Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hands off

Tuesday a new law goes into effect in California where using a cell phone without a "hands free" device while driving is a citable offense. I am almost giddy with anticipation of seeing the first idiot pulled over by the police and issued a ticket for using his phone.

It's the closest we're likely to get to having a general law against being an inconsiderate asshole.

It's a start.


Of course, this will make one area more difficult for me. When I am a pedestrian (which often I am) and crossing the street (at an intersection) I have been able to look at an approaching car and know that if I spotted the driver with his or her arm pressing the hand against the ear that the driver was multi-tasking in a way that decreased the likelihood that he or she would notice me, and I could take evasive maneuvers accordingly.

Now I'll have to look at the driver's mouth and try to discern whether it appears to be having a conversation or merely singing along with the radio.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Looking forward

A year from today will be the first anniversary of the day when it was a year until my wedding.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Our bright future

I'm not sure what worries me more:

The idea that decades from now a child of the mid-century will ask me how someone as inarticulate as George W. Bush was president for not merely one but two terms and I'll have to try to explain that.


That decades from now that same child will have absolutely no difficulty understanding how that happened.


I can only hope that if the latter comes to pass, it will merely be because the world will have become so based upon irony that nothing will be done with any sincerity whatsoever.

(Wait. Are we already in that world? Crap...)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

At the ball

The upstart Fresno State baseball team that won the College World Series tonight, apparently becoming the lowest ranked team to win it, started their run to a national title in my home town, Long Beach, California.

Not only that, but they did so by beating my alma mater, Long Beach State, in the regionals. Long Beach State was only the #1 seed in that regional, and Fresno State was #4 (out of four teams), but hey, if the favorite had won in any of the regionals, or super regionals, or the finals, then there wouldn't be the "Cinderella story" of the underdog Bulldogs to make the College World Series the lead story on Sports Center.

So, way to do your part, Dirtbags*, and not win. The script required it.

* The nickname for the Long Beach State team.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More nonsense that doesn't mean anything

Entertainment Weekly took the week off from actual reporting to fill an issue with lists of the top 100 of the past 25 years.

Looking over their list of the Top 100 films since 1983, I counted the number I'd seen.


Why should I be semi-pleased by that? Well, on many occasions I've been talking with someone and had them mention a movie that I had to admit I had not seen. Their reaction in those cases tended to be so vociferous that I developed a bit of a complex, where I tended to think I was so out of touch with popular culture that I may as well go crawl in a cave.

But hey--a bunch of writers I don't know who arbitrarily ranked artistic efforts as though they were sports teams, implicitly declaring their opinions to be the arbitration of society's beliefs about those works, and over the period of my life between 15 to 40 (when I should be involved in popular culture) I somehow fit in time to witness 75% of those works.

And, uh, yeah, that is supposed to mean something.

Whether I actually liked all those 75, or whether I had a good reason for liking the ones I did, or whether I even remember anything substantive about even a majority of the 75 I did see, or whether I actually saw a majority of them on video/DVD long after they had left the theaters, or whether all those hours would have been better spent trying to help the needy... that was completely irrelevant.

I was able to delude myself, even if only for mere moments, that I wasn't as utterly out of touch with everyone else as I suspected.

It didn't take long to remember that being in touch with everyone else is a specious aspiration.

No magazine is going to rank that.


(Yes, I did spend a number of after-school hours during my adolescence by myself. How did you guess?)


Have you looked at the semi-daily Doug's Photo Mission site lately?

Monday, June 23, 2008


"Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music."
- George Carlin

(If you get an email with a quote attributed to George, please verify that it's really one of his before forwarding it to everyone in your address book. It takes a few extra moments but it's what he deserves.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gotta be a fool

This past Thursday night one of my favorite bands, the Old 97's, were performing for their only L.A. date. However, that evening I was in bed by 9:30 because I'd come down with a cold.

The thing is: I still went to work during the day Thursday. I do have paid sick days, and plenty of time saved up; nonetheless, for reasons that defy logic, a project compelled me to pretend to work.

My priorities are so screwed up.

(I did call in sick on Friday. Eventually I get the clue.)

Friday, June 20, 2008


Happy Summer, everyone.

And here's a photo of the latest sunset this year (taken two hours and 54 minutes into the new season):

(Get it? It's not only the most recent sunset, but it's the sunset that occurs at the latest time of day... eh, never mind.)

Monday, June 16, 2008


I saw this bright object in the sky and caught it in pictures.

If you think you may be able to identify it, please check out this recent posting on the useless photo site.

Luckily it was moving very, very slowly.

What it is

I realize in this age of text messaging that dwelling on grammatical-type errors serves only to frustrate the one noticing. Let's get that out of the way up front. I fully concede that nobody gives a shit anymore. (Whether it was such that anyone ever gave a shit in the past is arguable, but let's not dwell on that now.)

For better or for worse (okay, only for worse), I know the difference between the meaning of "it's" and the meaning of "its." If you don't know the difference, or were not aware that there was a difference, then one thing is almost certain: you are a happier person than I am. In all sincerity, you are to be envied for that.


When I saw an ad for a concert (which ran for weeks in local papers) where "it's" was used when "its" was what should have been used, I sighed a bit, seeing the proof that even those involved in advertising didn't know the difference (that, or they didn't bother to proofread their copy before going to press—I'm not sure which is worse).

Such was the state of the world, and the only reason it affected me was only because I could not abandon the sense that grammar at least somewhat mattered when the inclusion of an apostrophe did, technically, change the meaning. The writing was on the wall (or, in this case, on the back page of a newspaper), and it pointed out what an anachronism I had become.

Then a couple weeks later at lunch I opened a fortune cookie where "its" was correctly used in its message. Perhaps the printing press for the tiny bits of text lacked an apostrophe, but I choose to believe that this proved there were those out there involved with the press (stretching that term to include these fortunes) who knew when to use the one and when to use the other. My faith was partially restored.

Then weeks later, while flipping through a glossy magazine my fiancée got, I saw an ad for a music festival that had a quote attributed to Pitchfork that employed the same erroneous use of "it's" that the first ad had done. Then I realized what it was.

When it comes to talking about music performances, the grammatical rules for these must be reversed. In that context, "it's" becomes the possessive and "its" becomes the contraction.

How did all those years I spent in college not teach me that?

That'll teach me to attend a public university.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Getting away with it

A couple months ago during my lunch I was walking around downtown L.A., around the back side of the YMCA. I'd passed through that area many times, but it occurred to me that I'd never walked all the way to the south wall. Looking over the edge of the wall and toward the right, down the corridor between the structure on which I stood (atop the Arco garage, ultimately) and the Citigroup building I spotted the shadows of some trees along a hillside.

(Okay, now that I've lost everyone who isn't intimately familiar with that spot, let's move on.)

And because in the midday light shadows are about the only decent shot one can get, I took out my camera and started to set up a shot (holding the camera over the edge toward the trees).

Before I could press the shutter a voice called out to me, "Excuse me, sir." It was a man in security guard garb. He asked me to not take pictures of the buildings. Now, I had encountered this request previously (although only since I got my new S3 camera), so I was not surprised.

However, rather than simply say "okay" and be on my way, I asked him if it was acceptable to shoot the shadows of the trees in question (with no buildings in the shot). And he said yes!

I blurted out how shots of the buildings wouldn't come out anyway. I was being completely honest, and I suspect this through [see comments] him off a bit. I imagine that in the past when he had been in the situation of politely asking someone who appeared to be a "real" photographer (read: someone who takes pictures with a camera fancier than a little point-and-shoot) to not take pictures of the buildings that the responses had been either confrontational (the person made a stink) or quietly acquiescent (the person put the camera away and meekly walked away). I was neither. I analyzed his specific request and noted that what he was asking of me was something I wasn't going to do anyway. It wasn't that there was issue with me taking photos from that spot; the issue was with taking photos where the camera was pointed toward the buildings. So rather than just giving up, I asked if my specific intentions were allowable.

The way he had to pause for a moment clearly indicated this was a new thing for him. I'm not sure whether it was because I was polite and smiling or because I'd found a hole in the rules (or both), but he gave me permission to take the shots I intended. I made a point of trying to seem compliant, thanking him and noting that I'd just take a few shots and be on my merry way. He walked away, still seeming slightly confused about what had just happened, leaving me to my task.


Then I tried to actually take the pictures. To get what seemed the best angle I had to hold the camera with my arm fully extended out over the edge of the wall, pointing to my right, with the view screen angled toward my face. Of course, the light that was bad for shooting buildings also made it difficult to see the image on the screen, so I was more or less pointing it in the general direction and pressing the shutter and hoping for the best. I should also note that by extending my arm out over the edge, the only thing between my camera and a five-story fall was my hand and the neck strap wrapped around my arm.

No, nothing like that happened. But still, it was more complicated and dangerous than I had anticipated. However, at that point I more or less had no choice: I had to take these shots; I'd worked too hard (so to speak) to just give up.

So I reached out, pointed, and shot. I brought the camera back to me, switched the screen to view what I'd just taken, then adjusted a setting and did it again, aiming it slightly differently than before (as to not get so much of the side of the structure on which I stood in the shot). That I repeated a few more times, and then I gave up and went on my merry way.

The irony of all this, at least as far as I am concerned, is now not lost on me. Back when I had a little point-and-shoot camera, not only would attempting the shot been slightly easier (because the camera was smaller, easier held with one hand), but it's unlikely I would not have been contacted by the guard (I base that on my experience with taking pictures downtown with my old camera, when this never happened); I wouldn't have had to work for it (again, so to speak), and would have had no qualms about giving up. However, with the larger new camera, not only was the shot trickier, but the angle of the shot essentially reduced me to pointing and shooting.

I thought the point of the new, larger camera was to make it easier to become a better photographer, but sometimes it just makes everything more difficult.

And thus these photos are not offered so much because they turned out that well but because they are the pseudo-trophy of my tiny victory. I really have no choice but to post them whether they deserve it or not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Song lyrics du jour

"I learned just one thing when I was young: pretend that you hate anything you love"

- Les Savy Fav, "Knowing How the World Works"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I woke up in a SoHo doorway...

The blahg here really is the fine art of writing about myself without revealing much about myself.

Someone who knew me only from reading the posts would know, for example, that I work in downtown L.A. (as I have alluded to that) but not specifically where I work, nor what I do. There would be the correct presumption that I work in an office, but that (in and of itself) reveals little; thousands of people work in the same building I do, and that's merely one of many such buildings in the downtown area, so such information doesn't offer much in narrowing down anything about me.

One might consider this merely prudent online behavior on my part, limiting the liability of the less-than-scrupulous individuals who may be scouring the 'net for something to exploit. I suppose it suffices in that regard.

However, I think it can be explained more simply: Such details are not that interesting.

It's not so much freedom of anonymity (the site is something people who knew me before the blahg are aware of and may occasionally visit); it's camouflaging some of the abjectly dull aspects of my life by omitting details.

Creates intrigue, don't you think?


No, neither do I.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The ratings are the hardest part

In last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly they listed the overall ratings for the entire 2007-08 TV season.

Out of the hundreds of shows that aired, I watched... 16. And out of 160 positions (although many slots have shows that tied, so it's more than 160 shows), I only watched two in the top 25.

And while that clearly indicates I am out of step with what is popular in this country, entertainment-wise, and that should certainly indicate that when it comes to TV my opinion is not worth reading, below I list those shows.

In an effort to compromise, I offer only a brief note about each, which you can use as a gauge to see whether your tastes are similar, and thus whether you should regard any of my opinions on anything. Ever.

Anyway... Let's begin:

19 - Heroes (not very good--of course, I wasn't all that impressed with the first season either, to be completely honest; unless next season starts strong I'll easily find something else to do at 9 on Mondays)

25 - The Amazing Race (this I merely started watching because my fiancée was, but it pulled me in)

34 - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (actually pretty decent)

43 - Bionic Woman (could have been good... but was not)

50 - Ugly Betty (novelty wore off by season's end)

59 - Chuck (this I didn't expect much of, and it proved surprisingly worthwhile; reminded me of the action-comedies on USA)

64 - How I Met Your Mother (not as strong as earlier seasons but still had its moments)

64 - Family Guy (we completely gave up on this before the end of the season; wasn't funny)

73 - The Office (they pulled off a good season even with Jim and Pam getting together)

73 -The Simpsons (stronger than last season; its heyday has clearly passed, but I'll still take it over most of what has ever aired on TV)

83 - My Name Is Earl
(not something I'd record, but still a good show when I was home for it)

102 - 30 Rock
(best new show of the past couple years)

122 - Monk
(consistently good but not great)

139 - Psych
(not as strong as Monk, but a worthwhile follow-up for that time slot)

150 - Everybody Hates Chris (somehow the CW marketing folks need to convince everyone this isn't just a "black" show)

155 - Aliens in America (I knew it had no chance of surviving, but it deserved a better chance than it got--I mean, the CW has the audacity to air Farmer Wants a Wife, and they gave up on this)

(I suppose I must note that:
11 - Grey's Anatomy
was on while I was in the room on numerous occasions, but to say I watched it is giving it too much credit)

However, in a world where The Moment of Truth finished at 13, is it not likely that TV as an art form is on its way out?

Perhaps by watching so little TV I am merely preparing myself for the time when it's completely unwatchable. (It's so rare that I'm on the cutting edge of anything. I'm not sure I can handle this.)


I caught some of tonight's broadcast of the NBA Finals game (played here in Los Angeles) and saw a montage of highlights when the game came back from a commercial break. The music playing under the scenes: Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."

I don't know if the people who choose the music for such bits are irony-impaired, or irony aficionados.

In any case, they're clearly not putting much effort into finding the songs. Kind of obvious. I mean, there are other songs that mention the city. Sure, most of them are critical of it in some way--many more blatantly--but they are out there.

I'm just sayin'.


That the song gets played inside the Staples Center and it gets the home crowd riled up merely proves that many of the people here (many who moved here from elsewhere) are, either consciously or unconsciously, living here ironically.

Not sure what that says about a native Southern Californian like me, but let's not dwell on that.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mad-urday night

Saturday night potpourri:

There is a hideous new Taco Bell commercial airing that features two individuals pulling up to the drive-thru box and launching into a rap about a new burrito. It certainly does not make me want to go to the pseudo-Mexican fast food restaurant, and to a great extent actively bothers me. That strikes me as the opposite effect that advertising should elicit.

The worst part is that the damned rap, as awful as it is, got stuck in my head. Which is exactly the effect advertising strives to elicit.

And don't get me started about the songs that have been in the commercials for Free Credit Report dot com. They don't make me want to keep an eye on my credit rating, but crap, they are ridiculously catchy.

You are insidious, you ad wizards.


On a completed unrelated note: This afternoon I saw the Sex and the City movie, and thought it was decent.

And at least as of tonight, I still possess male genitalia, and still find myself attracted to my fiancée.

Notice that's fiancée with two e's. Same sex marriages aren't legal in this state for another week. Which, if having seen the film does convert me to a woman, does give me a backup plan for going through with the wedding.


I also posted some very manly photos of leaves over on the useless photo site.


Wait. Did I use "potpourri" above? Uh-oh...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Start your rhetorical engines

From the holy-crap-Doug-is-touching-on-current-events-is-this-not-a-sign-of-the-Apocalypse? department:

First, full disclosure (and recapping): I don't watch much in the way of political TV coverage (other than The Daily Show—to the extent that counts), read much in the way of political coverage in newspapers or magazines or websites, nor listen to much in the way of political coverage on talk radio. Thus, I am probably not well prepared to say anything about.

No, check that: I definitely am not well prepared.

Nonetheless, a thought that occurred to me recently, which is not that clever at all: Now that Obama has essentially locked up the nomination, Hillary Clinton can become the bright, shining proof of misogyny in our society for those who feel compelled to try to convince others that sexism still exists.

(Of course sexism still exists. Perhaps I missed a memorandum or something, but I was already well convinced of that. No need to expend energy about that on my account.)

Had Clinton won, Barack Obama would have become the undeniable evidence of racism in our society. However, as the presumptive nominee he must be the lone beacon of hope that our country has overcome its past regarding race relations. But for those who wanted to be able to cite him in their arguments that America still has issues with race, there's still the distinct chance that he'll lose the general election in November—to an old white guy, nonetheless—at which point he can then be transformed into that proof of just how hideous we really are.

(Again, I fully concede, with all sincerity, that racism is present. Consider me already converted to that viewpoint, if you must.)

It's a free country (or at least they want us to think so), and if it makes you feel better to think that there's a conspiracy of white men keeping you down (which, honestly, there may be, for all I know), that is your right. (No, really. I concede it sounds sarcastic, but in this case it's sincere.)

However, to think because a candidate didn't get nominated or elected proves that conspiracy is something of which—no offense—you won't be able to convince me.

I have no interest in changing anyone's opinion in the matter, so I shan't argue that the outcome of the primaries or the upcoming general election disprove any conspiracy. Everyone is free to believe as they wish; personally, that is what I like best about our country.


So all I'm saying is that for me, and just me, I don't happen to consider Clinton as representative of all women nor Obama as representative of all African-Americans. They may represent certain groups, but those are not as broad as all people who happen to have certain physical traits, or they may be far more broad than merely sharing physical traits.

So, in short, it's not that simple. For me. Which is to say that I gain nothing from considering them to be thusly representative.

Obviously in a republic such as ours the politicians are intended to represent us, the people. I accept that begrudgingly. I am represented by myself, and that's it as far I wish to go, but I have to let it be some politician I've never met, and ultimately about whom I genuinely know little.

But again, that's just me.

Anyway, I have no intention to seek out proof that there are individuals who are claiming Hillary Clinton proves the glass ceiling on women in America. I could be completely wrong. There may not be a single person who will make that argument (or something to that effect). And if not, nothing would make me happier about where we are as a nation (to the extent that I can pretend that the absence of such arguments proves anything about where we are as a nation).

This is merely the crap my screwed-up brain comes up with when not distracted by television.

Anyway... If I've done anything with these words you are convinced of this: I do not represent you. Of course, if I've really done anything here you weren't convinced of anything at all.


When someone inevitably cites this post as proving… whatever thesis this proves about something being wrong with whatever group I'm supposedly representing (individualists?), all I ask is that a link to the post be included.

I'm not generally included as part of whatever lunatic fringe you are alleging I am, but it might be fun to see how many hits I get because of it. Just for kicks.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Numb nuts are ruining everything

From the proof-I'm-not-always-the-one-ruining-everything department:

There's an article in the latest EW about spoilers appearing on fan website that reveal key upcoming plot points on TV shows and movies. It discusses the lengths to which some go to be able to be the one to break the news (including stealing scripts) and how much certain producers do to try to combat it (shooting alternate endings, etc.). It also mentioned how some people are bothered when a reviewer reveals a plot twist and they haven't gotten to watching the DVR'ed episode yet.

However, as I read the piece I kept thinking, So what? That's not the problem.

If the info is available on some fan site and one chooses to go to that site, one clearly is not worried about spoiling any surprise the project may have in store. If one expects the rest of the world to stay mum about a show that has already aired because one has not watched it yet, one is expecting too much.

I do think that everyone should be alerted to a spoiler if one is included, giving them time to stop reading before getting to it. Every viewer should have the right to be surprised when something is airing for the first time.

The trouble, as I see it, is that most mainstream websites—not fan sites, but general ones like the home pages for Yahoo seem to consider when something has finished airing on the East Coast to be sufficient to post a revealing headline, even though in many cases for the people in the Pacific time zone it hasn't even started yet.

Recently I made the mistake of logging on to Yahoo while watching the live ABC broadcast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals. It aired in prime time in both time zones, meaning it was tape delayed for the West. Yet before the winner was announced "live" in the West Coast broadcast his picture was already up as the featured story on Yahoo.

Well, there was no need to finish watching the Bee then. (Well, okay, to be fair: There's little point in watching the Bee now that ABC has taken to showing the words on screen before the speller either gets it right or wrong; it's up there almost immediately after it's read, so there's no playing along at home. Eh, but that's a rant for another time.) It wasn't like one had to click on a link to find out; boom, there it was, whether one wanted to see it or not.

It's a lucky thing I didn't give a crap about the American Idol finale, but with that one they at least had the sense to merely post a teaser on the home page; discovering the winner required a click.

So, really, what they're saying is that not ruining some glorified karaoke contest is more important than not ruining an actual display of intelligence merely, only because the former is more popular.

I'm not saying I didn't already know that. Frankly, someone spoiled that for me long ago. However, it would be nice for something not to be ruined every once in a while.


And before someone in the East gives a glib little comment about how if the folks in the West don't like it they should move, I say this: Don't say that unless you're willing to let us all crash on your couch.

Song lyrics du jour

I believe in peace
I believe in peace, bitch

- Tori Amos, " Waitress"

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Our national nightmare is at an end

Now that today's primary election is over, I am filled with a certain excitement.

No, not about that story that everyone else seems filled with excitement about. I'm just thrilled that my mailbox will stop being filled with campaign "literature" (primarily for the candidates running for this district in the California State Senate).

Even as jaded as I am, I find it difficult to keep reading about how corrupt the other guy is.

It's enough to make me look forward to getting the cable bill.


On a related note:
Is it inherently incongruous for a voter guide purporting to highlight "green" candidates to be printed and mailed en masse?

One can only wonder if politicians' campaigns really cared about the environment whether they'd fill the voters' mailboxes with so much paper.


Clearly I understand nothing about politics.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Going, going, gone green

From an office-wide email sent out today alluding to the organization's "green" initiative (here trying to limit paper usage), exactly as it appeared in the message:
Did you know that the average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year!

Did you know that the Average tree in one year is able to absorb ten pounds of pollutants from the air and convert 330 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen!

I'm not sure where this information originated, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt that it is accurate. However, I found myself thinking:

Hmm, these seem like they would be questions but apparently they're exclamations. Why are these facts being presented so forcefully?

Also, because it is capitalized in the second exclamation but not in the first I figure that must mean "Average" is a proper noun, and hence the name of a specific tree.

I hope it is indigenous to the U.S. We have a lot of pollution to get converted to oxygen. Maybe a lot of them can be planted in the space cleared from cutting down all the other, non-Average trees, for making paper.


Clearly I'm too busy noticing such things to really care about the environment.


No trees were cut down to produce this post. As far as I know.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Popping over to the photo site will explain what this is, and show you some more delightful shots.