Monday, January 31, 2011

Enough with the Nazi comparisons

After a congressman compared the GOP to the Nazis in an argument there was an appropriate level of disapproval in the media (including The Daily Show taking him to task about that). However, that all dwelled on it not being in line with the new level of rhetoric that was proposed in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

While that's certainly a valid point, the real question is: Over six decades after they were defeated, and after being lampooned by everyone from Bugs Bunny to Mel Brooks, how can comparing anyone to the Nazis be an effective invective?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dressing for the Super Bowl

Over the next week leading up to the Super Bowl the football pundits will come forth with their theories about whether they think the Packers or the Steelers will win the big game, which they'll base on factors like how Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodger will fare against the Steelers' top-ranked defense, or whether Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger will be able to scramble out of tackles and make enough crucial plays to bring Pittsburgh its third title in six seasons.
Their arguments will be based on which team's coaches and players rise to the occasion.

Hey, they have to come up with something to say to fill all that airtime. However, victory won't so much be a matter of what the players do but of what the players wear.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Old 97's are not on my camera phone

Telling people you're going to see the Old 97's (yes, their name has an apostrophe), even after it's been 17 years since their first album and they've been on Leno multiple times (most recently last November 11) and they were the band that Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn go see in the movie The Break-Up (which featured several shots focused on the band) still involves getting blank stares and having to explain who they are (which may be limited to only "They're a band I like").

For the uninitiated, you can stream some of their songs on their MySpace page, or here's a video of them live I found on YouTube:

And while I certainly believe they're deserving of better recognition, if I'm being completely honest, I kind of prefer that they're not household names. They have a devoted fan base that supports them well enough for them to continue touring and making albums, but (at least out here in Southern California) they still play clubs where it's easy to get tickets even on the night of the show. (However, for last Friday's show in Hollywood, at the Music Box, my wife had gotten the tickets well in advance, as a Xmas/birthday present; this was no last-minute whim.)

That their shows are filled pretty much only with people who know who they are, who are familiar with their catalog and not just some song that was a hit on the radio, who actively sing along with the songs, is far better than playing to bigger crowds in larger venues.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Feeling all right about not feeling all right

Watching The Kids Are All Right (on DVD) recently, with Mark Ruffalo's character of the new age-y lothario, it seemed like one of the sub-themes was how a lesbian couple who would have been a source of derision in past times were instead derisive toward his I'm-okay-you're-okay attitude.

The only thing people find more appalling than a judgmental jerk is someone who strives to refrain from judgments.

(I leave it up to you to decide whether I'm being judgmental about that or not.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Forgetting birthdays

I don't mind when people don't remember my birthday. Seriously. It assuages any guilt I might otherwise feel when I utterly forget theirs.

That's the best present I could get.


But hey, just to cover everybody who has a birthday coming up... ever:
Hope it's a good one for you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of My Union

I think true civility would be for Congress to hold their applause until the end of the State of the Union address. Let the man finish, whether you like him or not; he's the President, for crying out loud.

The longer it drags on only delays the start of the pundits telling us what we thought of it. Or Jeopardy reruns.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Water Cooler Daze

An "All Things Considered" piece wondered in the era of myriad media outlets, where the most popular TV shows pull in ratings dwarfed by those of shows 30 years ago, and pop stars sell a fraction of the number of albums that made the top of the charts 15 years ago, whether there could really be any true "water cooler" topics any more, where the proverbial everyone is talking about the same pop culture reference like there was in those days of yore (which, apparently, is construed as the time when I was in my teens).

I found myself thinking: Was there every truly this halcyon time for ubiquitous topics of conversation, or is there merely this perception it existed? Back in the day when a really popular show got 30 million views, that was impressive, certainly, but in a country of well over 200 million that's less than 15% of all people actually participating in watching, much less discussing it during their coffee breaks. So, to consider that to be "everyone" is merely actively ignoring all those who are ignoring what you are regarding.

Monday, January 24, 2011


If happiness is a choice, logically that makes unhappiness a choice as well.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chuck'ed out by the Villa

I've talked previously of the difficulty I encounter on occasion when watching a TV show, movie, or commercial because I live and work in an area frequently used for filming of such things. Noticing some place that I recognize shakes me out of the narrative, possibly just for a split second, perhaps altogether (depending on how good the story is). It's not so much that I want to experience this (which can be said of every distraction my brain notices); it just happens.

And largely, when it happens to me it happens to me alone; others just find it odd.

However, with last Monday's episode of Chuck, "Chuck vs. The Balcony" (watch at [] or [hulu]), I was not alone.

The plot ostensibly took place in a chateau in the French countryside. However, within seconds of the opening scene I identified the actual Southern California location. And a few seconds later, so did my wife.

Because it was filmed at the place where we got married:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"What's your sign?" is not the question

The recent hubbub about the astrological shakeup—that a thirteenth sign should be included because of the shift of the angle earth's axial rotation (I think) relative to the constellations—making many people out of sorts clearly reveals that a lot of people… well, to say "care" is perhaps too strong a term, so let's go with "hold some interest" in the Zodiac. I don't think people in general hold much belief in their daily horoscope, but it's still published in the paper (or something people sign up for to get sent to their Facebook page). It's touted as "for entertainment purposes only," but in the era of on-demand movies you can watch on your phone, clearly we are not desperate for entertainment; if one wishes to find something merely amusing there's a near-infinite number of YouTube videos to accomplish that much.

That those who emerged from the womb at a time when the sun was in an arbitrary position in our sky relative to the stars in the vast void of space would, on that basis, share a set of traits, sounds like a supremely risible claim; even those who fervently ascribe belief in astrology must admit there's little doubt that, on its face, it's pretty preposterous.

Of course, to allege it's significantly more preposterous than every religion in which people have active faith is a difficult case to make, but that's not where I'm going with this.

Astrology doesn't make sense, but I'd argue that's precisely why people still hold interest in it. Were it not largely irrational we'd have lost interest in it long ago.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today's unnecessary language rumination

If a house is "worth less" than it used to be that indicates its value has gone down but not necessarily that it has lost all value, or in other words has become "worthless."

Pull out the space to make two words into a single term and it shifts the meaning from a mere reduction to dropping all the way to the lowest possible point.

That any of us understands English is truly marvelous, and that understanding undoubtedly stems from the fact we don't analyze these nuances but merely accept them without question.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making yourself a target

On the topic of the Arizona shootings: Sarah Palin should not be blamed for the actions of a deranged man, but what does it say about her that so many found it so easy to point the finger of some culpability at her?

Obviously when people hear of such atrocities they need to find something to blame, something that could have been done to prevent it from happening again if only steps are taken, something to make them feel like there could make the world seem safe in spite of the immediate evidence to the contrary. It's not logical exactly, but finding a scapegoat is nothing new.

However, when you find yourself being who comes to mind when people's kneejerk reactions grasp for someone to be put into that role, might it be time to pause and considering if there was anything you did to encourage that kneejerk reaction?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Affording a lack of empathy

A psychological study found people who reported themselves of a higher socioeconomic group were poorer at gauging the emotions of others than were those of a lower status.

I think there are oblivious people at all levels of income, but I can see how the wealthier could afford to get away with lacking empathy more easily than the less well off. Or rather I should say: A lack of empathy could prove more advantageous to the wealthy. To be a "have" in a world where there's more "have-nots" could lead one to feel guilty about that advantage, and to achieve some sense of entitlement to deal with it; whether intentional or not, paying less heed to the feelings of others could do well to assuage feelings like one does not deserve what one has.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Song lyrics du jour: 3D Picnic, "Charles Thinks About It"

3D Picnic was an underrated L.A.-based band (in the rootsy punk genre) from the late '80s/early '90s. Amazingly, they still have a MySpace page, where some of their tracks can be streamed (which you should click over and listen to... even though it's MySpace).

Below are the lyrics to their song "Charles Thinks About It" (from their debut album Dirt), which, unfortunately, is not available on the aforementioned MySpace page, but which I felt like transcribing and posting anyway, because I think we can use a reminder that the world's not always a bad place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Someone is having a bad day at the Hello Kitty store

Actual picture taken of big mural on the wall at Hello Kitty store at a local mall. (I'm told this character is My Melody.)

I presume gestures are different in Japan.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Squawking in the playoffs

On Saturday the Seahawks not only covered the double-digit point spread but won the game outright. While everyone dismissed a 7-9 team as unworthy to be in the playoffs because other teams with better records failed to make it (and that still may be justified), the real reason people don't want such a team in the playoffs now has been revealed: That team just might shock everyone and play inspired—probably because being a 10.5 point underdog at home in the post-season puts quite a chip on your shoulder. And it really makes the team that loses look really bad.

Is not the only thing worse than being the "worst" team in post-season history being the team who lost to that team?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Being There, U.S. Edition

Recently I heard a discussion of this question: When have you "been" to a state? That is, if you were listing all the places you have been in our nation what level of experience would qualify you to include a state?

It was generally agreed that merely landing at an airport (without leaving it, such as when changing planes) doesn't count, and I'd agree; that merely gives one a feel of that airport, and that may be minimized by the focus on finding the other gate.

Even if one leaves the airport, if all one does is drive to a non-descript chain hotel near the airport for a meeting, and then one turns around the next morning and goes straight back to the airport does that count? I'd say it does, as likely one had to interact with residents of the city (who, presumably are residents of the state). Of course, that alone may not be truly representative of the entire state, but now we're digressing to the conundrum of whether visiting a small portion of a state qualifies.

Friday, January 07, 2011


I don't deny deluding myself at times. I merely wish I did a better job of it.
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Monday, January 03, 2011

Twilight Zone Marathon Madness

Over New Year's Day the Syfy channel aired another Twilight Zone marathon, where they aired episodes of the classic TV series all day. They've done this before, and they weren't the first to do so (at least in my experience); I recall local station KTLA running TZ marathons on Thanksgiving 30 years ago. Suffice it to say, I've sat through many a holiday in front of the TV with Rod Serling's collection of fantastical morality plays airing in succession, and have seen the majority of the episodes numerous times.

Obviously that's the reason a station or network would choose to schedule an annual marathon: The show lends itself well to repeat viewings, making for a good background for holiday gatherings (particularly for those who aren't inclined to watch sports, or when one's team is getting blown out in a bowl game) and moments of "oh yeah, this is a good one" and "you've never seen this one?" to spur those times when you've run out of topics of conversation with your relatives.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Didn't ask but I'm telling

Catching up on some non-holiday-related thoughts:

Back on Decemeber 22 I happened to see the news carry live coverage of the President signing the bill to repeal the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." At the beginning of the speech he made preceding that act he started with the line "It's a good day."

And while I don't disagree—I've thought DADT was ridiculous since its introduction—I cannot help but think a really good day will be when it doesn't take 17 years for our government to get around to something like this.

A great day will be when such egregious ways of treating citizens differently (simply for being who they are) won't have been policy in the first place.