Thursday, May 27, 2004

B-b-b-bad Movies!

Many people don't realize this, but despite my hoity-toitiness about movies, I occasionally willingly see bad ones. I don't mean Ed Wood bad; I mean big-ass Hollywood bad. Maybe it's that my id gets hold of me once in a while and drives me to the worst dreck Hollywood can offer. Who knows? I accept it as part of the miracle of being.

I left the office early Tuesday as I wasn't feeling well, and on the way home I stopped by the video store to appease my id. Here's what I got:

Deep Impact: Who knew a disaster movie could be so boring? Plot: Big-ass comet is heading straight towards Earth. Now, I'm not going to criticize the questionable science of "Deep Impact", because I am not a, uh, cometologist, but I will criticize the fact that the movie does nothing and goes nowhere. The characters' personal problems are annoying, the excitement isn't very exciting, and by the end I was rooting for the comet.

Jeepers Creepers 2: I rented the first one and found it surprisingly enjoyable on an intellectual level, but the sequel is idaliciously empty. Lots of cute shirtless guys under stress from a demon that wanted to eat them. Not too bad in a lobotomy sort of way.

Freddy vs. Jason: The Holy Grail of mind-candy, this was disappointingly dull. Apparently, the filmmakers forgot the lesson of the first movie, which is, "Bringing Freddy into this world doesn't kill him." This one didn't even have very many cute guys to redeem it, either, nor did it involve a bunch of cute one-liners from Freddy. ("What's the matter...feeling tongue-tied?") Also, watching Freddy fight Jason has all the tension of a Jesus-Prometheus death match. Prometheus can't die and and Jesus will keep rising three days after his death, so really what's the point? Feh, I say. Feh.

This weekend I plan to immerse myself in indie films, to cleanse the stain of Hollywood from my mind.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 ain't gettin' it!

Those who know me know that I rarely offer advice. In fact, Emmett has said on several occasions that my reservation is near Minbari levels, which I suppose is true. I am comfortable with telling people only what I think they need to know, and little else.

But back to advice. People offer advice in the same way they exhale: constantly and without thinking. Sure, they usually - but not always - mean well, but just as usually that advice is neither required nor desired, and it's often pretty damned foolish, and uninformed to boot. Sometimes people just like to hear themselves talk, and to feel important because they think they know better than you. And who takes even 10% of even the best advice? Do you know these people? I don't.

My experience is that the hardest thing about approaching a life problem is not finding the answer, but discovering the question. After that, the answer usually attends to itself. Therefore, on the rare occasions where I consent to advise, I restrict myself to helping the listener define the question, and then letting her discover her own answers. IMO that's a much more helpful approach then telling someone he should do this or that, as if I know his situation better than he does. Also, that method keeps me from sounding as if I have some direct path to the wisdom of the ages.

Let's review...

BAD ADVICE: That guy doesn't treat you right and you should just leave him.
GOOD ADVICE: It sounds as though you're not happy with the treatment you're receiving. Maybe you should think about just what treatment you'd like to receive, and then decide if you are likely to get that treatment from him.

As you can see, the BAD ADVICE assumes that the adviser knows the situation and can accurately direct the listener's action based on that knowledge. This approach can leave the listener feeling pressured and resentful. The GOOD ADVICE avoids making judgements on the listener's life, but instead tries to get the listener to reexamine the situation from a different perspective. This approach encourages the listener to rely upon his own judgement, leavened with a bit of objectivity.

I don't have a witty or inspiring way to end this post, so I will stop trying to think of one and just sign off.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

If you had to do it again...

Now, don't think I'm expressing regret here, because I'm not. My life is what it is, and I'm not sure I'd have it any other way. Hell, given the way things were, I don't think it could have come out another way. Still, sometimes I wonder what I'd do were I catapulted back into my just-out-of-college self, knowing everything I know now.

I think I'd have saved up as much money as I could in six months or so, and then moved out of the area to someplace I'd never been and where I knew no one. Scary, yes, but it's a scare I could have used at the time. I would also have dyed my hair a freaky color, since at that point I could afford to work retail or for some strange publishing collective that would appreciate cobalt hair. I would definitely have come out earlier than I did, and explored the sides of my personality that at that time lay hidden.

I just realized that this post is edging close to personal revelations, so I'm going to cut it short. You'll get no true confessions from me.

Friday, May 14, 2004

A Promised Rant

You know what I don't like? SUVs. They suck, and those who purchase them should be ashamed. Here's why.

They're not all that safe. SUVs, which are built higher than other cars, have a higher center of gravity. This makes them especially prone to rollovers, which account for the plurality of the really serious injuries sustained in auto accidents. Some people think that rollovers only occur rarely or in extreme conditions, but the fact is that most rollovers occur when a vehicle is tripped. SUVs can (and do) trip over obstacles even as low as curbs, which are found on just about every street on which most people drive. Pretty dangerous, huh? Auto companies have touted four-wheel (FWD) drive, which most SUVs have, as some enormous safety feature, when in actuality four-wheel drive doesn't enhance safety. FWD doesn't help in stopping a vehicle (all four-wheel vehicles have "four-wheel stop"), but those to whom SUVs have been sold drive as if it does. That's a dangerous illusion, and one which the auto industry has been happy to promote. In addition, most SUVs lack crumple zones, which transfer the force of a collision as much as possible to the vehicle, and not the driver. Therefore, if you get into a collision with your SUV, your SUV might be fine, but you probably won't be. I don't know about you, but I like the fact that my car sacrifices itself to save me. I'm funny that way.

They are a danger to others. As I've already noted, SUVs are much higher than sedans, which means in a head-on collision, an SUV can easily climb right over the hood of a sedan to strike the windshield and the driver behind it. Same for a side collision, but replace "windshield" with "smaller, weaker side window." In addition, SUVs are built on steel frames and often lack crumple zones, which in a collision makes them big, heavy battering rams. They obscure your line of sight in traffic, since you can't see around them to notice traffic backing up ahead of you, or the changing of a traffic light. Who needs advance warning of traffic conditions, anyway?

They make the environment worse. SUVs suck down gas as if it's limitless, which it most certainly is not. Combine that with the fact that gasoline comes from oil, alot of which is held in the Middle East by people who hate Americans and you've got the perfect blend of foolishness and avarice.

They're status symbols. SUVs are touted as off-road vehicles, but how many people actually drive them off-road? (Driveways do NOT count as off-road.) Would anyone in his right mind really take the Cadillac Escalade or the Lincoln Navigator off-road? As to their hauling capacity, most of what I see hauled by SUVs are children and groceries, and these can be handled most satisfactorily by minivans. However, Americans like to feel rough and tough, so they buy vehicles they think are rough and tough. SUVs are purchased because of their cachet, nothing more. Anyone who says differently is lying or naive.

For those of you who own SUVs and are offended, too bad. I won't lecture to you in real life, but on my blog, my rules. And on my blog, SUVs are dangerous, gas-sucking, attention-getting monstrosities, and anyone who buys them should be slapped several times.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Shock and Awe

You know about the beheading video, and if you don't, crawl out from under the rock and tune into CNN. Oh, and get ready for a rant.

This administration, headed by His Fraudulency George W. Bush, has been the most destructive in my lifespan. Arrogance mixed with ignorance, with a healthy dash of political canniness, is a dangerous mixture, and that's what the Supreme Court gave us in 2000. Bush's White House makes me long for the days of Ronald Reagan, and I never thought I'd say that. We have to get George Bush out of office. If you are as brassed off as I am about the damage Bush has done to our nation, please, please, please register to vote in November and help send that bastard right back to Texas, where he can only damage a state that likes him anyway. If you don't know how to register, email me and I will help you in whatever way I can. That's a promise.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Missed it and don't care

I missed Poetry on Your Blog Day and I don't care. I don't like poetry very much, if truth be told. Poetry sometimes makes me feel superficial, as if I'm just too stupid to get the point. Take the poem Sarcasmo posted, about the damn plums in the refrigerator. I have never been able to imagine why that poem is better than any other. Is there something I'm missing, or is that poem basically a wordier version what I might scrawl on a Post-It note? I'm not faulting anyone who likes the poem, but I just don't get it.

Ironically, while I was in college I experimented with writing poetry, and I actually enjoyed it, surprise surprise. Of course, most of what I wrote was jokey, like this:

I think that I shall never see a poem fair as my ID
You point me out when I am strange
A beacon true if I should range
And if, by chance, I car should squash these outer bones and inner mush
Your firmness then in plastic tones proclaims to whom this jelly owns
Oh photo ID! Oh photo ID!
Oh grasshopper and katydid!
May nature never craft by touch a credit card I love so much

I actually turned in that poem in a college course, and to my utter shock the instructor loved it. He went on and on about the meter and blah blah, and I'm thinking, "Umm, I was just making fun of poetry." See? I didn't get poetry then, and I don't get it now.

Monday, May 03, 2004

You know what I like?

- Sweet Tarts. These are sweet, sweet, evil. They come in a variety of colors and flavors, they're packed in a handy little roll, and they have this cool chalky consistency that makes them even neater to grind between your teeth. Or my teeth, anyway.

- Jill Sobule. Her songs are simple and yet interesting, and she doesn't set out to prove how smart she is. She doesn't have to. Were I a singer-songwriter, and female, I'd be Jill Sobule.

- Chicken. Fry it, bread it, bake it, barbecue it. Put it on bread, under cheese, beside rice, or stuff it with ham. Serve it hot or cold, in a plate or directly into my grubby little hands, I don't care. I'll eat it and like it.

- Franka Potente. The star of "Run Lola Run", "Anatomie", and "The Princess and the Warrior", Potente is sexy, smart, and driven. In "Lola" she had bright red hair, too. Yes.

- Ultimate Frisbee. My one and only sport, I just can't get enough of Ultimate. It doesn't take much skill to join, the rules are easy to learn, and it's self-refereed, which helps reduce on-field tension. I've been playing for seven years, and I find it as enticing now as I did then. There's nothing quite like the feeling of a well-timed flick that skims a foot above the ground to thwack satisfyingly into your teammate's hands just inside the zone.