Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jacaranda-palooza, part 4

In Monday's post where I started this craziness with the pictures of jacaranda, I alluded to my grandparent's house, citing the trees along their street. Later it occurred to me that, given I still live in the same town as where their former house is, I should go try to get some pictures of trees from that street, so I did that.

Never let it be said I don't go the extra mile (or approximately eight miles) for you people.

This tree is in front of the house next door to where my grandparents lived.
While there isn't a tree in the yard of (what was) my grandparents' house, this one is right across the street.

Continued (because I have more pictures) in part 5...

TGIF... kinda

Someone at work today made some remark about it being Thursday, with the implication that it was one day until Friday, and then the weekend. However, I don’t approach the reprieve from the office to be an intrinsic cause for such glee. It’s not that I love work that much—that’s certain—but I harbor lower expectations for the Monday through Friday period than for the two days when I’m not obligated to sit in front of a computer for eight hours.

For example, when a Thursday ends up crappy, I can blame that on the buffoons to whom I must answer to get a paycheck, but when a Saturday goes awry, that was probably (at least in part) my own doing; I chose to do (or not do) whatever made that day suck. Left to my own devices, I completely fucked it up, without any help from the daily grind.

Now, I’m not suggesting my weekends routinely go poorly, but that has happened (not often but it has). For me, were I to go in expecting the weekend to be intrinsically good just because I didn’t have to go to work and it didn’t pan out that way, it would seem worse than the typical bad weekday even if it was actually better than the weekday (by some theoretical objective standard).

They only give me two days off a week, and why would I want to increase the odds of them going wrong (relatively speaking) by getting overly excited by their approach? Either they turn out well and I enjoy them while that’s happening or they don’t, and then I don’t.

My life’s stressful enough without turning anticipation into the enemy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jacaranda-palooza, part 3

If you've just come across this, go read Monday's part 1 to understand what's happening. (To the extent that anything I do here can be understood.) And you may as well review yesterday's part 2, just so you can say you did.

It's better to regret what you did than what you did not. And with that in mind, here's three more pictures of jacaranda trees that you can regret looking at later.

Just down the road from the Disney Music Concert Hall, they line the median.
(Remember: the focus in supposed to be the trees...)

In front of a Spanish-style home in West Hollywood,
purple is the only color of the rainbow this tree needs.
(Go ahead and just leave your hate mail in the comments...)

In the city of Walnut Park (adjacent to South Gate and Watts), one would expect Roosevelt Park to have... walnut trees (do walnuts grow on trees?), but amidst all the taller foliage there's some jacaranda as well.
[This was taken from a moving train. They're not all going to have swanky composition or great lighting, folks.]

[Can you click on the pictures to get a bit clearer images?
You'll just have to try it and see. Then click Back, if you want.]

Continued (we don't know why) in part 4...

How it's going. Okay, not really.

[We interrupt the jacaranda for this (by Doug standards) brief non-photo interlude. Some reading may be required. Don't be alarmed.]

I do not generally mention on the blahg here how things are going, because typically when I am inspired things aren’t necessarily great (at least at that moment), but no one wants to read too much despondent rhetoric unless it’s mildly amusing. At any given moment, the answer to the question of how things are going (in general) is simultaneously: everything is great, and everything sucks.

In my experience, either you get that or you don’t; the dichotomy of it isn’t so much how I choose to see the world; it merely is how I see it.

Really, it seems the gauge of how well things are going tends to be whether anything particularly unfortunate has befallen one. I must be doing well by virtue of the fact I have not been injured, my car hasn’t broken down, my home hasn’t been destroyed by natural disaster, my computer has not crashed more than usual, my paychecks continue to clear, and my girlfriend continues to put up with me. While any of those ceasing to be the case would be justifiable cause for me to declare things aren’t going so well (some far less well than others, of course), that they continue I consider a sort of baseline for my general existence; I’m not so arrogant (read: stupid) as to expect that, and I do appreciate that I have those elements in place, if I am being completely honest their continued inclusion in my life elicits in me a tepid declaration of all being good. Perhaps that’s horrible of me, and it certainly suggests I’m taking them for granted—because more or less I am.

I acknowledge those elements as what I wanted, but it seems our nature as humans is to grow accustomed to our circumstances, and eventually to need more than the usual situation to register on the good radar (so to speak); our instruments get recalibrated when the circumstances persist, and like any drug that brings euphoria, over time it takes more to get the same effect.

Perhaps you’re just happy all the time. Bless your heart for being able to do so. I’m happy some of the time, unhappy some of the time, but most of the time I’m kind of in-between.

At best, I can only answer the question: “How are things right this minute?” The immediate condition is easily assessed, a conclusion easily reached. However, answering a temporary query in a context that lingers into perpetuity (or whatever “lifespan” can be attributed to the electronic written word) proves inherently flawed; it’s carrying on a conversation with someone whose mood one cannot gauge.

It’s not that the reader cannot bear in mind that it was merely capturing a moment’s emotion, but that the reader must try to put aside his or her own emotions at the time he or she is reading it the same way the writer tried to put aside his when he wrote it.

It’s akin to discussing the weather in a letter (for this example we're going old school). The weather may be perfectly suitable as an explanation for some activity (it was so hot we had to seek refuge in the pool) or lack of activity (the game was rained out), but in and of itself, it’s tantamount to declaring, “I can think of nothing worth writing despite the fact that such is what I’m doing but I dare not just put it off for a while until I am duly inspired; this is the only time I have for you,” without saying so in those exact terms.

Real scorcher today, eh?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jacaranda-palooza, part 2

Continuing yesterday's inexplicable crusade to show you mediocre photos I've taken of jacaranda trees around Southern California. Today: a triple shot of shots from downtown L.A.

Enjoy. It won't hurt. Much.

[Not happy with the resolution shown?
Click on the picture, then click Back to return.]

Row of jacaranda along Flower St. casting shadows in the midday sun.

The lavender blossoms adorn the base of the tallest structure
on the west coast, the US Bank Tower (aka The Library Tower).

What's the first thing motorists see when emerging from the 3rd St. tunnel?
That's right: a jacaranda.
(If you look closely, you'll see one above the top of the tunnel as well.)

Continued in part 3...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Jacaranda-palooza, part 1

One of the memories of my youth is my grandparents house in Long Beach, California. I remember my grandmother explaining to me that some of the trees that lined the street on which they lived, ones that bloomed with lavender-hued flowers, were called jacaranda. (You can read more about that them from the linked article.)

A jacaranda in bloom across the street from where I live in Long Beach.

Perhaps because of the association with my beloved grandmother, that information stuck with me stronger than virtually anything else regarding botany I have ever been told. (Not that I've been told that much, all things considered, but this was many, many years ago that I was told this, so it's somewhat remarkable how it has stuck with me.)

(I won't digress to pondering why certain information sticks in the brain, much to the shock of my regular readers.)

A few weeks ago I got inspired by seeing the myriad jacaranda around the greater L.A. area in bloom to start photographing them, to document how prevalent they are around here, despite not be native to this region (having been imported by horticulturalist Kate Sessions in the 19th century, it says). I recently learned that, technically, the ones here in Southern California are blue jacaranda, despite the flowers looking more purple--perhaps it's the same naming reluctance that makes purple grapes be called red grapes.

The trees started blooming in May, and by this point in June the bell-shaped flowers are dropping, so it really would have been better to have started a couple months ago, but hey, as I haven't mastered time travel, we'll have to make due, won't we?

I fully admit that once the flowers have disappeared, I'll eventually forget that the trees in question are jacaranda. That is, until next spring, when they'll return and my pleasant memory will be renewed.

And now, presented for your perusal, because I can, is the first in a series that will continue until I decide to stop.

Next, a jacaranda by the office in Downtown Los Angeles
(yes, that's the Bonaventure Hotel in the background).

[As always, click on the pictures for a clearer shot, then click Back to return]

Continued in part 2...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Marvelous quote

“Dance, you jazz-mad puppets of fate, and pay no attention to me. I’m all right.”

- Dorothy Parker, from “The Garter”, 1928

If I ever start a band, we'll be the Jazz-Mad Puppets of Fate.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sunset face-off

Better 1:Or better 2:
Which you prefer isn't so much about the aesthetics of the composition or the cropping or the color but of whether you like landscape shapes or portrait shapes.

You'd think it'd be more complicated, but not so much.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Best advice for dealing with pretty much everything

[click on the picture for a clearer image, then click Back to return]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer's arrival

Spring gets sprung out (okay, Doug, let's cut that out right now), and summer hits tomorrow (Wednesday the 21st) at 12:26 pm Pacific Daylight Time (according to my Simpsons calendar). Not that most of my readership will see this until well after that point, but hey, I gave some modicum of alert this year to my readers who visit daily.

As soon as I get some.

One-way, USA

Old Glory suspended between the extended ladders of fire engines at an event in downtown L.A. a few weeks ago. (Cropped to be artsy, and failing at being so.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Shiny convention

Convention Center and a hot ball of hydrogen and helium 93,000,000 miles away.

Recurring problem

I have seen the term “reoccur” used in (admittedly) informal business communiqué, by otherwise intelligent people. The term is used in the context of indicating that a situation that happened previously but appeared to have ceased has returned; yes, that something that occurred in the past has occurred again. It’s not that the meaning of the term has not been clear in these cases. The thing is this: there’s a word that means to occur again, but it’s recur. I didn’t think it was so obscure that people would resort to inserting the typical prefix “re” for indicating repetition in front of “occur” for this purpose (and write two extra letters in the process), but it appears clear that doing so is not uncommon.

Heck, even Microsoft Word doesn’t flag it as misspelled. However, if I try to look up a synonym in the thesaurus, it gives none, and doesn’t even seem to recognize the word. Similarly, if I do a search on, it finds no results for “reoccur” (nor for “re occur” nor “re-occur”). I’m not suggesting that it isn’t a word by virtue of its absence from these electronic research elements; as noted, someone at Microsoft was of the opinion that it was worth including in the default spell check dictionary, so it is (as I suggested) not uncommon enough to have been thusly included.

I understand that the language continues to adapt, and that the custodians of the lexicon who decide what to include in the dictionary adopt these misusages when they become common enough. For example, “irregardless”—the unnecessary bastardization of regardless, which means the same as regardless—is another term that the spell check leaves unmarked as misspelled, because it has been accepted.

It’s a bit disappointing that the ignorance of some catches on so well that it gets adopted by those who (at least ostensibly) know better, but it’s nothing new. What surprises me is how these terms that involve extra letters catch on. Are people so stupid as to think having to expend more effort to compose the word that means what they intend to convey makes them seem more intelligent? Alas, probably so.

I grasp that the reason people would use reoccur or irregardless is simple ignorance, and that such words gain acceptance is because other people see or hear them and assume they must be the best choice and keep using them. All of it stems from the fact no one who knew better (that's what we’ll call it for our purposes here) interceded and alerted them to the terms in existence (recur, regardless).

I’m sure there’s plenty of in-the-know folks who would delight in being able to display their knowledge and correct (to the extent that use of such terms is incorrect) these others, but I have long since ceased to be such a person. In my experience, most people don’t like having their mistakes pointed out, even if the intend behind mentioning it is benevolent; no amount of diplomacy seems capable of buffering the recipient’s mind from his/her ego and insecurities, so rather than recall a superior word choice to convey one’s meaning, the only lesson learned is that I am a big jerk.

I suspect a more insidious delight could be gained by those in-the-know by intentionally not interceding because it gives them the secret handshake of sorts; they can identify the others who learned the proper terms (by virtue of these others using said terms) as worthy, and can feel superior to the rest.

Frankly, that’s likely always been the unconscious motive behind codifying spelling and grammar by those who decided what the rules are. On a conscious level the idea was that we need to have some consistency so that meaning may be conveyed, and that’s very true, but it’s too altruistic to explain why people would bother with such measures; we’re too petty in those little recesses of our psyches to go to that much effort if we didn’t get to lord it over others at times.

(Come now. Do you think your auto mechanic doesn’t take some small pleasure, even if without realizing, from being able to tell you that your car needs some part replaced that you didn’t even know your car had? Do you think the I.T. guys don’t snicker at you after you’ve called them with some inane computer problem that a 10-year-old could have resolved?)

Any area where one party has vastly superior knowledge and/or expertise than another is either an ego boost or a lesson in humility, depending on which side you find yourself.

I suspect someone might harp on being too much of a stickler for the conventional when it comes to language, suggesting that it is an evolving entity that blossomed into what it is by virtue of people introducing new variations on old words. One might even suggest the clever use of words is a cornerstone of literature.

Yes, English certainly needs more words—especially ones where there’s already words in place.

As soon as I discern anything clever about such terms I’ll applaud. One must know the rules to know when one is breaking the rules in interest of creating anything literary.

While it is, in a manner of speaking, inconsiderate to the (we’ll call them) misusers of language (and I know “misusers” is not a word, formally speaking, so suggestions for superior terms are encouraged) to allow their ignorance to persist, it seems more considerate to just leave well enough alone. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it is this: Being a stickler for grammar and spelling (when that is not specifically and explicitly requested) will make one no friends; I am plenty capable of being unpopular without having to resort to such measures. Even people who know me pretty well and would understand my intentions would be benevolent (were I to say something) are likely to resent it (perhaps despite their conscious efforts; this strikes a less-cognitive part of the mind (or maybe it's in the psyche).

Expecting me to risk what little social acceptance I’ve built up over the years is a bit much if you can't crack open a dictionary once in a while.

(Speaking of resort and resent, which I used two paragraphs ago: those are terms I’ve seen misused as well; to indicate something that was previously sorted or previously sent is being done again, there should be a hyphen in there: re-sort, re-sent. “I re-sent the message” takes on a bit of a different tone when it is “I resent the message.” I digress.)

All that aside, any casual perusal of the 'net reveals how unimportant such language concerns have become (whether it was ever important is another story). That such thoughts even occur to me—whether I mention them or not—makes me more of a pariah than most any other flawed aspect of my personality.

Well, the worst of it is how I blather on this long, but concern with spelling and grammar—even without any delight therein—is certainly a close second.

So go ahead and tell me what I’ve done wrong here. It would be hypocritical of me to not take it when I’ve dished it out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Going underground

Where the Blue Line descends (or ascends, depending on which direction the train is traveling) in downtown L.A., right by the Staples Center.

"I want nothing that society's got, I'm going underground"
- The Jam

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Live nude... computer help

Something I should have talked about for a while now is an email I got at work a while back from a complete stranger whom I'd helped on-line (via email) in a listserv.

The person in question sent a question about an issue he was having with Word (yes, the Microsoft Office application, just so we're clear), and of all the responses he received from others on the listserv, he noted mine was the only one where someone took the time to analyze the symptoms to properly diagnose his problem and give him a suggestion that led to the solution.

It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s entirely volunteer on the listserv, and with any question posed to the membership any responses offered are done by people taking time out of what they’re supposed to be doing to help a stranger. It’s very much fueled by everyone’s respective (if unconscious) belief in karma, and perhaps by the desire of some to show off what they know. No one is paid to give answers, and the people who do usually are taking time out of their paying jobs to do something that doesn’t earn them any money (but may have alternative rewards). Which is what I was doing by helping him.

For me, it assuages my guilt for the times I’ve posed queries about problems I’ve encountered and for which I got someone to give me more of his time than I deserved (my job involves, amongst other responsibilities, the troubleshooting of issues that no one else can resolve, and on occasion I have called upon the collective wisdom and experience of others on the list to assist me when I cannot figure something out).

Sure, I’ve given more answers than questions I’ve had answered, but it’s not about it being equal. I’m not sure what it is about, but I know I ain’t gonna get out of it (directly) what I put in, so there’s no point in expecting that.

At times it’s more of a curse than anything, this tenacity to get to the bottom of things (to the extent I can). Okay, all of the time it’s a curse; being able to do a half-assed effort would allow me to think I accomplished things (not that I would actually accomplish much, but the point is mere perception, not reality).

He thanked me for helping him, and that's all good and well, but having been part of this Word listserv for some six years now, I've helped a number of people (and each instance certainly does not justify being mentioned here). Big whoop.

The noteworthy aspect of this incident (finally we get to it!) was how he mentioned he'd used the experience as an example to try to convince his elderly neighbor that the internet wasn’t only for porn.

I thought to myself, upon reading that in his email: Mostly it’s for porn; not exclusively, but certainly that’s its bread and butter. Egad, is there a lot of pornography on the World Wide Web. It's not like the neighbor was off-base. (Of course, there was a lot of porn in the so-called real world long before the internet was even conceivable.)

So, uh, anyway, to wrap up this mundane anecdote, it's always nice to get some acknowledgement for making that effort that I can’t help but make, but in this case I was inadvertantly doing my small part to offset the massive hordes of smut. For what little benefit that has for the world.

By the way, because I spend my days dealing with Word problems rather than dealing with porn, I have no advice to offer in that arena. However, if you need help finding porn you really are a lost cause.

And if you have Word questions, I'm off the clock.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sunday night lights

Last Sunday night I found myself at Goodwin Field on the campus of Cal State Fullerton for the last game of the College World Series regional tournament, which pitted the Titans of Fullerton against the Bulldogs of Fresno State. (Both schools are CSUF when you analyze their initials.)

Here's some shots from the game, which prove how inadequate my little digital camera is for such events.

Due to TV coverage from other games around the country earlier in the day, the game didn't even start until about 9:10 p.m. And at the stroke of midnight, the game was only at the top of the 7th inning (as shown in the last shot).

At least the snack bar was still open.

Suffice it to say I got home rather late for a "school night"--especially for something that technically featured my alma mater's arch-rival. (Fullerton knocked Long Beach State out of tournament contention by sweeping them in the last week of the regular season.) Even though Fullerton rolled to an easy 10-3 victory, we stuck around until the end. Why? Because that's what you're supposed to do at a baseball game!

What's particularly sad: In all the years I attended Long Beach State (and in the subsequent decade where I've continued to live very close to it), I never attended a game at Blair Field where the Dirtbags (as the LB team is called) were playing, but now I've seen their biggest rival--and rooted for them (because, well, I have no pleasant associations with Fresno).

They're going to kick me out of the Long Beach State alumni association. Oh wait. I've been trying to get them to stop pestering me for money for years. Um... go Titans!

Classic humor alert

I've added a couple satire pieces I wrote back in college (over a decade ago) to the archives, which you can read by clicking here and here.

Just FYI.

On the off-chance you have any interest in that sort of thing.

If you're desperate for entertainment.

(It's funnier if you attended Long Beach State back then, but you'll still get it even without being an alumnus.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Look up

I'm not sure whether anyone glances at the sub-title up at the top of the page here (below the ~Dougressions masthead), but I thought I'd mention it only because I'm not sure whether any of my readers will recognize from where the current quote comes (he said, goading them into proving they do).

"He's sure got a lot of gall, to be so useless and all, muttering small talk at the wall, while I'm in the hall"

Yeah, it's just there because it includes "useless" but that's good enough for me.

I'll change it soon enough--in fact, I already have another quote from the same person including that term lined up to take its place, when I'm good and ready.

And if you don't recognize it, you can request clarification from me by leaving a comment or something. Or heck, you have the 'net at your desposal; shouldn't take more than a few seconds of searching...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

So it comes down to this

For some time I thought there were simply a finite number of competent people in the world, and with any luck the rest were restricted to positions where they couldn’t cause too much trouble. Now I know there are a finite number of competent people and an even more finite number of them who bother to give a shit.

Taking on the responsibility for seeing that something gets done competently is often the mistake made by the competent and stupid. The smartest people are the ones who know better than to be at all smart.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pleasing all the people all the time

You know what people want?

No, do you know what people want? And I should clarify: what people want—as in, what members of the species homo sapiens all desire uniformly?

Neither do I. I haven’t the time nor the inclination to survey every single person on the topic.

Well, I imagine one could speculate, were it possible that such an attempt to solicit such input from all of humanity could render a common answer, that people want their circumstances to improve. That’s sufficiently vague to meet with general acceptance. That’s not suggesting each individual aspires to have the circumstances of every other individual improve (even the most selfless humanitarian must admit that’s completely unrealistic—it would need to come down several notches just to be pie-in-the-sky); each individual aspires for his or her individual circumstances to get better than they presently are. Sure, each individual also wishes the circumstances of those one cares about to improve as well, but that’s about it.

Go on. Delude yourself into believing it’s possible for everyone to experience improvement with no one getting worse. Yin-yang. Competition dictates that in order for someone to win, someone else must lose.

However, that factor of the nature of things isn’t what holds us back. Really, it’s that there are people out there whom any given individual dislikes, and those people are not worth expending any hope for their betterment.

This is coming out entirely too pedantic. I know.

Fun with blasphemy

F tried to muster the will to do what he knew he should. He didn’t try that hard, really, but such was to be expected; the difference between wanting to do something and feeling obligated to do something is action. Were he genuinely inspired to do what he should, it would move into the other category, and cease to be what he should do and become what he did (with the implication of want). Ultimately, it boiled down to the disparity between what he wanted to do and what others wanted him to do, and their reasons tended to be less than inspiring.

The easiest thing in the world is to expect someone else to do something; it requires virtually no effort.

F had not thanked God for the day, as someone he passed on the street suggested (to no one specifically, as best F could tell). He figured, being God and achieving all of creation in basically a week, that this particular day wasn’t such a big accomplishment for God. F didn’t mean to be sacrilegious; he just thought God wasn’t so needy that He required constant reassurance that He was doing a good job. F didn’t get thanked for doing what he’d done every day. That was merely expected of him. So, if keeping the universe going was strenuous for God, he would throw some specific gratitude to the Big Man Upstairs, but otherwise he was just going to take it for granted.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Waiting for the man

(click on the picture for a clearer image... go ahead, it's okay... then click your Back button)

Some people hanging out atop the parking structure next to the back lot of the Jimmy Kimmel show (notice the projected logo on the wall), where some band would be performing later. (You know, one of those hip acts the kids are into.) The stage (not pictured because of fences around the lot) is behind the El Capitan Theatre. So if you ever wondered what the back of the buildings on Hollywood Blvd. looked like, well, you really need to get out more often.

In the background, of course, is the Hotel Roosevelt... er, Roosevelt Hotel (depending on which sign you look at).

Oh, and some clouds dramatically illuminated by the setting sun. If you're into that sort of thing.


In an article in the May Believer, about an event where participants paid homage to the movie Repo Man by going on a scavenger hunt around L.A., the writer noted, after passing locations from other movies and places where filming was going on, “In L.A. there is no getting away from the movies, nor is there getting away from journalists reminding you there is no getting away from the movies.”

Alas, it’s true.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Waking the dragon

That sport in which I have participated for seven years now (and yet never write about here*), dragon boating, has been featured in an article in last week's Time magazine.

And on Wednesday's local ABC 5:00 pm newscast, they closed with a 30-second story about the dragon boat races over in Hong Kong. Of course, they referred to the participants as "rowers" rather than "paddlers", but we're used to that sort of mistake.

It's going big-time, people.

(* If you wish to see me blather on about that sport, see my team's site for many write-ups I've done there over the years. Just not this year. See events from 2005 and earlier.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's kind of sad

Best word in the Bee tonight: weltschmerz.

I heard the definition and thought, I need to work that into an entry. Of course, I didn't think I'd have cause to work it in so quickly (and with such a pathetic amount of effort).

Just after I had that thought I realized it would be the word that would bring down runner-up (and the pride of Canada) Finola Mei Hwa Hackett.

It certainly brought some depression, likely north of the border. In an ideal world, perhaps a Canadian would take the trophy (and then Americans would balk at watching it in primetime next year, and ABC would not screw it up again). Sigh.

Ruined. R-U-I-N-E-D.

I got home and turned on the first primetime telecast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ABC, and although it's only in the first few minutes, I already find myself thinking this was a terrible mistake.

Having a girlfriend who's a spelling bee enthusiast, I have watched the ESPN telecasts in past years, and that's what I have come to expect. Only a few cameras, generally stationed in the back of the room, unobtrusively, recording the activity. Most important, the actual spelling of the word is not displayed on screen until after the contestant has made his/her attempt, either right or wrong.

ABC has cameras up on the stage, walking up to the contestants as they wait their turn. Worse yet, in cases where the contestant misspells the assigned word (and hears that horrible bell), follows the despondent child--often in tears--to the comforting arms of parents. And then stays there, tight shot on the moment of defeat.

ABC has also added some over-produced background stories on some contestants. Wow, all of them study a lot. What a shock! Now get back to the friggin' competition.

Worst of all, ABC is displaying the spelling of the word on screen part way through the contestant's turn. The contestants get two minutes, you miserable bastards! Don't presume all the viewers are too stupid to want to play along. I won't be able to spell most of these words myself (despite being much older than these kids), but I want the same two minutes (or as long as the contestant takes) to try figure it out.

And I don't want to know when they screw up when they're in the middle of spelling; I want to find out when they find out: when the bell does or doesn't ring.

Holy crap! Now they have a fluff piece when going to commercial where celebrities flail trying to spell words that any viewer who made it through junior high could spell. It's not cute. Really, it's not.

Disney Corporation, please put it back on your channel that understands competition. The "American Idol" crowd doesn't care; they don't get to vote.

Consider me disgusted. D-I-S-G-U-S-T-E-D.