Saturday, August 31, 2013

Let's talk jobs

Two things on my mind today about employment:

1) Rep. Steve King's comments about the unemployed are as about offensive as it gets. He compared the jobless to kids in a family who refuse to do chores. The idea that people without jobs are averse to work is a particularly mean argument that aims to demonize the unemployed. It's no surprise, then, that his answer to overcoming the problem is to simply buck up and get a job. Gee, why didn't they think of that before?

There is certainly merit in admonishing people who refuse to work to get their stuff together. But that doesn't describe most people, and applying that to everyone without a job is dismissive and insulting.

2) The fast-food strikes across the nation are being fundamentally misunderstood. In most places where employees are calling for $15 an hour, that's not much above minimum wage — a wage which, in America, is rarely a living standard for anyone. (Even where the wage is the rock-bottom $7.25, double that can still be difficult for families.) The strikers are asking for a living wage for full-time work, which should be a fundamental right. Critics have to make up their minds about this — either we make work pay, or we beef up the assistance programs that must compensate for their needs.

And don't give me any pap about supply and demand. I've been to a McDonald's in Manhattan (also, everywhere else). They had demand out the wazoo. 

"But it's flipping burgers! They're probably just pimply teenagers anyway."

Working fast food was one of the most demanding gigs I've ever had, physically and even emotionally. As I'm sure it was for the single mother beside me, who worked two full-time jobs back-to-back every day so her children could scrape by. So yeah, that argument is moot, and would be irrelevant even if true. If we're going to get into arbitrary value judgments about jobs, we'll have to question a lot of high-paying ones, too. Why no call for that?

Take it away, Mick.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

As your public schools go, so do you

For someone with no kids and who decided teaching wasn't for him (and doesn't do a whole lot about it), I am really passionate about public education. Much of that passion arises from what I think public schools symbolize — the public good in general.

(Full disclosure: I've got 21 years of public education under my belt. Never once wore a uniform. My schools varied, as did my friends. I was a gifted student. I probably would have thrived in private school — or been expelled repeatedly. In any case, I think I turned out better than fine.)

As tends to happen, though, a lot of people choose to opt out. They have all sorts of reasons: the public schools are bad, they want specific programs, they need Jesus, etc. Some parents take it further and argue they bear no responsibility for public schools if they send their children to private institutions.

See, now that I can authoritatively address. Why should I, as a bachelor, support public schools with my tax money? Well, because it's not about me. It's about society. Having educated children benefits all of us. So I'm happy to pay those taxes. Education is our friend.

This article is perhaps unfair in calling private school parents bad people, but it does make one sterling, excellent point that I enthusiastically echo: when those with means divest themselves from the public, the public suffers. And ultimately, they suffer as well.

Whatever other reasons parents choose to send their children to private school, there's at least some underlying feeling that the public schools aren't worth fixing. Because the state of public schools relies so much on public interest, lack of that interest allows them to wither. In many places, this leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Benedikt's manifesto also (perhaps too bluntly) makes what is perhaps the single best point to consider about anything: Whatever you want, everyone else probably wants too. You want the best for your kids? Well, so does every other parent. Money talks, though, so richer people are able to buy themselves such things. But should that be a question of finances?

No, it shouldn't be. As I've written before, public schools should be like McDonald's — consistent and omnipresent. If everyone invested themselves in them, we'd all be better off. Sadly, it seems only those with direct investment in public schools seem to care at all. In that light, Benedikt's article makes sense. 

But I think a better solution is not to force everyone into public schools — it's a renewed interest in the community by those who may choose private schools for personal reasons. Simple empathy.

Public schools can teach everyone, even those who never set foot in them.

Truth


BuzzFeed has a new "Community" feature, which (as you might expect) has been quickly co-opted by conservative political hacks. AlterNet is steamed about this, mostly out of a sense that BuzzFeed is a liberal haven. But I think that complaint's off the mark.

My issue with this feature — or anything like it — isn't political. It isn't with the open nature of it, nor is it opinionated interpretation of the facts. I also don't care about pandering to the supposed audience. It's that the "facts" aren't true. If they aren't, I don't care who is saying what.

BuzzFeed is hardly the New York Times. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't strive for accuracy just like any information outlet interested in building integrity. Reporters aren't supposed to lie. Editorialists aren't supposed to lie. Advertisers aren't supposed to lie.

Be stupid if you must. But be truthful too.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A painful development

Damn knee.

Striking while the iron's trendy

This. She did this.
By the way, this now-viral shot is not the Smith family reacting to Miley Cyrus' now-infamous performance — they're actually gasping at Lady Gaga and supposedly enjoyed Miley.

In any case, we now have a reaction shot for the ages. Caption material for sure.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When the children are teachers

Soon, I will have an Internet connection wired up at my apartment. Until then, I get most of my wi-fi fix from my apartment complex's swimming pool.

For the past two weeks, I've tapped this locale for considerable Facebook snark. Much of it arises from the middle-schoolers who act their age, as well as drunk adults who act middle-school age. Also, in a class by himself, this guy.

The pool, and the playground next to it, get a lot of traffic from younger children as well. As I type this on a Sunday evening, several children are playing merrily in the brisk Reno wind. At one point, they appeared to be engaged in a Smurfs game.

Curmudgeons often complain that kids these days are too buried in technology for their own good. At times, that's true (and it isn't just children, to be sure). But it's a fallacy to think that good old playtime doesn't happen anymore. These kids are running, climbing, riding bikes, building drink stands, imagining, socializing and laughing as surely as any kids before them. 

Even better, they're behaving. No one's fighting, cursing, bullying or getting hurt. There doesn't seem to be any outside structure, or even that much adult supervision (granted, this is a pretty safe place, and the parents are probably watching from their patios). Oh, and it's racially diverse.

I wish more adults were watching. They could learn something from these kids.

The wrong kind of outrage

A lot has been made of the news story that a WWII veteran was killed at the hands of two teenagers.

What does the incident say about America? Nothing, besides that no one is immune from violence. That doesn’t mean it isn’t exceedingly tragic. But those who are trying to turn it into more than it is are off the mark.

This is the latest story to be held up by some white people desperately trying to find a counterexample to white-on-black violence like the Trayvon Martin murder. They seek these stories because they want to believe that hate crimes don’t exist. They hope to discredit those who insist otherwise as the true racists.

That’s an uphill climb, to say the least. There aren’t many crimes that prove the inversion of the Trayvon case — that black people can skate free of justice after admittedly killing a white person (after having aggressively tailed them for wearing, say, Abercrombie and Fitch). So instead, they find any black-on-white homicide report they can find and blast President Obama and/or Al Sharpton for not being equally outraged by the (non)equivalent case.

To be any kind of equivalent story to Trayvon, the court would have to prove that the perpetrators targeted the man because of his combat status or his race. And even then, they’d have to go free due to a flawed prosecution or other inherent advantages that the system gives black teenagers who confess to murder.

Don’t hold your breath.

Chances are, the assailants in this killing are going to be tried and convicted without much fanfare or controversy. Let’s hope so.

The murder is senseless and a tragedy, which I hope goes without saying. In fact, it brings me to the main difference between this case and those like Trayvon’s:

Nobody decent thinks it’s OK to kill someone, of any stripe, in cold blood. Most people are empathetic when they learn about a murder victim’s life. And sadly, there’s nothing unusual about Americans killing random strangers for money.

But there are still people who are totally OK with racial profiling, and think of the perpetrators not just as deserving of freedom, but as heroes.

That’s the difference.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A movie worth self-examining

The Hot Flashes is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

The first entry in the Definitive Ian Collection.
The movie stars Brooke Shields as a former high school basketball star who discovers that her town's mobile mammogram unit is about to shut down due to lack of funds. To raise the money (and honor the late teammate who started the unit), she puts together a scrappy team of fellow menopausal former stars to take on the current high school champions in a series of three games. The film also stars Wanda Sykes, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim and Eric Roberts. It's surprisingly deep at times and less cheesy than I expected (though it does have its share of cheese). Portions of the profits go to breast cancer charities. A good deal all around.

Also, I'm in it. Take a look:

Hot stuff!
Photobombing the toast.
Between Daryl and Virginia, apparently deciding which one I'd rather make into a purse.
Fist pump!
Face in focus! (This shot lasts like two frames and is difficult to pause.)
These scenes occur at the victory party that takes place after the second game, their first win. (They win that one impressively dirty, by the way.) Read about my filming experience here

Unfortunately, none of my uncharacteristically crack pool-shooting got in. But they did make me appear to have at least some rhythm. Hollywood is magic.

I shot the above frames with my phone as freeze-frames on my laptop. They look a lot better if you buy the film, which you totally should do. For the breasts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

No patience for bold men


Everybody knows I'm not a fan of dress codes. The way I see it, if people dress appropriately for the job that they do and feel good as a result, then micromanagement shouldn't be necessary. The work should matter most. Obviously, there are exceptions such as the military and sports. In the latter cases, the uniform has aesthetic and practical functions. 

In this case, the NFL jumped on the Redskins' rising-star quarterback for committing what it deemed an apparel violation. Good for them. Football players are big stars and must conduct themselves in a becoming way on the football field. So, what loud, inappropriate, violatilicous shirt did RGIII wear during pregame?

Er ... OK.
"Operation Patience" supposedly refers to Griffin's comeback from a major injury this past season, one that received tons of attention — and continues to do so as he gradually re-emerges. One that, incidentally, the NFL has publicized to the hilt.

Granted, you could argue that he's a two-time offender, that he knows the rules, that he shouldn't bite the hand that feeds him, that the fine is a drop in the bucket for him, etc.

In any case, the NFL dress code is bull. It serves only one purpose: to advertise league-licensed apparel — specifically, Nike apparel. Every player, coach and support staffer is required to be a walking billboard for a specific line of merchandise at all times. Notice how you haven't seen a head coach wear a suit in a while? That's the reason.

Even that would be OK, though, if they weren't so stringent about it (after all, it's not as if he wore the shirt during the game). What the money people fail to realize is that, in their quest to market the league to fans, they've squelched virtually all personality from it. But personality is as much a draw as teams and touchdowns. As I've said before, if all the NFL brass cares about is teams and shilling apparel, it might as well not put names or numbers on the players' uniforms. After all, that only encourages personality. And that would hurt the bottom line somehow.

What bothers me is how many fans agree with the league's mindset. That's a victory for the PR muscle, because it takes deliberation on a fan's part to decide that an inoffensive T-shirt during warmup drills is an affront to team harmony. It's something no one cared about until the league decided to care about it.

The funny thing is, the NFL was just fine before all this stringency. I'd argue in some ways that it was even better. 

I guess the bottom lines are better now, though.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Making a place better by leaving it

Inspired by this bit o' news

Something only I could possibly care about

For my entire life, I've been interested in license plates.

When I was a kid, both my mom's and my grandfather's cars had plates that began with the number 2. Both cars were 1980 models, so that was to be expected.

But when my mom bought a brand-new used car in 1992, that plate also began with 2.

My first truck had a plate with the first three numbers and the last number being 2.

My current car's first set of plates (Missouri) began with 2.

The second number of its third plate (Louisiana) was 2.

My new Nevada plates start with ... yep ... 2.

To date, I've had one set of plates that didn't have a 2 in it, the second Missouri set. I had them for one year, during which the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Could that be the secret?

I hope not.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A message to all adults who talk

We’re all adults here. And, as humans tend to do, we talk. Talking isn’t exactly an art form, but neither should it be a disgusting puddle of paints swirled into a puke-green mess squirted onto the ground, messing up the undersides of our shoes.

To that end, here are a couple of conversational habits that deserve to crumble into a dusty cloud of sulfur:

1) Constant cursing. I’m not saying this out of prudishness; I’m the polar opposite of a prude, which my movie, music, book, writing and friend collections will bear out. I’ve been known to curse from time to time. I’m a big believer in the value of a well-placed profanity, whether for humor or shock value — in those instances, “heck” and “darn” just don’t measure up.

But if you can’t manage three words of any conversation without spewing every swear word you’ve ever heard, you suck. You lack tact and imagination and are probably terrible at video games and love.

This isn’t one of those peeves that’s limited to uneducated, ignorant people. Indeed, many people I’ve heard do this have plenty of schooling or otherwise enough life experience to realize they shouldn’t sound like 11-year-old drunks at an Insane Clown Posse tailgate. And I think much of that is that people still get a charge out of saying something supposedly forbidden by polite society. Which is stupid, because “polite society” really hasn’t been a thing for awhile, and is usually portrayed in movies as the artificial construct that barely masks the antagonists’ repressed anger.

In other words, cursing long ago ceased to be subversive. Now, it’s just juvenile.

Nevertheless, that barely bothers me at all compared to this:

2) Using the N-word as a substitute for random words. I’m not a fan of that word. I’ve explained my stance on it before, and I don’t think we’re any closer to national maturity about it than when I wrote that. I hope it goes without saying that anyone who uses the epithet as a racial slur is a disgusting person, period. Others use it in the same way they use other profanities, for the tee-hee factor. In both cases, the person might be vile, but at least there’s some logic to the usage.

But there are people out there whose immediate instinct when, say, a friend tickles them, is to shout, “N*GGA!” This is just baffling. What thought process compels people to do this?

Even some white racists know better than to outright say the N-word. But many of those who say it randomly aren’t racist (at least among those I’ve encountered), so it’s even weirder. Still, it’s an interjection, so there’s at least some degree of subconscious at play.

That doesn’t explain probably the most head-scratching users of all: those who deliberately use the word to describe various objects. Such as, “Check out that tablet! I’ll bet that [N] is expensive.” There are no words...

Well, actually there are. Much better, more accurate words that won’t make the speaker sound like a racist ignoramus.

Both excessive cursing and endless N-word use have easy solutions: vocabulary.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Not the Sharpiest law in the shed

Setting: Checkout line, Cheap-Mart, Reno.

Scene: Two young parents are purchasing SHARPIES. IAN is standing behind them.

CHECKOUT CLERK: “You are 21, right?”

YOUNG FATHER: “Yes, we are.”

CC: “You aren’t going to draw on anyone’s faces, are you?”

YOUNG MOTHER: “No, we’re not.”

IAN: “You have to be 21 to buy Sharpies now?”

CC: “Yes.”

IAN: “Twenty-one? Eighteen, I’d understand. But 21?”

YF: “I know!”

CC: “If you had kids in school these days, you’d understand.”

IAN: “But what if you’re a college student and you need a Sharpie?”

CC: “Then you’re in trouble.”

IAN: “If you’re old enough to fight in a war, vote and buy cigarettes, you should be able to buy a Sharpie.”

CC: “I agree with the rule. You can’t be too careful.”

Oh, yes you can.

I’ve never been one to complain about the “nanny state,” because regulation is often a good idea, and those who want it least are typically the best arguments in favor of it.

But Sharpies are not beers.

Maybe it’s time to address chemical addiction as an underlying problem rather than making it harder to buy anything that might have something in it that could lead to a high of some sort. Especially school supplies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A sociopath's guide to swimming

So I went to my new apartment complex's swimming pool for the second time today. And from that arises this primer in how not to treat people, rolled into one easy-to-digest but hard-to-stomach package.

• During my swim, a beautiful woman also swims and tans. She looks like an ex-girlfriend of mine, though I don't tell her this. Also present: a woman and her two tiny grandchildren.

• A while later, a guy walks in. He's wearing a wife-beater and is dangling a cigarette. My first impression is that he is a jerk. I chide myself for rushing to snap judgments. He is apparently the beautiful girl's boyfriend.

• The guy has an adorable, yet gigantic, dog with him, which is not on a leash.

• After a couple of minutes the dog struts across the pool and begins approaching the children. The children are swallowed up by their floaties, never mind a dog that would barely fit in my car.

• The smallest of the two children, a little boy, begins wailing. His grandmother scrambles to move him away from the dog. His crying has a tone of madness and continues once he's sat down at the table. The little girl jumps into the hot tub.

• The whole time, the guy and the girl stare blankly at what's happening. They make zero attempt to stop it.

• Finally, the guy gets up and walks to the grandmother. I expect him to apologize. Instead, he says with a tone of disbelief and even accusation, "Was it the dog that scared him? Why would they be scared of the dog?" Because, dude, he's a dog the size of a van to them. Is that not enough?

• After he moves the dog out of the pool area, another stunning girl walks in. He knows her too. He calls across the pool, "HEY, N*GGA!" They are both white.

• He walks back to his girlfriend, wooing her with such charming phrases as, "Hey Ass, what the fuck is wrong? Motherfucker. Don't bullshit a bullshitter." He says this very loudly.

• When I look up, the girlfriend is crying. Wailing, really. To that he says, "Why you crying, Ass? You out of cigarettes? You want a cigarette? Aww!" Through her hyperventilation, she manages to say, "I'm just, I'm just, unhappy." As she says this, another one of the guy's buddies looks on from behind the pool fence.

• It's worth noting that, before he got there, the woman was happy. By the time I stormed out in disgust, children were crying, the girlfriend was crying and I was too angry to stay.

It takes talent to be that vile in so many overlapping ways. Here's hoping she drops the zero.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I don't miss what I missed

My life has been a constant chorus of, “You missed out.” In practically every situation I’ve ever been in, someone who preceded me is there to wistfully reminisce about the glory days that are now over. Apparently, I was born too late to experience anything at its peak. If they’re to be believed, of course.

Much of that is human nature. People tend to lock in their barometers in life at a young age, and spend their later years comparing reality harshly against the nostalgic haze of the past. So it’s no shock that as people get older, they tend to think everything’s going to hell.

Even accounting for that, though — and it pains me to do this — I have to indulge the baby boomers in one respect: they win pop culture. Some of the best music, TV shows and movies ever made came out during the peak years of that generation’s influence. People born in the 1990s are intimately familiar with songs from the 1960s to the 1980s, whereas they probably know less about stuff from their own formative decade.

Why is it painful to admit that? Because those who lived through the sixties are often gratingly righteous about it. Vietnam, civil rights, Woodstock, the Beatles — that’s when a generation made a difference, man! You kids these days, you just don’t know! You’re obsessed with Justin Bieber and the Kardashians. We never had trash like that growing up! And your generation will never know the frustration of prejudice and racial tension, or of fighting a war you can’t win.

OK, maybe that’s overkill. But not by much.

My point is that for all their ignorance of the generation gap (itself ironic), boomers really can claim cultural victories. Part of that is the quality of the material. But another factor is theirs, possibly for all time.

Monoculture.

I first learned of this word in this AV Club blog from 2009, written shortly after the death of Michael Jackson. Monoculture is the (much-debated) idea that the limitations of technology meant we shared more collective experiences in the past. Those who adhere to this notion argue that there can’t be a Michael Jackson anymore, because audiences are too fragmented to mold a star with such universal appeal.

I think that’s mostly true. Not necessarily because tastes have changed, but because anyone even approaching an MJ-level of stardom today gets torn down long before they have a chance to build their reputations. That’s due in part to the Internet, which allows real-time ridicule. It also allows for people to indulge more niche tastes not available in the days when entertainment was confined to certain acts and certain hours.

It’s those conditions that led to the creation of Saturday Night Live, one of the most oft-cited examples of boomer-era genius. People raised on the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players will insist that the show was unadulterated gold then and is a pale imitator these days.

Having seen the first few episodes of SNL, I can’t say they’re objectively better than the most recent season finale. But I can see how the show was such an unexpected and mind-blowing presence on Saturday nights in 1975. Indeed, I remember how fresh and new it seemed when I was 6, staying up that late for the first time and feeling loopy (this explains why I’m nostalgic for the 1985-86 season, widely considered one of the worst ever). It’s the nature of discovery in a more limited age.

In the 1980s, let alone the 1960s and 1970s, it was still a big deal to have more than a few fuzzy channels on TV. Radio was less corporate, and music was a much bigger force in shaping the cultural conversation. The Internet was still the province of the Department of Defense. That, combined with a pop cultural past bereft of equivalent rock-and-roll revolutions, the baby boomer era was a perfect storm of creativity and relevance that still resonates today. And, for the most part, I missed it.

I also don’t miss the fashion, the awful cars, Reaganism, open prejudice and the copious mountains of drugs. And I like being able to publish my writing to where anyone in the world can see it anytime, even if it means I’m a molecule in the Pacific Ocean.

Hopefully, future generations will find what I wrote and see for themselves how much they missed. Or, more accurately, how little.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Everything wrong is right now

When I first heard about the word "literally" being redefined to include its popular-yet-wrong usage, I thought it was one of those Internet jokes. But apparently this is actually happening. "Literally" can now officially mean "figuratively," which is literally the opposite of figuratively. 

(OK, every article in the world writing about this is making "literally" jokes to figurative death. I promise not to from here on out. Maybe.)

Throughout the history of the English language, words have occasionally assumed meanings that they shouldn't have, but incorrect popular usage won out. To paraphrase George Carlin, it's called second-usage because it's NOT THE FIRST! But this may be the first time a word has been given its polar opposite as a meaning, and definitely the first time in the Internet age.

I'm less concerned about what this means for a single word than its broader national implication. We live in an age where anyone who refuses to accept reality can adopt an entirely different one and — by watching the right stations, listening to the right radio stations, surfing the right websites and immersing themselves in niche pop culture — never have it challenged. Not agreeing on the facts is bad enough when we generally agree on the definitions of words. I can't imagine how much worse it's going to get now that wrong can become right in the dictionary (literally). You thought protest signs were bad before?

Flubber bean bumpers!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Your satire is flat

From Wikipedia: 

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

I share this today because people are increasingly using the words "satire" and "humor" interchangeably. But they're two different things.

A rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask is not an example of satire. It might pass as a joke if your sense of humor sucks, but it isn't satire. Satire skewers. A rodeo clown wearing a George W. Bush mask might be satire, because Bush had a reputation as a cowboy (and as a clown). But any supposed satirical subtext of Obama as a rodeo clown is like making fun of Ben Affleck for the holes in his hands

(Wait. Scratch that. I can think of one way Obama as a rodeo clown is satirical. Rodeo clowns distract rowdy bulls. That's kind of what Obama's doing, isn't it? Brilliant! The clown is actually an Obama supporter! Who knew?)

To use another example, if someone satirized Sarah Palin for being overly pretentious, that would also be a fail. Not that I see anyone doing that.

Satire is best described as thinking person's comedy. So if you find yourself trying to hide behind the term, that's what you need to do before you speak. Think.

Dear teenagers,

This kills me to write. 

At 33, I'm at an age where people vary widely in how they behave. Some enthusiastically embrace adulthood (by which I mean they become boring and start complaining about old-people stuff) and others do their best to stay youthful (by which I mean they act as if they're still young, but still deal with old-people stuff). I like to think I'm in the latter category (hell, I'm rarely mistaken for older than 25).

However.

Yesterday, after a week of waiting, I finally moved into my new apartment. I decided to grab lunch at a nearby franchise. What I didn't know was that 1) yesterday was the first day of school in Reno and 2) a million teenagers live in my neighborhood. Those bads were mine.

When I walked in, four teenage girls and their guy friend stood in front of me. No problem. The problem began when what must have been 49 other teens marched in all at the same time. Whenever that happens (and let's lump in any big group in this), there's going to be lots of happy energy. I get that. I bask in it. I encourage it.

However. 

You still have to stand in line. It's cool if you see a friend in front of me and hug and catch up, but it's not a license to cut. It's also — if I can emphasize this — NOT A LICENSE TO NEARLY KNOCK ME (or anyone) OVER.

Granted, I've tried to be conscious of my surroundings wherever I go. I say try, because sometimes it takes effort. Much of that teen energy never left me. And I'm awkward to boot. But whenever I'm a situation that brings to mind human dominoes, I usually manage to channel it.

Teenagers, you're all right. I like you. While I believe you are being utterly screwed by No Child Left Behind, I otherwise think you're OK. I roll my eyes at people who say you're the worst generation ever (every older generation says that, by the way, and not all of them are that great). The generation gap is always a case of people misremembering the past. In that regard, you're good and I can't wait for you to take the reins. It's your life; never let anyone tell you not to color outside the lines. 

But when there is a line, don't make a flash mob of it.

Sincerely,
Grandpa

Cc: My bad back

Saturday, August 10, 2013

About as dum as it gets


This is a real graphic currently making the rounds on Twitter. I wanted to title this entry, "What is Prince, chopped liver?" But it seemed wrong to dispel a graphic before you've had a chance to even see it. I wanted to have some fun with it first. And I will, even though my work here is done on account of the fact that PRINCE TOTALLY HAS HIS OWN SYMBOL. Take that, Hitler/Obama!

And ... er ...

I'm sure there are others too. Like the one my best friend in high school always drew with his signature, and the one I had when I was 11. Et cetera. Et cetera.

Has my point been pointed enough? Good. I'm going to the beach.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Shocking football news of the day


Filtering everything out of this involving the usual trappings of pro football, media sensationalism and the complete lack of surprise here, I still have something to say about this.

I've reiterated more times than I can count that Bill Belichick is the Dick Cheney of the NFL — terse, secretive, standoffish and with just enough success to justify both traits in many people's minds. Unlike with Cheney, though, even Belichick's biggest haters generally agree on his success as a coach (which, even accounting for Spygate, is extensive). He's not my favorite personality type or coaching type, but he is who he is and it works for him.

It's not particularly newsworthy that a former player said his relationship with Belichick grew rocky over time. Again, that's football and that's Belichick. It's interesting to hear Welker's take on it, but it's hardly headline material.

But it does bother me to read some of the reaction to it. Every comment thread I've read had at least one comment that said something like (I'm paraphrasing), "If Welker would buck up and grow a pair, maybe he wouldn't get his widdle feelings hurt." Others called Wes a pussy and other epithets that are epithets if you're sexist.

That is inexcusable. 

As I said, I'm no fan of the overly macho, stoic, growly attitude that defines Belichick; I go out of my way to avoid people with those personality traits whenever I can. But I doubt even he would condone such bully bluster from people. Part of it is the anonymity of the Internet, but I've also encountered plenty of people who are outwardly that way. I guess it's their attempt to emulate the Belichick attitude, and it's a pathetic attempt. They should know the coach would probably not be proud.

If his interest waned on one of the best receivers in the game, what could he possibly think of those armchair quarterbacks?

Knowing him, it's probably not much. I don't either.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Would you try it?

I had a dream last night that I visited my childhood supermarket for the first time in years. The deli was now selling McGibboney Turkey — shaved slices of spicy turkey crusted with peppermint. Apparently I had always asked for that when I shopped there in the past. I told the girl, "Of COURSE I would like something like that." I kind of want to try that now. But not really.

Also in the dream, I had to drive my sister to Washington, D.C. from Lafayette and get back to Reno in time to go to work at 2 p.m. Despite a valiant effort, I find myself back in Reno at 1:30 — not enough time to get ready for work. Mission aborted.

My dreams would make terrible action movies.

No single path in life

Occasionally, I run into someone who says that people without children are missing out on life. It happened to me again recently, just as Time magazine released a cover story on "The Childfree Life" (the latest entry in its ongoing series on weird people such as singles, the childless and everyone born after 1980).

As I get older and remain childless, I'm hearing an increasing chorus by well-intentioned people (all of whom are parents) that I should get on that. 

I respect parents, because it's true that they have the most demanding job in the world. I've spent lots of time caring for children and it doesn't take long for the duty to whip my butt. I understand the intense, never-ending responsibility that is parenting — and it's precisely why I have never sired offspring. The bond between child and parent may be something only a parent can understand, but anyone can realize the gravity of the responsibility. Conversely, all parents know what it's like to not be one, and most at least occasionally pine for those days.

Life is not necessarily easier, harder or more- or less-fulfilling along some static guideline; not all single/childless people are miserable and not all parents are benevolent and ecstatic. So let's all agree that everyone is unique, and address their wants and needs from there. 

It takes a village.