buddy, can you spare $20?

Read this in the New York Times this morning. (its from Sunday's paper) The US Government is pulling out all the stops to promote the forthcoming redesign for the $20 bill. Instead of the usual PSA's, they hired William Morris and having a full-on marketing and public relations plan, including product placement.

Product placement? For money?

I want to make fun of it, but its actually not a bad idea. Just funny to contemplate officials from the Treasury in pitch meetings with show-biz producers and writers trying to snag a guest spot for the $20 on an upcoming Law & Order. Still, this is the way to build awareness and get a lot more exposure for their money. The government usually does things the old way, so it is kinda refreshing to see the real beauracratic element of the Federal Govenment really thinking outside the cliched box for once.

Its also revealing to learn that when you see Letterman crack jokes about the $20, its not just irreverant humor. Its the product of a meeting the Government had with the show's writers. They wanted the new $20 to be made fun of, and pushed for it. Makes me wonder about some other odd topics that find their way into Late Night monologues. At least I can rest assured that The Daily Show wll do a hilarious bit on it. And that's apparently just what the Bureau of Engraving and Printing wants.

And if it gets me blathering on about it in my blog, all the better.

Above product placement has not been paid for. hehe


doesn't anyone promote tv shows anymore?

In spite of being well aware of the premieres of every god-awful sitcom on the fall line-up, I seem to have managed to be completely unaware of the impending season premiere of the one show I bother to watch, Friends. Yeah, its a bit of a guilty pleasure, but the show has its merits. And its the final season, too! Man, how'd I miss it? I'm very disappointed in NBC.

Eager to avoid such a similiar fate with the other couple of shows I watch regularly anymore (and I actually like TV) I paid a visit to the beloved TWop and the less well known TeeVee. I swear, TeeVee has got some of the funniest television writing I've ever had the pleasure to read, and I highly recommend reading their archives. Today, they mock Boston Public's effort at a "ripped from the headlines" story that actually dates back 12 years by suggesting next week, they will cover the Rubix Cube. hehe. Also, in their annual effort to put odds on what horrid show will be the first to get canceled, they come up with some predictably funny stuff. Seems this year features a proliferation of CSI rip-off's. On the NBC series, Las Vagas, they suggest that it's pitch would have been "Its CSI: Miami, only in Las Vegas!" Man, that had me laughing. I know its bad form to just repeat jokes, but seriously, give TeeVee a try. They've got great instincts for television and are damn funny.


my weekend

Just in case anyone was curious, the above is what I spent my weekend doing. (images now deleted)

Okay, not doing as in performing, but I helped it happen so I think I'm owed some credit. hehe. It got international attention, which is obviously very cool, and I really enjoyed the production. But, I'm not going to babble on about it. Just wanted to mention it.

And yes, the women were flying. I might repost the images once the troll influx ends.


the democratic ten

Keeping the serious political tone of my last post, I've been wanting to write my impressions of the field for the Democratic Nomination in 2004. I'll go over each of the nominees in ascending order of how seriously I, personally, am taking their candidacy. This won't be a very in-depth study. For that, I highly recommend Slate's Ballot Box feature. Just my own feelings here.

The Hopeless

BOB GRAHAM: Who? I mean, I follow politics and even I don't have much of a clue about this guy. I mean, I know his credentials, I just don't know what he stands for. Doesn't seem to be much to run on, though. I have heard that he really led the way on these photo-op friendly day-job campaign trips. You know, where a politician does the job of an ordinary person and gets his picture taken and all that. Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts did that and ran an ad which foolishly touted this as a reason to vote for him. Of course, Massachusetts did. Ugh. But, while it usually just a craven photo-op, Graham apparently had done something with it and really means for them to be educational experiences for him. So kudos for that, Bob Graham, whoever you are.

CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN: Yeah, I think we all know she doesn't have a chance. She did well in the Senate, but not really all that well. Her partisan style seems more suited for the House than the Senate, and especially not the White House. Still, she does raise the question of who the highest elected black female Republican is.

DICK GEPHADRT: Has anyone bothered to tell him that he's not going to win? I always find it so sad when people like Gephart seem so convinced that he has a shot. Yeah, I know, he's leading in some "polls", but it doesn't take a Political Science major to see through this. He's too much a politician and too obviously ambitious. I know Labor loves him, but they don't love him enough to push him to the nomination.

DENNIS KUCINICH: In a proper year, I should have said Kucinich first, but alas he's got even more blinded aspirants behind him. In fairness, I don't think Kucinich thinks he has a chance, so that makes his campaign a bit easier to take than the preceding three hopeless candidates. Yeah, I know I'm a progressive so I should like him, but I just don't. He's uninspiring. I'd love to see a passionate and articulate promoter of the liberal cause run for the nomination. But Kucinich REALLY isn't it. His progressive credentials are very debatable, too. I'd really recommend checking out Slate's Flip/Flop feature on Kucinich, but I'm sure there are even better sites out there. But, he's just here for awareness, so I'll allow it. But he doesn't have my vote.

The Hopeful

JOE LIEBERMAN: My former Senator and the former vice-presidential nominee. I was okay with Joe as veep, but much less so in the big chair. Gore's undercredited liberal roots softened Lieberman's conservative leanings, but I don't trust Joe on his own. Still, he's got tons of recognition as a former VP candidate and that makes him a serious contender. I'd be shocked if he wins, though.

AL SHARPTON: I'm as surprised as I'm putting Sharpton so high, too, but he deserves it. He's probably the most committed progressive voice in the campaign, though Kucinich usually gets that nod. He's also done a lot to remedy his past mistakes and it talking like a politician in the good ways. He's definitely not out to hang the Democrats out to dry. He's here to raise awareness of issues, and I think he's going to do a good job of that, and hopefully shore up support for the party among Sharpton's faithful. He's no Jesse Jackson, but he's also no longer the on-time Al Sharpton.

JOHN EDWARDS: Clinton II. Honestly, its like Clinton all over again, except more-so. He's more attractive, and even better fundraiser (I could be wrong about that, but what the heck), and seemingly more liberal. I'm kinda stunned that he hasn't stepped out as one of the front-runners. He talks a very good game, has shown great personality in his appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and a genuine working-class background and the wherewithall to campaign to working class people. He does seem to be confidant, so I'm going to allow the he may know more than I. I think he's banking on a big win in the early South Carolina primary. I hope he's right, because there is a good chance the party will lose the Senate seat he's already given up. I still don't get that. No matter what the polls say, I do think Edwards will be just a breath away from the front-runners come primary season.

The Hope

HOWARD DEAN: Dean is actually part of the downfall in my friendship with the ex-roommate I discussed a couple days back. We were casually discussing politics and I mentioned that I thought if Dean could find an issue, he could really be a credible candidate. At the time, he was beyond a long-shot. Just one of those home-field guys who foolishly thinks that they can parlay a regional advantage in an early primary into a real campaign. Of course, it never happens like that, and Dean seems to understand that. But, back then, he just looked like he was wasting his time. My roommate was aggressively dismissive of the notion and when I challenged her reasoning (that the nation hates Vermont because of Jim Jeffords) she responded by shutting down the conversation and insulting me. ANYWAY, Dean hasn't campaigned like a regional, and found his issue. I figured it was going to be health-care reform, but it turned out to be the war. He's got some appealing points, but ultimately it all falls flat. I like the idea of a Howard Dean candidacy, but I'm concerned his support is largely knee-jerk from anti-war folks and lacks real depth.

WESLEY CLARK: I've seen a lot of people say that Kerry has the most to fear from Clark, since he matches Kerry's military background and then trumps it with those four stars. I actually thin Dean is the big loser, and Dean knows it. Clark's real strength is giving the anti-war folks a better candidate to fall behind. There is a long tradition of pro-Peace generals running for office, and there is good logic behind it. After experiencing the horror of war, especially as a commander within the military system, you gain a profound appreciation for peace. Clark is a very attractive candidate because his take on foreign policy really resonates with a lot of Americans. His stance on domestic issues? Well, its considerably less developed, but he's got time. At first glance, he seems to be campaigning for the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket and is wisely letting himself get checked out by the press up-front since he's got so little political experience. He may be much more serious than that, though.

JOHN KERRY: Kerry would be the front-runner if it weren't for all the people assuming he'd be the front running and declaring him dead-on-arrival for not being so. With Clark and Dean now firmly entrenched in the front-runner role, Kerry might have the room to grow. He's got the goods policy wise. He's definitely a strong liberal. Yeah, I know, he gets slammed for having too many nuanced positions. Well, I like nuance and I'm not convinced that will be a problem with the voters. He's also got electability all over him. I know, my state's last nominee didn't go so well. But, I do recall a certain war hero/Senator holding his own back in 1960. Kerry's mix of dedication and passion could really play well. I know his passion hasn't yet come out, but it will. Just wait for the advertising to start up. Kerry can really build momentum at that stage. He's my early vote, but its still much too early to firmly decide.

why i don't invest

Just a quickie, this morning. I noticed on Yahoo that US stocks are set to open lower because of the weak Dollar. This seemed funny to me because when the Bush administration engaged its "Screw the Dollar" policies which have undone all the efforts in the Clinton administration to build a strong Dollar, I kept reading how this was good for the economy. You see, a weak Dollar is good for exports, as we can make more back selling goods in countries whose currancy is strong in comparison to the Dollar. It also discourages tourism out of the US, but encourages tourism in. So, basically, the average American who wants to visit Paris is screwed (but, really, they're a traitor anyway for wanting to visit France) but the Frenchman who wants to, say, the monument to Marquis de Lafayette in Washington, D.C. is in luck. So, weak Dollar is good for the US economy!

So why is it dragging stocks down?

Well, as you might have already guessed, its not that simple. In addition to screwing over folks planning European honeymoons and border-jumping Canadians trying to get cheap booze and cigarettes, there is a downside for the US, too. For starters, the weak dollar is bad for the rest of the world. Remember that whole global economy thing? The stock market is so knee-jerk that anything which is bad for the rest of the world will be bad, here, too. Also, a little fact that seems to have slipped past the single-minded advisors in the White House is that most of our corporate borrowing comes from international investors. A weak dollar makes for a bad investment for them, which hurts the bond market.

Obviously, there are trade-offs in both directions, but the Bush defenders repeatedly talked about the weak Dollar as if it was magical. Kinda like the tax cuts.

I guess it still is the economy, stupid.


in memorium

Two people I wanted to mention. First, John Ritter. That makes me very angry. Its just so sad and frustrating. He's someone we should have gotten to enjoy for so much longer. He is just such a brilliant comedian. The best physical comedian since the silent film era. Hands down. And even when just playing small roles, he made you want to watch. He had such charm, such effortless grace and flair with comedy. Its not like he was in the best shows ever made, but he was just so damn good in them. To lose him so young feels like an awful shame. I wanted to see more of him. I wanted to keep laughing. It reminds me of how I felt when Jim Henson died. More than the kind of respect and admiration I feel when more elderly performers passed on, I felt angry. I felt upset. I wanted more. I couldn't just be glad for what we had. It bothered me that there wouldn't be more. Its not like either of them lived fast. It was just stuff that happened.

The other person I wanted to talk about is Cass Elliot. Specifically the magnificant A&E biography that debuted today. It is such an incredibly show. I love it. It has none of the usual sensationalism of her story. It treats her life and her work with respect. It didn't regard her death as the inevitability of her weight and it actually agressively responds to that stupid myth about her choking to death. Indeed, it also had the guts to deal with her chronic dieting not as a failure to achieve a goal. It pointed out that it destroyed her health, which has been quietly known for a long time, but always inconvenient for many.

It acknowledges her fame as unlikely, but not as if it was some bizarre thing. They respected the fans she had, rather than treat them like freaks. It allowed that she was a sex symbol, and though it didn't examine whether this was in part *because* she was fat, it certainly didn't bog itself down obsessing over it being "inspite of" her size. Also, I guess because of John Phillips death, they felt they could dispense with some of the myths of her inclusion with the Mama's and the Papa's. Her band-mates reversed the prior story that John didn't think her voice fit with the group, and bluntly said that they felt John didn't want her because she was fat and that two never liked each other.

It didn't romantize her. It was honest about her lonliness and her long habit of getting crushes on men who weren't interested. It also had Denny Doherty admitting (as he has in other documentaries on the band) that he completely regrets not returning her affections and that he felt he had it dead wrong. It did talk about her great popularity and her many close friendships. It also honestly treated her career to a proper perspective and context. I think I've seen all the specials on Cass and the band, and I never got the understanding of her life I did from this show. Even on basic stuff, like her post Mama's career. It was very informing.

And two final things it reminded me of. She has an incredible voice. Really amazing stuff in everything she did. I'm wishing we had a good file-sharing network so I could download all her stuff right now. (I know enough to know much of her output is likely unavailable on CD)

Also, she was really, really, really hot. Great to see a bit more of her than those awful dresses she wore for the Mama's and the Papa's TV appearances. She was an incredibly beautiful woman, and it does give me some hope that she was able to make it so big. I think American would really take to another Cass Elliot, if only Hollywood would give one a chance.

blast from my past

I guess its "blast from the past" week for me. Had two quick encounters to people who used to be a major part of my life, which was weird. Saw my former roommate on Wednesday. I was in a car with my girlfriend and she pointed out a woman crossing an intersection ahead and said she thought it was my former roommate. I looked and thought it didn't look quite right. But the time we started moving again, though, I realized it was her. I was very glad I was in the car.

My roommate was a really rotten person in a lot of ways. She was a pathological liar and used her lies to really exploit people's emotions. She was also wildly irresponsible. I'm not sure she ever paid a bill while I lived with her. She also treated me like dirt. It boiled over in a big fight that was clearly not going anywhere so I just walked away from it. Man, did that get her. She yelled at my closed door for 30 minutes. The flipside, though, is that I really needed her. We moved in after I broke up with my ex-girlfriend and I really needed her help and support. For that, I do appreciate her, but all the same, I'd rather not have to deal with her ever again. I'm not going to waste time and effort hating her. I just want her behind me.

Speaking of my ex-girlfriend, I just saw her for the first time in about a year and a half. Just an odd running into each other thing while neither of us had the time to talk. Its not that I hate her, but I'm still very angry. I loved her and I left our relationship feeling very betrayed, very hurt, and very changed. I was honest with her, and she took advantage of my honest in order to lie to me for two years about something very important to me. It made me feel so worthless, like a loser. I eventually got sick of feeling like that and I knew I had to get out. But, It has made me less trusting and less open and I hate that. I'm afraid now, and I hate it. But I don't hate her. You just have to let that go. I'm hurt, but its not worth it. I just want to get away from those feelings and get back to where I once belonged.

Oh, well.


seriously now

Since there was some confusion about my post from yesturday, let me make it perfectly clear that it was a joke. No, I don't get mullets, but I obviously don't care that much about it. I'm sure plenty of folks with mullets don't get my long hair. Its their right. I made a little joke out of my bemusement with mullet aficianados, and that's all it was meant. Some jokes are made with malice. If I wasn't clear about that, I apologize, but joking of this fashion has a long history and is intentionally of little consequence. It was meant as a pointless and acknowledgedly petty joke. That's all. For more about the rich tradition of mullets, you are welcome to visit Mullet Junky. (be warned, some gratutitous anti-fat jokes are contained within)

Update: That being said, I might as well get it out right now. Somethings just bother me. Somethings I just don't get. Does mean I have a problem with people who are different? Nope. Just means I don't get it. I don't get mullets. I don't get golf. I don't get tacky plaid clothing ebelished with images of Disney characters. I don't get those sickeningly cute Mary Englewhatever illustrations. I don't get Lifetime. There, I've said it. Some things, I just don't get. Doesn't mean I hate them. I'm sure plenty of people don't get classical music, cartoons, action figures, DVDs, and long sideburns. Good on them!

That being said, the comparison drawn by a comment-leaver between hairstyles and fatness is an inappropriate one. Even if I was passing judgement on mullet-wearers, their hair-style is a choice. Being fat isn't. It is assumed to be a choice by those who wish to pass judgement, but a basic element of Size Acceptance to correct that myth. I do not believe anyone is suggesting that mullets, for instance, are something you are born with. It is a choice you make. For instance, though I am unqualifiedly opposed to appearance based discrimination with regards to one's natural make-up, I am not opposed to businesses basing staffing, in part, on a person's chosen dress, hair style, facial hair, etc. that a person has either changed from their natural make-up (such as hair-dye) or has chosen to adopt. I may generally disagree with such decisions, but I don't think they are wrong. Except in public school, where unless you are portraying an explicitly hateful message with your experience, students should be free to express themselves as they please.

That being said, part of my confused tone may have come from the fact that I am less bemused and more seriously disturbed by comb-overs. Aside from the visual aspect, I don't like comb-overs because they are an effort to disguise something perfectly normal. I am not happy when a fat person bases their clothing or hairstyle on trying to disguise their fat. Such approaches assume a negative about something which is inheriantly nuetral, and that is a major cause for concern. Do not mistake me, I do not condemn these individuals, but I cannot support such actions, either. They go against the core of my beliefs in Size-Acceptance that we should accept our bodies as we are. As an additional arguement, I pointed out that comb-overs (much like most "slimming" clothing) just doesn't work at disgusing what you are ashamed of. The best way, and the most productive way, to deal with such issues of shame is work on not being ashamed. Not to hide behind a thin whisp of hair in a desperate bid to pretend you are something you aren't. There isn't anything wrong with being bald and more than there is anything wrong with being fat. I'm not going to condone any efforts to express shame of either.

That being said, that's all I have to say for now.


hair, hair, long beautiful hair

Admitedly, I have a bit of an ecentric history with my hair. At somepoint in my freshman year of High School, I got it into my head that I wanted to grow my hair out. I think I saw Jim Carrey on the Tonight Show wearing his hair moderately long over his ears and I wanted to try it. But, I just kind kept growing it out, and eventually had some decently long hair and was occassionally wearing it in a ponytail. I cut it off after doing a play that summer where it needed to be long, but then just grew it out again. Didn't cut it for well over a year, I think and had some very long locks. I usually wore it down, too, because you can get away with that while in school. This long/short cycling continued through college and I eventually just let it grow out for about three years. My hair is never quite what I wish when its long. It gets a bit of a flip in it that is tough to manage, but it generally looks very nice all the same. But, after college and getting into the workforce, I was wearing it in a ponytail every day. I wasn't crazy about it in a ponytail, its just what was needed. I should have just cut it then, but I didn't. Just stuck with it out of a lack of inertia. I occassionally had my ex-girlfriend braid it, which I loved but which was not something I could pull off on my own. So, I cut it. Its been moderately long every since. My current girlfriend did something to it recently that I loved, but didn't want to admit I loved since she seemed to want me to be humorously annoyed with her fiddling with my hair, but I should get her to show me what she did. It pulled off the over the ears look I really like as well as a neat swept over the forehead. Its a bit retro, but I'm generally a fan of retro hair-styles.

Basically, this is all to say that I am a man who cares about hair. Which is why I really don't get two hairstyles some men don. They are so universally and properly reviled, that I just don't know why some people keep up with them. I mean, I don't want to be judgemental, but some of this just looks silly. I'm very open-minded with hair, in general. Its just these two that set me off.

The first is the mullet. I don't get that. Its universal short-hand for horribly low-class. Its like you're advertising how out-of-touch you are when you have a hairstyle which is so widely seen as a joke. It just looks silly, too. I mean, either grow it long, or don't. Don't make it look like you couldn't make up your mind. I just find it a bizarre hairstyle. But, I guess some people think its cool. Not so with my second hated hair style. That's just something people where to try to lie to the world, and it REALLY doesn't work.

I'm talking, of course, about the combover. Honestly, how do men convince themselves that it looks okay to do that? Its always horribly obvious and slimey and disturbing. Its a hairstyle of deception and its doing a bad job of it. Instead of making someone not look bald, it just makes them look bald and dealing VERY badly with it. Its not covering up something you are insecure about. You want to do that, you buy a hat like Ron Howard. Instead, it just draws attention to the insecurity as well as what they are insecure about. Please, men, if you are bald, just deal with it. Comb-overs aren't fooling anyway and they make you look like an idiot. Especially the guys who have the combovers of the single strand across the top. As if the rest of the world will encounter them exactly as the carefully positioned themselves in the mirror. Just stop it, already. All men with combovers will look better without them. Really. Just look at Rudy Guilliani who implausabily stuck with his combover even after it was a national joke. He finally gives it up and it makes him look considerably more distinguished and attractive.

Sorry, I know this is a very uselessly snarky post, but if I have to see another embarassingly bad comb-over or mullet, I'm afraid I might scream.


fat on eve this eve

Just saw the new UPN series, Eve. It had a fat character (just for one episode) and some pros and cons, which is kinda the nature of any fat character on television these days.

The Cons: A few fat jokes were made at her expense. Not wildly malicious jokes, but annoying jokes all the same. Also, it opened with her not fitting in a wedding dress being designed for her by the show's lead character, which is a pretty loaded visual.

Middle-of-the-road: I'm reading a lot into this, but one of the jokes at her expense intimated that her husband to be was an FA as another character remarked that he had a pattern of dating larger women. I'd be reading way too much to find that to be a positive, but it was a background remark that wasn't wholly negative.

Positive: As you may have gathered from my prior remarks, she was a bride. You mean fat girls get married? I thought that only happened on the WB. Any time a fat character is presented as a real and happy person, its a good thing. Not to mention that she was marrying a perfectly attractive gentlemen. (with a Latino name, probably some subtext here) Not that I'm too big on weighing a fat woman's worth on her ability to get a conventionally attractive mate, but its still an important departure form the limited image we're currently allowed of the prospects for BBWs in the dating world. More importantly, one of the times a joke was made at her expense, she was allowed a nicely snarking response. While she took the crack on her with relative grace, the object of her swipe was enraged, with heavy context to assume she was actually jealous of the fat bride. Finally, and most covertly, the solution to a wedding dress which has proven too small was not a crash diet, as we'd often see in a sitcom. Instread of "fixing" herself, she had the dress fixed. I know, I'm reading a lot into this, too, but the subversion of expectations is a lot more plain here.

Now, in fairness, she wasn't really that fat. But, clearly her weight was meant to be a function of her character so I'm not going to complain too much. Its not like they were trying to make her out to be hugely fat, or anything. She was what she was.

Mixed messages, but what else is new. I'm not surprised with the negatives, but I am pleased with the good side of the portrayal.


two movies from blockbuster

I finally saw About Schmidt and The Hours this weekend. I enjoyed About Schmidt quite a bit, but I didn't really think it was an extraordinary effort. Very subtle writing, which I appreciate. The never beat you over the head with the film's point. Even the emotional final scene played more ironic than moving. The film kept hinting at greater meaning, but that was part of its conceit. It seemed a study of the mediocre. A study of the soul-killing conformity of society through someone who doesn't break out of it. We see him stiffled. We see his rage. But, nothing really happens. And that's the point, it seemed. Like I said, nothing extraordinary, but I enjoyed.

I have to say, I didn't get The Hours. I mean, I understood it. I just didn't get it. Where Schmidt was relatively subtle, Hours really did beat you over the head with it. The multiple storylines really didn't pay off for me. It just seemed like three underdeveloped stories. It was more gimmick, more gag, than useful device. Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep's characters were so overdone that it was just boring. Especially Moore's repressed 50's housewife. I mean, we get it already. Its a set-up that's been used since the freakin 50's themselves. I'd have been more impressed if the 50's and present day situations had been swaped. At least it would have been different. The acting was quite nice on both counts, but I've seen better from both actors. Heck, we saw better from Steep that year with Adaptation's marvelous performance. Nicole Kidman did stand out as Virginia Woolf, but that story felt the most underdeveloped. Perhaps because it had the most potential. But, I guess no one is rushing out to make (or rather, market) period films about female authors. Oh, well. The one thing that really impressed was the acting from the supporting cast. All of them stood out. It was quite a switch from Schmidt where many supporting roles were played by non-actors to drive home its maddeningly ordinary point. Here, we had a whole slew of people who've done great work on their own with standout performances in the supporting roles. I can't think of a one I wasn't quite impressed with, but also none that stood out so much as to distract from the picture. The perfect ensemble effect, I'd say. About all that really worked, though. Everything else was so unaplogetically manipulative that it just annoyed me.


common experience

I wasn't really sure I wanted to write about 9/11. I was half wanting to write some intentionally light and just act like nothing was happening today. Kinda the blog equivilant of UPN running the premiere of The Mullets. But, I expectedly didn't want to do the anything equivilant of The Mullets. I also didn't write anything too political about the exploitation of the tragedy by some for political gain, but that'll get me too mad. I just want to tell my own personal story.

I didn't find out about the events on September 11 until shortly after 10am. Back then, I more studiously followed my employers directive to only use my computer for work related activities. I hadn't been on the web. The office seemed quiet, especially given how busy we should have been that week. (Our annual meeting was at the end of the week.) But, it wasn't enough to catch my attention.

"The South Tower of the World Trade Center just collapsed." A co-worker quietly announced this to the office. My first thought was whethere there were any towers at Boston's World Trade Center at the water front. The remark didn't make sense to me. I just didn't get it. So, I figured I could do a quick web check to see what is going on.

I still didn't get it.

I went to Yahoo and they just had a brief AP story. It was unreal. It didn't make sense. This couldn't be true. So, I went to Boston.com. They had pictures. I just stared at the image of the explosion caused by the second plane. My heart dropped. This wasn't real. But, of course, it was. I gathered with my co-workers in front of our television and saw the lone North Tower standing amid a cloud of dust. I looked over and saw a much smaller building on fire.

"Wait, what's that on the left?"

"The Pentagon."


I still didn't get it. We were being attacked. At that time, there was worry about tens of thousands of people in the towers. It was too much. Then, the announced that another hijacked plane was in the air. It had crashed by then, we now know, but its not like there were cameras trained on rural Pennsylvania. They knew very little then, and what we did know was that planes were hijacked out of Boston. There was a lot of worry around, but most people stuck it out. Even as the massive lonely towers of the Back Bay emptied blocks away. We had to. We had work.

My girlfriend at the time frequently went to the Prudential Center after getting off her overnight job. I was worried that she might be stubborn and go anyway (not knowing it was a moot point since the building was closed) so I franticly tried to call her. It took about three tries to get through. I quickly asked if she could go straight home after work. She indignantly asked why. By the tone, I could tell that she wasn't just being stubborn. I asked if she had watched TV at all since she got up, and she said no, and got worried and asked what had happened. Which, meant I was going to have to tell her. I was going to have to explain something I didn't even understand myself. I tried to just do it as calmly as possible.

"Early this morning two planes were hijacked out of Boston..."

"Oh, my God," she interjected. As I continued, she just gasped as the horrible story kept going.

"...at 8:45, one of the planes flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. At about 9, another plane flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center."

"At about 9:45, another plane was flown into the Pentagon. A little after 10, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed."

She gasps very loudly at this point, and was clearly overcome at the thought. We all were.

"Shortly after that, part of the Pentagon collapsed. At 10:30, the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. At some point, another plane was crashed somewhere near Pittsburgh. They think there might be other hijacked planes, but no one really knows for sure right now."

I was shaking the entire time. I am shaking right now just recalling it. She was stunned at all this, and I let her go to turn on the television like the rest of the nation, and start trying to understand it.

One thing I remember about that day was how quiet it was whenever I left my office. A fighter jet flew over head during lunch, and you could just see the entire street stop and jerk their heads up trying to see what that was. Everyone was completely on edge. Staring blankly, looking defeated.

We found out that day that a woman who volunteered where I worked (specifically as a consultant to my department) was on Flight 11. I know I wasn't effected the way many people were, but it was very difficult to comrehend that I knew someone who was among the first to die that day.

I went home that night and watched TV until 4am. I know most people hated the news coverage, but I really needed it. I needed to understand that this happened. I needed to comprehend it. I needed to see what had happened to let it sink in. It hurt every time, but it was so difficult to grasp that I needed to see it. I watched the video of the clouds of smoke billowing through the streets of Manhatten, frantic people running from it. I saw every new video with interest, as part of the experience I needed to understand. I watched as they discoved video of the first plane strike. It took two years for another view of the first plane to show up, but video of the second strike kept popping up. The ones that were the most difficult to watch where the ones from the ground. At least, when the networks ran them with the original sound. It *was* disturbing, but we needed to be disturbed. How else could we react. I viewed some of it again today and had the same sick feeling as you hear the plane roar from out of the cameras view and into the screen. You saw it as the person holding the camera saw it. You felt their fear and their horror as the plane banked into the building, sending an unimaginable fireball into the air. It did a lot to make it real. To make it something I could understand. I needed that.

I later learned that someone I went to college with died in one of the towers. He died a hero. He was a volunteer firefighter turned investment something or other. That day, he took out his red bandana, and proceeded to save many lives, eventually sacraficing his own.

My parents saw the second tower strike live. My mother was listening the radio when a caller came on talking about a fire at the Twin Towers. She turned on the TV and saw the helicopter footage from the New York stations. Then, another plane came into the screen and disappeared behind the South Tower before an explosion was seen.

As the days wore on, we all tried to pick up and move on. They said irony was dead, but it lived on. They said things would never be the same. That's true, but things are never the same. When The Onion finally published again, entitling its coverage "Holy Fucking Shit", it signaled that we were getting back to normal. American Life Turns into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie meant a lot to make things feel okay again. With the captions reading "Actual photo from real life", it made it feel okay to laugh again. It helped getting things back to normal.

Everyone has a story from those days. Everyone has something to say. If anything, the events brought us together through common experience, and a common compassion for the lives lost. For those 3,000, we will remember.


lazy alcoholics

Don't worry, I'm not being horribly callous with my post topic. Just ironic. See, I saw a commercial today for something that just struck me as totally absurd.

A few years ago, the good people behind Kahlua started making these Kuhula mixed drinks. Ordinary mixed drinks, well known to many, but now pre-made for your convenience. Stuff like white russians and the like. Nice idea, I thought. I mean, I was sure they were a major rip-off, but whatever. It seemed like a fresh way to capitalize on a popular cocktail made from your drink.

Its gone too far, though.

It started when Bailey's introduced Bailey's minis. Now, I love Bailey's. Absolutely adore the stuff, especially on the rocks. But "minis"? Its just Bailey's in a small container. I don't get that. Is it that difficult to pour the damn stuff into a glass? Did we need to make such a dramatic contribution to consumer waste but putting them into tiny little containers? Was there that much demand for Bailey's on the go? Its not like the stuff is cheap, but now you're ripping people off without giving them anything.

The sillist, though, seems destined to be the most overmarketed. Have you seen these new "Bacardi and Cola" ads that play off like they are some kind of 80's interracial crime-fighting duo? Oy! But, seriously, we're talking about a freaking RUM AND COKE! You notice what's the brand name that got attached to that drink? It sure wasn't Bacardi. Besides that, its a RUM AND COKE! At least Kahlua mixed in alcohol. Bacardi is just adding some crappy non-brand cola and acting like its special. Its a RUM AND COKE! Sorry, its just that bares repeating. I mean, c'mon! That's going to far. Let the people obsessed with getting drunk easily stick to their shitty bear and leave the hard stuff to those of us with the wherewithall to poor a glass of Coke with some Rum.

In fairness, though, it bares some mention that I don't even like Rum and Coke. Now, a Malibu and Coke is something I like, which is downright bizarre. I mean, I hate Coconut and I prefer Pepsi of Coke. Malibu and Pepsi doesn't work, though, because the Pepsi is too sweet, and for some reason I like the Malibu's flavor in spite of my resistance to coconut. Go figure. But, being the "Girl Drink Drunk" that I am (as if I've ever been drunk!) I don't even get to the Malibu and Coke, much. But, it did get some play in the Barenaked Ladies song, "Alcohol". Great song, by the way. I'd suggest buying the album but I absolutely loathe the record industry and they way the spit on their artists. I meant to write about that a couple weeks ago, but the topic branched off into a wide discussion of labor relations that wasn't really going anywhere so I decided not to sit down and put it to paper. Er, well, put it to bytes, anyway. But, if you have a friend who has the album, Stunt, give it a listen. Its a very fun track, followed up by one of my personal favs "Call and Answer". That's just one of those songs that I really, *really* get, and completely appreciate.

But, I digress.


so, i was in this beauty contest...

Yeah, I know I've put it off, so here it is at last.

When I was in high school, my class (as in, class of 1996, not an individual class room) needed a fundraiser for our eventual prom. I was actually my class Vice President my freshman year. I didn't win any election, mind you. It was uncontested. I lost pretty much every election I participated in until college when, against all logic, I won a national office with a Jesuit student organization. So, I could muster up support to head my Junior class, but I was find for a national leadership role of an organization which nominally represented tens of thousands of students. But, I digress...

At my high school, there were a bunch of established fund raisers that kind of rotated among the classes. They weren't that impressive, and ours was especially lame and we quickly realized we needed to come up with something better. One of our advisers had seen another school which did a male beauty pagaent and it was a huge success. So, we set out to do our own.

The idea of a male beauty contest was because we basically wanted this to be a bit of a joke. We figured that a contest for the women of the school would end up getting overly competitive and not nearly as fun as it should be. Guys could be counted on to be just self-centered enough to do it, but too insecure in their sexuality to take it too seriously. We let all the clubs and sports teams sponsor a contestant and did a proper beauty contest, complete with dramatic entrances, swimwear and evening wear competitions and even a talent segment. We first did it my sophomore year. I wasn't in it, that year. It was almost all seniors, that year, although my freshman brother was in it. We were lucky to have the help of a senior who was a budding producer. He handled sound and set design and brought me in the help run the ancient stage lights. I'm shocked I didn't die manning those things. Over the next two years, he came back from college and made the whole production progressively more extravagent. By my senior year, there were three video screens with fully produced videos and music for each participant. and elaborate lighting design. He basically paid for it all as he made the contest into school work.

I was very interesting in getting into the contest as soon as possible and did it my junior and senior years. It was a lot of fun. The other side of our concerns about a female contest being too competitive was that the potential audience would respond very differently. We could rely on the women of the school to come out and happily cheer contestants of all shapes and sizes, and cheer with genuine enthusiasm. We knew darn well that many of the men in school would act like complete dicks if they were in the audience rather than on stage and turn it into a generally unpleasent experience that would be more of a lust fest than fun time for all. Sad but true on both ends, I'm afraid, but such is high school.

But, I did have a lot of fun. Its funny, because I had a lot of self-image troubles in high school, but always had a real streak of vanity. But, I strutted my stuff as a geeky, lanky but shortish (not really, but compared to expectations of maleness...) guy. As opposed to the geeky, fatish but shortish guy I am today, of course. And I loved wearing the tux. I've always enjoyed being well dressed. We actually got a tux rental place to donate really top of the line tuxes to us for the weekend which was really cool. We all had to wear them for school, too, to promote the contest and the tux shop. (nothing comes for free, of course). I even got to sing in front of an audience. About the only time I got to sing just by myself for an audience. I did a sappy love ballad my first year that got a great applause. My senior year, I went more goofy and retro by really hamming it up to "All of Me". I didn't win either year. I'm sure I wasn't even close, but that definetly wasn't the point.

So, that's my beauty contest story. I'm sure I got details wrong, but you get the idea.

Well, Bebop is on, so I must take my leave. I'm debating getting the series on DVD, but it costs so darn much. Oh, well.


the price of reality

Sitting here, watching Cowboy Bebop on [adult swim] and realizing what an unfortunate story they did. It was great when I first saw it, but its been given another meaning due to events in history.

In Bebop, Earth is next to abandoned due to an accident which destroyed the Moon sending asteroids down on Earth. But, some people stay, and our heros find themselves there this episode. The story progresses with a nice space chase and one of our heros trapped in a decent into Earth's atmosphere. A crusty, old-fashioned mechanic from the surface comes to his rescue. And here is where it gets unfortunate.

It was really a great idea. The mechanic rescues our hero in a present day space shuttle. It was totally character appropriate, and also had the cool visual of seeing a space shuttle in a sci-fi context, alongside more futuristic ships. Really neat way to lend realism to the show. But, you may have guessed the problem by now.

The shuttle chosen made great symbolic sense as it was the first shuttle sent into space. Columbia. To make matters worse, the rescue leaves the Columbia with its heat-resistant tiles badly damaged, endangering re-entry. So much so, that the shuttle makes a crash landing. All great stuff at the time, but now a little uncomfortable. It reminds me of the scene in A.I. where they come upon the ruins of the World Trade Center in the flooded New York City. History, unfortunatly, has undermined these creative ideas. But, that's the price of science fiction grounded in reality. You have no guarentee of what the real future will bring. No one could have thought of NYC without the towers. No once could have thought of another shuttle falling to Earth in pieces. But, its something we need to allow for science fiction which seeks to bring a realism to the proceedings. The real future won't always agree, so we need to look at the story on their own and without the knowledge of what has come.

I was going to post some general housekeeping issues (including the beauty contest story), but I'm getting very tired and I just had to retype this damn post, so I think I'm gonna get myself some sleep.


random survey #1

So, I was looking for something to write about today. (aside, I keep starting entries with "So, I was..." aren't I? Sorry) I have a few outstanding topics (fantasy album project, why Deep Impact is a good movie, random thoughts #2, a review of my favorite movies, the current state of cable television) but I want to spend more time writing them. I'll probably do one tonight, but I'm really itching to write something now. So, I was surfing through Aimee's archives and found one of those random survey type things. My entry writes itself! Too good to resist, so here is my offering for the morning...

1. Your name spelled backwards:

2. Where were your parents born?
Milford, CT. Unless the were born in the hospitals in New Haven. I'm not 100% sure.

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
Wish I was at my home computer to check, but I'm pretty sure the last thing I downloaded was a program for wiping out Spyware off your computer. Well, except for porn, of course.

4. There was no question number four.

5. Last time you swam in a pool?
Too long. I think April 2001.

6. Have you ever been in a school play?
Yep. Many times.

7. How many kids do you want?
Until I'm convinced I could be a good father, I'm not sure I want kids.

8. Type of music you dislike most?
Country. Not roots-type stuff or old-school Country and Western, mind you, but the mindless, jingoistic pap that is just crappy pop music with an accent.

9. Are you registered to vote?
Heck yeah. I actually pre-registered before my 18th, and just got confirmation of registration in my new town.

10. Do you have cable?
Oh, yeah.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?

12. Ever prank call anybody?
No. Although, I have on rare occassion made a malicious call to a rude wrong number caller. You ever get those? People who repeatedly call you and then hang up when you answer the phone and they realize their mistake? I find that very annoying, and if it happens repeatedly (I got 4 calls from someone last week doing this), I might call them back from the Caller ID and just hold the receiver out. Still, they aren't as bad as the people who have a wrong number and doubt me when I tell them so. Like I don't know who lives in my own house! But, I'm off on a tangent...

13. Ever get a speeding ticket?
I don't even have a driver's license.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
Probably not. I've considered bungee jumping, but ultimately I'm not much into death defying. I'd much rather cultivate a nice respectful relationship with death, thank you very much.

15. Furthest place you ever traveled?

16. Do you have a garden?
No. I'd need dirt, I suppose.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?
Tie between Get Fuzzy and The Boondocks.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?
I'm a singer, so yes.

19. Bath or shower, morning or night?
Shower. Never have time for a bath. Always in the morning, though I'd probably do better to take them at night. Maybe once it starts cooling down I'll try that.

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?
American Splendor

22. Chips or popcorn?
Popcorn, as long as its good. Not any of that pre-packaged junk. Popcorn is meant to be popped. Not eaten from a bag.

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?
Um, maybe this survey wasn't meant for me. hehe

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?
People smoke peanut shells?

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
Um, actually, yes. Twice, and I wasn't a baby, either. Long story.

26. Orange juice or apple?
Orange. I HATE apple juice. But, the Orange has to be no pulp.

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?
Went to The Outback with my girlfriend.

28. Favorite type chocolate bar?
Snickers, I guess, just slightly over the Reese's Fast Break. Unless Reese's Peanut Butter Cups count as chocolate bars.

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls?
Last November.

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
Last weekend. Its nice to have a girlfriend who gardens. I had sandwiches with fresh mozzerella and homegrown tomatos. Mmmmm.

31. Have you ever won a trophy?
Yep. Yay, youth sports! Not like I had to be good or anything.

32. Are you a good cook?
I hold my own, but I wouldn't say I'm good. I can follow directions, though.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
I still don't drive.

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial?
Thankfully, no.

35. Sprite or 7-up?
7-Up all the way. I'll take Sierra Mist over Sprite.

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work?
Thankfully, no.

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?
Generic Pain Killers, I imagine. (not sure which one, though)
ADDED: Shortly after posting, I went and got some Werther's Original candies from a CVS.

38. Ever throw up in public?
If I had, I'm repressing it.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?
I don't really think of true love as some unattainable concept. At least not yet. So, for now, give me my millions. I feel relatively confident that I can find true love anyway.

40. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Not really. At least not how I define love.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number?

42. Can exes be friends?
In theory, sure.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
Gosh, it was probably a long time ago when my aunt had her first daughter.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?
I think so, but I don't have a pic to refer to, so I could be remembering photos of my brother.

45. What message is on your answering machine?
A very plain message. I only ever had funny messages when I was in college.

46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live character?
Brian Fellows. Its just so bizarre.

47. What was the name of your first pet?
Penfold. A Hamster. Much love to anyone who knows why I named my hamster Penfold.

48. What is in your purse?
Maybe there was a male version of this survey somewhere back in the annals of blog-dom?

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?
Watch TV, but I do that all the time.

50. Favorite song?
"Down Under" by Men at Work.

51. Who is your best friend?
I don't really have one.

52. Worst?
No one currently, thank goodness, but I'd say my ex-roommate and a "good" friend from high school (RG) would take all-time honors.

53. Favorite sibling:

54. Least favorite sibling:
Kyle, but its not like I dislike. Just there are only two.

55. Favorite class?
Either television criticism or Acting Techniques. The former earned me my only collegiate A+, and the later was a blast. My final involved scripting and choreographing a stage fight with one my classmates (who I think has gone on to be a writer in Hollywood, or so I hear)

56. Are you addicted to AIM?
Not currently, and never really addicted.

57. What made you happy today?


cable makes me feel dirty (and not in a good way)

The over name-changing SPIKE TV (formerly The NEW TNN, formerly The National Network, formerly The Nashville Network) debuted their entry into the reality TV world tonight. Now, genrally speaking, I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE Reality TV shows. I don't want to see a bunch of idiots acting like scumbags. That's why I don't watch C-Span. (rimshot) Give me scripted comedies any day. But, I was intrigued with the new Joe Schmo Show as its a genuine twist on the genre. Its a satire of reality shows AND a reality show. The show is based around a fake reality show with actors and writers all manufacturing the fun. Well, except one guy.

One guy isn't in on the joke. With good reason. The show is really all about him and how he thinks its all real and all the effor that is being put in to the effort to deceive him. Its an ambitious effort, to say the least. And the guy is just so damn sad. He's a law-school drop-out who lives with his parents and delivers pizza. And his efforts on the show are just so patheticly awkward. I mean, he's got self-confidence, you have to give him that, but it just feels squirmy when he's out there fashioning himself as a leader of the "contestants" and you know the joke is on him. I had trouble watching some of it, actually, just because it was so sad to see someone so earnestly embarassing himself. It also gives you an appreciation for the effort reality shows must put in to ensure people like Joe Schmo don't get on air. I mean, he just doesn't know how to handle himself. He speaks awkwardly and unintentionally foolishly. He just comes off like the dumb pitiful schmuck he probably is. Which really is reinforced by his obliviousness to what is going around him. The actors around him repeatedly screw up and over-act, but he doesn't get it. In many ways, its really a reality show about the actors and how they are trying to deal with this. I'm sure they didn't mean to, but they come off about as pathetically as the lead, just in a different way.

As brilliant a satire this is, you can't really escape how impossibly cruel it is. This whole great big production, all for the benefit of one helpless loser. Indeed, it all seems too much. He seems too effortlessly awkward with the camera. He seems too oblivious to what's going on around him. You have to wonder if they'll satire the usual "twist ending" of reality tv as we discover that he's been in on the joke the whole time and it was really the hired actors who were made the fools. Indeed, its so obvious that I'd be a lot more impressed if that's not true and they stick to their intended cruel satire. Not sure I can get into, though, as it just makes me feel so dirty. I don't like watching people embarass themselves. It's always bothered me when a character is going to do ths stupid thing we all know they are going to do and can't stop them from doing, even though they will end up horribly humiliated for even thinking it was a good idea. Even though I think it'd be a bad idea for the show, I almost want to find out that the lead is in-on-it. Just to know all this pitiful behavior wasn't real.