Thursday, July 31, 2008

Japanese Impressionists Doing '80s Artists

Without YouTube, I'd never have discovered this.

"I know you're a college kid posing as the 61-year-old head of our state."

Here's a bouncer who loves his job, and wouldn't let Governor Gregoire into a bar.

I love the picture of this.

GREGOIRE: "I don't have ID, but I'm 61. I'm certainly over 21."
BOUNCER: "No ID and you don't get to come in."
GREGOIRE'S FRIENDS AND ANYONE ELSE NEARBY: "But she's the governor! That's Christine Gregoire!"
BOUNCER: "Yeah, sure she is, and I'm Ken Griffey."
GREGOIRE: "Seriously...I'm the governor. Can I go in and get a drink?"
BOUNCER: "Hit the road."

The bar owner suggests that the bouncer "needs more training."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is this the best McCain can do?

If you haven't seen his new ad attacking Obama, it's here.

This is weak. The original question ("He's the biggest celebrity in the world...but is he ready to lead?") is reasonable. But juxtaposing Obama's picture with Britney Spears' and Paris Hilton's will do nothing whatsoever to convince even one undecided voter. In fact, I think it will turn people off. They can tell the difference between a politician--famous for a number of historic factors--and someone famous merely for being famous, as Hilton, or deeply troubled, as Spears.

Then, he runs with the offshore drilling issue. That's a loser for McCain. Moderates who could go either way see the light on this one. Off-shore drilling doesn't help us one bit. It's also physically unattractive. People like beaches and will associate off-shore drilling with their pristine Platonic ideal of "shore."

The last bit, saying that "Obama will tax energy," is the most effective argument, but the "new taxes" bit...I think the Republicans have gone to the well once too often.

I'd like to thank the Hillary campaign for so thoroughly vetting Obama over the winter and spring. There are no skeletons left to expose.

BTW, check out this, which shows Professor Obama's law school courses. I'm impressed how, in his course on race and the law, he completely encourages students to examine and understands both sides of every issue. That puts him ahead of most professors. That puts him way ahead of the current president. It puts him ahead of the smug wing of my own party. Hell, it puts him ahead of just about everybody on both sides of every issue. Nobody gives a crap about studying both sides anymore.

I want this man in charge for that reason alone.

(Thanks, Bean, for the link to the article.)

On this date...

First of all, on this date back on '05, my wife married me. It was wonderful. I bawled. I had fun. I had so many friends in one place. I got to marry a beautiful, brilliant, fantastic woman. Love you, babe.

And, according to my Fox Sports On This Date calendar, something just as wonderful and unlikely happened a few years before that:

"1998...The Seattle Mariner's [sic] Alex Rodriguez became just the sixth player in American League history to make 30 steals and 30 home runs--in a contest against the Cleveland Indians."

We'll set aside the egregious, nails-on-a-blackboard apostrophe error for a moment and focus on the unlikely content. I've been a Mariner fan since '96, and let me tell you that I do NOT remember a game where A-Rod or anyone else had 30 home runs AND 30 steals. Extraordinary.

I am often amazed at who gets to be employed in this world, and at what jobs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Retro Nostalgia mix

I am 4 days away from returning to Colorado for my 20th HS reunion. I imagine I'll have fun there (I did at the 10th reunion, so there's no reason why I shouldn't on this go-round...older friends tell me they get more fun over time). Since Swankette has never been to Colorado, I'll have some fun showing her the old haunts, swamps, ditches, etc. (which I understand have all been overrun with icky strip malls and box stores).

But whatever should the soundtrack be?

I have decided that, for at least some of the trip (the driving around the old 'hood), I needed to make a special iPod mix. I've called it "Retro Nostalgia," which is redundant, I guess, but it feels like a fine title for the playlist.

It's not as simple as slapping together a load of crappy '80s tunes. It's much more complex than that. I'm trying to put together a list of stuff I listened to a bunch in the first 18 years of my life, whether they're songs from the '80s or before.

And today, I spent a bit too much of my vacation fund on iTunes buying music that I forgot I liked.

The first purchase was Simple Minds' Once Upon a Time. That was one of the final albums I bought on LP, and I don't think I ever copied it to cassette. That's a shame, because it's a HS album that I think I'd still like. (The most notable others to fit that description are Paul Simon's Graceland and the Dream Academy's self-titled debut album.) It was legitimately great stuff, and although I haven't listened to them yet, I suspect that "Alive and Kicking" and "Ghost Dancing" are probably still good. And even if they aren't, I'll enjoy singing them in the car.

Then, the Human League. It has aged absolutely horribly--the whole synthesizer thing hasn't stood the test of time. But that dude's deep voice is tremendous, and I found I kept on smiling as I listened to songs, even ones I haven't heard of. I defy anyone--anyone in the world--to listen to "Fascination" without smiling or tapping toes.

Next came the kitsch. Songs I loved when I was a young teen. Guilty pleasures. Katrina and the Waves. Rick Springfield. Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby," a karaoke must of mine. That kind of stuff.

I sang along with an awful lot of Air Supply from 1981 to 1984...but I did it far away from my junior high classmates who would have called me homophobic names for doing so. When I looked over their songs on iTunes, I was surprised to find 8 that I'd like to sing along with. It made financial sense to buy an entire 20-song album, most of which I'll likely never listen to...but I now own more Air Supply than just about anybody should.

Finally, I went back even further.

Kenny Rogers.

Just after my ninth birthday, I saved up some allowance and bought Kenny. I was hoping that album would still be out there, as I think I could still sing the choruses to some forgotten songs like "Santiago Midnight Moonlight," "You Turn The Light On," or my favorite, "Goodbye Marie," since I repeated them about a billion times a day that year. (Note to my family: Thank you for not selling me off for parts that year.) But sadly, even though Kenny was a monster hit, iTunes doesn't offer it as an album. The Gambler, yes. But not Kenny, the first album I bought with my own money.

So instead, I cherry-picked and bought seven big Kenny Rogers hits as a representative sample of my pre-pubescent musical tastes.

With that, I felt I had the necessary components to compile the Soundtrack of TRP's Youth. Anything that I would have listened to in the first 18 years of life was eligible. Much of this, I already have, like the Beatles taste I originally inherited from my brother, the Simon and Garfunkel and Mamas and Papas that my parents listened to, and some of the aforementioned high school stuff I enjoyed. I also listened to Oldies radio a lot, and I had that covered--Tommy James and the Shondells, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles. Additionally, in HS I liked Phil Collins a lot, and since I bought it all on CD, it had already made the leap to the computer. It's better than even money that Swankette will hear me sing "I Missed Again" and/or "Sussudio" at some point over the next fortnight--and I will do so with gusto not seen in most of the population. Be ready, honey. It'll be an experience. I couldn't pick all of the Beatles..the stuff I loved from Past Masters Volume Two wasn't released until fairly late in my senior year, so I don't associate it with those times. Still, I included one or two I loved ("Paperback Writer,") and all the earlier stuff. And occasionally, I'd include a later song that reminded me of HS (for instance, if I included it on a mix tape for a HS friend, it retroactively becomes a HS song).

At any rate, I may have to test drive the mix over the next day or two to see if Swankette can handle it. But even if she can't, well, her reunion is in one year. I'll be ready to listen to a lot of Cure, Pink Floyd, and Dead Milkmen. It'll be an education.

Okay. Now that I've exposed way more about myself than is necessary, let's turn this around.

What songs that you used to listen to would be needed on the soundtrack of your youth...but might cause people (like your spouse) to cringe a little in the car if it came on and you sang along?

Gut punch

Got the AP results back yesterday for my Language and Comp kids. They're not good enough. Only about a third passed--both for me and for the other teacher.

It bugs me that these kids worked so very hard, and that I honestly believed they were ready for the test...and then they got back the results which indicated they weren't. I know they're still better-prepared for college than they would have been if they hadn't taken the class, or even if they hadn't taken the test. But this is still a blow to my ego and a break to my heart.

AP scores, like similar test scores, are tied heavily to the parents' highest level of educational attainment. I don't want to use that as a excuse, but this is still different from the old place, where everybody doid super-duper on all tests all the time, and we all then would pat ourselves on the back about how great our school was as a result.

Even though the College Board gives us literally no help in diagnosing the problem (I have no idea if this is mostly a multiple-choice issue, or if they're bombing one of the three essays, or what), it's time to start problem-solving. These numbers need to go up next year. It's my moral imperative.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Adventures in spell check

Even AP makes some funny mistakes sometimes...er, its computers do, rather than the human being allegedly at the wheel:

Gore told the AP he hoped the speech would contribute to "a new political environment in this country that will allow the next president to do what I think the next president is going to think is the right thing to do." He said both fellow Democrat Barrack Abeam and Republican rival John moccasin are "way ahead" of most politicians in the fight against global climate change.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It'll be the Browns against the Lions, each making their Bowl debuts

I changed my personal-fun credit card recently.

I had a GM Card for 11 years. I used the 5%-of-purchases earnings from it for a healthy down payment to my 2004 Chevy Malibu. So it saved me a lot of money...but it has stuck me with a damn Chevy Malibu, which finds the strangest, most expensive, most unexpected ways to break and cost me money. I will not put myself through another GM car. So there was no need to keep the credit card.

When I saw that Amtrak had a credit card I could earn points on, I jumped on it. I'm taking the train between Vancouver and Seattle often enough that maybe using this card could give me a few of those trips for free, or at least upgraded.

But now I have a new goal.

It has come to my attention that, for a mere 1,300,000 points, Amtrak will give me and a guest (that'd be my wife unless my brother kneecaps her) a 5-day, 4-night trip to the Super Bowl, which includes deluxe accommodations, tickets, breakfast, and a souvenir package, but not transportation.

Still, awesome!

Let's figure this out.

I go to Seattle every month or so. Swankette joins me on about half of those. Let's suppose we never drove up there again, but only took Amtrak.

Each leg of the trip is 100 points. We're therefore averaging 300 points a month.

The original plan had me cashing in every 1000 points to get a free trip up to Seattle. But no more! Players and coaches have to sacrifice to get to the Bowl...and so will I. No cashing in for less than the Bowl.

I don't use the credit card too much--it's not the primary card, it's the card for fun stuff. Maybe a baseball trip per year--a plane ticket, a night of hotel--and my Mariner tickets. A thousand bucks a year sounds about right. That's 1000 points. But Amtrak rewards me extra for buying their tickets on their card. Therefore, I'll also be sure to take advantage of that...for an extra 150 reward points a month (on average).

This means, when you add it all up, I'm getting 6400 points a year on my way to a million-three.

If I hold at my current pace, and if costs and reward points inflate at the same rate, and if Amtrak, Chase Bank, and the NFL all continue to exist...

I'm set to go to Super Bowl CCXLVI in February 2212.

I'll be enjoying my deluxe accommodations and sitting back in my seat--242 years young! And you, who have SQUANDERED your Amtrak Rewards points (say, for instance, on 1300 trips between Vancouver and Seattle), you'll be watching on TV.

The tortoise wins the race, my friends. And he'd also better live a long, long time to win this one.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Best Debater movie of 2007...

probably wasn't The Great Debaters. To be fair, I haven't seen it yet, but since it's intentionally inspirational, it'll probably not be one I like.

No, I think it's probably Rocket Science.

Debaters and former debaters, this one's for you. Even if it deals with Policy Debate (ick, ick, ick).

The movie is written and made by someone (Spellbound's Jeffrey Blitz) with a deep affection for HS debate, New Jersey, and underdogs, who can present all three of these things with warts and all. I found it infectious. It gives a pretty vivid depiction of the horrifying all-engulfing feeling of 15-year-old love. Finally, I feel like it presents high school kids as actual human beings with good points and bad points. Not enough movies do that.

The best line, however, might come from this negative review from The Guardian:

"It never explains why US high-school debaters are apparently encouraged to gabble their speeches like livestock auctioneers."

That's reason 1 why I'll never, ever coach Policy Debate.

Good flick. Catch it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie: Jesus Camp

I'm about two years late seeing this, but hey, better late than never.

I think I watched it differently from the way most of my fellow liberals did. It's easy to view this, shake our heads, and say "man, the political agenda of the Right is ruthless both in ideology and in tactics." And I certainly did that.

But I mostly viewed this as a film about parenting. The parents aren't in the movie much. But the kids...well, they were something else. The film primarily focuses on Levi and Rachael, and these are kids with incredible gifts. They're about 9 years old, and they're affable, sweet, smart, eager to please, gregarious, and adventurous. There isn't a thing these kids can't eventually develop into. But their presence at the uber-conservative-Christian camp in North Dakota shows that they're not going to get any real chances to explore on their own. The scene that shows Levi's mom homeschooling him in "science" is, I believe, an incredibly harsh indictment of home schooling.

More than once, their parents and the head of the camp used the word "train" to say what they were called to do with their children. That's sure as hell not what happened to me or my siblings, and it won't happen with my children. It supposes that kids are to be made into little versions of us. They're not. But beyond that, these kids, with more potential than the average kid, are being taught not to be intellectually curious. Passing on one's religious beliefs (with the possibility in mind that the kids may want to go another route later) is just fine by me. But if you view a kid as something to be trained (like a seal), you're harming that kid with your very world view.

If my kid grows up to have opposite views as mine on big issues to me (like abortion or capital punishment or pre-emptive war), I won't feel I have failed him/her as long as he/she can back up those views. I'll passionately disagree, but I won't have failed.

I developed incredible affection for Rachael and Levi, and I felt horrible that they were being taught what they needed to think--and the corollary to that, which is that intellectual curiosity is a sin.

The third kid, Tory, isn't in the movie nearly as much. She was going through a really tough time. Her dad had been deployed to Iraq recently, and any kid in that position would be legitimately stressed and want to turn to something solid. There's nothing wrong with turning to God for comfort in such situations (I certainly would). I noticed that Tory cried a lot more than the other kids, and I got the sense that it was because she was less certain of herself/the world/maybe even God than Levi or Rachael, in seemingly more stable situations with both parents present, were. I can't help but wonder, as 10-year-old Tory prays for God's angels to protect her dad as he does his job helping the children of Iraq, whether she might feel that God's "perfect plan," as it's referred to by adults in the movie, might not seem so damn perfect to her. That's why it's called "faith" in God's plan rather than "knowledge," of course...we have to believe in what we can't see, and Tory sure can't see God's perfection here. But there's no way that the role models around her, including her parents, would allow for such an expression of faith. Nuance is heresy to fundamentalists.

Anyway, my heart went out to Tory. I hope her Dad is home safely by now, and I'll say a little prayer that she isn't crying so much--and that, as she approachesh er teen years, she can somehow find and express religious and political perspectives that reflect her own heart and soul rather than someone else's.

There were kids who appeared to be younger than 6 at these camps--and they, along with the older kids, were being told about their sinfulness for what felt like a very long time. I don't think it's okay to make a child cry in shame and fear when they can't have done anything worse than teased a classmate or maybe ripped a toy out of a neighbor kid's hands. Any parent who would let their kids endure a week of such treatment...well, they're different from me.

But I won't soon forget one scene where a kid--maybe 4 or 5--handed a box of tissues to a boy who was crying on the ground, seemingly from shame over is own sinfulness. That was the most Christlike action I saw in the whole movie, and unlike just about every other action I saw a child take, it didn't appear to be coached or inspired by an adult.

The bleak outlook for liberal America that the film seems to posit may not be coming to pass, however, so I didn't take as pessimistic a message from the film tonight as I would have back in '06 when it came out. The Christian Left, I believe, has arrived. This article cites a poll which says that Obama has the vote of 30% of white evangelical Christians, compared to McCain's 64%. Compare this to 2004, when Bush won 78% of the white evangelical vote. That's a significant change. Factor in Black evangelicals, and I bet the gap is even closer. I think the pendulum is moving away from the Christian Right in a big way.

But, like I said, I didn't view this movie through a political lens so much as through a parenting lens. It's about the value of letting kids be the best possible versions of themselves, and what it looks like when, instead of that, parents try to "train" them.

I'd be curious to see if anyone else who's seen the movie thought something similar.

By the way, as per my earlier question, this one is not at all "op-ed." It's "documentary" all the way.

Here goes....

Now that the bride has publicly announced it, I can follow suit:

I am going to be a daddy.

Mark your calendars: Feb 24, 2009. Then immediately erase your mark, since only 5% of babies are born on their due dates.

Swankette has been absolutely fantastic through all of this. Hedgehog (the name by which the baby shall be known until birth) has been very helpful. He/she makes Swankette tired, but there have only been one or two puking episodes so far, so all things considered, this isn't as bad as it could be. (Easy for me to say. I don't have a baby-the-size-of-a-grape rattling around inside all the time.)

Something about the other day's ultrasound knocked me pretty loopy. It's not the big, important, later-on-in-pregnancy one that some people print out and keep in their wallets. It's an early one...about 10 weeks. We took a 7-week ultrasound that only displayed an amniotic sac with a heartbeat, and that in itself was an emotional, exciting, holy-shit-are-we-really-capable-of-making-this-happen moment. But the change to 10 weeks was breathtaking.

Swankette and I had joked around before the ultrasound. We urged the baby to say hello to us: "Hedgehog, we want you to wave. Let us know you're there...say hi."

So, fast foward to yesterday. We're in the doctor's office. She has the portable-but-less-vivid ultrasound machine just to do a quick check.

There's the heartbeat. Awesome.

And there's loads--just loads--of movement. The little dude/dudet is doing backflips. Somersaults. Moving, cruising around.

This certainly explains the wife's stomach upset...

Then, God as my witness, the kid waved at us.

Not my imagination either. The doctor said: "Look. He just waved his arm."

[Doctor went back and forth between gendered pronouns.]

To quote Jack Buck...I don't believe what I just saw.

I told my big sister that I was very pleased that Hedgehog had done as I had asked. "This is a good sign," I said. "It means that the kid will do whatever I ask until the kid turns 21."

I intended this as a joke, of course, but my sister didn't laugh. Instead, she went for the long pause.

"You're in for quite a rude awakening," she said.

But we'll see. As of now, my kid is both brilliant (understands English ever before hearing has developed!) and athletic (dude, you should have SEEN how quick the kid moved...and if I'd only had arms for a few days, I'm not sure I'd have learned how to wave just yet).

I wonder if this wonder will ever wear away.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I need more information...

but it sure looks like my wife is talking about something interesting...

I'll have to keep an eye on that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stunning ABC News error

Today, ABC News's Terry McCarthy began a report on Obama's overseas visit with the following phrase:

"He voted against the war in 2003..."

Geez. Even Wikipedia knows that Obama didn't join the Senate until 2005.

We're all imperfect, but a guy in that position who makes an error that astonishingly basic...well, that's some combination of comical and depressing.

Catching up on Poetry

I have two techniques for finding poets I want to read.

One is wandering through Powell's randomly picking things off of the shelf. That doesn't yield a very high rate or return, but it's fun.

The other is reading The Best American Poetry every year, finding the stuff that I like most, and buying those books. That's much more effective.

The last two editors, Billy Collins (2006) and Heather McHugh (2007) are poets I especially like. Collins because he is unpretentious and accessible (and in his introduction to Best American Poetry 2006, Collins specifies some of what he likes in poetry much better than I can summarize it here), McHugh because of her wicked wordplay. They're totally different types of poets that I like.

Mark Halliday continues to be a repeated favorite. Both McHugh and Collins pick him. Both of the selections made me laugh out loud.

McHugh picks Louise Gluck, who opens with this stanza:

I was trying to love matter.
I taped a sign over the mirror:
You cannot hate matter and love form.


That's one of the best openings I've read in a long, long time. I could have stopped the poem there.

Net result: I've got three or four more books of poetry I need to gather--and soon, before school starts and my brain becomes busy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Overlooking a key detail

It had been a good, long while since I've had a haircut. I got a good one last time but I couldn't remember who or where. Damn it. So I'm still shopping around. And today, I read about a place in Vancouver that's designed for men. Big flat-screen sports on the TVs! Well, if I'm gonna sit for a half hour, that's a pretty good way to do it. So, even though there's no sports on a weekday afternoon, I went ahead and walked in today.

Skip Bayless was screaming something about gang signs on one screen--with the volume low, but combined with the crawl, I could at least follow along. CNN people were saying something about Bill Clinton on another screen--again, low volume, but the crawl would at least enable me to sorta kinda keep up.

I don't care for Skip Bayless, and I can think of more important stories than Bill Clinton right now, but still, it gives me something to focus on to keep my mind occupied during the cut. So I sat down, took off my glasses, and let a woman go to work on my hair.

Oh, crap.

I took off my glasses.

Why didn't it occur to me that TVs during a haircut would be virtually useless to me?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Slight Selig Schadenfreude

Re: MLB's All-Star game:

I was rooting for a tie.

I've never liked the fact that World Series homefield rests on something relatively silly and random like one exhibition game. I will admit that the game feels different now...there's loads more at stake, and the players seem to be a bit more intense than they were five or ten years ago. Still, I hope to hell Brandon Webb or Scott Kazmir don't get hurt down the line. Why? Because a pennant race is more important than an All-Star Game. Thus it is, and thus it should always be.

So, if this went through the 16th and both managers said "Sorry, it's over," two things would have happened.

1. We would have gotten to see a look on Bud Selig's face that's some combination of deja vu, dread, hell, and soul-crushing despair. I'm not a Selig-basher like many others are, but something about the way that guy wears his emotions...well, maybe it's just joy that it isn't happening to me, but it's a pretty incredible TV shot. (But is it documentary or reality?)

2. Selig would have been forced, right then and there, to decide who got the home field for the World Series. And he would have had to have gone to the earlier status quo...he would have declared that the league champion with the better regular-season record got to host the World Series.

Which, I think, would have sparked discussion on All-Star Home Field again, and could have ended this misguided playing-for-home-field experiment...which is ridiculous for so many reasons, all of which we saw tonight.

UPDATE: Whoa. My wife and I were simultaneously blogging about the same game. Do we know how to party or what?

Monday, July 14, 2008

What's the difference...

between the "reality" genre and the "documentary" genre?

I don't have a punch line here. I'm just curious what my smart friends think about this. I've mulled it over and can't come up with a border that satisfies me.

I normally don't care for the Home Run Derby.

Gimmicky. Silly.

But holy shit, that was a fun ride tonight.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I'm not prude

But sheesh, Ms. Subway Stripper, do you really want to get that close to THAT pole?

Longinus

said that a writer should wait seven years before looking at a draft with fresh eyes. That seems a little much.

But I wrote an introduction to my work nearly a year and a half ago and haven't checked it out since. And man, is it easier to see shortcomings and make changes after that much time has elapsed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, this could change my summer around.

I sent out queries for my non-fiction book last week, figuring it'd take some time to get a nibble. It took 8 days. The first publisher I queried has asked for an outline, introduction, and the magazine article the book will be based on.

Damn. I didn't expect this so quickly. Guess what I'll be doing over the next 4-5 days?

M's dump Sexson.

This leaves only about 15 people not-worthy-of-the-major-leagues left to purge.

Alas, and replace with whom? The next half-decade looks an awful lot like the previous half-decade from here...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Upper Body

One of my goals for this summer is to stay in shape for the start of next basketball season. I'm actually doing a decent job as far as walking goes. I live 1.6 miles from my beloved Moxies, and have done the 3.2 mile round-trip there (and sometimes a little beyond if I have a bank errand) often enough that it doesn't feel like an aberration anymore. It's now fairly close to a habit. In the course of doing this, I burn 330 calories...but I'll usually buy a soda (220 calories). But I like the diet ginger ale...so maybe I'll make it a full 330 loss.

The next step is to get my butt to the community center to do some lifting. I'd like to sustain at least a little muscle (which is all I have) into later-middle age.

But I can't find a personal trainer I like. Those with cards at the center feel a little hippy-dippy for my tastes. I'd prefer old-school...someone who might beat the shit out of me if I fail to do my reps for the week. (Fear definitely motivates me.)

So I'm thinking of getting on it myself...just going on-line, trying to figure out some exercises I can start with, and lifting on my own. My big sister says that's a bad idea. Form is too important, she says. She's likely right.

So where from here? Hmmmm. I think I'll do it on my own for a little while until I find a trainer I like. What I do NOT need is another excuse to stay on my ass.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Aimee Mann contest...

I've been pursuing the entries to the Aimee Mann video contest, trying to see how I size up. In the process, I'm noticing something.

Those who are trying to edit together videos with their fancy-pants equipment, cutting together shots of them singing in various locales, occasionally with a wipe, fade, or distortion effect...

well, it reminded me of MTV circa 1983. Seriously...some of these are honest-to-goodness blasts-from-the-past.

Now, a quarter-century later, we all can make early Pat Benatar-style videos...starring ourselves. Whoda thunk it?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

30 Days

I've watched every episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days, including a pair tonight.

I thoroughly enjoy the show. Today there were two firsts.

First of all, there was the show where a devoutly religious Mormon who does not believe gays and lesbians should be able to adopt visited a family consisting of two dads and four sons.

She wouldn't at all consider other positions. Meanwhile, the gays and lesbians she visited were understandably aggressive in defending their perspectives. It came to a head on the last day, when the dad said something like "Since your core beliefs go against the two biggest, most beautiful things in my life--my relationship with Dennis and my children--I just can't see how we can be friends."

Well, yeah. The only bad news is that the woman (who had literally no arguments beyond "these are my morals" and "God ordains it") will go home and believe that the mean gay men weren't even willing to be her friends. But if I spent 30 days in her home and spouted off on how immoral Mormons were the whole time, I wouldn't count on a friendship coming out of it...no matter how carefully I phrased it.

The other one we watched was interesting because it was a little switch. What I call the "visiting team" (the person who leaves behind all he/she knows for 30 days) was the liberal this time. In all but one of the politically-charged episodes I've seen so far, the liberals were the home team. That bugs me just a smidge...I think we all should be required to leave our comfort zones.

But in this one, a staunch pro-gun-control advocate traveled to rural Ohio to hang with a gun-loving family. She had lost a loved one to gun violence years earlier, and in her hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts, she associates gunshots with death. The first time she fires a weapon, while skeet shooting, she goes into convulsive sobs.

But on this one, the home team and the visitors each were smart people willing to listen to the other side. And in the end, the liberal wound up doing more of the moving...she now has a respect for the gun culture and states that her host really respects gun safety and is a good guy.

I liked that...it makes the episodes a little less predictable. Sure, they still had the home team head out to sit down with loved ones of gun violence victims. I don't have a problem with that, but it's not in keeping with the usual pattern of the show--the visiting team is almost always the only one required to leave their comfort zone at all. Still, it was nice to see a politically-different perspective.

A tale of two preachers

My rant about how tough it is to find a faith home hit home with a couple of readers, including a Kentucky minister.

But a Louisiana Baptist, it seems, wasn't a fan.

I went ahead and responded. Exchanges about issues we disagree about=good.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Karaoke from hell again

Went and did the Monday night version of KFH at Dante's Bar last night. It's a different vibe from the Thursday night version at Tiger Bar...lots more people, bigger stage, better lighting, loads of dancing. Only two people got to get up twice, compared to almost everyone getting in three songs at Dante's. My only song last night was a well-received version of "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" (It's weird. I'm 16 years gone from college, but I still feel a small twinge of this-isn't-right when I sing a Kokosingers song from my college days...like I've abandoned my Chaser roots by heading over to the rival group. I felt the same way when I bought my first blue blazer.) Wife did a fun version of "I Don't Like Mondays." We stuck around until the very end, not just waiting to see if I'd get up for my second song, but because there were very, very few stinkers. And that band is so good that it's worth it just to hear them play all night.

Of course, I'm enough of an attention slut that I prefer Tiger Bar (more stage time for me). But it was still a helluva fun night.