to artists, but guess who isn't paying the artists their share of these taxes? The tax is secret because its built into the retail price of the blank CD's, much like blank cassette tapes. The theory is that it is to pay for the music downloading that goes. But, you pay whether you use the CDs to back up files or to burn music. Doesn't matter. Everyone pays.

Which is pretty much when I stopped feeling remotely sorry for the music industry. Why shouldn't I steal music when I've already been fined just in case I steal music? Honestly, how am I supposed to think what I'm doing is wrong when I'll be punished for it whether I do it or not.

What's frustrating is that the companies are sitting on a goldmine in their back catalogs. This is stuff they aren't making a red cent on, but absurdly get to control. Dump all of that great old stuff on a site, charge a low monthly or yearly fee, and allow unlimited downloading. And don't handicap the files, either. Allow them to be used however the buyer pleases. Fair use is protected in the US, even if the music comapnies don't like it. I can tell you I'd sign up for that. I remember a Mama Cass special a while back (check my post from 9.20.2003) and I kept thinking that I'd love to hear more of her early folk stuff. But I'm no idiot. That stuff is non-existant on CD. I'd have loved to have been able to just jump online and download it. I can think of tons of stuff I'd love to have. Yes, it'd cost money to set up, but this is stuff they aren't earning a dime on that could definetly bring in some cash. Plus, it'd work to preserve culture, which ought to be an obligation of the Music Industry. But, as we've seen with the attacks on copyright limits, the entertainment biz doesn't much care about advancing the arts and sciences.

Ah, screw it. I know that this is vitriol. No solution, spleen-venting, but I feel better having screamed. Don't you?

(Major brownie points to anyone who can identify that without googling)


wes clark loses me

This is what you get for pandering to the jingoistic American Legion. I wanted to like Wesley Clark, I really did. But I cannot support a candidate who believes in meddling with the first amendment. We have never passed a repeal of our First Amendment rights, and we never should. Freedom of expression is perhaps our most important liberty. It is supremely American and it is an insult to all that our flag stands for to suggest we roll-back those rights. This is a liberty our founders took very seriously, and it is something every American should be proud of.

I got to sit through a day long American Legion propaganda session when I did Boy's State in high school trying to pressure us to support their effort to re-write freedom of expression. Their lack of a coherant point was breath-taking. It was pure jingoism meant to indoctronate 16 and 17 year olds. Indeed, the whole flap over flag burning is a much-ado-about-nothing scenario. It's a fake issue. Flag burnings happen so infrequently as to further make a mockery of the supposed justification of re-writing the constitution. This just doesn't deserve such attention. Its an issue being exploited by people. This is no reason to undermine the Constitution.

America is more than a symbol. It is more than 13 bars, 50 stars, and a field of blue. What makes our nation is justice, liberty, freedom. That is what our soldiers fight for when the fight under our flag. This is what my father and my grandfather fought for. Not for the flag itself, but for what it means. Frankly, I think it represents a massive failure in teaching civics that this is not just understood. That people don't understand that the flag is nothing compared to what this nations really stands for. We, as a nation, clearly have not adequately informed our citizenry of what it means to be an America. Our Constitution ought to be much more sacred than our flag. Even if you don't think people ought to be burning flags, how can you think it merits meddling in such a genuinely sacred symbol of America.

I don't like it that people burn the flag to make a point. I think it is callous and unproductive. But that is their right. If it is okay for someone to promote horrible racism, how can we say that burning some fabric is the more heinous crime? Both are bad, but also are proof of the resiliency of the American nation and the American spirit. Someone burning our flag is no threat to our nation. How dare we repeal the first amendment to outlay such an unimportant issue. We should not embarass the generations to come with the specticle of a crossed out amendment. We made a mistake once in our history, and it remains a national shame that we abused our Constitution over such a trivial issue as alcohol. There are important reasons to ammend the Constitution. Flag burning is most decidedly NOT it.

Some say that this amendment is intended to be for our veterens. Rather than tamper with a liberty those veterens served in defense of, why not provide more health care for those have performed duty for the armed forces? Why not shore up the benefits our injured soldiers can recieve. A former POW who was shot twice in the line of duty was offered a paltry 30% disability. That is respect for our veterens? Effort that could be spent protecting those who risk life and limb for all that that this nation stands for is instead spent pursuing a silly perversion of our Constitution.

So, I have lost a great deal of respect for Wesley Clark. He was pandering to an American Legion audience. He should know better. As should Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich who have also consistantly supported repealing a freedom of expression. Howard Dean has gone the route of attacking the first ammendment but not clearly stating that HE wants to attack the first ammendment. I don't get it, either, but thus far he hasn't had the power to actually make this issue a problem. And much credit must be given to John Kerry, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman who have defended the sanctity of our Constitution in the US Senate, as did Carol Moseley-Braun when she served as Senator. I can't find what Al Sharpton thinks, but I guess he doesn't support amending the Constitution. I still single out the Senators who have made a real contribution to defending our Constitution and am especially ashamed of the Representatives who made a contribution to meddling with it.


oh, me of little faith (and ability)

Not long after I "gave up" on my novel, I started reconsidering what my issues were. I largely decided that my concept was the primary problem and it was just too weak for what I wanted to do with it. Now, when I first thought about doing NaNoWriMo, I had an idea pop into my head right away but I dismissed it as too science fiction-ish. This wasn't entirely fair, as the idea was really a sort of post-modern after-life mythology, but it seemed close enough. When I gave up on the college story, though, I reconsidered my original idea. In about 6 hours of thinking about it, I had a very fully formed plot, a strong cast of characters, two alternative endings, and a very good understanding for the physical reality of the novel. I was feeling very secure, and very silly for my prior defeatism. But, I continued to procrastinate the actual writing.

I finally sat down today to work on it, and I tossed off 1,000 words in about an hour. Problem is, I hated it. So, I'm back where I was before, only with a better idea now. I'm still thinking overly visually. I'm seeing the story, but that doesn't mean I'm translating it well at all. I still have the basic problem that I don't know how to write fiction. Based in no small part to me not reading much fiction. I'd like to get back to it, so I'm thinking of the project on hiatus, but I have no illusion that I'll be able to do anything this month. But, I'm really excited about the idea which leaves me a little creatively frustrated.

Ah, well. For another day, I suppose.


movie review- elf

I saw the new holiday comedy Elf over the weekend and was quite amused. It worked on just about every level and had quite a few laugh out loud moments, which is saying a lot for me. I like my comedy, but I'm usually amused inwardedly, you know? But there were more than a few moments when I just burst out laughing.

Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is used to perfection. He carries the movie but manages to not get old. He threatens at a couple points, but the director held firm and rode through the rough waters. This is what Ferrell does best, without a doubt, and his given the room to do what he does, but not more than is needed. This is best accomplished by an outstanding supporting cast that is more than capable of holding their own with the sceen stealing Ferrell. James Cann is very suited to the role of Buddy's Naughty List residing father. He's bad, but not so bad that his redemntion seems inappropriate. Zooey Deschanel is a revelation as Buddy's object of affection. Its a too small part, but Zooey's work makes it hold its own. She was really so good that I was surprised I hadn't seen her in much. Especially when I realized what I recognized her from were from two great films, Almost Famous and The Good Girl, I was stunned that I haven't seen more from her. She was really spot on. I can't even quite explain the effect she created, but it was that kind of awkward, counter-culture cute that seems to go over well in Hollywood and I didn't really see what seperated Zooey from, say, Maggie Gyllenhaal who seems a lot more recognizable. There's also some other actresses doing this sort of thing that I can't remember right now. ANYWAY, the supporting cast also featured some great turns from Faizon Love, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Sedaris, and especially Bob Newhart as Buddy's adoptive father and Ed freakin' Asner as Santa Claus. How cool is that?

ANYWAY, the story is really held together by excellent writing. A lot of time is taken up in setting up the story, which means they do kind of rush the resolution. This bothered me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw this as a good trade-off. Setting up the North Pole so well allowed them to go where they did with Buddy's character. It had to be understood that he really wasn't an idiot, just very very earnest. It wasn't just him, after all. We saw it. It really gave them a lot of freedom to do a lot of funny stuff. It also made the quick resolution make some sense, as we could understand what an honest and genuine person Buddy was, we could understand how he could change these people so quickly.

But, that's reading a lot more than is necessary into what aspires to nothing more than being a fun Christmas movie. Good for adults, good for kids, and quite possibly a holiday classic in the making in the mold of Scrooged.

(I'm always amazed at how an agnostic like myself can get into Christmas every year, but I guess that's just a testament to what a secular holiday it has become.)


arnold and the private dick

Governor Elect Schwarzenegger is hiring a private investigator to investigate allegations of Arnold's wide-spread groping.

Um, huh?

His hiring a private eye to find out if he, himself, has done anything wrong?

I feel bad for the people who didn't vote for Arnold, because you got stuck with a REAL piece of work.


casual day in the presidential race

Right in my own proverbial backyard, we had 8 of the 9 remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination appearing at a Rock the Vote forum/debate at Fanuial Hall. I missed the debate, both in person and on TV, but have been checking on the stories to find out what the deal with Howard Dean's confederate flag comments were. Now understanding the context, I have to say that I do think Edwards and Sharpton were wrong to attack him for it BUT that Dean did an embarassingly bad job defending himself. If you're going to take the route of a defiant defense, you should be able to put up a good one, and Dean didn't. The shame is, he did have a good point, but even I didn't get it until his last remark. And his initial comment didn't provide ANY of the context which made the remark a statement in support of racial diversity rather than pandering to racial tension.

The other thing I noted in the candid photographs of the event is how all of the candidates were clearly getting along, inspite of the bickering that went on in the debate. That is a powerful image that the Democratic Party NEEDS to use. Primarily elections need to be divisive, but we also need to show a unified front. I trust that is the belief of everyone in the race (though I have concerns about Sharpton due to past behavior, and Kucinich due to current remarks) and this needs to be stressed. The primaries are important, but do not show a lack of resolve on the part of Democrats. It better not, anyway. Any progressive who tries to claim there is no difference between a Democrat and George W. is going to look like a damn idiot now. They did back in 2000, mind you, but Nader was able to sway enough people with his false advertising. We mustn't let this happen again.

The other big issue, of course, is what they were wearing. To appeal to young voters, the candidates went casual to varying degrees. Mosley Braun, um, well she looked normal. So did Lieberman and Sharpton who came in wearing jackets which they both shed for the forum. Which actually left Sharpton looking kinda silly since his was a three-piece suit and he kept on an unbuttoned vest. Meanwhile, John Kerry lost a jacket, but he was already tie-less. Dean had no jacket, it seems, but he did have his sleeves rolled in a manner even I (a compulsive sleeve roller-upper) found goofy. And finally we had the turtleneck twins, Clark and Kucinich who just seemed out of place. Clark had on a black suit with a black turtleneck, which was really forboding on camera. I think Kucinich did the same, but lets face it, he will never look forboding.

Other then that, I have no idea what happened. Eh, I'll find out tomorrow on The Daily Show. I really need to pick a horse soon, though. I was really high on Kerry, but I'm still quite open to Clark and Edwards. Massachusetts' primary elections are early enough that they might still matter, but late enough to lose the non-starters.


well, that didn't take long

I don't like my novel. Its got no plan and no point. I should have planned more. I might try to plot it out a bit more, but I'm considering it on semi-perminant hiatus.

Not that I'm completely undaunted. My greatest flaw here was haphazard planning. I may try to do some reading of appropriate books for inspiration, a bit of research, some actual planning for the plot, and maybe a whole change of outlook on the project. As I'm pretty sure it won't be done this month, maybe I'll drop the novel concept and move back to my old idea for writing a graphic novel. We'll see.

See, this is why I didn't think I was going to go through with this. hehe.


back to writing

Or rather, whining about writing.

I'm not getting nearly as far into sketching out my NaNoWriMo novel as I wanted to be by now. It hasn't helped that I've been either stressed or sick or both since Columbus Day. I haven't even had the time to write long overude responses to the wonderful Aimee, to whom I owe about a million emails.

So, just get myself thinking about my novel, I'm going to tempt fate and write about what I'm planning on writing. I always find it dangerous to get ahead of myself, but what the hell. I always do it anyway, so no need to keep up the pretense.

I had a few ideas before I zeroed in on the one I've been "preparing". Two sci-fi kinda stories and one not. I'm going with the one not, in large part because the idea was so small. The novel is meant to take place over one day, in fact. That's part of the gimmick I mentioned in an earlier post. Every chapter will be an hour and their will be 24 chapters. Basically, its the day in the life of a college dorm. I always remember this one day my freshmen year when everything got turned upside down. I was actually sick that day and slept through most of it and was just weirded out when I woke up in the middle of the night to find everything was screwed up. Long-time couples had broken up, friends were hooking up, couches were stolen. So, the idea of a day of hell has always interested me. Plus, I figured, I could use the large base of characters to flesh out the plot when the gimmick proved more of a liability than asset.

Not that I'll really be writing a novel with 50 equal characters. There will be three primary characters who begin the story and then end it. They are the core of it. Then, there will be 2 or 3 secondary plot lines to flesh things out. Most of it will be intentionally light but thoughtful, though I'm heavily tempted to do a heavy story out of nowhere in the last few chapters. It'll probably depend on where I am with my word count when I get to the wee hours of the morning.

My problem is that I've got very little planning on who the cast of characters will be. I mean, I know the central trio very well, and I have a loose idea of what will go on around them, but its all the side stuff that I'm lost on. Especially what I'm going to have everyone do and how they will get there. I want to eventually set up a hook-up between two of the leads, but I'm not sure how to get them there. The 24 hour idea makes that tough. I have to establish these relationships in the coarse of this day, after all. And it isn't helping that I have no conception of how long it will take to tell this story. Sometimes, I'm worried about making the word count. Other times, I'm worried about writing too much.

I'm inclined to just take it easy, though, and do the whole fly by the seat of my pants thing. Just dive right in and see what happens. I have such phenomenally low expectations, after all, that I can hardly end up disappointed if it doesn't go anywhere. But, we'll see. Maybe, in spite of myself, I can write something with a purpose and quality narative. I'm not betting on it, though, but stranget things have happened.


the moscow theater tragedy

WARNING. This is some heavy stuff and I don't really go anywhere with it. Just be warned.

60 Minutes is doing a powerful story on the Theater seige in Moscow last year. It is very illuminating. It is drawn from an HBO documentary, "Terror in Moscow" which will be re-run next week.

The most important message that it delivers is a reminder of why there cannot be a knee-jerk condemnation of terrorism. Although the methods are deplorable, they can be understandable. There is a world of difference between a group who is suffering extreme abuses from a ruling power resorting to these actions, and those who are just doing it to advance an ideology. Simply put, there is a difference between the Timothy McVeigh's and Osama Bin Laden's of the world and the Palestinians, North Ireland Catholics, Chechens, and other such groups. I deplore their tactics, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't sympathetic. I can write off the terrorists who are fueled by hate. But those fueled by a sense of self-preservation are much more challenging. These are people who are involved in a genuine struggle which is taking the lives of so many around them. Their tactics are wrong, don't mistake me. But these aren't impossibly evil people. They are humans and that is something we need to confront.

The Russians didn't do themselves any favors, either, in trying to get the terrorists portrayed as impossibly evil. All the more so now that we can see some of the film from inside the theater during the seige. Although the terrorists were completely prepared to die for the cause (and completely expecting to) they were also clearly ready for a dialogue. The Russians tried to claim that their attack occured because the terrorists started killing hostages, but that was a blatent lie. Although a hostage was killed, it was about as accidental as it could get in that kind of situation. It certainly wasn't an assasination. The Russians knew this. They had already planned to attack the hostages after tricking them into thinking the Russians wanted to talk. Then, the Russians pumped in a gas to incapacitate, well, everyone. The lead terrorists understood what was happening and left to another position where they put up a final fight with the Russians. Left in the theater were the so-called "Black Widows". These were female terrorists who had bombs strapped to them which they were prepared to set off. Except, they didn't. They could have killed everyone, including the Russians who raided the building after the gas took effect, but it didn't happen. Instead, once they were all unconcsious, they were all killed by the Russian soldiers. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that, really, but I'm also not going to condemn it. The women could have killed a lot of people if they were playing possum, and I'm not sure the Russian army made the wrong choice there. But, its still killing someone in cold blood. Do you risk the killing a lot of people or do you kill a defenseless person just to be safe? It seems like a complicated question. Except for one thing.

The Russians killed a lot of people all on their own.

Now, just to be clear, NO hostage was killed in the process of raiding the building. No hostage in the building when the Russians started gassing the building was killed by a hostage taker. Not a single one. They were all killed by the "recovery" opperation. A whopping 129 of them. For a variety of reasons, too. Some were killed because they were left unconscious laying face-up in the rain and they choked to death. Others never recovered from the gas because the authorities have never admited what was in them and they waited days before even giving doctors a clue of what was killing these patients. To be sure, it was the terrorists who put the hostages in harms way, but that should not remove responsibility on the Russian authorities to seek to protect them. Yes, they saved hundreds, but 129 people is still 129 people. I just think of the scrutiny given the US government over the seige at Waco. There is an example where I'm not sure we did things right and I think lives were lost because of how our government acted. And there has been considerable media, judicial, and legislative scrutiny of those actions. Indeed, a quick study to refresh my memory revealed an overwhelming majority of sites which are extremely (excessively, I would say) critical of the government's action. And here, there is a legitimate arguement that the deaths of the people in the compound are the responsibility of people inside the compound. No such arguement can exist in the Moscow Theatre case, yet the international reporting is largely deferential in some measure. The Russians have been brazenly lying about the seige from the begining, but the facts aren't as easily covered up as they were in the Soviet Union. 2 people were killed by the terrorists. 129 were killed by the Russians. (and no, I'm not counting the dozens of hostages killed in that number)

In America, it is easy to see terrorism in terms of black and white, good and evil. That is what our experience with terrorism has been. It has been 9/11. It has been Oklahoma City. It has been the Trade Center bombing. So, it can be easy to view other struggles with terrorism around the world in the same light, but this would be grave mistake. We mustn't give oppressive government's a blank check to do whatever they want in the name of combating terrorism. Its just not that simple. And we sully our nation's good name when we rubber stamp some of the brutal efforts around the world. The real crime is, its not just England, Russia or Israel that we're talking about. Although in each country, I feel they have committed horrible acts but I don't see them in good/evil terms either. They are complex issues on both sides and both can elicit sympathy and condemnation. Though I'm annoyed at our silence in the face of some of the shamefully haphazard attacks that have been launched on Palastinian civiliains (I'm sorry, but no one can justify sending missles into residential areas to carry out political retribution assinatiations), I'm more troubled at the way we are rubber-stamping the actions of governments we know damn well are being oppressive. Nations we can see in black/white, good/evil. Because we're letting them get away with murder, literally, as long as they say they are acting in the interest of homeland security against "terrorists".

Sorry, I know you guys the light stuff, and I half-considered switching gears half-way through and instead commenting on the 60 Minutes story on Undercover Marketing, but I just wanted to get this out and its my blog so I get to do that. hehe. Just be glad I'm not talking about Baseball.


wait, that was about what?

Actually took until 1987 to get into watching I Love the 80's Strike Back on VH1. Man, I could comment about just about everything. I mean, Wesley freakin' Snipes was the guy threatening Michael Jackson in the "Bad" video? But, what I want to comment on today is something which took me entirely by surprise.

"Flowers in the Attic" was about incest? Seriously?

Man, was I oblivious when I was 9.

And, I want to thank everyone for their encouragement in my novel post. I was really too overwhelmed to know what to say, but thank you all. Really means a lot to have such supportive comments when I really wasn't looking for anything. I mean, I was just whining without purpose, but thanks everyone.


the mediocre american novel

I've been strongly considering joining my readers Aimee and Kell in participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). After all, I started this blog as a means of getting back into the habit of writing. It seems only fitting to jump into such a bold challenge and see where it leaves it me.

There is one problem, though. I suck at fiction. Poems? Cool. Editorializing? I'm there. Plays/screenplays? All over it. Stories? Now, there is my problem. Its never something I've gotten the hang of. My writing is too dialogue heavy. Too self-consciously unconventional. Too visually oriented. And, there is the added problem that I don't read fiction. I'll be posting my personal library of novels soon, and its just down right amusing. I own two novels that I didn't buy for school. Well, not counting the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, anyway. The closest thing to a favorite writer is Douglas Coupland, and I've only read two of his books. I like reading quick stuff, not long stories. Even the novels I bought for school, I mostly skimmed with a couple notable exceptions. (I love D.H. Thomas' The White Hotel) Who am I to think I can write a novel?

Well, for the most part, I'm playing to those insecurities. For one, I'm not going to sign up for the competition until I'm at least half-way through and with good reason to think I'll be able to finish it. I'm employing a literary gimmick which should give the novel more structure and thus easier for me to write. I'm also writing a broad story without pretense. I'll save my good writing for when I think I'm a good writer. Just doing a silly little story for now.

I'm going radically between feeling unprepared and over-eager to get started. I like the idea of the challenge and I am interested to see where it takes me. Also, I'm debating discussing my ideas here, for fear of jinxing myself by talking about it. We'll see, I suppose.


generic what i'm reading post #2

Well, didn't take long to do that again.

I highly recommend checking out Tish's commentary on Average-size Privilege over at Fatshadow. It is extremely well-worth reading and contributing to the discussion and I highly recommend any of my readers who haven't yet seen it to go and check it out. Look for her entry on October 15.

The other thing I've been reading today is about the scary views of a Christian extremists in a very high level post in the Defense Department. Because his cronies are keen to bump him up the ranks, they are down-playing statements which aside from being profoundly bigoted, are putting men and women in uniform in very real danger by inciting Muslums to respond with the same level of righteous violence he exposes. Thus is the story of Lt. General Jerry Boykin. Check out the report from the L.A. Times, or from NBC News, or from Salon. It is some pretty disturbing rhetoric this guy has been saying to churches. Some of it, he even says in uniform. Despite many complaints, the Defense Department refuses to do anything about it, saying he didn't break any "rules." Yeah, because aparently judgement calls aren't made at the Pentagon. I guess someone endangering our foreign policies and our soldiers on the ground is okay, because it technically doesn't violate any rules. Its all very disturbing, indeed. But, it seems, Boykin has the answer to how we got stuck with W. as our President, according to Salon's Joe Conason. He reports the general as once commenting, "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States. He was appointed by God." This level of religious extremism has no place in our government or the military. Its no wonder Muslum nations doubt our intentions when the hatred of this nutcase is so easily tolerated.


generic what i'm reading post #1

You know, I don't post enough about just what I'm reading. I usually feel that unless I have at least something to offer, I should just keep it to myself. But, I keep thinking I should do more of that, so here we go...

Last month, Slate ran an illuminating two-part story on how the majority of people in the draft Hillary for President movement were actually conservative Republicans who were just salivating at the mere thought of getting to attack a Clinton some more. There is actually a book writen by some GOP idealogue laying out her "scheme" to run for the White House. All this in-spite of her continually consistant "I'm not running" stance. Its all a funny little portrait of the single-minded obsession of many of the kind of folks Al Franken talks about.

I guess they didn't think they were funny enough.

Seems they are now attacking Hillary for running a bad campaign. You can't write a joke like that. I mean, what can you do but laugh. Meanwhile, Hillary continues to establish herself as an entirely competiant and effective representative of the people of New York. No reason I can see for her to stop doing something she's clearly very good at.

you, all right. i learned it by watching you.

I guess it shows just how straight-laced I am that I still have no fucking clue what was in the cigar box in the 1987 anti-drug PSA where the dad confronts his kid only to learned that his son learned drug use from him, all right. It was always a silly commercial as the kid keeps trying to answer his dad but the father keeps intereupting him to shut him. Daddy was probablly doped up, though, so what are you gonna do. But, I'm still mystified by that drug paraphonalia. It looked so scary and, well, complicated. I mean, this kid didn't look like someone who was into hard drugs. Maybe a joint with friends, but what was that stuff? Heroin? Cocaine? I still don't know.

But, I guess I'll be doing this kind of flash-back shit a lot because VH1 will start airing their sequel to "I Love the 80's" next week. Appropriately named, of course, "I Love the 80's Strikes Back". Hell, I even watched "I Love the 70's" and I genuinely wasn't there for that. I really hope the release it on DVD, though. I love this sort of meaningless pop-culture nostalgia.


playing ball

I seemed to have surprised at least one of my blog readers when I went off about ESPN a few days ago. Yes, I like sports, and I keep meaning to write an entry on my thoughts about the major sports in the US, but I keep not getting around to it. Ah, well. I do want to at least get out my thoughts on the baseball playoffs as I've been a baseball fan the longest and this year's playoffs are some of the best in recent memory. The games have been close and well played with a lot of history around all of the teams. But, I just want to discuss the four remaining teams. I will probably completely bore most of you, so be warned.

I'd like to root against the Marlins because their 1997 World Series championship is one of the low points in baseball history. It was probably the only time a team genuinely bought a championship, and they promptly dumped the team in the off season. It was horrible to watch and awful for the sport.

But, you have to appreciate the way the team has managed to rebuild itself and get back to this place. They are a fun young team, there is no denying that. Still, they are young team with little fan support, so its tough to pull of them. Especially with who they are facing in the National League Championship Series.

You have to like the Cubs. They are the classic underdog. Their fans have been waiting nearly 100 years for a World Series victory. For much of that time, they weren't a contender, either. They've had some great players and even better fans who are some of the most loyal in baseball. The current team are a great bunch of players, including one the game's best ambassadors, Sammy Sosa. Yeah, I know the cork incident, but he built up enough good will before and since that he deserves some lee way. The Cubs are just a good baseball team that's handled a lot of ups and downs in recent years and a lot of downs in their history. But, the fans stick through it. Hey, I know they aren't perfectly loyal and their are a lot of fair weather Cubs fans, but with what they've been through, I'll allow it. It would be great to see them make it to the series, and given that I'm a National League fan (I'm old school, like that) I'll happily root for them there.

Plus, they have the benefit of having Dusty Baker as their manager. Dusty was shoved out of San Francisco after taking the Giants to the World Series last year. He's one of the best managers in the game, and the Giants didn't show him proper respect. Now, the Giants lost in the first round of the playoffs, and Dusty is still there. I'd love to see him back in the series and take it home, too. I can be very loyal to players and managers in sports who I think do a good job and aren't respected by their teams. I love the idea of them sticking it to their detractors, and I would love to see Dusty go all the way.

Fans of the Yankees are some of the most spoiled in baseball. The Yankees are never far from a World Series and consistantly field a solid team. So, its easy to root against them. Especially given the idea most people have that they buy their championships.

But you know what? The Yankees don't buy championships. The win because they spend their money well. A lot of their money is spent keeping players, not buying them. Plenty of teams have money and go no where. Plenty of teams have no money and win. Yeah, the Yankees have money and that sure helps, but they also spend it right. They don't have a flashy team of super stars. They have solid players who play well as a team and pick up the slack for their team mate when needed. They also have a great manager in Joe Torre. I may not want to root for the Yankees, but I have to respect them.

Ah, the cursed Red Sox. Given that I live in Boston, you'd think I'd be a big Sox fan shouting "Cowboy Up" (long story, which I don't really get) at every opportunity. But no. Yeah, I know they are a hard luck story like the Cubs. But the Cubs fans were loyal through the lean years. The Red Sox never really had lean years. They weren't loyal out of devotion. They kept rooting because they LIKE losing. They like having something to complain about. I know that's getting cliche to say, but its damn true. Trust me, I'm hear. Red Sox fans are the most impatient, whiny, ungrateful, self-important fans in all of sports. And that's saying a lot given the sense of entitlement that you find in Yankees fans. They don't express their loyalty through fierce devotion, but rather through knee-jerk hatred of anything that isn't Red Sox approved. We are seeing that clearly now after the absurd antics at Fenway Park for Game 3 of their series with the Yankees. We saw Red Sox players act like complete morons as Pedro Martinez threatens Yankees and Manny Ramerez gets nutty paranoid and starts a brawl over NOTHING. But is that the story? Nope. They are blasting a 72 year old Yankee coach, who has apologized, for charging Pedro after Pedro taunts him. Oh, and they are also obsessed over the story about how two Yankees allegedly beat up a grounds crew worker who was behaving horribly unprofessionally by rooting against the Yankees from the Yankees own bullpen. I say allegedly, because the Yankees players insist they just asked him to stop taunting them and the guy picked the fight. Frankly, I believe them, because I know what dicks Red Sox fans are. But its important that I say allegedly because NO ONE ELSE IS. I swear, all of the media outlets around here are treating this as fact. Just another thing to add to the collective persecution complex found in Red Sox fans.

The Sox fans don't deserve a winner. They don't want one, either. I'm hoping they don't get it. So, weird as it is for me, GO YANKEES!

Okay, I'll try to avoid sports for a few days so I don't piss off all of my readers. hehe.

Oh, and a special shout out to my blog reader Aimee, who I hung out with yesterday. Woo hoo!


movie review: kill bill, volume 1

I saw the new Quentin Tarrentino film last night, Kill Bill. It is a far more challenging and difficult movie than anyone seems to be giving it credit for. The movie is very disturbing, and I think that is the intent. Rather than movies which desensitize us to violence, Tarrentino seemed interested in RE-sensitizing people to violence by letting it be horrible, graphic, and shocking.

The risk when trying to do something like this, of course, is that you can get two unintended responses. You can disturb people too much. That's certain a fair reaction to this film. The violence is pretty awful and it is tough to take because the volume of it is just so beyond comprehension. The flip side is you get people who still see it as entertainment, even though that is what the director is deconstructing.

Or is it? I'm not completely sure. Which is why the movie is difficult on the viewer. Is it gratuitous violence, or is he exposing the entertainment of violence. Is it over the top to lessen the effect or heighten it? Tough to say. I do want to learn more about the director's intent and when I do, I may comment more, but I want to post some quick thoughts now.

Aside from the violence question, it is a brilliant work of art. Agressively bold and daring and with a total understanding of the film and the motifs in play. He wields his deep awareness of the film to heighten the experience. Some fight scenes are played sans musical soundtrack, allowing their brutal nature to be alone on screen. Indeed, the sound effects are amped to jar the audience. When the music does come in, it is either disquieting or operatic. The irreverence of some of the music is made more obvious with the contrast to the music-less scenes, but others are played as a stylish ballet. And really, that is all movie violence ever is. It is a choreography, and Tarrentino delves deeply into wire-fu techniques for a surreal take on the viciousness images flying by. Everything is played out in its own way to make the contrast and distinctions more apparent. The violence is made all the more graphic because so much of it comes from the blade rather than the usual method of movie body counts, the gun. Vastly more. I can only recall one gun death off-hand. The effect of this is to personalize the violence and limit the audience's ability to disconnect. We're used to seeing movies where the "hero" mows down countless villains with a machine gun. Here, she holds a sword and the impact is not distant but intimate.

The question of the nature of violence as entertainment is a very relevant one. Movies often let us off the hook when they ram a massive body count into our open eyes. Its okay, they are aliens. Its okay, they are zombies. Its okay, they are terrorists. Its okay, she's a robot. Kill Bill doesn't seem to want us to get away with that disconnect. It is a daring and risky move, to be sure, and some people will not be able to handle the violence, and specifically the knowledge that some people are being thrilled by it. I don't blame them at all for that response, but I do think the movie is more than that and though I caution you to be aware of what you are getting into, I would certainly recommend the film.


need toys?

Head on down to KB Toys before October 14 to get 30% off your purchase of $30 or more. Is this some great sale? Nope. Settlement of a class action lawsuit. I'm actually part of the class, so I'm quite interested in people taking KB for whatever they can get.


damn californians

Well, let the Recall Arnold campaign begin.

Oh, love the non sequiter at the end of The Daily Show. "This has been a presentation of ABC Sports". I don't get that, but I still thought it was funny. I missed the first few minutes, though, so maybe it wasn't much of a non sequitar as it seemed.

Not sure which time I got "non sequita/er" spelled correctly, so I'll leave them both.

dreading california

I don't think I even want to know how things turn out in Cali. I'll watch The Daily Show but I'm just really dreading the notion that this scum bag is going to get elected in what is a farce to begin with. All the more so if fewer people vote for Arnie than voted against the recall. This isn't Democracy. It's a joke. I half-want Davis to resign right now, thus ensuring the recall becomes a moot point. But, I know that would blow up in the face of the Democratic Party, but it may be worth it to avoid Governor Terminator. His supports have no idea what they are doing. Literally! I mean, they don't know what he believes what he stands for or anything. Just that he's a good "leader". Really took it to those machines, after all. This was all funny a while back, but the wave of stupid is continuing unabated. I have to worry that people just won't wake up to this once he gets into office. I can't console myself with the notion that he'll kill himself, because there is no reason he should have gotten this far. I can respect a Republican candidate I disagree with. Its the system. I can deal with McClintock winning (he won't) but Arnie is another thing entirely. He's mocking politics. Mocking Government. Mocking all that our forefathers worked to ensure. And the fact that he doesn't get to make crappy movies for a few years is very little consolation, either.

Ugh. And I don't even live there. Cali has problems, but Grey Davis is WAY down on the list. How about reforming that disgustingly unfair property law? Man alive. California has what might be the most immoral tax code in the history of tax codes. Even worse than taxation without representation, because that had no pretense. How is this not more of an issue? It can be reformed WITHOUT raising overall taxes. But, of course, the people who'll pay are the wealthiest and greediest. Arnie included.

I just don't want to look. It's like a great big car wreck. At least the baseball playoffs have been interesting.

the worst governor in the state's history

I was considering posting on the Arnold situation, since I know several of my readers are Californians. At some point, I wanted to make the point of how Cali is at risk of electing the worst governor in US History. It took about a second for me to realize that was a dangerous overstatement. I was mostly thinking about Reagan and Ventura. As nutty as them running for office seemed, both had political experience before running for Governor. Ventura was a mayor, after all, and Reagan was (rather improbably) a union president which is essentially a lobbying job. They weren't political novices, in spite of their colorful backgrounds.

Arnold, however, falls into the recent category of political newbies who are impossibly wealthy and just go straight for the big prize. He's got a lot of company. My current governor is one of those types. Jumped right into running for Senate, lost, and then went on to win the governor's office. Inevitably, the think and campaign on the notion that since they were successful in business, they must naturally be successful in government. The Perot arguement. Of course, its bullshit, but especially so in Arnold's case. I can at least understand the point when a person built a business from nothing. But Arnold? His fame is because he has muscles. That's it. I mean, I don't mean to knock acting, but any notion that this work prepares a person for government is downright bizarre.

So, basically, I just wanted to point out unprepared Arnold is for office. And, of course, his widespread problem with sexual harrassment/assault (which, for all the Arnold supports, is NOT the same thing as "womanizing" so you can stop comparing him to Clinton, or Kennedy, or whoever). But, I immediately realized that it was just silly hyperbole to say he's the worst governor ever. I mean, surely we've elected some real nutcases in the last 200 years. Probably more than a few people who were criminally corrupt, maybe even a murderer or two. And I think it took me about 30 seconds to remember the horrible leaders of segregation who have a lock on all of the "worst governor" slots in recent memory.

Which got me curious, who is the worst governor in US History. When I researched my article on the Democratic Presidential candidates, I came upon references to Kucinich being selected as one of the worst mayors in US history by an academic panel. Surely, such information would be available for our nation's governors with a simple google search.


Pretty much ever reference to "worst governor" was a partisan attack directed at whoever is currently in power or recently in power. Much of it was directed at Grey Davis, but I found references to most of the states in the union where the sitting Gov has been described by political opponants as the "worst governor" in the state's history. Democrat, Republican, whatever. Even the genuinely courageous and Nobel Peace Prize nominated George Ryan of Michigan. (UPDATE: Who, yeah, I know was a crook, but still) No acadmeic information at all. Ah, well.


four in one

Fourth post of the day! Woo hoo! A quickie this time around, though.

Just wanted to say that my boy, Alton Brown is getting parodied in a Burger King commercial. You know you've made it when a fast food franchise thinks you're an appropriate subject for a commercial. Its kind of annoying, since its such a stupid ad, but its pretty much the definitive proof of pop culture status, so big ups to Alton for the parody. You've made it!

(yeah, I know I just called a tv host my "boy". Just trying to mix it up a bit and bring bad use of slang from 3 years ago to the blog)

Well, turns out I was seeing what I wanted to in the Burger King commercial. They had another ad which featured Food Network's Rachel Ray which made me re-examine my assumpsion that the ad was a mimic of Alton. Turns out, the chef included is a Rick Bayless, a well-known chef and author from Chicago who has a show on PBS which basically does the whole take you through a market thing. Which is hardly Alton's trademark or something unheard of for a food show.


So, my apologies for jumping the gun on this one. Although, am I the only one who thinks its a little unseemly for TV chefs to be endorsing a fast food restaurant

cult of jared gets more obvious

You know, I'm actually glad that Subway sandwiches suck, because otherwise I might be pissed off at their continually insulting ad campaign featuring Jared. The series has built him up as a literal cult figure with worshipers and everything. That's why I've identified them as the "Cult of Jared" ads. The obsessive adoration of Jared has just been really disturbing, but obviously with the general adoration of weight loss in our society, most people don't see that.

It'll be tough to miss it now.

The latest duel campaign from Subway makes the religous nature of their product unmistakable. For starters, there are the "It's okay, I had Subway" ads. I didn't really see this as much until I found an article at Slate that was seeing this the same way I was. I know I found the ads vaugely objectionable and stupid, but frankly Slate is right. They are treating their product as a redemption. Sure, its a joke, but how much of one? You have to wonder after seeing the ads Jared is staring.

What Would Jared Do?

You know, like Jesus.

Ugh. Yeah, its played for laughs, but after years of their Adoration of the Dieter, I have to wonder. When we start seeing stained glass windows at Subway, I think we really need to start worrying.

giant inflatable cartoon character balloon season

I have another thing to add to the list of things I don't get. These big, front yard, holiday balloons. Just started last year, didn't it? With those big ugly pumpkins on Halloween followed up by Santa's and reighndeer and snowmen for Christmas. It was cute the first time I saw one. Significantly less so the next 50 times.

But, they're back. And it seems the valuable cartoon character liscences are getting in on the action. On my way to work, I saw an 8 foot tall Winnie the Pooh dressed up as Dracula with his arms stretched out and his cape unfurled.

Yeah, I don't get that.

I mean, I have issues with Disney properties, anyway (although the REAL owners of Winnie and friends are about to put some legal smackdown on Eisner and friends) but who puts down $50 to $100 (sorry, its apparently $80. $80!) for one of these monstrocities? Its just scary, but not in a Halloween kind of scary but more Governor Terminator kind of scary. I just don't get it. I mean, other holiday fads have come and been played out before the next holiday arrives. Icicle Lights, for instance. Remember how awe-inspiring those were at first site and how fast you were sick of them? But at least I understood them. Inflatable lawn ornaments just scare me.


i can watch tom jackson again!

Can't say how pleased I was to be able to leave on ESPN this morning to watch the Sunday NFL countdown. I haven't watched it all season for one very offensive reason who finally got himself into enough trouble to get himself fired. Oh, sorry, I mean offered his resignation in a way which had absolutely nothing to do with him being fired and humiliating him and going for the usual save face offered his resignation thing.

Yep, Rush is off ESPN.

I'm surprised it took him this long to stick his foot into his mouth. He said something VERY predictably racist. His defenders keep insisting its not racist, but bullshit. Oh sure, he was "really" attacking the liberal sports media. (Liberal sports media?!?) Yeah, right. He assumed that the accomplishments of a black man couldn't possibly be true and had to be the result of some big conspiracy that desires a successful black quarterback. He injected race into a situation it had NO business being brought up, for the purpose of discrediting the accomplishments of a black man. Damn right, that's racist.

The object of his attacks, Donovan McNaab, had responded with utter civility. He has handled himself remarkably well after having his ability question in such a disgusting manner. I've watched Donavan since college when he played for my alma mater's conference rival, Syracuse. The guy has the goods, and has put together more than a few MVP caliber seasons in his still young career. Might he be overrated? Maybe, but it sure as hell isn't because of his race. He's also consistantly impressed as a man of great dignity and sincerity and he's impressed us all with his actions this past week. He's a class act, unlike Rush.

The actual Football experts who shared the show with Rush were attacked several times this past week for not standing up to Rush's vile remarks. Appropriately, they opened the show with a sincere apology and explanation. Simply put, they were focused on doing their job and commenting on football. Rush's social commentary didn't really register. I can understand that. I got the impression that none of them were happy with Rush's inclusion on the show, but they were repeatedly reassured that he's keep his social agenda off ESPN. They heard him say McNaab was overrated and started thinking how to respond to that. They just didn't grasp the complete point he was making until they'd already set themselves to refuting his basic point. Afterwards, they were rightly disgusted and probably had a lot to do with ESPN asking Rush to leave.

I was skeptical from the start that Rush wouldn't keep his mouth shut, but besides that, I was deeply offended that ESPN would hire someone who expresses such contempt and hatred for people who have the same ideas and values as myself. With him on the show, I wanted no part in it. I'm glad to be able to return, but still very disgusted with ESPN. This is very much like MsNBC's past situation with hate-monger Michael Savage when they were stunned that he did all the things he did before they hired him. Rush's remarks are NO surprise, and the people at ESPN and its parent company, Disney, should be ashamed of themselves. But he's gone, and has the duel embarassment of being investigated for rather massive and serious charges of drug abuse. Couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

But, I'll stop talking about sports now. Its one of my quirks. In spite of being an artsy type (though not quite a metrosexual), I've always enjoyed watching some sports. Mostly baseball, as football is too obviously cheering for clothes, but its not like much else is on Sundays.