Monday, March 30, 2009

Moving around my mind

My fiancée recently moved in to my place. I live in a two-bedroom condo, so in theory there's enough room for both of us. However, in the days leading up to that, as I tried to prepare the domicile for co-habitation, I found it to be worse than it would be to get ready to move to a new place.

With an ordinary move, one gets a bunch of boxes and one starts packing. Everything is already in a modicum of order; kitchen items are in the kitchen, bedroom items are in the bedroom, etc.; it's a lot of physical effort, but by and large the primary mental effort comes in when one deciding what items one will need between the commencement of packing and the actual moving of the boxes, and not packing those until the end.

With the scenario of having a home already filled with items, I found it difficult, but not so much because of the obvious dilemma: figuring out how we'll fit everything. It's easy enough to throw out or donate a significant amount of my stuff to make room.

The problem I find myself having was deciding what to do first.

It doesn't sound tricky, I know, but I found myself walking into the spare room and seeing one thing to do and starting on that, but then that made me think of another task over in the hall closet that seemed better to tackle before the first one, so I would ditch that and walk to begin the next idea, but then another idea sprang to mind that struck me as an even better way to go, and so on. And every time I'd move something I'd realize how overdue much of the "bachelor pad" was for a thorough cleaning, and it seemed that during this transition (in addition to everything else) it would be the ideal time to perform that. However, I was attempting most of this in the evenings after I got home from work and ate dinner, so most nights it was a bit late to get to deep into that.

The thing about this: It seems like indecision, but really it was a lack of focus. It's not that I didn't know what I need to do; I knew too well what I needed to do and all of it came to mind, but not in any productive order. It was a sort of ADD for moving.

Which brings me to my actual topic.

In ruminating on this dilemma I started to think about how calling "attention deficiency" a "disorder" suggests that the brain's natural inclination is to remain focused on one thing at a time. However, that doesn't seem a realistic view of the mind's baseline for operation.

Heck, form a survival standpoint, it seems like being able to quickly shift from one item of attention to another is beneficial. Our ancestors who were too focused on advancing their attentive skills were possibly the ones who didn't notice the lion sneaking up on them.

Certainly the ability to concentrate is worthwhile and beneficial in our industrialized world, but that doesn't mean that paying attention is necessarily what we just do; conceivably, paying attention is a developed skill.

Thus it's not a disorder when one lacks that ability; it's a developmental deficiency. Which is a problem, certainly, but it's not a disorder. There are obviously actual disorders which cause what is called ADD, but it's not right to call the mere lack of attentive ability a "disorder."

However, as ADD is already taken, we cannot re-appropriate that to now mean "Attention Development Deficiency," so I propose we rearrange the terms as "Deficient Attention Development," or DAD.

A disorder is an ailment that's difficult to overcome; a deficiency is merely something there isn't enough of, so it carries the superior implication of being such that it can be resolved with simply getting more. Not that the "more" that needs to be gotten is easily acquired, but the important thing there is the hint of empowerment that it can be acquired at all; a "disorder" sounds like something largely out of one's control.

Now let's imagine someone saying the following: "His problem is DAD."

See? Rolls off the tongue. And pronounced as a single syllable word, to the untrained ear it seems to lay the blame for his problem squarely on his parent, which may or may not be true but is almost certain to be accepted by the listener as plausible.

Assuming the listener had developed the ability to pay attention long enough to hear all the way to the end of the sentence.

At this point I presume everyone is too afflicted with DAD to remember how I started this and expect me to resolve the ostensible dilemma about getting the condo ready to receive my fiancée's belongings.

But if you must know: All her stuff has been moved in, and maybe a third of it is unpacked. If you can't figure out why more of it isn't done, please re-read the paragraphs above.

Unless you have something better to do.


They're called "Dougressions" for a reason, people. If you were expecting them to stay on topic, you really weren't interpreting the pun that well.

We'll try to come up with an acronym for that at a later time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

O'say did you see...

Today at lunch I strolled a few blocks from the office to watch the St. Patrick's Day festivities put on by the city in Pershing Square.

I didn't see the parade that preceded them, but I did get to the park in downtown L.A. in time to see the celebrities they'd lined up to come on stage for about 15 seconds each--5 of which was wishing everyone a "Happy St. Patty's Day" and the other 10 of which was plugging whatever they had to plug (actor--and apparently, grand marshal--Robert PatrickThe Unit on Sundays; local traffic/weather reporter Vera Jiminez – the KCBS early morning news show, 5 – 7 a.m.; four of the Laker Girls – tonight's Lakers game, etc.).

And there was Lorenzo Lamas. Yes, that Lorenzo Lamas (Falcon Crest, Renegade, etc.). I don't recall what he plugged (if he had anything); I was sitting near the back, eating my lunch, and frankly wasn't that interested.

Then they announced that Mr. Lamas would be singing… the National Anthem.

I don't know what I expected from St. Patrick's Day, but had I made a list when I woke up today, I can say this: Hearing Lorenzo Lamas sing the Star-Spangled Banner definitely would not have been on it.

(No, I didn't get any photos of him singing. I was too far away. And frankly, it's just him singing; it's not like he was doing something all that photo-worthy, like getting out of a limo with no undergarments.)

To be fair, he wasn't bad. He stayed more or less on key. He didn't attempt much variation in going up and down, but he didn't butcher the song. And the only lyric I notice that he messed up was in the last lines, where he sang "…does that star-spangled banner yet wave / For the land of the free…" (when the word, of course, is O'erover with the v dropped; Francis Scott Key must have needed only one syllable rather than two). It could have been much worse.

Of course, one wonders why he'd been who they'd get for an Irish-themed holiday. Perhaps, as a friend of mine quipped later, they thought his name was Lorenz O'Lamas.

Erin Go Bragh, indeed.


Then the Young Dubliners (a band featuring Irish ex-pats living in Los Angeles) performed as they have at these festivities before (as I mentioned in this post from last year). Not only did they put on an energetic show, but for a free midday concert in the middle of downtown L.A. in the blazing sun, they put on a way better show than they had to.

(I must admit I've never paid to see them perform, but seeing their numerous March 17th performances I have been inspired to get several of their albums of Celtic-influenced rock.)

Lead singer Keith Roberts noted between songs that they'd been up since 5 a.m., as they did an in-studio performance on the morning program for local station KTLA. And later they were booked as the musical act on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show (apparently their first nationally televised late-night performance). And then later they had a gig down in San Diego at the "Shamrocker" Festival.

Apparently, when one is in an Irish-named band in Southern California, one needs to milk St. Patrick's Day for all it's worth.

Especially when one has over ten years of playing clubs and finally snags a spot on one of the late-night shows.


(Photos of the show have been added to the photo site.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fun and the sun

Quirks of English that occur to me when I'm not distracted by television...

Take two nouns that rhyme: "sun" and "fun."

"Sun" generally connotes the star in the sky that casts light on the side of the planet facing it.
"Fun" generally connotes something that elicits enjoyment.

Now append the suffix -ny to both to turn them into adjectives.

"Sunny" generally connotes an adjective form of "sun"; an abundance of sunlight, or having the characteristics of the sun, or being comparable to it.

There's a direct connection between the meanings of the noun and corresponding adjective. If one were asked about a day that featured an abundance of sunlight likely one would use the term "sunny" to describe it.

"Funny" generally connotes something humorous; comedic in intent. (In other contexts it also suggests something that is odd.)

With this noun/adjective pairing, while not utterly disparate in tone, the terms are distinct in connotation. While something funny is often also fun, if one went to a party where one enjoyed one's self, and later one were asked about it, it is less likely one would choose to say it was "funny"; something that happened at the party may have been funny, but the party would be... fun.

However, the sun is always sunny.

Conceivably appending the same suffix to words that are so similar in spelling should result in those corresponding words having similar connections back to their originators, but obviously that is not the case.

Such is the glory of English: There are no rules, only guidelines that may or may not apply--which allows it to be a remarkably adaptive language.

One where sometimes a noun is also an adjective without being modified at all, when this is necessary because the adjective form already has a meaning that doesn't quite match.


Thanks for taking a moment away from TV to read this. Somehow I pulled myself away long enough to get it posted.


Okay. I have to admit: I finished this with the TV on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


If you put the term "ironic" inside quotation marks that denote irony, does that make it doubly ironic, or turn it into sincerity?

Or does it punch a hole in the language-grammar continuum that sucks up the entire universe of written communication?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Pretty flowers in unusual places. Over at the useless photo site. Have a look. (I am a published photographer, believe it or not.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

It's a modest proposal

I continue to see instances where it's is written when its is what is meant. I see these from people who I know do know the difference between the contraction and the possessive. Heck, I admit I have even caught myself occasionally type the apostrophe and then have to delete it. It's not as though I fail to understand how it happens.

One is focused on the idea one is expressing; one knows that when nouns are made possessive they get an apostrophe before the s; in that moment one's mind doesn't dwell on the fact that rule doesn't apply to pronouns. And while other inappropriate appending of 's to a pronoun would get flagged by spell checking (him's, her's, them's, you's, I's), those aren't even words that would come to mind; one would never type those accidentally. It's only possible with its. It's will never be flagged as misspelled, because it's not, but no software is going to identify context to know whether it's being misused (and as soon as software can do that, that will indicate they will have supplanted us as the superior intelligence).

(Ha ha. See what I did there? Eh, let's move on.)

So, until technology develops sentience and human writing becomes unnecessary (possibly because humans have become unnecessary), I have a simple way to never again accidentally write it's when one means its.

Never type the contraction it's.

It is simple enough to get by without contracting it is and typing the pronoun and verb separately. (One doesn't save that much space anyway, especially with proportional fonts.) Then one can safely type its and always be correct.

Well, okay, one will need to stop thinking the term it's first. That's probably going to be a trickier habit to break. So perhaps first one will need to unlearn that one can even contract it is. Perhaps we need to stop teaching that in school altogether. And as long as we're eliminating contracting it is, for the sake of consistency we probably need to get rid of the concept of contracting two words into a single term altogether. Then apostrophes would only apply when making nouns possessive.

Granted, then it would make more sense if all possessives used apostrophes, so we'd need to change the handling of pronouns. Theirs would become them's, his would have to change to him's, etc. (but on the upside, hers would sound the same, and only require adding the apostrophe: her's). Then its would be eliminated, leaving only it's to indicate its possessive form.

At which point, our current inclination (it's by default) will be right, without us having to change.

See? It's simple. Er... it is simple.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lost and freaking out

The dangers of re-visiting the past...

In this post from late January I discussed the challenge of catching up on the TV series Lost by watching the DVDs.

Another pseudo-issue with that: Mixing shows that you catch up on.

And finally I'm getting to talking about that.


Back in January, after a weekend of watching Lost season 3 on DVD, we popped in Freaks and Geeks season 1, disc 6. (Ah, the glory of Netflix.)

In an episode of F&G Nick (Jason Segal) gets his drums taken away after a bad report card. While watching a scene in that episode where he confronts his father after discovering the drums gone, we had to stop and pause.

It was slightly shocking.


The actor who portrayed Mr. Andopolis (Nick's father) was Kevin Tighe--whom I originally recall from his days as paramedic Roy DeSoto on Emergency!, but who (in our more recent consciousness) had portrayed Locke's scoundrel of a father on Lost. And because he looked the same in both series (with Lost coming only a few years after F&G), it made for a more disquieting moment than Judd Apatow must have intended when they made that episode.

Maybe if he'd given Nick the drums back then he wouldn't have conned Locke into donating a kidney. Oh wait...

Somebody call Squad 51.


What actors have you seen in one show that freaked you out in another? Give me your thoughts on this by clicking the Thought(s) on This link below.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Love me, love me

On the radio the other morning I heard the Cardigans' "Love Fool" (which, on the off-chance that it's not still stuck in your head from 1996, it's embedded below--listen at your own peril).

Love Fool - The Cardigans

However, upon hearing it, what came to mind was not the Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet film in which it was heard.

No, I thought a decade later: The episode of The Office ("The Initiation") where Jim starts singing the chorus to that song to annoy Karen. More specifically, the scene where Andy then starts singing it absent-mindedly (as Jim had successfully planted the seed).

Musicians never know what their legacy ultimately will be.


And yes, I have had "Love me, love me, say that you love me..." stuck in my head since then. Just like you do now (and will for the foreseeable future).

Curse you, inescapable Swedish pop melody! I can't care 'bout anything but you...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Who makes it through Watchmen?

With the legal battle between Fox and Warner Bros. resolved, the Watchmen movie is set to open Friday. A day I doubted would come, and one about which I'm still not 100% sure how I feel.


On my Facebook profile I list Watchmen as one of my favorite books, and I still think of it as a phenomenal literary achievement. Of course, that's all based on having read it back in 1986-87, when it was first published (in serial form of 12 monthly issues), and really being blown away by it. In fact, I even wrote a paper about it for a college literature class (citing also Maus and The Dark KnightReturns).

I have not re-read Watchmen in the two decades between that point and now, but clearly it made a sufficient impression on me back then to linger in my mind as a favorite. Something I specifically remember from back then: how well-suited it was to be brought to the big screen. Of course, it was so layered that I must have subconsciously doubted any film could do it justice.

I was considering re-reading it before seeing the upcoming movie, but I decided against it (and with as busy as I tend to be, I probably wouldn't get that done in time anyway). Somewhere in my brain I know it's better to let the movie stand on its own, and possibly re-read it afterward.



One of the blogs I follow is by a young woman in Minnesota who reads a lot. Recently she posted how she had given up on reading Watchmen. She just couldn't get into it. However, the primary reason she started it was due to the overwhelming critical praise of it; like any book with such rave reviews, she must have felt compelled to give it a look.

But now she says Watchmen can suck it. She's not finishing it.

I left a comment that explained that see the appeal one needed to have read it back in the '80s. And it helped if one had a penis.


I elaborated about how its trenchant deconstruction* of the superhero mythos really required a background in that conventional superhero paradigm. Without having grown up reading superhero comics first—not just seeing superhero movies and TV, but reading the monthly tales in the drawn panels—attempting to read Watchmen would be akin to tackling Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead before mastering Hamlet.

And having worked in a comic shop for many years back in those days, I know the demographics skewed heavily male. (I won't attempt any generalizations about the violence appealing more to one sex than the other.)

I further posited that its paranoid themes held up better in the time it was first published—back in the era of the Cold War (albeit its last days). The contemporary cultural neurosis about terrorism simply isn't the same as about the previous one about communism.

But ultimately the hype of something has a tendency to grow disproportionately large relative to the the actual quality of the art. To come in with the expectations created by two decades of geek deification is to render the work utterly incapable of succeeding. However, without the hype, the act of attempting to read it wouldn't have occurred.

It does turn into a lose-lose situation. Little lives up to the hype.

So it is those who hyped it who should "suck it."

Of course, they'd undoubtedly just rave about how cool it was to have sucked it.


I say all this based on my recollections of a book from 22 years ago. And while I may or may not be better, I'm not the same person I was 22 years ago, so I doubt it would live up to my own memories were I to re-read it now. Not that it isn't still good, but over all that time its legend in my mind must have expanded.

No point in possibly making my nostalgia suck it.


* A blatant attempt to harness a tiny bit of what I was supposed to have learned in my literary criticism class 15 or so years back.


p.s. Yes, the image accompanying this post (a blood-stained smiley face) is a button that was part of the merchandising back when the book came out. Yes, I have had since then. Not only did I buy buttons, I also bought a set of posters of the covers of the comics, and even a limited-edition leather-bound slipcover version of the graphic novel.

I had it bad.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More cable roulette

Cable TV roulette: When two movies featuring the same actor are on different channels at the same time.

Last night one Starz channel showed Repo Man while another Starz channel featured D3 (the third Mighty Ducks film). Can you think of who starred in both?

Tonight AMC has Thelma & Louise at the same time E! is airing Happy Gilmore. Although he was not the star, one actor was the foil in both of these.


TV: There's always something on.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Makin' it

The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!...
I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day!
This is the kind of spontaneous publicity--your name in print--that makes people!
I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

- The Jerk

About a month and a half ago, on the useless photo site I mentioned how some of my Urban Light photos I'd submitted to a LACMA contest were finalists.

I now can announce that one of my photos was chosen as the winner of the contest (out of over a thousand entries), and is used as the cover for an online exhibit and book, Celebrating Urban Light. (Click those links to see the exhibit and/or order the book.)

The announcement on the LACMA art blog can be read here.

Oh, and there's an article on the LA Times Culture Monster blog for which I was interviewed. That can be read here. (That same article also appeared in the Times' print edition--Calendar section, page E3, in case you happen to have that around.)

The winning shot (and below, the way it looked on the page of the paper):