Friday, May 29, 2009

Everybody's Got One.

I realize this has all been said before, but this really bugs me: Whenever a person of color gets nominated for something--be it mayor, president, or judge--people are always asking the question: Will they be able to do their job effectively without undue bias from their cultural background? It's a question that only seems to come up for the Sotomayors, never for the Robertses.

But why not? Roberts isn't raceless, he's white. He's not genderless, he's male. He has cultural biases and assumptions, the same as everybody has. But only minorities and women are called on to answer for them. Everyone else skates by because somehow "white" and "male" (and "straight") are the default settings for government officials.

But they're not default. No one's checking the "n/a" boxes for those areas. White and male have just as many cultural assumptions as any other combination -- and those assumptions are more insidious, because it's constantly implied that we don't have any assumptions or biases at all.

I don't know what can be done about this. I have no solutions, other than to be aware that this kind of double standard exists. And before questioning someone else about their cultural biases, make sure you have enough self-awareness to realize you have some of your own.


Easy go...

Easy come.

I weighed in the other day at the cult, and found I'd regained 1.6 pounds over the week. (Much like this carved pyrite skull.) It wasn't a banner week, and I *did* chow down on way to many apple slices with peanut butter the night before. But it was a D&D game, and nothing gets me to chow down like D&D. At least it wasn't carrots.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Livin' On a Prayer

Kathy and I headed south this weekend to celebrate my old friend Jeff's 40th birthday. We got caught in plenty of traffic (and had a long trip even under the best conditions) so despite setting out at 9 a.m., we made it to the lunch party at 2:30, missing the cheese course entirely. (Good for my cult, bad for my soul.)

My car doesn't have air conditioning, which wasn't a huge problem when I was thinking I'd be employed enough to trade it in, but as things stand, it looks like I'll be driving with the windows open for another hot summer. But for long trips, I need to remember to sunscreen up. My forearm is bright red, and the sting is only now finally starting to go away.

Afterward, Jeff, opened up his gifts, among them such reliable gags as chattering teeth and other reminders of how old we're all getting. But the biggest reminder for me is this: I remember my dad's 40th birthday party. My mom invited all his friend for a surprise party, sprung just as he and I returned home from an Indian Guides camping trip.

There were chattering teeth at that one, too.

I can't believe I'm only a few months away from hitting that milestone. It's weird -- it feels like if I hit that birthday, the first one that I really remember my dad having, then I must, by logical deduction, be a grown-up. We'll see about that, I guess.

Kathy & I spent the night at my brother & sister-in-law's, and got to play with our niece and nephew in the morning, and have some tasty barbecue, to boot. Then, we hit the road again, avoiding I-95 altogether, choosing instead to take 295 north and then route 40 north until the Delaware Memorial bridge.

Already feeling a bit like my dad, I suggested we stop at a liquor store before we left Delaware. We wound up hitting a small (very small) package store attached to a bar. The guy at the counter immediately introduced himself to us, and asked if we liked Bon Jovi. We gave a fairly non-committal answer, and he said "You're looking at their new drummer."

The story goes, their current percussionist, Tico, is planning to retire, and they need a new one. And this guy was it, hooked up through a sound-engineer friend of his. He'd be meeting the band themselves really soon, but in the meantime, Jon's family and their bodyguards have all been coming down to check him out, because that's the way they do things.

Then he said that he'd soon be marrying a supermodel. He implied that he hadn't yet actually met said supermodel, but it was a done deal. He has a cross on a bracelet, and he'd occasionally kiss it and point to the big guy upstairs, who was totally hooking him up.

He mentioned he had a girlfriend once who was Greek, but she cheated on him, and that was that. He asked what nationality I was beside Greek; it was then that we realized he'd misread Kathy's "I Heart My Geek" shirt.

Then he explained how fit he was, and how that was important when you're in such a major act. He demonstrated by leaning back, back, and further back against the beer fridge door, essentially making an ark with his body (which was definitely in shape, no argument there). He told me to count to ten, and he did backwards pushups while I counted.

Then (yes, this kinda keeps going), he told us he was an amazing singer. He didn't want to make to much noise, but he wanted to really belt it, so he invited us into the walk-in cooler. We closed the door, kind of wondering if this would be the last thing we'd ever do. He gave us a choice of two songs we could hear, and soon he was belting out Steve Perry's "Oh, Sherry" with all his heart.

Finally, Kathy & I buy our Tuaca. (We went in looking for tequila, but they had a lousy selection). He gives us his autograph and his phone number, telling us to call him and he'll get us passes for when Bon Jovi plays the Meadowlands.

I'm *still* not quite able to make sense of it all. Will we be on TV?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Step Behind Me, Satan! Now Left! Now Right! And Back!

Earlier today I was doing some step aerobics (don't laugh) on the Wii Fit. On either side of me were the Mii avitars for Jesus and Hellboy. It made me feel like I was wrestling with some big decision.

Stepping between Snoop Dogg and Keith Olbermann was a little less intimidating.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Woke Up This Morning....

And lost myself a gun...

That's right, I'm back in the saddle of my Weight Watchers cult, and after my first week* back on program, I lost 5.2 pounds, the weight of this .223 caliber Rock River Arms LAR-15 pistol. It's a big jump in weight, and I know things slow down from here, but hopefully I can make enough progress to get me down to the weight I was before I fell off the wagon. My knees''ll thank me.

*Punctuated with mojitos and spicy shrimp!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Weirdest, Weirder, Weird.

A few lazy links, in the order of most to least bizarre:

A few days ago, Mike Huckabee issued a meter-challenged poem calling for Nancy Pelosi to step down as Speaker of the House. Yes, a poem. Rhythm is, apparently, optional.

The blog Unlikely Words has compiled a list of everything Tracy Jordan said in every episode of this season of 30 Rock: “I’m saying the Disneyfication of New York is over, everyone. At the stroke of midnight, your Lexus is going to turn back into a hot pile of rats fighting over a human finger.”

And finally, less weird than either of them: A giant tiki stomping on the Metal Men. I've never really been crazy about DC's Metal Men, but I am a sucker for giant tikis.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday is Bad to the Bone Day

In case you didn't notice the little doohickey on the right side of the blog (I'm talking to you, one-eyed Pete), Jeri Smith-Ready's Bad to the Bone is finally shipping on Tuesday. It's the sequel to Wicked Game, in which a group of time-stuck vampires have established a radio station playing music from their various eras. (Jeri's actually got an online radio station set up for the vamps... she really goes all-out.)

Anyway, the new book's coming out on Tuesday, and for once I haven't read an earlier draft -- so I'm going to be just as surprised as you are when I first crack the spine. But here's what I've got to go on -- this glowing review from Publisher's Weekly:

In Smith-Ready’s espionage farce sequel to 2008’s Wicked Game, Ciara Griffin and her vampire DJs face another threat to their Maryland radio station 94.3 WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll. When the Family Action Network (FAN) disrupts WVMP’s Halloween broadcast by pirating their signal and jamming it with antivampire rhetoric, Ciara swears revenge. Under the aegis of the International Agency for the Control and Management of Undead Corporeal Entities, Ciara turns spy and infiltrates the cult’s fortress, armed with her wits and her vampire-healing “antiholy” blood. Aiding her are a crew of hip vamp buddies and vampire dog Dexter, whom she rescues after finding him chained to a cross outside a FAN enclave. Smith-Ready pours plenty of fun into her charming, fang-in-cheek urban fantasy, which frequently skirts the edge of parody.
A vampire dog, man. That's badass.

So do yourself a favor and bring Bad to the Bone to the beach or pool this summer. Anywhere there's lots of sun. Because if there are vampire dogs, I think you pretty much have to watch out for anything.


My Eyes Are Going

I just saw an ad on Facebook that said "Click here to buy tickets"... and I thought it said "Click here to buy toilets."

I thought, Do people really buy more than one at a time? Over the Internet?


Another Week, Another Review

I saw InProximity Theatre Company's production of Craig Wright's Orange Flower Water last night. If you're in or around New York, you might want to see it too.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome to the Abyss

Do not gaze too long at SecretTweet, for it gazes also into you:

40889 I saw my son's 3rd grade teacher dancing at a strip club last week; we now exchange the biggest smiles at after-school pick-up.

40718 Motherhood is nothing like I expected. I feel so guilty about hating it.

40568 I'm a model in a BBW site. I seem very passionate about my work, but all I want is to be skinny.

40302 Her partner had a vasectomy and to spare her feelings I said I thought it was for the best. She would have been a great mum.

39999 she cheats on you all the time and tells me. im in love with you and could treat you so much better.

39970 The house is so quiet. I'm working,kids are at school,wife has passed out drunk again. It won't be quiet when she comes round.

39737 I didn't get to say goodbye to my father because I was high the day he passed. I haven't been high since. I'm sorry Papa.

39738 I'm a surgeon and today a little girl died on my table. I cried in my office after and wished that I was God.

39426 For four weeks, I've been sending anonymous flower bouquets to my wife at work, because I love her. She hasn't said a thing about it.

39271 Today, there was a giant dead ant in the cheese sauce I was making. I fished it out and served the sauce to guests.
And more and more and more... tiny heartbreaks, 140 characters at a time.


Just Like Bogie and Bacall?

So the other night, Kathy & I watched Key Largo on TCM. (I'd been meaning to see this movie for decades, even though I had no idea what it was about. But I like Humphrey Bogart, and when I finally saw The Big Sleep soon after college, I realized I liked Lauren Bacall just as much.)

So in honor of that, here's the song that first brought the film onto my radar... and which really has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. At all.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Bertie Higgins, Bearded Love God.

A perfect set of passionless early-eighties video lovebirds. I swear, you could find more chemistry on the far right of the periodic table.*


(*Ah, look it up.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Public Service Announcement

Turner Classic Movies will be showing Blood Freak again at 2 a.m. this Saturday (or Friday night, depending on how you look at it). Set your Tivos and get your drug/sex/mutant turkey freak on!


Friday, May 08, 2009

A Grand Old Puritan Tradition

Meghan McCain is confused:

Here’s what I’ve never understood about the [Republican] party: its resistance to discussing better access to birth control. As a Republican, I am pro-life. But using birth control and having an abortion are not the same at all. Actually, the best way to prevent abortions is to educate people about birth control and make it widely and easily accessible. True, abstinence is the only way to fully prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Still, the problem with abstinence-only education is that it does not make teenagers and young adults more knowledgeable about all the issues they face if or when they have sex—physically and emotionally.

Yep, that’s sure a confusing paradox. Or it would be, if you take the goals of the Repubican anti-abortion forces at face value. It’s a real stumper.

But suppose—just suppose—that the anti-abortion factions aren’t just anti-abortion, but they’re against sex altogether. A bunch of bluenose prudes, not wanting anybody but married folks like me to be getting it on.

Then maybe, just maybe, anti-abortion isn’t about stopping a medical procedure. And it’s not even about saving a life (or a potential one).

It’s about punishment.

No abortions, no condoms, no morning-after pills? It’s all of a piece. These things all remove or prevent the physical consequences of sex. There’s a pro-life bumper sticker that’s been around for a while, that reads “It’s a child, not a choice.” But the fact is, the pro-lifer’s behavior isn’t about the child at all. It’s not a child; it’s not a choice: It’s a consequence.

A baby is as good as AIDS is as good as the clap. Anything to scare people away from doing it.

I’m not saying this is the motivation behind the majority of the party; I suspect that there are far more Republicans than they’d like us to believe who’d be perfectly happy to let Roe vs. Wade stand, even if they have a personal problem with abortion. (I even suspect Meghan McCain is one of them. She writes, “As a Republican, I am pro-life.” I wonder if the reverse would be true?) But the true believers who so assiduously hammer the anti-abortion plank into the Republican platform? If they really thought abortion was murder, they’d be welcoming every chance they had to stop even one. Every condom, every pill, could save a life.

But the one crime worse than murder, in their minds, is sex. And they want to make sure it doesn't go unpunished.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Okay, how many cubits are we talkin', here?

A link for today's (and yesterday's and for-seeming-ever's) weather:

How to build an ark.


The Recession Hits Batman

I saw this about a week ago... and then realized you might want to see it, too.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Last Night

Kathy and I went into the city, had a quick, lackluster dinner at a joint called the Chirping Chicken ("Hear that sizzle? That's ME!") and enjoyed Theatre Ten Ten's excellent production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore. Then we strolled through a beautiful, cool night, window shopping and looking for a place to get some dessert... eventually covering the 50 blocks back to the train station.

And then I had a glass of scotch and stayed up till 5 in the morning writing this review. I think it turned out pretty well.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Golden Ticket

The Onion AV Club has a great question up: Who do you give a lifetime pass to?
In other words, which entertainers have thrilled you so much that you'll pretty much try anything they do, turning a blind eye to anything less-than-stellar that they come up with?

To start off, I'd agree with Zack Handlen at the AV Club: The Coen Brothers get a pass. Between Miller's Crossing, Raising Arizona, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, any Coen Brothers movie, starring anyone, gets a look from me. And another. And another. They're hilarious and ambitious, and I love everthing they do. I'm even curious to go back and see The Ladykillers.

Alan Moore. Say what you want about the guy -- the man has created such spellbinding comics that he could spend the rest of his career writing sheet music for the pennywhistle, and I'd probably learn to play just to appreciate it.

Joe Jackson. What can I say? This is the music I was listening to when I was finding out who I was. He can make his odd (and strangely successful) side-trips into modern classical or theme-driven song cycles anytime he wants. I'll listen.

Steve Martin. For L.A. Story, for Picasso at the Lapin Agile, for "Steve Martin's Penis Beauty Creme". I'm not gonna go out and watch Cheaper by The Dozen, but they don't diminish his stature one iota in my eyes. A guy's gotta earn.

So: Who gets a lifetime pass from you?