Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beating Off The Path

I need to get back to writing about writing stuff again. It does require a focus that I may not presently have, though. For instance, at 9:00 this morning, forty five minutes ago, I started my day with a dose of my narcotics. As far as cognitive reasoning goes, that can't be good.

Anyway, I'm one of those who finds massive partisanship in the news media, and I don't like it. I understand that in Europe, newspapers and magazines unabashedly flaunt their political bents and the readers patronize the outlets whose philosophy follows their own. What I like about this "system" is that it's completely out in the open whereas our own broadcasts and headlines are supposedly objective. Realistically they're nowhere near that and if ever we had principles they've been corrupted by Nielson ratings.

Even when I watch someone like Bill O'Reilly, who really seems to me to go out of his way, to make it a decided point, to bring people on his show who disagree with him, he's attacked because of his allegedly egotistical personality. Which has nothing to do with the news.

I end up going on 96% news blackouts where I just can't stand to hear it any more. A few months ago I started a short story where a guy devolves into a sort of news media shell shock only to revive after being confronted by a series of statements describing the public's dissatisfaction with the war, how big money is ruining baseball, etc. When it's finally revealed to him that the war quote, perfectly applicable to the situation in Iraq as it was when it was uttered during the Revolutionary War, or the baseball quote, again appropriate to modern times but issued in the twenties, he begins to come around.

It didn't appear I could make it as exciting as I would like so I shelved it. I also didn't feel up to the task of re-finding those quotes (as well as others) so that I could make the point as strongly as needs be done. One of these days...

If there's an answer for all this, indeed, if anyone other than me even wants to find one, probably has to lie in uncoupling news from advertising revenues. Make the news essentially a not for profit public service kind of operation much along the lines of--

Okay, you got me. It can't be fixed. The only answer I can come up with is to only watch news as presented by Paula Zahn or Erica Hill. I'd throw in Ashleigh Banfield as well but she wears those dark, mini-glasses, like Tina Fey, that couldn't be more distracting if they applied greasepaint mustaches under their noses. Is this a sexist point of view? Maybe. But in addition to being really good at their jobs, they can certainly distract from the biases of the headlines and the slants of the stories.

So I'm willing to take the label in order to be informed. It's the price I'll pay to be an informed citizen.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blah Blah Blah

I'd like to write something of more substance but my CFS is making me feel like garbage, the herniated discs in my neck are fighting for dominance, and I don't quite feel up to it. So shut up already, you suggest. Hah.

In an e-mail to a friend I told her about a buddy I once had who used to be in the Air Force. He had the Mythbusters-quality job of supporting space shuttle launches (back when they didn't explode) which meant he flew around in helicopters during the launches and shooed boats and people away from where they weren't supposed to be. He was also on hand for potential disasters, be they in the air, in the water, or on the land.

Consequently he spent his time skydiving, scuba diving, and surfing, as well as other forms of physical activity. He told me that when wearing wetsuits in the course of surfing and diving, he and his crew would "turn on the heater" as they felt necessary.

My e-mail friend didn't believe this but I told her that not only was it true, it has been corroborated to me by other surfers and divers. So when you see these daredevils dropping into fifty footers off Hawaiian breaks, or tracking bubbles in underwater caves to make sure they know which way is up, or even cage diving amidst Great Whites or hitching rides on the fins of whale sharks, just remember: these guys wet their pants. On purpose.

Quote from my five year old daughter, excerpted from a conversation with her three year old brother: "Those aren't gummy worms, they're your fingers." As they said in Ghostbusters, important safety tip. (At least he doesn't wet his pants like a surfer dude in a wetsuit.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It bothers me when I don't blog as consistently often as I have in the past. Almost always it's because my chronic fatigue garbage has flaired up (as it has the past two months) or I'm experiencing computer or ISP issues (as I have the past few weeks). I suppose I can take solace in that it doesn't seem to bother anyone else.

Anyway, when my sister and I were both in college, she was quite happy to take a course entitled something like "The History of Television." She studied I Love Lucy. I hate I Love Lucy. I didn't understand at the time, nor do I now, how or why it's appropriate to pay full college tuition credits for a class on something seemingly so trivial.

I'm quite sure there's a valid dialog to be had on the subject but it's not going to happen here. Also at this same time, the cost of tuition was rising something like 15% while the university faced the dilemma of divesting 40 some million dollars of investment in South Africa. Hello! If you've got that much money there, how much do you have everywhere else? And why do I have to pay rising tuition when you're sitting on such a stuffed mattress?

Again, like the Television course, I'm sure there's some sort of argument to be had here. Someone would have to care first, though, and that may be a tough bill.

I was reminded of all of this while watching the news in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre. A former classmate of the killer's was talking about their time in a class dedicated to the history of horror movies. And I've been wondering why so many college grads can't spell, use appropriate grammar, or know how to read a book without feeling punished.

The point of this entry is vague. It may not even make one. I think, though, that it will make the reader form some sort of response in his or her mind and perhaps that is the point. Are classes like this inappropriate, overpriced, and/or out of place? I think I think so.

On the other hand, perhaps a study of how Lucy managed to stuff bon-bons, rolling pell mell down a hyperactive conveyor belt, into her mouth, dress and god knows where else, might enlighten me to the point where I'd answer my own question. Or if I could understand what's really going on behind Jason Voorheis's hockey mask I might glean some additional insight.

I tend to doubt it. I can't see Einstein or Pasteur or Alfred Noble or even Steven Spielberg in classes like this. Quentin Tarrantino, maybe, but he'd probably be filming it with Bruce Willis sitting in the background. But I still wouldn't know why Ethel married Fred, not really. And that has to have historical significance in some context.

I'm glad I'm not in school anymore. Is this really "higher learning?" Has any serious (whatever that means) television savant actually taken any of these courses? Benefited from these courses? Or are they milk runs, taken advantage of by lackadaisical students, filling the quota of elective credits? Guess what I think...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Meaningless Tripe

I'm compelled to write this mostly because I haven't written anything for a week or so (I've been having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome episodes daily--again) and because I just now succeeded in pulling my jaw back up to my face. While I've never been a big Alec Baldwin fan and only a superficial (and I mean this in the best possible way) fan of Kim Basinger's, I played the posted recording of the ex-Mr. Basinger's phone message to their eleven year old daughter.


On the one hand you wonder why he would divorce a woman who looked like Kim. Then you hear something like this and you wonder how she ever hooked up with a guy like this.

So they've been in a custody battle for several years. So it's contentious. But when is it ever appropriate for a dad to tell his girl that she doesn't have the brains or the decency of a human being, that her mother is a thoughtless pain in the ***, but to tell her she is a "thoughtless little pig" and that she makes him feel like ****.

Good one, Alec. Anybody want to take his side, listen to the message first. It's far worse than reading the phrases flashing across the bottom of the CNN screen. So maybe Kim is "pathologically" afflicted and couldn't keep herself from violating the court order surrounding their situation, or perhaps she just couldn't hep herself with this particular smoking gun. In any case, I think she wins. At least the battle of public opinion.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stinking Paws

My wife's been telling me that she hasn't been able to get to this blog for the past few weeks. She said she couldn't get there from work, which should have been a clue, but it didn't penetrate. The server that hosts and isn't responding and is therefore not redirecting anyone to here. So I apologize to everyone who isn't reading this because of this problem. I have no idea when it will be fixed.

In the current issue of Discover magazine is a small item that talks about how much faster the brains of the lower primates are evolving relative to those of us homo sapiens. This becomes more interesting to me when you couple it with the notion that once a society becomes technologically savvy it stops evolving. Natural selection no longer has much impact when the physically weak or infirm need not outrun predators, the mentally enfeebled earn paychecks managing people like me, and we all have access to vaccinations, antibiotics and chemotherapy.

The thing that I simply cannot explain, and that brings it ALL together, is that for the past few months the History Channel has been showing the movie The Planet of the Apes. This is the movie, starring Charlton Heston from the book by Pierre Boulle, that shows what happens when the lower primates have evolved beyond humans, leapfrogging them after they've destroyed themselves in a nuclear holocaust. In other words, with the very technology that helped stop them from evolving.

Note this is on the History Channel, not SciFi. So the movie is a record of history? Or will be? Perhaps just a movie of historic cultural importance.

See the circle? Can you explain it to me? Isn't there a word that describes an unexpected result from seemingly disparate components? If there is, I can't remember. I'd ask an ape if I could find one. Now I just want someone to peel me a banana.